TYPICALLY AT 9:00AM on any given Saturday morning you’ll find me fast asleep in bed after waking up for a 6:30am 10–15 mile LSD* run earlier that morning. *LSD = long slow distance.

Not this past Saturday morning, however. I skipped my usual run with the Bala Cynwyd Running Club along the Schuylkill River Trail and arrived at Saxby’s Headquarters for PHL Blogggers‘ first annual The Blog Connect Conference.

This wasn’t my first PHL Bloggers’ event. I had been to several workshops with the group before and always left feeling eager to continue writing and blogging but this was my first all–day conference. I approached Saxby’s Headquarters at 23rd & Chestnut feeling enthusiastic, excited and intrigued for what the day had in store.

And the day – or shall I said The Blog Connect Conference – did not disappoint!

Photo credit: Julie Dent

I reached the venue at which the conference would be held and was practically overwhelmed by the layout of the space. If you’ve never been to Saxby’s Headquarters in Philly I highly recommend you get yourself there as soon as possible. It’s designed with an open concept, lots of exposed brick walls, high tables, soft chairs grouped together and banks of computers for customer use. The modern beauty of the space paired with lots of open windows and light made me feel creatively inspired just being there. The staff of Saxby’s who served us during the conference could not have been more accommodating – great hiring job, Saxby’s! To top it all off, one of the many perks of the conference was that us bloggers had unlimited access to Saxby’s drinks all day.

Well played, PHL Bloggers, well played 😉

Book swap at the conference

Upon arrival, we were given ten raffle tickets to dispense into the jars from sponsors supporting the conference. There was also an option to get headshots taken by Mountain Gap Photography, a very exciting perk and for whom all the photo credit on this page is due along with Tim Becker and Julia Dent. After headshots, I grabbed a drink from Saxby’s, added my book to the book swap, snatched a bagel from Schmear It and settled down to check out my swag bag.

At 10:00am, the first session began: Content Organization with Melissa of SkinnyAffair and Sarah of smoorelovin. (It should be noted that both Melissa and Sarah helped Chrystina of ChrystinaNoel.com plan and organize The Blog Connect Conference.) The hour-long session was beautifully thought-out and used another blog as an example of how to effectively organize the content you want to present to your audience.

Photo credit: Tim Becker

Blogger tip #1: to better organize the content on your blog, reflect on the themes that end to crop up in your writing. Based on the themes you find, create a word map to help you visualize the way you’d like your content to appear to audiences.

If you were watching my Twitter or Instagram that day (like I know you all were), you’d see that I was Tweeting, Instagraming and posting up a storm during all of the wonderful photo/ social media opps available at the conference. A few times during the day, a workshop or speaker would end their session early and everyone would take advantage of those few minutes to Tweet or Instagram. #onlyataPHLBloggersconference

These mini-social media breaks also doubled as snacking breaks! Popchips were available everywhere as was this incredible type of green cucumber-ginger-kale juice from Juice Dr. I am, admittedly, not a juice or kale person, but after trying the Organic Cold Pressed Phase 2 drink, I fell in love.

Following social media/ snack break, we were given the option of two workshops: Storytelling with Julie, The Storyologist or Brainstorming Post Ideas with Lisa Yoder of Lisli – A blog. While I dearly wanted to attend both workshops, I attended Julie’s workshop which covered effectively writing a cohesive post. Julie’s workshop was hugely beneficial – she even gave me a great idea to create mini-posts for a series of running posts I want to cover while I interval train to become a faster runner.

Bekah from That’s Normal spoke to the group next for an hour-long session. Bekah is the co-founder and editor of That’s Normal, an entertainment/ pop-culture website and her presentation went over valuable ways to monetize your blog – something I knew nothing about. Bekah had great tips for various different ways to work with brands and talked about blog analytics.

After Bekah’s session, us PHL Bloggers were treated to an incredible gluten-free spread by Snap Kitchen and of course, more drinks courtesy of Saxby’s and my new best friend, Juice Dr.

Following lunch, we were fortunate enough to hear from Kate and Jess of Philly_PR_Girl on how to build your blog into a business. I was especially looking forward to their presentation as I follow Philly_PR_Girl on social media and love the way they’ve branded their business. It was inspiring to hear about the story behind the blog/ company and how Kate built the brand on the foundation of networking.

Blogger tip #2: always bring business cards everywhere you go. ANYTHING could be a networking opportunity.

Photo credit: Tim Becker

After the presentation, two more workshop sessions were offered: Harnessing Your Creativity with Keyonna of Stellar Inc. Lifestyle or learning how to style and shoot Instagram pictures with Amber of Ember and March. There’s a lot I still don’t know about Instagram so I attend the session with Amber. During her talk, Amber provided lots of fun props for us to arrange and talked specifically about the importance of natural light when taking good pictures.

Blogger tip #3: your job isn’t done after you post a picture; remember to engage with followers, leave sincere comments on others’ pics, and ask questions/ start conversations for maximum engagement.

To close out the conference, Gabrielle of Career and the City moderated a community blogging panel with Bekah of That’s Normal , Emily from Her Philly, Jessica of JessicaLawlor.com and Rachel from The Crafted Life. All of the ladies featured had different perspectives on blogging and had taken different paths to create their own brands and followings. It was extremely valuable hearing all different points of view.

Panel discussion. Photo credit: Tim Becker

After the panel, all bloggers remained for a happy hour and schmoozing and I reflected on what a productive and inspiring day it had been. I walked away from The Blog Connect Conference that evening feeling more eager and confident to let MindfullyWhimsical find its own voice, especially with a supportive group of talented female bloggers at my disposal.

A huge thank you goes out to Chrystina of ChristinaNoel.com, without whom The Blog Connect Conference and especially PHL Bloggers would not have come to exist. A wonderful conference with engaging, talented speakers and a strong group of 50 bloggers made #theblogconnect an unforgettable experience.

Now I can’t wait to see what comes for next year 🙂


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