Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Beauty of BlogWest 2013

Two weeks ago, I had the most unforgettable  time attending the 2nd annual BlogWest Conference, organized by Felicia Dewar, right here in my home city of Edmonton, Alberta. This year I had the honour of being an ambassador for the conference and I have to say that it was the easiest job ever!  How could I not be passionate about and support an event that was full of learning, friendship and networking? I introduced, greeted, chatted, laughed, learned, connected, and came away with warm memories of new friendships, seeds of inspiration for the future, and the biggest bags under my eyes ever from total lack of sleep. Seriously, when I got home, the first thing I did was a big, face down starfish on my bed in total exhaustion, but also soul-fulfilling happiness.

I cannot even begin to tell you the many, many wonderful things that I got personally out of this conference. I can't thank Felicia enough for the caliber of the conference, and the array of talented people that we had access to...all in an intimate setting.

The Highlights:

Our opening speaker was Jen Reynolds, the new Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Living Magazine. Jen shared with us the journey to her new job as Editor-In-Chief of Canada's #1 magazine. One thing that she talked about, that stood out in my mind, was how she had spent hours pulling apart and then putting back together issues of Canadian Living in preparation for her new role. My takeaway from that? You know you love your job when work is play and play is work.{How many of us bloggers feel that way?} From a personal perspective, I had the chance to chat and share my work with her one-on-one later in the evening and her generous feedback about my work as a blogger has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams on a much wider scale than I ever thought possible.  {More about that later!}

Jayson Acquilanti, a Disney Imagineer from Canada and now living in California, joined us to share some of the' behind the scenes' details of how Disney takes things from ideas to real life experiences. This spoke to me in regards to my blogging activities because I am constantly reminding myself to focus on my ideas and creativity and NOT to get caught up in things that don't support that goal.

Angela Saclamacis. What more can I say? If you have never met the Disney PR person for Canada, she is fun, dynamic and shares stories that will make your sides split and your cheeks hurt with laughter  Her passion is's clear that she loves her job. And if you work for Disney, really, what's not to love?

Elan Morgan,  from the well-known Canadian blog Schmutzie, gave the closing keynote and her story as a blogger is moving and poignant and uplifting...all at the same time. Whereas on my blog I share ideas and inspiration with pictures, Elan is truly a talented blogging storyteller, with photography that is both artful and beautiful and compliments her writing perfectly. I loved meeting this talented blogger and her husband.

Erin Isfeld from CTV News Edmonton delivered a great session on Saturday morning on "Unleashing Your Inner Media Personality". She gave us lots of advice and tips from her experience as both a reporter and news anchor, and for me, it was a thrill to meet someone that I watch regularly on TV every day while I eat  lunch!

Sharon Vinderine  from Parent Tested/Parent Approved, gave an amazing session on 'Pitching For TV'. And do you want to hear something SUPER funny? When she began her session, I was thinking to myself that I would never pitch to TV. Never. I let thoughts of self-doubt and fear creep in and stop me from even trying. But as I began to process the things that Sharon shared with us, and the concrete strategies she gave us, something for me clicked.

Within 24 hours, I found myself with an opportunity to pitch myself to CTV News Noon{Edmonton} Anchor Erin Isfeld, and pitch away I did! The result:  I am now appearing on CTV News Noon {Edmonton} on Wednesday, March 27, where I will be sharing ideas for Easter crafts and recipes in a 4 minute segment. How cool is that? I went from thinking "NEVER", to pitching, and to guesting on CTV news at noon as a blogger sharing ideas and projects. All within 24 hours! Oh, the power of a new perspective, a little confidence and positive thinking.

The Learning:

There were so many sessions given by professionals from every field over the course of the 3 days that I could write a book on what I learned. Felicia really assembled some local top-notch experts on everything from WordPress, Google Analytics, to the fields of photography and journalism...there was something for everyone. Thank you to those excellent people for sharing their wisdom & experience with us.

For me, I especially loved learning from other bloggers attending the conference. Jody Arsenault from Mommy Moment and Kathryn Lavallee from Mommy Kat and Kids, spoke on "Monetizing Your Blog", and I could have listened to these ladies speak for hours. To me, they have so much knowledge and hands-on experience to share.They are leaders in Canada in turning this whole blogging thing into a succesful work-at-home career. I also got to hang out and share some meals with them, and I consider them to be friends. {Plus, Jody kept me up half the night talking on the last night, right Jody?}

Julie Nowell from 3 Chickens and A Boat and Christine Nielsen gave an inspirational talk on a "New Era in Blogging". I loved meeting these girls and they had lots of great tips to share. And if you need to 'gas' up your confidence and motivation in life....I highly, highly recommend booking a session with Julie. She's your girl! 15 minutes with that girl is gold!

The Fun:

Besides all the fun I had with Jody, Kathryn, Julie & Christine, and  all the other amazing women I was so lucky to meet, I got to spend the whole weekend with this girl: Laura from "I'm An Organizing Junkie".  She was my roomy and source of lots of fun coversation and laughs for 3 whole days. She and I attended BlogWest together last year too. She rocks. And we stayed up way too late talking & giggling like school kids, but that's what good friends do, right? Plus, she's my Peter Walsh of Canada.....the guru of all things organizing. I loved spending time with her!
When I arrived at my hotel room to check in for the conference, this awesome treat was waiting for me as a gift from my publishing company, She Blogs Media. I was so surprised. Then I ate. But I was a good girl and I shared too.
And how about this Face-Off platter from the Edmonton Central Social Club? It's a combination of all the appetizers they serve on one large tray....which is perfect for a group of chatty girls having  drinks. Angela ordered this for the table and it was a feast for the eyes for those of us who had last eaten 8 hours previously.
I also got to meet the two co-owners of Mom Central Canada, Kathryn Easter & Cora Brady,  at a cocktail evening they hosted. They flew to BlogWest for less than 24 hours to meet and chat with bloggers. It was so nice to meet them in person.
My 3 days at BlogWest was time well spent and the connections I made were invaluable to me as a blogger. I want to personally thank Felicia Dewar for all of her hardwork in making this conference happen and all of the amazing sponsors who so generously supported it. I am looking forward to next year already.
See you next year, right girls?!

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