On Saturday I had to opportunity to go to the Midwest Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference, all, by, myself.
Zelie and I were away from each other for about 13 hours (but who was counting?), and I am so so grateful. Shout out to Peter. I wore makeup (and it wasn’t Sunday or a date), I had both of my hands, and I was not constantly being interrupted by an almost 11 month old.
But going back a step, on Friday there was a social hour for some of us to meet and hang out. I have been reading so many of these people’s blogs and following them on Instagram, that meeting them for the first time was an experience I haven’t really had before. I feel like I knew many of these women fairly well, yet I didn’t know how tall they were, a detail I didn’t realize was somewhat important.
So that night I got to officially meet Haley for the first time! We talk essential oils all the time so it was great to actually hug her! I also was so grateful to hug Laura, especially after following her hard hard journey this past year or two.
I started off my Saturday morning kissing my daughter and husband goodbye and going to Mass at the Cathedral (by myself!!) to celebrate the Annunciation and consecrate my family to our Blessed Mother.
Then I finally got to the conference (at a beauuutiful mansion on Summit Avenue!) and met so many beautiful faces over breakfast (and I even got to finish my coffee).
From Nell, we learned lots of practical tips and tricks for social media, blogging in general, and monetizing our blog. She shared the goodness of support from communities on this blogging journey. I wrote pages and pages of notes from her, but my main take away, despite all the social media tips was that
quality writing is the most important part.
Laura shared about how to write and the importance of editing, sitting on posts, and being vulnerable. Sometimes we don’t know who we’re writing to, but there will be that one reader whose life you changed, and you may never know. We learned about finding our own unique voice by, well, constantly writing. Writing in your head, writing long hand, getting up early or staying up late, five minutes here and five minutes there, in the shower, on a walk,
writing everywhere, all the time.
Haley shared about her blogging journey. She asked us practical questions like who do we want to write to, what do we often write about, and what posts have been popular. She reminded us that our blogs will change over time when we ask these questions. She shared that good content is the most important part, but my main take away I learned from her was
it does not have to feel like work.
I don’t have to write because I feel like I need to. I should want to. I don’t need anyone’s push or permission. I can write what I personally want to write about and I don’t owe anything to anyone. I don’t have to play the social media game. I don’t have to pick one topic or narrow my blog to one category because no one cares about my family updates, but I will go crazy feeling like I don’t get to have a say in writing anything else.
During the day there was also workshop time where I could sit down and chat with a blogger about writing, layouts, and design. I wanted to talk about some ideas with Susanna, and she really helped hash out ideas with me and create my vision for a series I have been wanting to work on for a while.
I also got to sit with Molly, who does the blog for Blessed is She, and we talked about different kinds of posts I could write. I can write a hands-on practical post. I can share a story. I can talk about a saint, or a liturgical day or season coming up. How to live out virtues. Novenas. Difficult times. Relationships. Chastity.
I am finding my voice.
A big point of this conference was to say that if you want to blog, you can blog, and you can be good at it. You don’t need 10,000 readers, or even 2,000, or even 100. Just start writing, and write well. There are so many other things you can tinker with on your site and on social media, but if you want to write, when you have spare time (if you have spare time), use it to write.
Other things we did together at the conference was eat meals together, go to the Vigil Mass at the Cathedral (my second time there that day), just sit and chat, have a Q+A session, and get a ton of swag.
I have recently written about community, but I just can’t iterate enough how important it is to have community with people in similar stages, doing similar things, and with similar hobbies. I can think of four communities at the top of my head that I am regularly a part of, and I don’t know what I would do without them.
To read more recaps of the conference, smash this link.