As mentioned a few posts ago, beginning of August I traveled to Chicago, Illinois for The Blog Societies’ Conference. The conference was held in my favorite city, Charleston, SC last year (recap here) and although I was longing to visit Chucktown again, I was excited to explore a brand new city. I arrived a day early to scope out the city and do a bit of wandering (like a morning with the famous bean in Millennium Park) but was eager to get the conference started, learn and network. Check out my 5th Annual TBS Con Recap in Chicago below!
The W- Lakeshore- Home Base
The W Lakeshore was our home base for the conference and located right along Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. Man those views were really something! The hotel was fancy, modern, lively and had impeccable customer service. My room was large, sported an amazing shower and had one of the best beds I have ever slept on.
After exploring the city all morning and afternoon and grabbing deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s with Vici from ViciLoves and Kara from Politics of Pretty I headed back to the room to get ready for the #TBSCon kickoff- the welcome cocktail party!
Welcome Cocktail Party at Sugar Factory- Hosted by Vera Bradley
The Welcome Party was hosted again this year by Vera Bradley. Last year’s welcome party hosted by VB was amazing so I knew this year’s would live up to the hype.
Located at the Sugar Factory we all had a wonderful time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones! We sipped on some sweet cocktails, snacked on some delish food and tons of candy before heading out with a few girls for dinner at Hampton Social!
Day 2 started off with workshops. I was assigned to Tailwind, Lightroom and SEO.
Tailwind is an online optimization tool used to schedule Pinterest pins and now Instagram posts! We had a Tailwind representative teach the workshop, so we were learning from the best! I had been using Tailwind for Pinterest prior to the workshop but learned some new features of the site along with why I am totally needing Tailwind for Instagram now! Looking to try out Tailwind? Use my referral link for a free month!
Next up was an Adobe Lightroom Workshop hosted by Stephani Drenka. Lightroom is a photo editing program and is sort of a lite version of Adobe Photoshop. This is what I currently use to edit my photos and I thought I knew everything there was to know about Lightroom but learned a ton more. Such as adding copyrights to your images, removing meta data and using presets.
My final workshop was SEO with Lindsay Humes. I took the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) workshop last year and loved it so much decided to take it again. The main take away I had from this class was to be searchable and make Google happy, you have to be an expert and a resource. Another lesson was to always write about things that are relevant. Sales or one time events come and go- no one will be searching for that information after a few weeks. Main take away- write your posts so even if a year has passed, someone may find that information pertinent.
Lunch at the Boarding House- Hosted by Marc Fisher
After the workshops we hopped onto a shuttle to take us to The Boarding House hosted by Marc Fisher. The Boarding House is BEAUTIFUL you guys. We started off lunch with a quick sneak peek of the fall line and speech from the Marc Fisher Representatives. We had a delicious and refreshing pink drink to sip on while we listened. For an appetizer we had a flavorful salad topped with feta, spiced walnuts, cherries and a vinaigrette dressing.
For our entrees, I chose the Braised Short Ribs with creamy polenta and piperade. This was amazing you guys and perfect for the cool windy weather Chicago was experiencing that day.
We finished off the lunch with some assorted cookies, cakes and pastries before heading back to The W to the networking suite.
The networking suite is what dreams are made of for bloggers. Tables of great brands wanting to collaborate with you, talk about their awesome products and handing over some free product to try at home.
Some of the brands present were:
We got such awesome stuff and even came back to the room and few nights to goodies from Mary Kay and Cosmedix!
Welcome Breakfast at The W- Hosted by Charming Charlie
We started the final day of TBS Con with a breakfast hosted by Charming Charlie. We had an amazing spread of breakfast foods and learned all about the history and offerings at Charming Charlie. This was a great time to get to know some of the other girls as well and fuel before the big day ahead!
Conference and Speakers
After breakfast it was off to the conference center floor for some more learning. We started off with a short presentation by TBS founders- Jessica of My Style Vita and Cathy of Poor Little It Girl it was time for our speakers!
Up first were two bloggers I love, Grace of A Southern Drawl and Danielle of Shop Dandy. Their presentation was all about how to pitch to hotels and how to incorporate travel into your content even if you are not a travel writer. Key takeaways were pitch many months ahead of your proposed visit and for off peak travel.
Our next speaker was a blogger new to me, Rachel Martino, who spoke all about her story to full time blogger and some lessons learned along the way. I developed a serious girl crush within a few minutes of hearing her speaking. Rachel is so down to earth, open and optimistic. She preached the importance of networking, persistence and staying true to your own voice.
The last speaker was TBS member- Brittany from Lawyer Lookbook. Not only is she stylish but, you guessed it, she is also an attorney! Brittany spoke to us all about how to stay FTC compliant when it comes to writing sponsored posts and posting gifted items on social media. It is all about disclosure people! So if you see someone posting #ad or #sponsored- it is not because they are trying to brag, it is because they are trying to not get in trouble/fined by the FTC. (Now you know!)
We wrapped up our conference with a Q&A panel with some of the brands present before heading to the W terrace for a goodbye lunch!
Patio Lunch at the W
We finshed off the TBS Con with a simple but delicious brown bag (filled with sandwich, pasta salad, fruit, chips, cookie and drink) lunch on the W- Lakeshore’s terrace overlooking Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. We all sat, chatted about how amazing the speakers were and said our goodbyes.
I didn’t hang out long because I was determined to go on a famous architecture cruise before heading back home to Maryland. Stay tuned for that post!