Texas Style Council’s Summer School (Part 2).

If you read yesterday’s blog post, you know all about my wonderful (and busy) first day experience at Texas Style Council‘s Summer School. If not, head on over here to catch up!

Day two of the blog conference was much the same – full of speakers who had brilliant information to share. What made day 2 especially amazing was that it was filled with some of my favorite bloggers and blogging inspirations. The day started with a keynote speech given by the lovely ladies (and sisters) of A Beautiful Mess, Elsie and Emma. As is the case with many of today’s bloggers, Elsie and Emma’s blog was one of the first I stumbled upon when I began reading blogs, so it was especially exciting to hear what they had to say. The two had a great presentation on all the things they’ve learned from blogging, and shared some of their key tips, including “challenge yourself constantly,” “write the blog that you would want to read,” and the all important “don’t drink & blog.” I had a blast listening to them, and know that I’ll be keeping their tips at the forefront of my mind.

Following Emma and Elsie’s keynote, I started out for another long day of listening (but as I said, I was even more excited for today, so I totally didn’t mind):

Pitching and Working With Bloggers | Turns out, this session put on by Alison of Yoked was more geared towards brands interested in working with bloggers (if you couldn’t tell from the title), but I actually found some value in it as a blogger. It provided me some good insight as to what brands are looking for in a blogger, and I plan to utilize that information should I ever get to a point where I’m ready to work with sponsors.

Creative Brand Collaborations | I could barely contain my excitement for this session, y’all, because it was being led by one of my absolute favorite Austin bloggers, Camille Styles. She has one of the most gorgeous blogs on the web, and when it comes to brand partnerships, she is brilliant, so I knew this session would be completely inspiring and educational (and it was). Camille  gave a talk about the right way for bloggers to create successful partnerships with brands, and how to best approach those dream brands (essentially what I learned in the session previous, but from the other side of things). It was pure gold. Plus, I met Camille afterwards which was even better than pure gold…we’ll go with platinum.

Work + Life + Blog Balance | Led by Julie of Orchid Grey, this session dove into the best ways to manage a job, a hobby, and a life (in my case a boyfriend, a dog, and friends) without getting too overwhelmed. What I found most interesting here was her suggestion that we need to stop thinking about how to balance everything because finding balance implies that each of the parts may be uneven, which is not always the case; instead, Julie recommends that we think of it as making each aspect of our life fit because we always find time to fit in the things we love. Interesting, no?

Small Steps: Secrets To A Start-Up | You’re likely looking at this and thinking, “What the heck, Rachael? You’re not planning to start a company.” You would be correct, reader, I’m not. But, you’re also forgetting the part in the story where the speaker for this session was Kendi from Kendi Everyday, and I’m mildly obsessed with her blog (which is interesting because I usually shy away from fashion blogs), so I was going to be listening to her session regardless of the topic (she could have been talking about spiders, and I would have been there…I think). In a way that’s just as witty as she is on her blog, Kendi shared the secrets and lessons that she learned while opening her own retail shop. Despite not having plans to start my own business, I was completely engaged. The best part? I got to talk to Kendi after her panel, and I’m not kidding when I say that she is just as nice as she is on her blog. 

The conference ended with a final convocation where a handful of the weekend’s presenters took the stage to answer any lingering questions that we attendees had. It’s too bad that I was too mesmerized by all the brilliant minds on stage to ask a question because I could only imagine the kind of thoughtful responses I would have received from those ladies. 

I left the conference feeling totally reinvigorated about blogging, with tons of amazing ideas a brewin’. Not to mention I made some great new blog friends who I look forward to continuing my relationship with, both online and offline.  Basically Texas Style Council is a win, and I can’t recommend it enough  – I sure as hell know I’ll be there for the next one during SXSW.

If you went to Texas Style Council’s conference and have any inspiring tips or fun memories to share from weekend, please do in the comments!

Texas Style Council’s Summer School (Part 1).

As a blogger, I spend a lot of time online. For me, that’s fine – I love to write and I love to write my blog, so I certainly don’t mind the hours I spend typing away behind a computer screen. But, sometimes, it’s nice to give the ole’ laptop a break, and do some socializing the old fashioned way – face-to-face. So this weekend, I did just that and attended my very first blogger conference: Texas Style Council’s Summer School.

Let me tell you something, y’all: it was great! There is something so wonderful and inspiring about coming together with a group of women (and a few men) who love doing what you love, and sitting in sessions where the speaker spoke to every one of my own blogging thoughts, concerns, insecurities and goals. There was definitely a lot of sitting – in total, I think I sat through 10-12 separate sessions, but it I hardly took notice of the fact that I couldn’t feel my butt by the end of each day.

It would take me blog post after blog post to give y’all a detailed description of each session that I attended, so I’m going to take a page from my friend Nicole at Writes Like A Girl and share the highlights from each of my sessions (or “classes” as we loving refer to them in summer school):

HTML 101Jen, owner of Purse & Clutch gave us a crash course on writing in HTML (which I now know stands for HyperText Markup Language). I’ve always been interested in learning how to write in HTML, and while I wouldn’t say that I’m a master HTML-er after Jen’s class, I can proudly say that I understand the very, very basics. Now just to build on what Jen taught…

Freelancing 101 | One of my favorite Austin bloggers, Tolly of Austin Eavesdropper, schooled us on the ways to break into a freelance writing career, as well as selling yourself and work to the right publication. This class was right up my alley because I would love to one day become a freelancer – I think if I was listening any more closely, I would have fallen out of my chair.

Creative Living 101 | When I decided to join this class put on by Jessie of Style & Pepper, I thought I would learn how to add creativity and flair to my everyday life (two things my life desperately needs almost 100% of the time), but what I actually learned was how to bring my online world offline – a useful tool for many bloggers and shop owners whose blog is their brand.

Personal Budgeting 101Now, I’ve never thought I have been bad with money, but when I heard that Eric & Kelsey of Words of William were teaching a class on budgeting, I knew it was a must-attend. Budgeting is not my strong suit, and they are PROS! The biggest lessons I learned from this session: Find a tool that works well for you (they use YNAB) and stick to a budget for at least three months to help acclimate yourself to the new lifestyle.

DIYAt this point in the day, I was getting a little worn from sitting in panel after panel, and thought it was about time that I got involved, so I went to two separate DIY sessions. The first was a class on designing and crafting gemstone chip earrings, taught by the fabulous Sierra of Manic Trout, and I made two fabulous pairs of earrings to add to my jewelry collection. For the second DIY session, I created some awesome leather key fobs a la Jessica from Son of a Sailor.

Create Your Own Media KitThough I’ve never been in need of a media kit, at figured learning how to make one for my own blog was a valuable lesson at this point in my blogging career. And if I’m going to make a media kit, there’s no better teacher than Tieka of Selective Potential (she’s a graphic designer, and therefore knows how to make a beautifully designed media kit).

After that, sessions ended for the day, and it was time for us to head home an get ready for the night’s activity – prom. Yes, you heard me. Seriously, what would school be without a prom to celebrate all the accomplishments you’ve had at school? Brandon and I got all dressed up and headed over to TxSC’s Prom for a night of dancing, dress-up, and lots of awesome freebies! It was great – seriously, so much fun.

And that was just the first full day of the conference. Just wait until the next post…