In a word, this weekend at Go Blog Social 2014 was inspiring. I never expected to be so glued to my chair for two days of speakers, and then excited to keep socializing with everyone I met — despite an extreme case of sleep deprivation.
A few months ago, while reading one of Jessica's posts, I saw that she was going to speak at Go Blog Social. I'd never heard of the conference, but thought that if she was going to speak it must be pretty awesome! I'd been wanting to attend a conference for a while, mostly as a curiosity to see if it would be a valuable experience, and decided that GBS2014 was the perfect opportunity. Not only was it super affordable, it was really the only one happening before we leave for Vietnam this month! I was sold, and booked my ticket!
I am SO grateful I took the leap and went! Flying to a new city where I don't know a single person, and being an a social situation without anyone I know, for a few days was daunting. I'm shy, and maybe a bit awkward
, and don't really know how to put myself out there — luckily, GBS was incredibly welcoming and I left with a few genuinely amazing new friends. It definitely paid to step out of my shell and force myself to be social!
The conference was Friday and Saturday at the Berg Event Space in downtown Kansas City. What a beautiful location! The GBS organizers did a wonderful job decorating, and lined up so many amazing sponsors to spoil us attendees with treats and goodies. I can't wait to order some Tieks!! They not only organized wonderful speakers to fill our days, but also fun parties both nights for a full social experience. How cute is this photo bus they had Friday night!?
As for the speakers, I was really impressed with everyone. Nobody was superficial. Nobody was condescending. Nobody seemed superior or entitled — regardless of pageviews or book deals or TV appearances. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by accomplished, successful (however they defined it), driven women. Jessie Artigue is an example of such a gorgeous woman, inside and out, who truly cares about others and wants to help everyone achieve their dreams. Blogging isn't a competition between similar sites — it's a collaboration we can all participate in, and uplift each other with mutual support and encouragement.
In my own quest to grow The Kitchen Paper and develop my blog into a financially rewarding career, I often look to other food bloggers for clues as to their methods, successes, failures, etc. for learning purposes. While numbers and metrics aren't the end-all-be-all (more on this in a minute), it's shocking how secretive the blogging world is in this area. Nobody wants to admit their pageviews, for fear they might be "too low" and looked down upon. I'm so grateful to Pinch of Yum for being the one and only source I've found to be completely transparent with their numbers. I don't look at them and judge their numbers month by month: I look at them and LEARN from their experience. Their willingness to be open and share has lifted me higher, and I know I'm not the only one.
This weekend at GBS filled me with such motivation and inspiration because I saw that openness and mutual support from so many of the speakers and attendees. I recently pinned a quote from Erica Cook that says "I'm not interested in competing with anyone else. I hope we all make it." It's easy to get caught up in a blogging competition, but so important not to. We can all be successful. We can all be individually creative. We can all support each other, without losing anything ourselves. The bottom line isn't numbers — be in pageviews, followers, or even dollars coming in. The bottom line is creating something you're passionate about, and sharing that with the world. The bottom line is contributing value to the world, and celebrating others who do the same.
Along with being supportive, a strong message I came away with from GBS is that you have to be passionate about what you're doing. You have to put your readers first, and not half-ass it to give them crappy content. Be there for your readers! Interact! Be a real person behind the screen! For some of us, that might mean stepping away and figuring out exactly what kind of content that means. Did we start a blog with a certain intention, and then get pigeon-holed in one area? Are we actually passionate about something else, or in addition to what we're currently blogging about? I personally realized that I don't need to be doing 100% food posts. I can post about life, or yoga, or DIY stuff. Of course I plan to diversify as we travel, but I also think I'll talk more about other passions of mine — I don't JUST eat!
I came away with a long to-do list with a range of tasks from technical business things like finish the paperwork for my LLC or make a media kit, to more inspirational notes like ideas for posts or future products and making it a point to reach out personally to other bloggers I admire. I met other bloggers who have self-published or launched a beautiful product line, and was blown away by the drive and confidence everyone exuded. I'm seriously in awe of how well these women have attacked life! They set up conferences of their own, or blogging groups, or consulting firms — and they succeed!
I may not have talked that much about the actual conference in this post, but hopefully I've adequately conveyed my enthusiasm and inspiration gleaned from going to GBS. From learning about effectively using affiliate programs, to making a better instagram feed, to finding my voice and passion, I have no doubt this weekend will fuel my creative side for a long time to come. If you're a blogger looking for a fun weekend to connect, learn, and share with other bloggers, I highly recommend going to GBS! Too bad you have to wait an entire year!