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BlogathonATX 2012 - The Rookie Experience

4/28/12

BlogathonATX 2012 - The Rookie Experience

BlogathonATX first popped up in my Facebook Fan Page stream. The event is located in Austin which is about a four hour drive for me. Would I actually be able to attend? Would the universe finally align in a way that would allow me to attend? After all I have been out here for five years and have never been able to attend any conferences.

It happened! Finally my universe was aligning. Translation, my husband was agreeable to watching the kids, it wasn't out of state therefore I didn't have to worry about an airline ticket and I wouldn't have to hire a dog sitter for our furry babies. Now all I had to do was see if I could gather some sponsorship for all that gas. Insert Karen Nelson owner of an interior design firm, Design with Your Dime in Mind and Matthew Johnson my go to graphics designer owner of Seventhfury Studios. They provide fantastic services and I LOVE working with both of them. If your curious click on the hyperlinks to see their portfolios. There is nothing better than having people who support what you do. It can make you all warm and fuzzy inside.

First up rookie mistake #1 - No business cards. That part of my universe didn't align at all. There was absolutely no way for me to get those done at the last minute. Even though I only came back with three business cards those are three people that I will stay in contact with. Everyone had their little boxes of cards so next time I will be armed.
Business Cards

My husband and I were crazy enough to turn it into a family trip. That's right we took the entire family on a road trip. We started out at oh my God it's still dark outside 4am. All five of us were packed in the van. The plan was get the children dressed and then let them pass out again. It worked pretty well too.

Chucks
What do you wear to a conference? rookie mistake #2 - Caring about it. Recently while I was researching there was a media kit on a blogger's site that discussed sponsorship and the need to cover clothing expenses. Whoa! I thought if you can get your clothing covered for a conference then go on with your bad self.  Honestly, I went into my closet and thought carefully. For me it was about comfort, just be yourself. It made me less nervous and I would be in a lot less pain throughout the day. It's Austin for crying out loud and that's a great place to just be who you are so Chuck's it was....
Zoo on wheels

We drove and we drove and drove watching the sun rise. Let me rephrase that, my husband drove and drove and drove. Did I mention I only slept for 1.5 hours? Long story...moving on. The kids were getting restless. All of a sudden I look out my side of the window and there it is! SQUIRREL.
Pecans and Nuts Berdoll gifft shop Pecan Farm

This thing was huge! I went to the Berdoll site and found out this squirrel has a name, Ms. Pearl. My husband passed it and made a u turn so we could all get out of the van and admire the largest squirrel statue in Texas I'm sure. Don't quote me on that because I could be wrong but I think I'm sure. The kids went NUTS! ha ha no pun intended. We jumped back in the van and my husband drove and drove and drove.

Mom wants out
The road trip was starting to drive me NUTS! The kids were going bonkers in the back. The princess was nailing her brother with her Belle baby doll. It was complete madness by this time but we were so close. Finally the moment had a arrived and it was long over due. Not just the conference but meeting up with Shelley Oz author of Slightly Off Kilter and second in command at Mamavation
Mother's Day out
Once I was released from the zoo on wheels it was all fun and games. What a relief it was to know at least one person there. This brings us to rookie mistake #3 - wall flower syndrome. What if I don't know anyone? Who cares go! These are your people. These are the folks that get you and what you do so show up, set aside your fear and get ready to put the Twitter handles with real live human beings.


sponsors at blogathonatx
We went in to register and the first thing we were given was a bag to put all our goodies in. There were a lot of goodies. They didn't miss a thing! Breakfast tacos, fruit bowls, drinks, chips, candy, balloons (because every party needs them) water, and then there was the SWAG table. We stocked up!

AAuthor Amanda Evans
We found great seats right up front (at the cool kids table) with non other than Amanda Evans. I know of her from Twitter as @KeepComplicated. She is the very talented author of  Sadie The Paper Crown Princess.

children's book
 That's right Shelley is holding a pre-released copy! I think my little girl would love it. Pre-order a copy!
Blogathonatx 2012 room for improvement
Next up we were given the option to have our blogs critiqued in a small group 15 minute session. Do I really want to have people telling me what's wrong with my blog? rookie mistake #4 - If you don't go for it. These ladies are a wealth of information. Don't be scared! Throw caution to the wind and absorb what they have to say like a sponge.
Small group blog critique
 Susan Price owner of firecatstudio.com and Julie Gomoll author of JulieSays.com gave us so much information. I could do an entire series but that will have to wait for another day. The real diamond in the rough we found out is ChumpLady.com. She's an anonymous blogger! Even though I have a photo of her I can't share it because it would be unprofessional to not respect her privacy. She's going places. Just you wait and see. You can see her blog though. What does she have? She has original art work and a niche focus. $$$$ that's the sound of money coming her way. When Susan and Julie look at each other and smile you know that they know she's got something! We headed over to the Q&A with Lauren Modery but we only caught part of it. I'm hoping to go dig up some tweets and posts to see what I missed.
Lunch by Lonely Gourmet
Next up we headed over to WordPress101 and every seat was taken. People were sitting out in the hall way just to hear. This was the only issue this conference had. Too bad they weren't able to stream it live. There were so many people that wanted in on that session. We decided to go wait for lunch sponsored by Lonely Gourmet.It was great and even better Chump Lady sat with us and took in all the advice that Shelley and I had to give. There is nothing like being with people who value what you have to say.
Dog Ranch

Next up was a Q&A with Crystal Edwards about long term blog maintenance. Should I bring my lap top? Rookie Mistake #5 - I didn't but was it a mistake? There are pros and cons. I could have brought my iPad which would have been handy for tweeting and status updates on Facebook but not for blogging. I have had issues trying to blog on it. The iPhone came in handy for Instagram updates. However, I had to keep in mind that it would go to Twitter which was displayed for all to see. If I would have brought mine it would have been a pretty big bulky machine. I wouldn't have left it any where and would have had to drag it with me every where I went. That would have gotten old. Most likely my brain would not have been there. It's possible that I would have spent time checking emails and working on other things that really giving my undivided attention. I think a pen and pad worked just fine.
We decided to leave after that session but not before saying good bye to all the wonderful peeps at our table, Amanda of course, fellow Crossfitter Cindy BrummerRock Star Ronnie Burt and Super Adorable LeLein. We did a lot of laughing together. We bonded over R2D2 and more, it was amazing.
 
The party was over and it was time to meet up with my people. After all that I was running on less than fumes. Special thanks to Yelp for the fun SWAG. My little princess loved the gloves and glasses. Thank you to the team that put this event together. It was great to be around people that get what you do! Until next time.













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