On October 13, I did something quite out of character. I left my husband and two sons alone for three whole days and flew off to Toronto to attend the incredibly popular BlissDom Canada conference. This was the first time I had EVER been away from my boys overnight, with the rare exception of the single day I spent away from my oldest son Zackary when I was in the hospital giving birth to his baby brother. To say I was emotional would be an understatement.
But I was determined. I love Mommy Kat and Kids but I had reached a point where I wanted to move to the next level and I knew that to do that I needed information that I could only get from other bloggers, bloggers who had been there. Three days later, I returned to my small hometown with my suitcase full of goodies, my wallet full of business cards and my mind overflowing with information. BlissDom Canada was everything I had hoped it would be and then some.
Now it’s important to understand that I made some very specific goals before I ever stepped onto the plane and I highly recommend that everyone do the same when attending a conference like this. When the email updates start filling your inbox, it is very easy to get swept up in all the fun of BlissDom Canada and forget about why you bought your ticket in the first place. When I found myself getting a little too excited about the entire event, I stepped back, took a few minutes and defined my three biggest goals for the conference.
My main reason for attending, as I mentioned, was to learn. I love learning new things and I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity there was to discover how I could make my website better. The panels were amazing and I was delighted to have the chance to get insights from mentors including Patty Sullivan of Kids’ CBC fame, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, host of Till Debt Do Us Part and Eric Alper of eOne. And during the breaks, I was able to discover even more by talking to the panellists in person!
I learned so much and there were some consistent themes that kept reappearing in the various panels. Stay true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no. Respect your audience. It all had my mind whirling with ideas for my website and its growth. What message did I want to share with the world?
My second goal for BlissDom Canada was to connect with some of the amazing sponsors and I definitely accomplished that goal as well. From the wonderful women of the Healthy Choice Gourmet Steamers Steam & Win! Suite to the fabulous frugalistas of UsedEverywhere.com, I loved meeting the people behind the brands and building friendships that have lasted long after the D.J. played his final song at the Karaoke costume party.
My final goal was to meet some of my best online blogging friends in person. I don’t think there’s any way to go to an event like BlissDom Canada and NOT accomplish that goal! I met Jody from Mommy Moment at the airport, Lynette from My Wee View at the TweetUp, Deanna from Maple Leaf Mommy at the niche group meeting and Jen from My Big Blue World at MabelBliss! I love reading as much as I love writing so I check out as many Canadian blogs as I possibly can and it was incredible to meet the women behind the blogs in real life!
I would be very remiss if I didn’t mention my very best blogging buddy, Jen from Mom vs. the Boys. Jen is the one that first reached out to me as a friend online. She taught me that the women behind the other Canadian blogs I read WANTED to connect with me and gave me the courage to start connecting with them. I met her as I was checking into the hotel and we connected instantly. It was so much fun to see that me and my best online friend got along just as well in real life as we did online!
So will I go back? It depends. Because my main goal was (and always will be) to learn, whether or not I go again will depend on whether or not the sessions continue to develop so that I can continue my mission. I’d love to see BlissDom Canada kick it up a notch next year and offer both beginner and advanced sessions on the most popular topics and if the conference was set up like that, I would be sure to be right up front with my laptop typing every word! But either way, BlissDom Canada 2011 was an event that I will never forget and I know that my blog will benefit greatly from the experience. Thanks so much to everyone that helped make it such a memorable conference!