This is going to be one long post.
Creative Estates was an amazing crafty blogger conference held last weekend in Chandler, AZ (hometown!). It was fantastic for so many reasons: I got to meet amazing women who have the same passions and morals and loves as me, I learned so much about blogging/photography/etc, and I got to see my parents!
The Conference, Thursday
Thursday night kicked off the weekend with a cupcake party and dinner in downtown Chandler. I walked in and didn't know anyone yet, and immediately a table near where I was standing called me over and asked me to sit down! I was so grateful because I am not always the best about inserting myself into groups, so having them invite me over was such a blessing. I got to meet them all, and learn about their blogs and shops and lives. And of course, we all shared some awesome cupcakes!
The Conference, Friday
To start off the day, we all piled into the Inspirador, a wedding, banquet, and meeting hall in downtown Chandler.
They couldn't have picked a more perfect place! This place had class and style but in such a perfect, understated tone.
After a brief welcome and introduction by the founders of Creative Estates, Shey B and Tauni Everett, it was time for our topic-specific classes. There were two classes, one focused on posting on a creative blog, and one focused on how to create a thriving business from a hobby. Since I currently have a job and don't yet plan to open up my own handmade business, I opted for the creative blog posting seminar.
- Blogging is a juggling act between family, friends, church, home, and job. You have to learn to find a balance.
- Pass it on. If someone helped you when you were a wee lil' blog, turn around and do the same for someone else. It will mean the world to them.
- When inspiration strikes, don't spread it out over a few days so that the posts have space between them. Just tackle it all and schedule the posts out.
- Set a policy for things like giveaways, post topics, guests posts, etc and stick to your guns.
- Find bloggers with the same size and focus as your blog and promote each other. Lean on each other to boost yourselves up together.
- Learn to manage the dry spells.
- Make a friend who knows code so that if your blog crashes, you can get it back.
These are all just some highlights of course, but I thought they were the ones worth sharing.
After the session and then lunch, we all got together to listen to a session hosted by Tauni Everett (one of the founders). While she's not a huge blogger herself, she works in PR and specializes in online social media. I have got to say, out of all the learning sessions we went to this weekend, this one just blew me away! I am amazed at her ability to wiggle her way into the most amazing situations. She actually managed to get herself invited to Martha Stuart's blog launch party in New York just because of twittering with them!
My biggest takeaway from this session was that if you want to be big, if you want to grow, and if you want to make a real name for yourself, you can't rely only on yourself. You have to get published, get featured, and get quoted by bigger companies and bloggers than yourself. And how do you do it? Tweet them! Follow them! Email them! Do whatever you can to get in the door, and be genuine and real. And of course, it's all about long-term relationships!
The Conference, Saturday
Saturday morning kicked off with a panel by some incredibly successful handmade shop owners and bloggers, touching on how to balance a small business and motherhood.
Photo courtesy of Sandy a la Mode
When this session initially started, I thought to myself that this wouldn't really speak to me since 1) I didn't have a business and 2) I wasn't a mom, but oh boy am I glad I stayed! This was such an interesting panel because there were such drastically different personalities amongst them. From outrageously organized to just plain outrageous, they were able to appeal to every personality in the room!
- Multitask if you're a good multitasker. Don't if you're not. Success is about knowing who you are and how to maximize your own potential.
- You need to achieve your own level of success. Before starting any business venture, you need to know what you want to accomplish, instead of just comparing yourself to others.
- If you are not truly passionate about what you are doing, you need to find what lights your fire.
- If you feel cluttered down with ideas and worries and thoughts, write them all down in a notebook you carry around and free up some mind real estate.
- Celebrate the small victories. Small celebrations along the way will help the journey feel much more rewarding.
- Don't take your personality out of your blog or product, just because you think that's what the consumers want to see.
- Customize your life to fit who you are, not the other way around.
After making a quick run to Chik-fil-a with some lovely friends, we came back and had the afternoon session. I decided to take the Photography class, and it was really interesting! I have actually done a lot of reading on photography when I got my DSLR a year ago, but it was nice to get a quick refresher. However, my one significant takeaway was that I was using the fancy new expodisc I got for my birthday all wrong! Ok, not all wrong, but I now know why it seemed to overcompensate and make all the colors funny. Now I'm excited for my next cooking adventure so I can test out my expodisc correctly!
The photo session was then followed by a fun craft. We got to pick between painting and making a necklace, and I chose making a necklace. It was interesting to learn how to make a fabric flower necklace backed with felt!
That night we all had dinner together then came back to the Inspirador for a few cocktails, cupcakes, and giveaways. And guess what? I snagged this awesome painting from Lindsay of Aisle to Aloha! Love it!
The Handmade Market at Creative Estates
One thing I think I was most excited for was to go shop shop shopping at the handmade market! Some of my favorite shops were having booths, and the best part -- no shipping! I've been ogling at some cute accessories for ages, and finally I got to see them in person and purchase. Talk about fun!
I also got to claim my purchase from Jacqui from Craftee McGee. She didn't have a shop at the handmade market because she actually made over 150 felt flower headbands for every attendee in their swag bag! Talk about a lot of work!
I purchased the necklace in the photo below in Jacqui's shop before the conference, and she agreed to hand-deliver it in AZ rather than ship it. I have gotten a million compliments on it already!
We met online
and we're not ashamed!
Of course, aside from the amazing conference itself, one of the best parts of my weekend was meeting all the fabulous women who I had only ever talked to online. Though we felt like we had been friends forever, in reality this was the first time we were ever actually meeting each other! I've done you the favor of collaging (yes, collaging) these pics to consolidate, but I have listed everyone's name and blog/shop below so please hop over and check them out! Tell them I say hi!
Talk about an amazing weekend! A huge thanks to everyone who made it such a success!