POP, POP, POP! It’s the end of the day on Sunday the 23rd, the day of The Blog Connect, and all I can do as I stand with scissors demolishing the balloon wall with Amber and Tim is laugh and think about the glorious burger I am going to eat at Fountain Porter once the cleanup is finished. I am happy to report the day was a definite success with only a few (minor) hiccups.

I cannot give enough props to the team for bringing everything, and everyone together for this conference. There was a lot of heart that went in and I think everyone felt it. L to R: Priyanka, Melissa, Chrystina, Me and Sarah (Not shown here is Amber our incredible social media-er.)

For those of you who were at last year’s conference, you know we had flowers by After Eight Events (Now Fete Urbane.) Because it was the first year and there were so many unknowns to focus on, I really wanted to lean on their skills to bring the decor together. We met up, I handed over the inspiration for the conference theme and explained what I had in mind – they took it from there. This year was a whole different ball-game. Because we stayed in the same space at Saxbys, there was a lot of familiarity with the areas we were working with, which is particularly helpful when all the work toward the event was happening after business hours on my end. I got to really play around with different set ups when planning out the space and it was a blast!

The inspiration that I pulled together to give the look and feel of the conference really shined through in Saxbys amazing headquarters. We had a balloon wall, a streamer wall, and lots of fun balloon areas throughout the space. With seating for 80 and three separate breakout session areas, we created an event space that was super welcoming and intimate while giving enough room that no one was talking over each other.

Kicking off The Blog Connect

After months of planning, the weekend of The Blog Connect began with the team getting together on Friday (with added help from my amazing roommate) to have a balloon-blowing streamer-hanging pizza-eating extravaganza. It was great. On Saturday afternoon my roommate, Jess, Chrystina and I got into Saxby’s and did as much set up as we could accomplish in 2 hours. We assembled the balloons from the night before into the balloon wall and hung the streamers. Between that, moving tables and chairs into their designated areas for breakout sessions, and getting all of the chairs in the main speaking area set up, things were really coming together.

Time came to head to the party at ellelauri and I took a final look at the space. There were a few areas that needed some love, so after the party I put together a few smaller balloon sculptures (? Idk what you would call them lol) to bring with me and add in the am.

An awesome view of the party at ellelauri that helped us kick The Blog Connect weekend off

Arriving at ellelauri was a pleasant surprise, it’s just off Chestnut on 19th  – a street I walk down all the time but I’ve never noticed the shop. I blame phone syndrome. They had a ton of adorable clothes and accessories and, thanks to their relationship with our Party Planner Priyanka, were so accommodating.

It was so exciting to see so many faces I haven’t seen at past PHLbloggers events. Nothing makes me quite as excited as meeting new people who are excited to learn and share their skills with others. One of the highlights from the party for me was getting my hair done at the braid bar by Concihairge. They did this really awesome ponytail/braid which I proceeded to teach myself how to do a couple of days later because I want to wear my hair like that all the time LOL.

Super cool braid-mohawk-thing by Concihairge

The party raffle table featuring everyone’s favorite Groundswell Greetings card

Chatting with ellelauri buyer Amanda about Melissa’s awesome dress that won her a prize at the party as the best-dressed guest!

I believe I am discussing the potential for a water bottle’s versatility here with speakers Andy Shaw and Jess Herbine

(Told you Melissa’s dress was cute :))

Conference Day

We started out Sunday morning bright and early putting final touches on every area in the conference space at Saxbys. Balloons were filled with helium, tape was secured and computers were hooked up. It was time to let everyone be a part of the experience we had worked six months on curating.

Everyone that walked through the door was greeted by our sponsor directors, Sarah and Melissa. When they checked in, they received a nametag, which I hand-lettered for each guest, along with a Life Planner from Erin Condren. These planners are a total game-changer. Erin Condren blew the team away by first offering to sponsor a Life Planner for each guest and THEN by following up with an offer to use The Blog Connect 2017 ‘Blog It Better’ branding on them, making a custom edition Life Planner just for our attendees. I don’t think I am alone in saying that a lot of the inspiration and knowledge I gained from the speakers was translated into notes and actionable plans in that planner throughout the day.

After checking in the guests walked into photo area number 1, which totally set the vibe for the day. A giant streamer wall with what have become our traditional PHL balloons greeted guests and provided a nice good morning view before they entered the conference area. It was really fun thinking about how to make this space a collaborative area that would encourage attendees to interact with each other and the space itself. I loved seeing people say, “Hey would you mind taking my picture?” and then walking away in a full conversation with their new photographer-turned-friend who they hadn’t known 2 minutes prior.

Sarah Morgan from XO Sarah sharing 10 no-bs blogging strategies that take your traffic, list, and social media to the next level.

Sola Onitiri from Lifestoned Adventures talking about the importance of honest branding in the larger blogosphere.

Andy Shaw from instafather sharing tips on HOW to write in your voice, not just what to write

Walking into the main conference space led attendees to the awesome Saxbys staff, ready to provide them with whatever their caffeine-driven-heart desired. With a combination of a caffeine buzz, full belly’s courtesy of Schmear It, and the welcoming light of the space, moods were high and the conference kicked off with a bang. Sarah Morgan, Andy Shaw, Sola Onitiri, Jess Herbine led speaker sessions sharing tons of valuable information on how to Blog It Better. Workshops by Angelica Yarde, Angela St. Cyril, and Jennifer Dziura gave attendees actionable steps to building different types of products for their audiences. Cupcakes by Ruth gave everyone a chance to move around and make delicious unicorns. And the day wound up with our amazing panelists Amber Burns, Erica Ligenza, and Nicole Raudonis discussing different aspects of working with brands.

Our awesome attendees learning from Andy Shaw

Emcee for the day – Samantha Van Adelsburg

Makin unicorn cupcakes with Cupcakes by Ruth

Some gals & their cupcakes – L to R Amber, Me, Priyanka, and Allison

Angela St. Cyril from Setting My Intention sharing practical steps for writing, marketing, and launching your first eBook

Jennifer Dziura from Get Bullish talking about ways to monetize your blog by selling physical products

Angelica Yarde from Studio 404 talking about turning blog content into a podcast worth subscribing to and the steps to get you there

Jess Herbine sharing an info PACKED presentation on SEO

Erica, Nicole & Amber dicussing best practices for working with brands as a blogger with Chrystina moderating

Because of all the hard work on the part of Chrystina, Sarah and Melissa, everyone was well fed. Thanks to all of our speakers and contributors, everyone was given tools and tips for taking their blogs to the next level. We came together for a second year, and the experience was bigger and better. I am so happy to have been a part of the team for year number two and hope everyone had an incredible experience!

 

..and DAMN was that Sunday night burger good. -xx