Florida BlogCon (FLBlogCon) returned to Central Florida to educate bloggers and creators alike! I attended the blog conference on September 24, which was a nearly 8-hour workday!
We all know weekends are an important time to recoup, so I was very happy that FLBlogCon made it worth the time and the drive!
The annual, one-day blog conference is organized by Bess Auer. Bess is the Founder of Florida Swim Network, she’s the co-host of Blog Talk TV, a media strategist, and the list goes on and on! She is very humble with all of her accomplishments, and Bess always tries to give back to the blogger community.
Known as “Orlando’s Original Steampunk Storytelling Troupe,” Phantasmagoria had a few tricks up their sleeves. They entertained us by swallowing swords while hula hooping, belly dancing, and delivering some good old-fashioned steampunk humor. I definitely hadn’t seen anything like it at a conference, so it was an interesting way to start the day!
Three-time Olympic gold medalist encouraged us to dive in
FLBlogCon kicked off with an inspirational talk from Rowdy Gaines, an American former competitive swimmer born in Winter Haven, FL. What a kind person!
He shared competitive swimming stories with us, how he applied that mentality to his work, and how he backstroked past failure. Just like us bloggers with our projects, Rowdy was determined to perform his best at every swim meet.
“I wanted to be the last one out of the water.” ~Rowdy Gaines
Rowdy won three gold medals, all of which he gave away. He wanted to give credit to those who helped him get to where he is today. He gave one medal to his dad, one to his mom, and one to his coach.
Rowdy even passed around the gold medal he gave to his mom! Spoiler: it was heavy.
We played some Olympic trivia, and one lucky blogger won a copy of Rowdy’s book.
After the opening keynote, we broke out into blog niches, such as lifestyle blogs, parenting blogs, fashion, pet, gamer, etc. It was a good opportunity to talk to local bloggers.
We discussed the good, the bad, and the blogging. We exchanged business cards, and then moved on to blog sessions (classes). I’ll mention the sessions later on in the post.
The Price Was Right
The conference took place at Full Sail University. This was my first time visiting the campus, and I really liked that we got to learn in classrooms. It was very fitting, there was plenty of room for everyone, and it felt very comfortable.
This was a HUGE difference from BlogHer17’s cold, hotel atmosphere where some of the sessions didn’t have enough chairs for attendees and they had to stand or sit on the floor.
FLBlogCon was also very affordable. Early Bird tickets were $45. I just missed the deal, so I paid $55 for a regular ticket, and…drum roll, please…FREE PARKING!!!
Parking is usually a hidden fee when it’s too late to turn back, or we already know we’ll cough up an extra 10 to 30 bucks just to let our cars sit all day. I was a happy camper.
Substance & Sustenance
After the first session, we chowed down on some Tijuana Flats (and we got a BOGO coupon for a future purchase – woo hoo!).
I spoke with local (and huge!) fashion blogger Jeanette Johnson of J’s Everyday Fashion just before the lunch keynotes. I reached out to Jeanette a few days prior with questions about affiliate marketing, and she was so easy to talk to.
Jeanette offered helpful advice when it comes to accepting free items from companies, and she later gave a speech at the conference about the same topic.
After our chat, I went inside to listen to Orlando Lady Boss Diana Griffith record a live podcast session. It was cool to see a podcaster and local blogger in action like that!
There was plenty to see during the entire day. I checked out a mini-session on the psychology of blogging to squeeze in some more information, and then went back to listen to Jeanette’s keynote speech about influencer marketing and morality.
Don’t Let a Brand Define Your Value
“You determine your value; brands don’t determine it for you.” ~ Jeanette Johnson
I LOVE when speakers give us a new perspective, something to really think about and maybe even change our minds. Jeanette has such a passion for fashion, blogging, and most importantly, her faith.
Her book, J’s Everyday Fashion and Faith: Personal Style with Purpose*, goes into great detail of her struggles – and now triumphs – in connecting the art of fashion with the values in faith.
*This is an Amazon affiliate link. At no cost to you, I make a commission if you click and make a purchase on Amazon. Thanks!
Jeanette’s speech really got me thinking about marketing, blogging, and free products.
I respect people’s decisions, and I am in no way condemning any bloggers or influencers who participate in free or paid product campaigns. But I believe we must write and accept products with intention.
Jeanette’s speech was really important. She no longer accepts free clothes. Instead, she reuses her existing wardrobe, she purchases products she likes, or she borrows clothes from brands and then gives them right back to be friendlier to our environment and our values.
“You can control what you’re attracting to your blog.” ~ Jeanette Johnson
We can’t blindly accept free products. Some people believe we shouldn’t even accept free products in exchange for a blog post – there may be a bias, because who doesn’t love free stuff?
“It’s up to you to say, Hey, don’t take advantage of me. I’m worth something. My blog is worth something.” ~ Jeanette Johnson
My thoughts are, if you believe in a company and its values (you have to do your research), if you believe in the product, you understand the time it will take to write and photograph the item, and you feel good about it, (and think it’s worth it), then go for it.
If you’re just in it for the money or the fame, then you might be a few bucks richer and a few followers fatter. But are you willing to sacrifice that for great content and your own contentment?
“What we should be asking is, What do you love doing so much that the words ‘failure’ and ‘success’ become irrelevant? ” ~ Jeanette Johnson
Sessions I attended:
- Email Marketing
- Psychology and Blogging
- Increase Pinterest Traffic with Tailwind
- Utilizing Facebook Groups
- 10 Ways To Make Money Because You’re a Blogger
The information was great, and the speakers were very knowledgeable. I was interested in the email marketing session for both my full-time job and my blog on the side.
I took tons of notes and continued improving my own workflow as a creator.
Just a Few Suggestions
I loved how FLBlogCon included an agenda overview in the beginning of the day, and then they made session slides available almost immediately after the conference. That was really helpful since there were so many sessions to choose from, we couldn’t attend ALL of them!
As far as any downsides go, there was some misinformation, such as stating that CAN-SPAM is the Canadian email law. CAN-SPAM pertains to the U.S. (and was only recently implemented in 2009), while CASL pertains to Canada. I’m not perfect, and I’m not here to correct people, but it’s important to include accurate information.
I also wish there was more Q&A time. Some of the speakers talked over the audience. There were a few times where the speaker answered defensively or spoke louder.
One of the speakers only talked for 15 minutes, with 5 minutes of Q&A, when the speaker had a 45-minute time slot.
The plus side is the speakers were very accessible, so we could stop and talk to them before and after sessions, and they stuck around during other sessions.
Overall, the conference was really helpful. It was a breath of fresh air from BlogHer17! It felt more laid back with a strong focus on details.
(If you’re curious about BlogHer17, please read my honest review here.)
The conference focused on the content, the bloggers, and the goals we share. I’d definitely recommend going to FLBlogCon for any new, local bloggers!