The 2017 Blog Connect Conference
We held our second annual Blog Connect Conference last month. It was April 23, 2017 at the Saxbys headquarters with a kick-off party the night before at ellelauri boutique in Center City. We wanted to provide a recap for those of you who weren’t able to attend the event live, and to share some of the behind the scenes magic that happened along the way.
We kicked off the weekend’s events with a speaker happy hour on Saturday night at The Baker’s Jar. We ordered pizza from Santucci’s (in true Philadelphia fashion) and treated each one of our speakers to a delicious dessert. If you’ve never been, the Baker’s Jar creates amazing sweet concoctions in mason jars – everything from birthday cake, to carrot cake, tres leches cake, and more. (Oh, and if you’ve never tried one of their cookies, you should get on that immediately.)
Our attendees arrived at the ellelauri boutique for the official kick-off party. If you’ve never been before, the staff is incredibly nice and the merchandise is beautiful. We’ll walk take you through the party from front to back:
Attendees registered at a table right up front and picked up their raffle tickets to participate in the evening’s giveaways: an amazing set of greeting cards by Groundswell Greetings, a tea box provided by Tea Box Express, a free month of CorePower Yoga, a handmade necklace from Philadelphia Independents (located right in Old City!), and an unexpected unicorn ring holder from ellelauri boutiques. ellelauri also gave away a gift card to the best dressed attendee of the evening: Melissa from Skinny Affair.
Right up front you ad your choice of a delicious elderflower lemonade kombucha from Inspired Brews (located right in Old City!) or an assortment of wines from Pinot Boutique - or both! We found out that you can purchase wine in a paint can as well. The can holds 4 bottles, and is super easy for parties. Who knew?
Ann Blake from Ann Blake Photography led a flat lay workshop in the back of the store teaching attendees to create beautiful flat lay photographs for their Instagram accounts (complete with marble tiles on which to take photographs!).
Right next to the flat lay workshop, there was a braid bar set up thanks to the lovely ladies of Concihairge. Each attendee’s hair came out more beautiful than the next.
Gallery Photos by Tim Becker
And that was just Saturday night.
Sunday morning, the doors to the Saxbys headquarters opened at 8:30am. As each attendee came in the door they received a nametag hand lettered by Sarah of smoorelovin, a custom planner from Erin Condren, and even more raffle tickets. We also collected donations for Career Wardrobe, an organization in Philadelphia that assists folks who are unemployed in getting back on their feet with career guidance and the confidence found in a new outfit.
Giveaways at the conference included: another tea box from Tea Box Express, a gift certificate from Vinocity Events for 2 tickets to a wine tasting, a gift certificate to Heads and Tails Salon (located right in Rittenhouse!), a gift card and products from 3000BC Spa, a wine holder from More Than Old (located right in Old City!), a gift certificate for The Style Theory Collective, and two VIP tickets to MANNA’s Guac Off event.
As if hand lettering each nametag wasn’t enough, Sarah also masterminded a streamer wall and balloon wall for attendees to enjoy. (If you check out our hashtag on Instagram, you will see that anybody and everybody definitely got the hint.) How did these streamer walls and balloons walls come to fruition? With a late night at Sarah’s house, some pizza from Santucci’s, a lot of chicken wire, and more dirty jokes than were probably necessary.
As attendees arrived, they were able to grab bagels, schmears, parfait bites, and bagel chips courtesy of Schmear It.
Our favorite perk of having the conference at the Saxbys headquarters is having free coffee & tea all day. (This is followed very close behind by how awesome the staff is, how incredible the space is, and how great the light is. Actually, come to think of it, it’s really hard to choose a favorite perk.)
Julia from Philly with a Fjallraven offered free head shots to all attendees before the conference even kicked off (and while everybody’s make-up was still on point).
Samantha kicked off the conference and handed over the microphone to our keynote speaker, Sarah Morgan from XO Sarah, who spoke about 10 game changers for your blog. This included everything from narrowing your niche, to making your content sharable, to building a community.
Next up came Sola Onitiri, founder of Let’s Get Going, who spoke about how she created her own space in the Blogosphere. She shared her honest story, 7 questions every blogger should be asking themselves, and how to create opportunities through creating.
Andy Shaw from InstaFather closed out our morning speaking about how to find your voice (and shared a lot of really adorable pictures of his 3 kids, all under the age of 3). Between his background in comedy, and being one of the few folks in the daddy bloggers niche, he explained how to really embody authenticity in our writing styles.
Lunch was provided by the amazing team over at Grateful Plate. They served mojo pulled chicken and temph with black beans, almond red and white quinoa pilaf, charred broccoli with yellow bell pepper and pickled red onion with romesco sauce, and grateful granola bites. If you ever get the chance to try romesco sauce, we highly recommend it. (By the way - the premise of this company is they will deliver food for the week straight to your door.)
After lunch, the attendees split into different workshops. Attendees chose to either attend Monetizing Your Blog with Your First E-Book (using content you've already created) with Angela St. Cyril from Setting My Intention, Growing Your Blog Into a Podcast with Angelica Yarde from Studio 404, or #FeministSockBoss: How to Monetize Your Blog with Physical Products with Jennifer Dziura from Get Bullish.
Angela spoke about the why, who, what, and how of creating an e-book.
Angelica spoke about how to get started, get organized, and get better at your very own podcast.
Jennifer spoke about why you should monetize your site directly and not wait for someone else to decide to pay you.
When the attendees were not in their chosen workshop they had the opportunity to decorate unicorn cupcakes with Ruth from Cupcakes By Ruth. Everyone had the chance to create their own unicorn complete with glitter and a cotton candy tail.
Jess Herbine from Broke Girls Go Out spoke about search engine optimization in her SEO Bootcamp for bloggers. She talk about the algorithm and updates, ranking factors, keywords, basics, and intermediate tips for attendees to increase their rankings on Google.
The final session of the day was a panel on Working with Brands. Amber Burns from ember + march, Erica Ligenza from Coming Up Roses, and Nicole Raudonis from Simply Nicole spoke about their experiences in getting started working with brands, mistakes they've made in the past, and finished with an empowering speech about why bloggers deserve to get paid for their time and posts.
Photos by Tim Becker
The evening ended with an ice cream happy hour (and toppings courtesy of Williams-Sonoma), a Q&A session with lawyer Anthony Verna from Verna Law, (we missed our favorite accountant, Tamara Ali Bey from Creative Business Accounting and Tax Services), and a thank you from Samantha from Career Wardrobe.
And swag bags. Pretty incredible swag bags that were filled with items from some of our favorite brands and shops including: Erin Condren, Grateful Plate, More Than Old, Saxbys, ellelauri, Teabox Express, Creative Business Accounting & Tax Services, Artifact Uprising, Mrs. Thinster's Cookies, ParmCrisps, Get Bullish, North Bowl, SerenaFit, SoulCycle, Momentum, Core Power Yoga, The Style Theory, Beaucycled, and 3000BC Spa.
All in all, it was a pretty wonderful day of speakers, workshops, food, swag, and more. Thank you to everybody who was able to attend, we were so glad to have you there. It's been so much fun to watch this community form and we can't wait to see what comes next.
Gallery Photos by Tim Becker
Wondering who's responsible for the planning of The Blog Connect Conference? You can check out their blogs - from left to right - Priyanka Sethi at Paint the Town Chic, Melissa Funtanilla at Skinny Affair, Chrystina Cappello at Chrystina Noel, Sarah Moore at smoorelovin, and Sarah Ramirez at Shades of Sarah.
And a huge thank you to our official blog conference photographer, Tim Becker. You can check out more of his work here.
For other conference recaps, you check out these posts from the attendees:
- The Blog Connect 2017 Recap by Audrey at Brunch at Audrey's
- Blog it Better: Philly Blog Connect - Kickoff Party by Emma at Behind the Leopard Glasses
- Jen at The Blog Connect: "How to Monetize Your Blog" on Get Bullish
- Likes & Favorites: Cool Things from The Blog Connect Conference by Kasia at Ampersand
- The Blog Connect 2017 by Jessica at Sweet Love and Ginger
- Top Takeaway from The Blog Connect Conference by Martine at Broke Girls Go Out
- The Blog Connect Conference 2017 by Swatti at Glossy Cocktail
- PHLBloggers | The Blog Connect Conference by Melissa at Skinny Affair
- Planning the 2017 Blog Connect Conference by Chrystina at Chrystina Noel
- The Blog Connect 2017 | Behind the Scenes by Sarah at smoorelovin
- The Blog Connect 2017 Recap (Day 1 and Day 2) by Priyanka at Paint the Town Chic
- 6 Ways to Boost Your Confidence Before An Event by Arlett at Chasing Joy
- Monthly Intentions for May: Doing it Scared...or Curiously by Angela at Setting My Intention