It’s a safe bet that if my schedule is clear and the event you want me to speak at is in a great location with nice weather I will attend (well, and the price is right). A huge bonus is if the event attracts amazing attendees. Bloggy Boot Camp Phoenix fits the bill perfectly! This was my third Bloggy Boot Camp so far. I attended Philly was as an attendee and Chicago and Phoenix as a speaker – and I learn new things every single time I go. As I attend about 50 events a year – some blogging / social media and some industry – I have quite a bit of experience!

Bloggy Boot Camp Phoenix 2013Online I like to think I’m a great networker and communicator but in person I tend to be a bit reserved and shy until I get to know people. At Bloggy Boot Camp it doesn’t take me much time to get comfortable! To be honest it helps that the Boot Camps are purposely kept on the smaller side to foster conversations and build relationships. This trip especially I feel I made some great connections that I need to be sure to keep going long after the conference is over.

If you’ve never been to a ‘blogging’ conference I can tell you every single one focuses on different outcomes for attendees. Some focus on writing skills, some focus on media education, and some focus on affiliate income. Bloggy Boot Camp focuses on building brand relationships – which is of course something a good number of professional bloggers are looking to learn about. Conferences aren’t only about the attendees of course, but the speakers, vendors, and sponsors – and of course the organizers. The Bloggy Boot Camp in Pheonix was the the first time I really got a chance to spend quality time chatting with everyone and the value I received grew because of it.

Bloggy Boot Camp Organizers

The SITS Girls is the company that organizes Bloggy Boot Camp events. The event they produce is directly related to the service that they provide as a company and focuses on educating women bloggers. Their mission is helping them make a mutually profitable connection to consumer brands and the public relations firms that represent them. While I’m not a part of that community (maybe I should finish writing this post and add myself!) the SITS community is over 40,000 members strong and works with brands (like the sponsors I’ve listed below). The single fact that the SITS Girls has so many repeat clients and bloggers for hire tells me they are doing something right! The organizers Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci are some of the sharpest business women I’ve ever met in this genre.

Bloggy Boot Camp Speakers

Again, the fact that there are so many repeat speakers at the regional conferences tell me that the content is amazing and the speakers are on their game. A number of times at larger conferences I get tied up in hallway conversations or am attending another ‘track’ of content so I miss seeing speakers I’d like to hear. Boot Camps have ONE track that everyone attends because they keep attendance smaller.

Meagan Francis and her assistant Sarah Powers talked about ways to hire professional assistance and make it work for your business and your life. The strongest takeaway I got from Meagan and Sarah is that personalities and work-styles need to match to have the professional relationship work. Meagan described herself as a ‘big picture’ thinker and Sarah is a details gal – and finds it instinctual to develop processes to keep Meagan moving in the right direction. Honestly this never occurred to me! I’ve tried assistants in the past. If I was able to keep everything that I have to do and juggle in perfect harmony at all times with the right processes I wouldn’t need an assistant in the first place! Sadly Sarah said she isn’t taking any more clients, but I’m at least inspired to find a great fit of my own with an assistant!

Kerry Gorgone is someone I’ve followed online for a long time and had never quite gotten the chance to see speak – or meet – in person. Kerry is one of those people that when we share a mutual friend they are always saying that we need to meet each other. I’m not sure if it’s our affinity for Doctor Who and Game of Thrones or it’s that we both work in digital media for a living. In any case her talk topic – from the viewpoint of a ‘reformed attorney’ (her words!) – was brilliant and covered all the crazy FTC blogger and advertiser guidelines. And yes, she is as nice (and sooo my sense of humor) in person as I thought she’d be!!

Kim Byers from The Celebration Shoppe is another woman that I love to see speak. She’s a financial professional turned online professional and I think she has a lot to teach bloggers on ways to make money that don’t involve sponsored posts. Kim’s company focuses on making and selling ‘printables’ for birthday parties and celebrations. What I love most about Kim’s talk is that she is very honest about the fact that she doesn’t “do it all” herself. She had a vision of what she wanted to create and then she went out and found the right talent to help get her there. Many professional bloggers today think that it IS possible to make a great income by doing everything themselves. In fact it’s really hard to make more hours in the day to work on ‘work’ and still grow a company and be an active part of your own family.

Yuliya Patsay, Lizz Porter, Gigi Ross, Kelly Tirman, and Danielle Smith were also speakers at Bloggy Boot Camp Phoenix and all just so brilliant. Each one was a blessing to chat with and to be 100% honest I swear just by hanging out with them I got smarter! Watching them juggle a speaking topic, questions from the audience, a call from a client, and a Facetime with their kids at bedtime make me realize that success can be balanced with a full and amazing life.

Bloggy Boot Camp Sponsors

Wine. Seriously, who can go wrong with having an event sponsor that is a winery?! Mirrasou Winery sponsored the conference and hosted a wine tasting event one evening. The owner David Mirassou was even AT the event and was genuinely interested in talking to Boot Campers. David even helped this self-confessed box wine drinker figure out how to enjoy a glass of Merlot! I even tried a moscato (a white slightly bubbly wine) that I wouldn’t have dared to drink if David and Tiffany (conference organizer) didn’t tell me about! Also, it’s not really a cliché that mom bloggers enjoy wine while they sit and write! Mirassou wasn’t really on my ‘radar’ before since I’m pretty much a “red wine from the box” drinker, but I can tell you I went and picked up a good number of Mirassou bottles when I got home from Phoenix!

Braces. Yep, I have an 11 year old daughter that will soon be getting some. Invisalign was another Bloggy Boot Camp Phoenix sponsor and treated us to breakfast one day. I’m not saying I attended breakfast just to see what they had to tell me about their product – but that IS mostly true (I just really needed coffee). For some reason I thought Invisalign were ‘braces for adults’ but they told me a lot about how kids now love the clear braces too. I never realized that you get a new set of Invisalign’s every two weeks to ‘coax’ your teeth into the form they are supposed to be in so that was a big eye opener. I also learned that the mouth pieces have little blue dots in them that react with your spit (eww and cool!) to see if the person is really wearing them like they are supposed to. (Also: BUSTED! Now parents and dentists can tell if you’re lying! HA!) I’m definitely going to check into this when it comes time for my kids to get braces!

Bloggy Boot Camp Wrap Up

So yes, this was a LOT in one post. Sorry about that! (Especially learning that blog posts should really stick to ONE topic to keep a readers interest!) I’ve just had such amazing experiences at Boot Camp as an attendee and a speaker so I wanted to give you the low-down while it was all still fresh in my memory.

All in all I would highly recommend attending a Bloggy Boot Camp if you are interested in learning out how to make the right kinds of connections with public relations firms and brands, learn how to create alternate income streams for your blog, and how to juggle – never ‘balance’ – your new found professional career as a blogger and the million other things you do in your life. The organizers, speakers (myself included), sponsors and especially the attendees are very smart and genuine. Attending a conference like this is a professional investment in YOU. It’s somewhat easy to justify spending money on a new website theme, graphics, or a new laptop. It’s harder for us to recognize that by exposing ourselves to new ideas and new people in person at events and conference we can drastically increase not only our knowledge but our potential.

I hope to be able to attend another Boot Camp whenever they are held and see you there!