Blogcademy Chicago 2014 is in the books!
I have been interested in Blogcademy for some time. So I was thrilled when I realized they would be passing through Chicago. I skittered over to PayPal and forked over my money to secure my spot.
Sidenote: I think the Chicago group freaked the headmistresses out. Midwesterners are good listeners and are quite polite by nature. I think sometimes that can appear as shy and quiet to outsiders. Nope, just good manners!
If you are unfamiliar with Blogcademy it is like blog boot camp. It is the brainchild of Shauna, Kat and Gala, 3 of the top bloggers on the internet. It takes place over two days. Each day is eight hours long and is chalk full of useful information, resources, exercises, helpful tips, one-on-one blog review and open Q&A. If you have a blog related question, you will get it answered here. Nothing is off limits. They definitely pull back the secrecy curtain.
I have had my blog since 2008. In that six years, I have learned a lot about blogging simply by trial and error. During Blogcademy, I found that I knew some of the information already, but what I did not know, was tidbit gold! (as in almost a full notebook worth of notes to digest!)
Here are my key takeaways from the weekend:
1. BE RELATABLE
During the weekend, they kept referring to me as "Vale Design." I figured it was just because of my PayPal information. Then, when we had some time during a break, I discovered that most of my social media handles were Vale Design. Not Erin Vale. As in me. As in a person! What?! I changed my Pinterest and my Twitter handles immediately.
Add that personal touch. Only you have lived your life.
Open up and share personal experiences.
Makes you relatable and unique.
There are lots of unique "looking" people on the internet, but that does not necessarily make them better than anyone else. Think about why you read the blogs you read. Chances are you relate to those people in some way, not just because of what they are wearing or what color their hair is. They may have a special talent that you admire or want to learn. They may have some parenting wisdom you want to glean. They may have nothing in common with you, but you love their storytelling and can't fall asleep at night without checking in on their daily adventures. Make yourself and your content relatable.
2. HUSTLE & WORK HARD
This one should go without saying, but some people think that the internet superstars they admire had overnight success. That they just woke up and starting make a six figure salary. Not the case.
They work hard. They embrace and examine their unique passions and interests. They constantly practice their writing skills. They research adverts, pricing, taxes and new regulations. They work 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week. They do not take sick days and take devices with them on vacation. They brainstorm, write, edit and launch digital products. They network. They comment. They connect with all of us at all hours of the day. They help us solve problems. They give us genuine advice. They inspire us to be ourselves. They hustle and work damn hard.
Sidenote: The above pictures were part of a still life exercise. At first, I was not excited about this exercise, but then I realized it is because I have become a bit lazy with my cameras. A snap here. A shot there. This exercise was a helpful reminder to always be thinking artistically and creatively.
3. OWN YOUR AWESOME
This was the key takeaway for me. After blogging so long, and watching the blogging landscape change so much (what is with all the "look at me" shouting?), sometimes it is easier to just step away. Easier to think, "I would just be adding to the noise today" instead of "I have something valuable to say."
With every question I asked, I started to realize that my questions had an underlying current of insecurity and lack of confidence. Am I feeling "less than" and did not even realize it? Did I feel that peaceful and reserved meant invisible instead of wise and knowing when to speak?
They drove home the point that every single person is different. Everyone has had different life experiences and there is VALUE in that. Whether you are a sparkly babe from Manhattan or a suburban work from home mom, everyone should OWN THEIR AWESOME. Own it. From this point forward, stop the madness and accept who you are for what you are and take pride and joy in that. Embrace your weird passions. Love your peaceful quiet life. Stop comparing and just be you.
"It's not difficult to be unique. Just be you."
I had a great time at Blogcademy. I met nice people and learned new things. Two of my favorite things to do. I visited Chicago again after a very long time and ate at my favorite restaurants. I was able to look out the window on the drive home and blow kisses at the skyscrapers and feel my shoulders sink down as I watched the flat Indiana landscape come into view. It was a fast, furious whirlwind of a weekend. I am glad I signed up and now I will never say, "I wonder what I would have learned..."