It’s not often that I walk into a room or situation and am intimidated by what lay before me. Well, this past week/weekend was one of those times, and it was such a great experience. Last Thursday I flew out to Chicago, IL for the 5th Annual The Blog Societies Conference (#TBSCon for those wondering on Instagram). Full disclosure, I joined the Blog Societies about a year ago, and this conference was a main driver for that decision. It brings together small to medium-level influencers & bloggers, to learn the finer points of the blogging world and to be introduced and interact with some amazing brands that they may not have otherwise been able to meet with.
I have never been to Chicago so I was really excited to visit a city I had seen and heard so much about. Well, getting to Chicago and the conference was an ordeal that honestly pushed me to my breaking point. My MARTA train was stopped one stop from the airport for a police search (still not sure why or for what), which put me in at the airport with only 30 minutes to check my bag, make my way through security, get to the E-Gate, and board my plane. Needless, to say I missed the flight (well… I actually got there with 12 minutes to spare buuuuut the plane had miraculously left early). Then I was bounced around on standby from a couple of different flights, before final getting a seat on a flight that was 3 hours later than my original. Whatevs, I’m good to go right? WRONG! Due to Chicago weather, there was a complete ground stop for all flights which meant my flight sat on the taxiway for 3 hours while we waited to take-off! With only the offering of 1 jolly rancher, no water, and no bathroom breaks, none of us were happy campers. So I ended up missing the entire first days event, but at least I got to my hotel safe, albeit now 7 hours later than planned.
The conference was held at the W-Chicago Lakeshore which is located right on Lake Michigan and just so happened to be about 2 blocks down from where Lollapalooza was happening so the hotel was in full swing at all times. If you’ve never been to a W Hotel before, definitely go. Each one is very different but they all have an urban/modern undertone to them that is really different. It made for a fun and uptempo environment for the conference, as well as endless possibilities for impromptu photoshoots (a must when you have 90 bloggers all in one place).
So having missed the entire first day, I woke up on Friday determined to hit reset and get my #TBSCon on. The first half of the day was spent in workshops learning how we can be better at what we do as bloggers like a tutorial on Tailwind, Lightroom, and the basics to running my blog like a business. The latter workshop was really eye-opening in that I have a lot of work to do before tax time next year. Yikes! After our morning workshops we all piled onto a big bus and headed over to the Boarding House restaurant for a lunch with Marc Fisher’s Fall 2017 line of shoes. One word: Gorgeous! Lunch also gave everyone a chance to really sit down and get to know the girls we were with for these several days. I coincidentally sat down with several other Atlanta (Chanel & Jordan) and southern bloggers (Megan & Taylor) and we quickly struck up a quick friendship.
Once we arrived back at the W Lakeshore, we headed into the networking suite which is basically blogger trick-or-treating mixed with meet and greets with the conference’s sponsoring brands. There were a ton of amazing brands to speak with and we all walked away with so much SWAG that it more than filled a Vera Bradley duffle bag. This part of the conference is a huge part of the draw because it gives us a chance to forge relationships with brands that we already love but have trouble getting the attention as well as new and upcoming brands that we can fall in love with at the onset. I loved meeting the Cosmedix team because they make amazing skin care products and because they are fellow Atlantians.
Once we’d gorged ourselves on goodies, we all changed (you can never have too many outfits at a blogger conference), and headed out to check out Chicago. I would say about half of the attendees ended up at Hampton Social, the prolific Chicago bar with the must snap attraction, the “Rosè All Day” sign. This was one of my favorite points of the conference simply because of the company I was with. We drank frosè, we laughed, we planned our next big blogger trip. Oh, and we snapped pics of the sign, duh.
The final morning started with a breakfast hosted by Charming Charlie. I chose this as my opportunity to wear the flower crown I had somehow ended up with the day before. Hey, never look a gift flower crown in the mouth or whatever. Breakfast quickly let into the days seminars where we learned about how to add travel blogging to our repertoire, how to blog full-time, and the legal world of blogging. We were up on the top floor of the W for our last day, so of course we had to take frequent breaks for snacks, group shots, and routine outfit posing because, again, bloggers.
I had to catch a 6:25pm flight back to Atlanta, but luckily I did get to enjoy the picnic lunch out on the wet deck, overlooking Lake Michigan, before I left. It was one last chance to mix, mingle, take pictures, and hug my new friends. It was also the most beautiful of our three days weather-wise and I wish I had stayed an extra night so I could soak up the Windy City even more.
If you’re a fellow blogger, and you, like me, want to learn how you can be better at blogging as a hobby, a second income, or a full-time job, I would definitely recommend this conference. Many of the women are return patrons, and I now count myself among them. It’s great for knowledge, it’s great for meeting people and brands, and it’s also just a fun way to experience a new city. Hopefully I’ll see you there next year!