Yesterday, I went to my first blog conference, Bloggy Bootcamp here in St Louis. I've wanted to go to this once since I started blogging but they haven't been in St Louis in a few years so I was really excited to see them coming back this year.  The conference was less than 5 minutes from home too!

1950s vintage cotton plus size floral day dress via Va-Voom Vintage bloggy bootcamp

I wore this beautiful light cotton 1950s dress, a gift from Daffny of A Vintage Nerd. She sent it to me for Mother's Day (I believe) a few years ago but it hasn't fit till now. I love it so much, I'm sure I'll be wearing it all summer.

1940s easy victory roll pin curl updo

I also wore my new 1940s rhinestone arrow brooch from Nellie's jewelry sale

vintage 1940s rhinestone arrow brooch costume jewelry

A big worry of mine was what to bring to a blog conference. Since it was only a one day event and I didn't need to book a room, packing was pretty easy. Here's what what is my bag:

what essentials to bring to yoour first blog conference

  • business cards- I totally procrastinated and ended up printing mine at home the night before the conference. Yikes! Pj was such a big help, making sure they looked nice and everything was lined up properly. I put my cards in a little vintage zippered pouch, to keep them easy accessible and separate from other people's cards

  • a place for new friends' cards- I gathered so many business cards from new friends. Since there were a lot of local girls, I kept their cards in my dress pocket and out-of-town cards in a pocket in my bag so I can easily remember who to contact to meet up again locally. 

  • something for notes. Laptops can be cumbersome so a tablet or notebook and pen are your best bet. I went the old-fashioned route because a spiral notebook's batteries won't die half way through the conference. 

  • something for pictures- I thought about bringing my camera but it's so clunky so I stuck with my phone. I loved being able to post updates on my Instagram during Q&A sessions and follow some of my new friends

  • A jacket- hotels and conference rooms vary in temperature so everyone always brings a jacket or cardigan, although the organizers of this event did a great job making sure that the room was always comfortable

  • Energy, Friendliness and a Great Attitude- Don't pass out business cards like you're dealing for a poker game (yeah, that happened!). Be friendly, shake hands and look someone in the face when you introduce yourself, then swap cards and take a few moments to get to know something about that person. The purpose of a blogging conference is to meet face to face and make real, lasting connections with other people. First impressions make a big impact and if you can't make a good impression face to face, no one will want to connect digitally. 

Life Changing Moments
I was nervous to attend the conference. I's read so much on being a better blogger and have listened to countless online seminars. What if I didn't learn anything new? By lunch time, I had over a dozen pages of amazing notes.  The most important discussions took pace at the end of the conference during the Power Down session. In this presentation, they talked about the importance of turning off the computer and taking care of yourself, your children and life outside of the internet.  The most life changing and important message for me was "Stop striving for balance".

What? Everyone wants to know how to balance life, family, blogging. The answer is give up on balance. Balance is impossible. No one's life is perfectly centered, poised and steady all the time. They said "You can have it all, just not all at once", meaning you can be a great mother, a great blogger, a great business owner, wife, friend- but you can't rock at those things at the same time.

This is why I mentioned the importance of setting office hours in my post on Making Time for Blogging and Family. When you're blogging, be an awesome blogger. When you're being a mom, don't try to focus your attention on blogging at the same time. When you juggle, you will drop a ball eventually.  When you walk a balance beam, you will fall off. Schedule time to do everything you want to do and when your time is up, power down and move on to the next thing.

Have you ever been to a blog conference?

Learn everything I know about blogging and DIY blog design with my ecourse Bloggerific: A Guide to a Beautiful, Successful Blog