Nothing in my year excites me, challenges me and motivates me as much as Blogtacular. This two day creative conference for bloggers sees major names from the creative world speak. I have come back from the conference buzzing, exhausted and excited to put what I learnt into practice but I wanted to use this post to share what I got from the whole experience.
This year (my second at Blogtacular) really picked me up by the scruff of the neck and shook me. These are the 6 Ways Blogtacular 2016 Inspired Me To Change My Perspective.
YOU are enough.
I made a commitment at the beginning of this year to push myself beyond my comfort zone and really flourish. I have found what I am passionate about doing with my life but now the devil is in the detail as to how to accomplish it. I have spent a lot of time feeling a bit like the rug has been pulled out from under me. I am 41 and self employed for the first time. Working from home I have put on some weight (up until now I have pretty much always had jobs where I am on my feet all the time) and there is no-one to blame for any decisions I make but me. I was feeling old, out of touch and frumpy. How I used to define myself is no longer relevant. I am at a big crossroads where I have to choose how the rest of my life will go.
In he late thirties our keynote speaker Lisa Congdon found herself, newly single and unhappy in her job. Lisa joined her brother in an art class and found her purpose in life. She became an artist and illustrator and her colourful, quirky work was hugely in demand.
Earlier this year she reached another crossroads. She realised that she had let her work become how she defined herself. She was perilously close to total burnout. She shared with us Jen Pastiloff’s “Girl Power Manifesto” as illustrated by Emily McDowell
We are bombarded with the work, appearance and opinions of others via the internet. That makes it hard to hold onto this. Lisa admitted this which took her to her next piece of advice…
Choose the metrics by which you evaluate your success or failure.
The quote that Lisa shared from Tara Rodden Robinson stopped me in my tracks. The metrics by which I judged myself were all wrong, all skewed, how did I know that? Because I didn’t use the same criteria to judge anyone else, and, most importantly, I hated the thought of anyone else judging themselves like that.
Lisa shared her criteria for measuring her own success and I think they are a great starting point for me (and pretty much anyone), although I expect that they will evolve to become more personal over time.
Time for a change and to embrace the principle of Wabi Sabi .
Know what you are offering and have a plan.
This gem actually came from Kristobel Plummer’s session on “Blog Business”. Her point was actually made with regards to working with brands for sponsored posts and alike but I feel it fits very well with life in general. Everyone has principles and being clear about what they are equips you to evaluate any opportunity and maybe avoid that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise that you are on the wrong path.
Be clear and intentional in your communications.
Kristobel also stressed the importance of clarity in all your business communications. You can then manage expectations successfully and build a relationship that is beneficial for both parties. This started me thinking about how clear and regular communication would benefit every aspect of my life.
Sara Tasker reminded me that not all communication is via words. In her “Phoneography” session. She talked about the fact that “you are only as good as your top 3 rows” (of images on Instagram) and her 126k followers can’t be wrong. By having three words that describe your style. If your image does not fit at least one of these words, it doesn’t make it onto Instagram. ALL my communications matter and using some of Sara’s visual techniques will help improve mine immensely.
When the blurb on the Blogtacular website boldly stated that “Laura Jane Williams believes that none of us is screwing up like we think we are.” I knew that I had to take her writing workshop. I wasn’t disappointed. Funny, bold and brave she had all of us working through three drafts of a piece about a first meeting and she also made the point that words can either paint a picture or move a story along with pace.
Both of these have their place but I need to be clear which I am aiming for.
Laura shared the Maya Angelou quote,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
All of this emphasis on the importance of the quality of your communication could have been, quite frankly, terrifying. At the last Laura saved me from paralysis as a result of the expectation placed on me by telling us to write (or communicate) from a place of “NOBODY CARES”. This lets you find your voice while no-one is listening. This is going in big letters above my desk!
You have a tribe and many of them will be struggling with the same things you are.
This year I decided to jump in with both feet and apply to get onto one of the organised photowalks on the Friday afternoon, attend the party at West Elm on the Friday evening PLUS the big event itself (9 1/2 hours plus travel time) on the Saturday. I used the last of my tax rebate to fund two nights in a hotel and off I went. During the course of the two days I chatted to a LOT of people. As we Photowalked, at the West Elm Papermakers Party and during the conference itself, and do you know what I found?
Quite simply this tribe “gets”me. They understand an outgoing introvert because a lot of them share the same traits. Some of them went through far more than me to get to and get through Blogtacular. As we talked they shared the same insecurities about blog post frequency and quality and there was loads of excited “me too!” moments. Even the speakers seemed to be kindred spirits. Lisa’s “vulnerability hangovers”, Kristobel’s regret that she hadn’t educated herself on business matters from the get-go, Sara’s belief that life is messy and your images should reflect this, just about everything that Laura said and Enid’s office with the “Done is better than perfect” poster on the wall!
I lost count of the number of times that I heard other bloggers say that they didn’t think they were posting enough or that the quality of posts wasn’t strong enough. I read a lot of these blogs for pleasure and I would totally disagree. I hold their blogs up as examples of what I want to achieve and how I wish I sounded. Everyone looks at themselves and their work with a very distorted lens. Being able to discuss our issues and insecurities in person was liberating.
Be brave and be flexible.
In my opinion all of the speakers were brave for just getting up in front of the crowd and sharing their stories. As if this wasn’t enough they all put themselves out there in a very personal way via their chosen creative outlet. That requires a huge amount of bravery just to keep “showing up”. As Lisa explained it was about balancing the potential they have for great creativity against the risk of exposing themselves to trolls. That takes bravery.
All the speakers showed that they have all evolved from their starting point into what we see before us today. Something has helped them do this. Enid Hwang spoke of the importance of having a process to help you deal with change. This flexibility allows a creative person to roll with the punches and find a way to get around the reach of the person throwing them. Being flexible gives you the capability to keep showing up.
What the other 349 (ish) attendees took home from Blogtacular (aside from an awesome goodie bag) I would be really intrigued to learn. I know that some of the things I picked up on certainly weren’t explicitly spelt out and were a result of where my head was at just before the conference. It was the message I was ready to hear and the one that Blogtacular gave me.
It really helps that the conference is sponsored by brands which really “get” the importance of fostering creativity. West Elm, Mollie Makes, Sudo, Microsoft, Annie Sloan and Pinterest all sponsor and most of them are returning for at least the second year. That helps make Blogtacular a “safe” space for all attendees to get the most from the experience.
Thank you Kat and Team and thank you sponsors for charging my batteries for another year.