On July 19, See Jane Write hosted its first mini-conference.  Seventy five people showed up for our  Bloganista Mini-Con. I count it as a major success and not simply because of a packed house.

I believe the Bloganista Mini-Con was a success because so many people left the event feeling inspired.

I was so inspired by #bloganista that I am, as of RIGHT NOW, starting my new blog on @Squarespace! #sjwbhm @seejanewritebhm More to come!
— Mandy Shunnarah (@fixedbaroque) July 20, 2014

Tweets like the one above made my day. And days after the conference I ran into other attendees who told me they left the conference so motivated that they’ve been on Cloud 9 ever since.
And I left the conference feeling just as inspired as they did.

Megan LaRussa Chenoweth (left) of SouthernFemme.com gave an amazing closing keynote!


The day ended on a perfect note with Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Southern Femme sharing the story of her success and urging us to all be more than stylish fashionistas but smart businesswomen too.Chenoweth sees fashion as a form of social communication, as visual currency, she said. The way you’re dressed, for better or worse, can tell people something about who you are before you ever open your mouth. But Chenoweth believes that when she helps her clients revamp their wardrobes she’s giving them more than clothes; she’s giving them confidence.Chenoweth discussed the things that she felt were game changers for her, her blog, and her business such as getting a new logo. A logo is like clothes, she said. It tells people something about your business or your blog. Other game changers for her included launching a newsletter, offering a free gift to encourage folks to sign up for this newsletter, and getting office space.
My hope is that the Bloganista Mini-Conference was a game changer for the women who were there.

Stop being a writer who doesn’t write.

Alexis Barton of SameDayDifferentChic.com giving her inspiring opening keynote

The day began with an opening keynote from Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day. Barton confessed that there was a time when she was “a writer who didn’t write.” But then she started her blog and that all changed.

“Stop waiting for a fairy godmother to tap you on the shoulder and declare you a writer,” she said.

And once Barton started her blog the opportunities she longed for began to land in her lap — speaking engagements, freelance writing gigs, and offers for television appearances.

But Barton said there is no magic formula for gaining the opportunities she’s enjoyed.  Consistency and authenticity are key, she said, but there’s more.

In her talk, Barton told us that her theme song is “The Glamorous Life” by Shelia E. and she also told us about the not-so-glamourous side of fashion blogging. She told us about how hard she works to keep her blog updated and juggle those freelance writing gigs, speaking engagements, and television appearances  all while maintaining a full-time job.

“Keep going,” she said, “That’s the secret.”

Conference attendees were filling their notebooks with new ideas throughout the day.

Words With Friends

Our How to Be a Bloganista panel discussion featured (l to r) Erica Bunker of Erica B’s DIY StyleBertha Hidalgo of Chic In AcademiaVanessa Culpepper of Budding Fashionista and Heather Brown of My Life Well Loved.

After Barton’s opening keynote we heard from Heather Brown of My Life Well Loved, Erica Bunker of Erica B’s DIY Style, Vanessa Culpepper of Budding Fashionista, and Bertha Hidalgo of Chic In Academia for the How to Be a Bloganista panel.

One of the greatest takeaways from this discussion was regarding social media. Brown mentioned that many bloggers and small business owners make the mistake of signing up for every social media platform there is only to not use any of them well. Instead, she suggested, choosing two or three platforms you actually enjoy and staying highly engaged with your followers or customers through those.

And speaking of engagement, our panelists said that building relationships and collaborating with other bloggers can be a great way to increase your reach.

Later in our Beyond the Blog panel, which focused on how to use your blog to gain freelance gigs and other opportunities, Williesha Morris of My Freelance Life also recommended guest blogging and leaving meaningful comments on other blogs to increase your readership.

Stand Out and Show What You Know

The bloganistas also discussed ways to monetize your blog, which you can do through ads, sponsored posts, and affiliate links. If you’re really ready to monetize, start approaching the brands with which you’d like to work. But first create a media kit. This could help you stand out from other bloggers. This could show you’re really serious about turning your blog into a business. This could be your game changer.

During the Beyond the Blog discussion Carla Jean Whitley, managing editor of Birmingham magazine, stressed the importance of positioning yourself as an expert. If you want to secure a job writing for your favorite magazine, use your blog to prove that you are the perfect person to tell the stories you want to write.

And remember your blog is like your portfolio, so be sure it’s filled with high quality posts.

Be True, Be You

Our Beyond the Blog panel discussion featured Carla Jean Whitley of Birmingham magazine, Tanya Sylvan of All in Stride, Williesha Morris of My Freelance Life, and Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day.

The one thing that I hoped everyone would take away from the conference was to simply be true to their interests and passions. The charge to be authentic was repeated again and again by speakers and panelists. Being authentic is what Tanya Sylvan of All In Stride believes made her stand out to a blog reader who eventually offered her a job at a local publishing company. Being authentic, Bertha Hidalgo said, is what will help you choose the best brand partnerships and keep you from writing sponsored posts that go against what your blog stands for. And when you encounter what Erica Bunker called “internet thugs” being authentic can help with that too. Vanessa Culpepper agreed, adding that if you stay “true to yourself and what you’re putting out there” you will have the confidence to press on despite the naysayers.

For more conference highlights, check out the hashtags #sjwbhm and #bloganista on Twitter.

Special thanks to our sponsors who helped make this event possible: Sol’s Sandwich Shop & Deli, Church Street Coffee and Books, Collage Designer Consignment, Urban Cookhouse, Hamer Law Group, WBHM 90.3 FM, Inspire Fitness, and Sisley Paris available at Saks Fifth Avenue Birmingham.

What was your biggest takeaway from our Bloganista Mini-Con? 

View more pictures from the conference here on our Facebook page