25 March 2013

#BlissDom is a wrap part 1 - Recap.

I'm back from Dallas, and I have so so so much to share, but to summarize the weekend is pretty much impossible, I think. But I will do my best! Just be prepared to see a few posts about it. As a new blog conference attendee, I really want to write thoroughly about it, so that I can be as open and honest about my experience as possible. I know a lot of people don't really know if a blog conference is for them, so hopefully after my BlissDom recap series, you will have a better idea!

For this post, I'm going to quickly just try to sum up the weekend with some thoughts on everything from a glance. But the meatier, more meaningful posts will be coming later.

The Hotel.
We stayed at the Gaylord Texan. It was very close to DFW airport, which made the cab ride over pretty convenient. I met up with some ladies at the airport that had similar arrival times, and we split the cost of a cab, which worked out wonderfully.
The hotel was luxurious. Lots of shops, and lots of restaurants. The service was very good, and the overall feel of the hotel was warm and friendly. The hotel is fairly big, and our room happened to be on the opposite side than the convention area, so we had a nice little walk back & forth every day. But it wasn't terrible.

The Food. 
The food at the restuartns was all pretty good. No complaints there! At BlissDom, most of the meals were included in the cost of your ticket, and were provided by the partners/sponsors of BlissDom. Except dinner, kinda had to fend for ourselves for dinner, which wasn't a big deal. But I thought the breakfast and lunch options provided, were plentiful and I never felt hungry afterward.

The Sessions.
Ok so this is the part that will be hard to summarize quickly, because there is a lot of information here. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the different sessions. There were four tracks to choose from for each breakout session: Business, Photography, Writing, and Life Development. So each time a session would start, I was always scrambling to try and figure out which one I wanted to go to. I ended up going to 1 business session, and the rest I attended were off the writing & life development tracks. So yes, I ended up going to ZERO photography sessions. I think when it came down to it, I felt that it would be a waste of time. I'm not perfect at photography, but I definitely know my way around my camera, and portraiture, so I didn't want to hear a bunch of redundant information.
That said, I didn't really LEARN anything new in any of the other sessions, either. But I guess as an adult, we can't really expect to hear anything we haven't already heard before, so I wasn't very surprised. But what I did get from the writing/life development tracks, was a new perspective. Most of the speakers were very motivational, and were able to help me to see things in a different way, and think about things with a fresh approach. I wrote a TON of notes, and from them, I have so many new ideas and blog posts I want to write.
So, did I learn anything new? No. But was I inspired? Absolutely. And I think that's all I can ask for.

The Speakers.

I enjoyed most of the speakers. Some more than others, obviously. No need to go into the ones I wasn't fond of, because chances are, they won't be coming back to BlissDom. But what I will say is that Jon Acuff is amazing. I got to attend one of his Life Development sessions, as well as his closing keynote, and he is both hilarious and intelligent. He has a way of being funny without even trying, while at the same time, being extremely inspirational and motivating. I wish I could have listened to him all the live long day.

Another one of the speakers I really enjoyed was Megan Jordan. She was one of the speakers in the writing track, and I found her to be very relatable and easy to listen to. She also had some pretty brilliant things to say, some things that opened my eyes quite a bit and gave me some things to think about as a mother and a blogger.

The Agenda.
 The agenda for the weekend was packed. We had small breaks in between sessions, speakers, partner meet and greats, and evening events... but for the most part, we were always on the go. I both loved this and disliked this. I liked being busy, and there was always something to do, but I really wanted more time to just network and visit with other bloggers, without feeling like I was missing something. I will say this, though, BlissDom is very organized. They have their *ish together. Everything was very well thought out and planned down to the minute.

The Entertainment. 
The evening events both had plenty of "entertainment". The girls night out featured Chris Mann and some girl from Glee, I don't even remember her name because I don't watch Glee. Chris Mann was awesome and has an incredible voice. I was a huge fan of his when he was competing on The Voice a couple of seasons ago. So, I was very pleased with his performance.
They also had some soap stars from All My Children  there, which I personally thought was kinda cool, considering I grew up watching these soap opera's when I lived with my Mom. And then they had some people from Suburgatory, I don't even know what that is. But I think I'm the only one cause everyone else seemed pretty excited about them. So needless to say, I didn't care about hearing from the actors that much.
So even though I enjoyed Chris Mann (and even got to meet him), overall, I think the entertainment was lacking. So there's that.

The Handmade Marketplace.
This was a cool area of the conference. During breaks (or during the sessions if you wanted), you could go into the handmade marketplace. Lots of talented shop owners came and brought all their goodies with them for you to browse. Everything from handbags, to jewelry, to candles & lotions, stamps... all kinds of stuff. I was tempted to buy a ton of stuff, but managed to restrain myself. I did however buy a couple of adorable bracelets made by The Shine Project.

The Perks.
There were definitely perks of the conference. NYX Cosmetics were there giving makeovers all day long (I went twice!), the VO5 peeps were there to do your hair, One-to-one network was giving free headshots, you could sign up for a free massage if you wanted, there were tons and tons of giveaways, none of which I won, though. BOOOO! There was quite a bit of swag (how cool it was, well, that's open for interpretation).

The People & Community.
Here's the part I'm going to skip a little bit for now. I think I need to dedicate an entire post to this. I have a lot to say, honest things to say. And I don't want it to get jumbled up with everything else!

But for now I will say this.
As a whole, the conference has a wonderful community feel to it. Even though we are all coming from different places, we all have things in common as well. Most people were extremely friendly and willing to put themselves out there. 

More on this later.

Okay, so I know I skipped a few things, but I will be getting to them, I promise.

Overall, while there were definitely Pros & Cons of this conference, it was VERY WORTH IT! At least for me. I really did have a wonderful time. I left BlissDom feeling inspired and motivated. And I connected with bloggers I've been reading for a while, and made new friends as well. (more on this later!). What more could I really ask for out of a conference?

Stay tuned for part 2.


Linds said...

love this recap! And it was so good to meet you! Wish we could have hung out more!

Emily Peck said...

I'm so happy you had a great time and got to experience a conference! They all have their ups and downs and it sounds like this was the perfect starter. :) That hotel looks AMAZING! Can't wait to hear more details!

Monica said...

So glad you were able to go and had a good time! Can't wait to hear more about your experience.

Rachel said...

I am SO glad I was able to meet you.. I think you are a rockstar and I WILL be stalking you later on the Internets.. that's okay, right? :)

Britney Snyder said...

loved reading this and look forward to reading more about your experience! I have read multiple blogs about blissdom, I have enjoyed reading yours most. I hope one day i will take that opportunity and go to a blog conference.

Erin said...

Great recap! I loved following your instagram and tweets over the weekend. Glad you had a good time! Can't wait to hear more :) Hope to be there next year!

Jessa said...

Good recap. I think just from this, I know I would have hated it. Way too scheduled and I didn't recognize anything from the "entertainment". I would probably learn something, but I wouldn't like the constant go and business. I need way more down time than most people.

Candy said...

Fabulous re-cap and beautiful pics!! Thanks for linking up!

Megan said...

Great recap! I love that you said you left feeling inspired after the sessions. That is the perfect way of putting it! It was so wonderful to meet you as well!

In This Wonderful Life said...

It was so nice to meet you , Mandy! Love this recap! and great pics, as always!

Ashley Paige said...

"we'll, that's open to interpretation." Gah! love this post and you and I so wish we had more time to spend together! Im so glad you decided to come this year and I cannot wait to read your recap posts! Megan Jordan and Jon Acuff were my favorites, too. No surprise there!! ;)

benjamin Lesnefsky said...

Agree with so much of what you said! It was SOOOO NICEEEEE to meet you. I felt like you were a friend from down the street. You are just as sweet and beautiful in person as you come across.

Meg O. said...

LOVED this post! I am 100% with you so far! Going to read the second post!

Natalie said...

As a third year veteran, I full agree that the entertainment was certainly lacking. Last year we had a private concert from Rascal Flatts. How do you top that? Maybe they didn't think they could and didn't event try.
I don't watch Glee. I don't watch Suburgatory. However, I was kinda pumped to meet the guy who was in Clueless so many years ago.

And if you think this hotel is big? You should've been in Nashville. It was almost twice the size.

MandeeFoFandee said...

so glad to read this. I'm thinking of going next year. I really want some growth with my blog, which has been sadly ignored for quite a while. I fell off the blogging wagon with impending motherhood and I want to jump back on. being a SAHM, I feel like MOM is all I am most of the time... I need a place to let it all out. reading your next recap now! :)

Heather said...

You did a great job of sorting it out! Love your organized list of what a conference newbie would be interested in knowing. I enjoyed your pictures, too... but then, I'm the girl who had a 50-foot lens stuck to her face the entire weekend.

Megan {Velveteen Mind} said...

It's the second week of April and I'm just now coming back online after BlissDom. Whew. It really is a lot, isn't it? I know it was a mixed bag for you but I'm thrilled that you came to my session and were able to take something away from it. I was leery of being the last session that first day because, yes, the agenda is insane. If you want to learn something, good grief, buckle up.

And although I know the entertainment didn't blow you away, they are the only conference I can name for women writers that has any entertainment at all, so there's that. ;)

Off to read your other posts! And thank you again!