At times the life of a writer/ blogger can be downright isolating. We long for those moments of tranquility, peace, and clarity that allow us to articulate our thoughts, opinions, and passions for our readers. However sometimes in those quiet moments peace and tranquility is replaced by doubt, uncertainty, and frustration.
We are stuck with no idea what to say and our mind is spinning around like a whirlwind filled with so many thoughts we are unsure were to begin. We are searching for a revelation or that revolutionary project to share.
I must admit, my peace and quiet is sometimes filled with the latter. After taking a blogging course all summer and participating in several blog related webinars, I still longed and prayed for that clarity. Enter… Blog Elevated.
I was introduced to Blog Elevated earlier this year. It is a community of bloggers founded by Bobbie Byrd and Lisa Stauber. They were promoting their blogging conference that would be held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this September. I was both excited and apprehensive at first. I felt in my heart that I should go but I had only been blogging for a few months. I was not even convinced I was a blogger at that point.
My initial reasons in starting a blog are I just want to write to share my faith testimony hoping to both encourage and help others. I decided to put the conference on the back burner. Besides, what I am going to do about funds, transportation, and making arrangements, etc.?
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6
I had joined the Blog Elevated Facebook Group but I did not participate that much. I was already overwhelmed just getting my WordPress blog theme set up and learning what I could while trying to discern whose advice to listen to.
They have Twitter chats once a week but I did not even know how to participate in a Twitter chat…so I put that off also.
As summer approached, I became so intrigued by the topics they would discuss that I decided to learn more about Twitter chats. I “Goggled” it and found a YouTube video on how to participate in Chats on Twitter. I was ready!
The information shared and the interaction with others in the chat was incredible! The hour flew by. It felt like only 15 minutes or so. After my first BE Twitter chat, I was hooked! I set my calendar on my phone to remind me every week. I was really learning something tangible about blogging and it was free too!
I never wanted to miss a Blog Elevated chat. I was learning and engaging with other bloggers; this was so enlightening! I began to pray and ask God that if He was leading me to write a blog, that He would provide a way for me to attend the conference. It was only about 25 miles from my home.
As they began to announce different speakers and topics throughout the summer, I became even more enticed to attend! I actually knew of some of the speakers. Becky Mansfield of Your Modern Family and Paula Rollo of Beauty Through Imperfection were the first bloggers that critiqued my site in the very beginning. Their suggestions and advice encouraged me to keep writing!
Stepping out on Faith
About 2 weeks before the conference began; I decided to trust God and purchase a ticket. Somehow there were “more monies” in the budget this month than previous months? (Luke 11:22…”Have faith in God.”) My excitement continued to build as the weekend approached.
There was a Facebook group that was set up for the attendees. We couldn’t stop conversing about the conference. Everybody talked about their plans, outfits, even those that were unable to go were saying how fantastic an experience we would have and they were disappointed they could not attend.
It’s finally here!
I arrived a little early Friday evening at the Embassy Suites Hotel. What a beautiful hotel! I had never been to an Embassy Suites before but I will definitely return! The staff there was amazing! It is time to register and attend the Welcome reception. Kind of a meet and greet.
I must admit, if I do not know you, I am not really the “meet and greet” type. I prefer to fade in the background and observe everybody. After waiting a few minutes, registration began and I got my “Swag Bag”. I finally exhaled, I felt like I really belonged here. I had my business cards ready and I was hopeful to share my blog with others.
As I was sitting there with my swag bag, I was approached by Kim Heller of Roadkill Goldfish. We exchanged cards and talked about our blogs. This was fun! She seemed to embrace the fact I write a faith based blog. As the night progressed I realized I needed my reading glasses. I could not see half the small print on the bloggers business cards in the darkened room where the reception was held! Oh well, I was still having a great time.
Later that evening I got to meet the hosts of the BE Twitter chats and the co- founders of Blog Elevated; Bobbie Byrd (clumsy Crafter) and Lisa Stauber (milehighmomma). They were very sweet and so kind in person; it began to make sense why the Twitter chats have been so helpful to me. As I later approached Paula Rollo to introduce myself, she uttered the words,” I know who you are” really? How cool was that!
A Conference for all Bloggers
I was impressed by the variety of bloggers and writers that were there at the conference. There was an eclectic group of Mommy bloggers, lifestyle and fashion bloggers, and travel and review bloggers. In one session I even met a wildlife, hunting and fishing blogger!
I was learning something every time I turned around. Each person I met had a passion for what they do and they really enjoyed writing about it. It was surreal and yet heartwarming meeting people that you had corresponded with on line or had subscribed to follow their work.
I was thanking God Friday night for the opportunity to attend this bloggers conference as I rambled excitedly on my way home with my best friend.
“In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Saturday morning arrived and I was still a little uneasy. I was hoping to check-in to the hotel before the conference kicked off. I spoke with Stacy at the front desk and she said there was one room available and if I could be there by 8:15 am I could have the room. Wow…seriously? God is truly working… I was more convinced He wanted me there at the conference. What a great feeling to be in His will and watch Him work!
“The Lord will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12
I got my bags put away in the beautiful suite right near the elevator. I said to myself, “Okay God… I’m just letting you lead the way!” I headed down to the enormous conference room. I spotted an empty table towards the back and since I’ve always been a “back seat Baptist” I took my seat.
I want to share with you 5 Key Points I learned to help in becoming a successful and satisfied blogger.
1-Know Your “WHY”
As a believer in Christ I have shared that prior to my stroke I did not always know “why” I was here. This led me on a path of fruitless pursuits, frustration, and anxiety. Now that I understand my “why”, my relationship with Christ is fruitful.
Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
As a blogger, we need to understand why we do what we do. This was reinforced from several of the speakers throughout the weekend. Are you blogging to help others, encourage, or even solve a problem? Maybe you just like to write? You need to know!
Marie Bonaccorse aka..The Sassy Tweetress asked us to write down 5 Things you are and 5 Things you are not regarding our blogs specifically. If you’re going to know your why, take an honest look at yourself.
Share yourself with your readers. Let them see your authenticity. Make every decision regarding your blog with your readers in mind. Tell your story in your words. This was mentioned both in our session with some of the brands that were there for a panel discussion and also by Paula and Becky in their session on Sunday regarding monetizing your blog.
All five of the points are important but this one really imprinted on me. In Matthew 7:16. Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits.” Meaning the way I carry myself and things I do and say, people will know that I’m a Christian.
Being a Christian is more than just doing good things but it is because of my relationship with Christ as my Savior, my behavior should be a reflection of Him. I want people to know that a piece was written by me because I am being transparent with my readers.
3-Have a Plan
This was a theme from all the speakers in most sessions. Please pay attention because some of these we tend to ignore.
To have a plan we must start with a mission and vision statement. Meaning what is your purpose RIGHT NOW and what is your purpose LONG TERM? Plan a time to post; to promote your blog, and what’s your plan to provide value for your readers?
We need to plan to pamper and take time for ourselves (without feeling guilty) We also need to plan to protect ourselves by setting boundaries and have a plan in place for a Social Media Crisis. This was some sage advice during sessions from both Marie and Lisa Stauber.
1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action. Keep sober in spirit; fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Christ.
As Christians we are to keep our minds focused on our future with Him and not become distracted by the enticements of this world.
The easiest way to accomplish this is by reading and studying God’s word. I have a plan to spend time every day in His word. Surprisingly some of my posts have actually been jump started while reading my bible! Without an action plan, everything just becomes wishful thinking.
4-Be Consistent and Persevere
This puts a bow on having a plan. When you are consistent throughout your blog posts; your readers, customers, and brands know that you are reliable and they can depend on you. It also helps in holding yourself accountable on those days where you are tempted to phone it in. For example…the selfish post. Remember your readers come first!
Romans 15:2 “Each of us is to please his neighbor, for his good, to his edification.”
I wanted to be sure what edification meant so here is the biblical meaning. Edification: to build up and strengthen through perseverance and encouragement. I love this! It seemed to be a theme throughout the conference.
There were so many bloggers and brands there with a sincere willingness to help one another! Coming from a competitive sports and sales background, it was amazingly refreshing!
Perseverance meaning never give up. Keep on trying! Sometimes this is easier said than done but that is why you should be writing about your passion. If you are only blogging looking for free stuff, you may become discouraged when those offers do not come right away.
However, when you are passionate about something, you push through because what you are doing matters to You!
Our Keynote speaker Rae Hoffman of Sugarrae.com shared a passionate and heartfelt opening speech about 11 things she learned from her son. He suffered a stroke at an early age and passed away a few years later. Here are a few points that resonated most with me.
1-Complaining changes nothing-Action changes everything
2-Self education is one of the best ways to empower yourself!
3- Your biggest setback can either break you or fuel you. It’s up to you.
My favorite: Not everything will go according to plan. Your ability to adapt to change affects your success!
In James 1:2-4 it reads, “Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
As a Christian, it is hard to be “joyful” when dealing with or encountering trials. However, these trials are meant to strengthen and increase our faith!
When you overcome or push through your difficulties and setbacks while blogging, you become a better more efficient blogger going forward. Then you are able to help others based on your experiences. Your perseverance has benefited not only yourself but someone else and possibly many people!
5-Spend time with Other Bloggers
This is my own personal point based on my experience at Blog Elevated. As I mentioned in the beginning, blogging can sometimes leave you feeling isolated. That is not how God made us. We need to be around other people interacting, communicating, and encouraging each other.
I cannot express how much I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Blog Elevated. The brands I spoke with were both responsive and informative. I feel not only have I met an unbelievable group of new bloggers but also the beginning of new friendships as well. I want to help and encourage the bloggers I’ve met any way I can.
We need to make an effort to step out of our “isolation chamber” and interact with our new blogging friends when we can. Whether it be meeting in person, phone calls, or online via emails, Facebook groups, or even Twitter Chats; these experiences and the stimulation of the mind is what helps us to become better bloggers/writers.
In closing I want to reference Romans 15:5-6
“Now may the God who grants you perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus. So that with one accord with one voice; you may glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is my prayer that I am able to attend the 2016 Blog Elevated Conference. In fact, while I was telling my mother about the conference she said would like to attend with me next year also!
My faith in myself and my Savior was both refreshed and revived at this conference. A huge thank you to the everyone who had a part in putting this conference together!(Organizers,sponsors, and volunteers)
I pray that my friendships will bloom and I plan to take what I’ve learned and grow as a blogger/writer as I share the “good news” of the gospel so that God is glorified. See you there in 2016!
Horace Williams Jr is the oldest son of a pastor who went to be with Jesus in 2020. He is an award-winning author and amateur chef who loves Jesus Christ. His passion for Christ inspires readers to draw nearer to the God who loves them.