Was The Sits Girls Bloggy Boot Camp Worth It?

The Prologue

Last weekend I attended The Sits Girls Bloggy Boot Camp in Atlanta.

In the name of adventure I flew into Nashville and made the drive to Atlanta.  The countryside, beginning to show the colors of fall, was spectacular. To my dismay, I didn’t take even one photo. Not a blasted one.

The Zombies

Driving into Atlanta was its own kind of terrific.

As a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, goose-pimples rose as our car crawled at a snail’s pace into the city via I-75. With the skyline of Atlanta looming in front of us, I got so excited I started babbling to Susan. Since Susan had never seen The Walking Dead, and therefore didn’t quite appreciate my breathless excitement, I called my husband and described the skyline to him.  I’d have to describe it to you, too, since I didn’t take one blasted picture!

Not to worry. AMC has a pretty good shot of the view:

I can now say with certainty Atlanta would be the last place I would head in the Zombie Apocalypse.

The Venue

We arrived at the conference venue, Hotel Meliá Atlanta, where I took this picture of the Atlanta skyline at sunset from our balcony on the 22nd floor.

We stepped out for a delicious dinner at the Italian eatery, Baraonda, located next to the famous Fox Theatre. I had the Linguini Pescatore. Maybe a bit spicy for some palates, but yummy to me.

And then it was time for the first party.

The Party Outfit

I wore skinny pale grey jeans, my freakingly awesome white Guess shoes I bought in Paris,

and a fitted white jacket with grey pin-stripes that I bought years ago at JCPenney that shows off my waist very nicely.

Yep. No pictures.

You’ll just have to trust me that I looked fabulous. Everyone looked fabulous.

The Best Buy Party

Best Buy, a major Bloggy Boot Camp sponsor, hosted the pre-conference party on the 25th floor of The Hotel Melia. We were treated to a jaw-dropping 250° view of the skyline of Atlanta where Best Buy gave away a 23″ Gateway 7x Series All-In-One Touch PC.

You guessed it.

I forgot my camera

But The Sits Girls brought theirs. Check out this picture of Anne and Susan and our dear friend from the old Homeschool Forum Days, Liza Lee, at the Best Buy table:


Attributed to The Sits Girls

I didn’t win, but I did get to meet the Twitterworld zeitgeist that is The Third Boob.

The Third Boob is the creative brainchild of Chach and Nellie (Nell is the one who had the third boob). These ladies have been friends since they were college roommates. I mention them because when they are rich and famous I want them to remember me.

I got to spend some quality time with Maddie from Domestic Anarchy, and her wonderful husband, Les. We shared war stories from the frontlines of parenting. They are terrific people.

I also met Erin Chase, the author of $5 Dinners, who was very nice to me despite the fact that I had no idea who she was. I am always happy when nice people are successful.

After the party we had a drink in the bar with Anissa Mayhew. She’s quite something and well worth looking at even if she didn’t share her chocolate cupcake with me.

And Now for the Conference

If attending a BlogHer Convention is like trying to take a sip of water from a firehose, a Bloggy Boot Camp is like being escorted to your favorite table at your neighborhood Appleby’s and served your favorite entree by your favorite waitress who gives you a big hug at the end of your meal.

Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci, the two women behind Bloggy Boot Camp, sure know how to make a girl feel welcome. The conference was limited to a reasonable size (200?) and conference attendees were assigned seats during the first half of the conference to help people meet each other.

The Sessions

The topics covered the basics of blogging and even though I’d heard most of this content at BlogHer last August the combination of less people, less partying, the absence of a distracting Expo Hall, and, well, just less of everything, made it much easier for me to focus.

Amy Bradley-Hole of Freaky Perfect spoke on Authentic Branding.

This is straight from my notes:

If somebody else is doing it then you got to scratch it out and do something else. Your product needs to be unique. Chances are somebody is out there already doing it. What sets you apart? What makes you different? Focus on what makes you different. Focus on what makes your blog different. Give the people something to pay attention to. Attention is very limited today.

Stacey Nerdin from Tree, Root and Twig gave a humorously inspirational presentation on Avoiding or Overcoming Bloggy Burnout.

Comparing blogging to Twilight, she gave these five important guidelines:

1. Make the tough choices

2. Find Your Tribe

3. Use Your Time Wisely

4. Make Time for Rest and Play

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Change

Melissa Culbertson from MomComm and Adventuroo presented useful ideas for How to Get Your Readers to Talk Back. Her talk was so content-rich that I could make an entire blog post just from what I learned from her. I really like Melissa and she’s a generous resource for us non-tech bloggers. Check out this great picture of Melissa, me, Anne and Susan.


I liked Melissa so much I had a death grip on her with my ginormous hand

After lunch, the conference broke into two sections, “The Business of Blogging” and “Writers Workshop”.

I attended the Writers Workshop led by Kathy Bousak of Mama’s Losin It and Francesca Banducci of The Sits Girls.

Kathy addressed what I see as MY biggest blogging challenge: How do I write with frank authenticity without pissing everyone I know off, losing my job, and/or getting sued.

Her advice:

Write like you are talking with your Best Friend in front of a stadium full of people.

Oprah does this very well. Me? Hmmmmm. Not so much. I need to think more about this advice and how I can implement it.

We then were given a writing prompt based on the poem, Where I’m From, by George Ella Lyon.

After the writing exercise, Fran explained SEO in terms I finally understand. I can’t thank her enough for that.

We then took a break for cookies!

After the break, the attendees came back together to hear Cynthia Wheeler of NWDesigns give a presentation on Blog Design.

I’d heard Cynthia speak at BlogHer in August and she was just as terrific the second time through. In fact I think I got more out of her talk the second time.

Shanell Tyus from The Sits Girls gave us tips on how to vamp-up the all-important About Me Page.  I think my About Me page is the one thing I have done right on my blog.

And finally, Danielle Wiley and Allison Talamantex from The Sway Group revealed their secret for developing a successful Two-Year Plan.

Hint: Start from the place you want to be and work backwards.

My Takeaway

I did not start my blog in 2008 with the idea of making it a business, and I think my blog reflects that. It lacks a clear focus or purpose. I’ve been asking myself some very tough questions lately. Specifically:

What do I provide that makes this blog worth your precious time?

NOTE: When I wrote this piece originally I answered the above question  with three things I was definitely going to do with my blog. I didn’t do one of those things. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I think the one truth about blogging is that you have to be open to change. Since writing this post I’ve come to see my blog not as an end in itself, but as a means to achieving other hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams that go wayyyy back.

So my new question to you is this:  Is there something you’ve always dreamed about doing, but didn’t know how to get there?

My biggest takeaway from BBC was that blogging can be a stepping-stone to many other things than just a revenue stream.


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  10. Chloe, it was a delight to meet you in Atlanta – who knew I’d even get mentioned?? I think the idea of the e-book is terrific, though I initially came here to see those posts – I’ll be on the list to buy the book. I’ve just started reading; I love the style, the straightforward language, and your insights. Fashion advice doesn’t do much for me (not that I don’t need it, but let’s face it, I wouldn’t look good in those shoes and you did!) but clearly your readers love it. For me it’s the commentary on life that interests me – intersperse at least a little of that and I’ll be here all the time!

    • Les, it was great meeting you and your wife and being able to spend time with others who’ve been through it and are meeting the challenge.

      My hope is that an e-book would make the content easier for parents to find making it more helpful. Some people might come here looking for comfort about their wayward child and not be too thrilled to have to wade through my silliness (Man Candy Monday).

  11. What do I want to see here? More pix of naked women- art work that is. Yeah, that is what I was referring to- stuff from the Baroque period.

    I am the new kid to your blog but I like authenticity. I have seen a lot of bloggers try to be unique and do nothing but be like everyone else. Sometimes the best thing is to just be you or so I say.
    Jack recently posted..Substance Trumps Pretty PackagingMy Profile

  12. Chloe – I’m glad you had such a fantastic time at your conference. I read you because you’re real – you say what’s on your heart and mind and you don’t apologize for being YOU. I appreciate that you can pour yourself out at times, and other times you can just be silly.

  13. What I’d like to see here? You. Chloe, the real rabbit.

    I have no words that can express how excited I am about the e-book! So, just YAY!

    • You are one of the voices that helped me see that this is what I need to do to make that content helpful to other parents. I think compiling those posts along with commentary and recommendations for resources for parents and teens will be more useful for parents going through this.

  14. I am glad you had a good time and took away some things you found valuable. For “me” (unimportant single digit follower), I feel like the advise you were given sounds too corporate. I like you- the person. “Chloe” ( who we all know is-not-really-Chloe)- warts, mistakes and all. I read because you are real to me and you have been where I am headed. Simple. True.
    I am not interested in a”big” thing- I like hearing about you and your family and your life. I love-love-LOVE your “about me” video. I have already shared it with several people. (In fact I can gauge their “Chloeness” by their reaction!) Those who love your video “get it” those who don’t- don’t. And probably never will. Poor them. Don’t change too much or get too slick- please? Keep your groove~

  15. I like your little stick people too. They make me smile. :) I read about 30 blogs (although some are infrequent bloggers) and haven’t seen any others with art like yours.

    I like fashion, make-up, and health tips. I like your encouragement to take care of ourselves and remember that we are important. I like how real you are. I like that you remind me that perfect parenting on my part (impossible) won’t mean my kids grow into perfect adults. That really takes the pressure off! I can focus more on relationship and less on rules.

    • This is helpful information to me.

      More art!!

      And I need to know that I’m encouraging people. If I’m not then I need to hang up the shingle and learn to fish or do wordworking instead.

  16. Shoot! I believe that this conference may have been just right for me. oh well…maybe next year.

    I would love to see you adding your little stick drawings again. You were so good with those. Your writing is always stellar and I think the little illustrations just made it perfect.
    knittinpeace recently posted..What I’m working on these daysMy Profile

    • I think you would have enjoyed this conference, Robin. I thought the speakers were all very honest about blogging. Unlike BlogHer where I felt some of it was about prancing the Dancing Ponies in front of us and making it look like any of us could be just like them if only we did what they do.