Earlier this month I attended The Blog Societies 5th Annual Conference (AKA #TBSCon), which was held in Chicago. I joined The Blog Societies, a blogger community, back in January and I’m so glad I did. I’ve been able to network with so many others bloggers and takeaways tips to help grow this little side hustle of mine. Now, I haven’t been to a blog conference since LuckyFABB back in 2012! But this conference was so much better than that. I honestly never pictured myself still blogging in 2017 but it’s amazing to look back on where I started and how far I’ve come.
I thought I would share with you all a little recap of the weekend because it was filled with so many great moments.
The Blog Societies Conference was set to begin early Thursday evening so I hopped on a plane earlier that same morning. I coordinated with my blogger friend and conference roomie, Victoria of ViciLoves, so we could Uber together to the hotel. We arrived a couple hours before scheduled check-in and since it was Lollapalooza weekend, we knew it was going to be crazy so we checked our luggage and headed out for lunch. We went to Lou Malnati’s for lunch with Tara of Lace & Grace so we could enjoy a slice (or four) of some deep-dish pizza! Continuing on our tourist checklist, we wanted to go to Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) to see spectacular views of the city from the 103rd floor and take some photos on the glass balcony. From there we headed back to the hotel to get our room keys and get ready for the evening.
Our conference was being held at The W Chicago Lakeshore. I haven’t stayed in a W property in quite some time but as soon as we walked into the hotel lobby, I remembered why I love this hotel so much. The rooms are very modern and chic, and the beds are SO comfortable!
Once we had freshened up, we headed to the Welcome Party at Sugar Factory hosted by Vera Bradley. Have you ever been to Sugar Factory? It’s basically an eatery meets candy shop and the food, drinks and décor are very over-the-top. They had huge flat screen TVs with photos and video of the Kardashians on loop. They must have equity in this company, right? I just got word they are opening a location in Pentagon City for my DMV locavores. Anyways, I had a cocktail that tasted like the children’s cough medicine, Dimetapp, and it was surprisingly delicious. They had some tasty little hors d’oeuvres and more over-the-top cocktails you could choose from (if I recall correctly, they even had a drink with a lollipop as a garnish). From there, a small group of us headed to dinner at The Hampton Social so we could snap more photos of the “Rose All Day” sign.
Friday morning was jam packed with workshops that bloggers pre-selected at registration. I was super excited for my workshops, which included learning the basics of running your blog like a business, tutorials on Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram, and Lightroom photo editing tips and tricks. Each workshop went by so quickly but my notebook was filled with great tips and takeaways that it only left me hungry for more workshops!
Marc Fisher hosted lunch on Friday (only the “it” shoe line right now that every blogger is obsessed with). We hopped on a bus and headed to The Boarding House. Lunch off-site was great because I was able to mingle with some new bloggers, learn more about Marc Fisher’s fall collection and indulge in some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
We arrived back at The W for the Interactive Networking and Gifting Suite. The TBS founders weren’t kidding when they said we would need some extra luggage space! My Vera Bradley duffle bag (gifted) was filled to the brim with goodies from brand sponsors. Marc Fisher gave us a pair of the cutest gold slides, Physicians Formula passed out the latest makeup products, Charming Charlie revealed its new Kendall and Kylie accessory collection, it felt like Christmas! Aside from the free gifts, it was great to have some face-to-face time with brands I’ve followed and hope to work with in the future. Another fun highlight—Lauren James had a legit donut wall!
Our agenda for Saturday was filled with great blogger and brand speakers. I learned how to introduce travel content into my blog thanks to A Southern Drawl and Shop Dandy. I was most excited for the keynote speaker, Rachel Martino, who shared her story of how she turned her passion into a career. I was able to chat with her in person and she was very humble and sweet. During her presentation, she admitted she was not an overnight success and it was hard work and consistency that got her to where she is today—a great reminder for micro bloggers like myself.
We also listened to Brittany of Lawyer Cookbook speak about the latest FTC Guidelines and contracts with us. Hands down, Brittany is the best motivational speaker I’ve witnessed in-person. She really knows how to light up the room. It was really refreshing to hear another blogger explain how important it is to value the time you put into your business (whether it’s a blog or not) and work with brands that also value your time.
Our closing session was a brief panel discussion with some of the leading brand sponsors of the event. It was great to hear their honest thoughts on collaborating with bloggers and how we can work together on projects that are mutually beneficial.
Before Vici and I left for the airport, we made one more touristy stop at Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate (aka the big bean!). I actually was lucky enough to see this last year when I came to Chicago last summer but it was nice to see it again and take more photos.
Special thanks to The Blog Societies founders Cathy and Jessica for organizing such a great event. My previous full-time gigs first exposed me to the work that goes into hosting conferences, and trust me it is no easy feat. I am thoroughly impressed with such a well put-together event and I am definitely planning to attend next year!
Photography by Julie Kennedy
If you’re a blogger or have any questions about my experience at this conference, feel free to ask! If you’re not currently a member of The Blog Societies community, learn more here!