2016 is the sixth year of the annual Design Bloggers Conference (Also known as the DBC), organized by the energetic Adam Japko and Esteem Media. Originally just the DBC, it has expanded to include several additional conferences and is now known as the Home & Garden Digital Marketing Week. I attended the DBC portion – the first two days of the week’s conference.
This was my first time attending – I was a DBC virgin! Hoping to gain some tips as I set out to launch my blog, I was excited, yet feeling a little overwhelmed at the same time. While I’ve been active on Social Media for years, I’m a newbie in the blogging world, and was sure I’d be the most inexperienced one there. But I came away from the DBC feeling incredibly informed, inspired, and motivated. And here’s why:
Even though many of the attendees are experienced design bloggers, with well-regarded blogs, (19% have been active bloggers for 5 or more years), almost 36% had been blogging less than a year – like me! And the attendees ranged in age from high schoolers to talented designers in their 60’s –a very diverse group. I had worried needlessly; I fit right in!
So no matter what your experience level is – a beginner looking for ways to grow your blog, or experienced blogger looking to diversify, monetize your blog or move into ecommerce – there was someone you could relate to. I was amazed to find out that the combined reach of the bloggers was more than House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Traditional Home or Arch Digest. I was in very impressive company!
To kick off the DBC, there was an opening night after party held at the Ferguson Showroom. On top of a fun showroom to wander through, Ferguson was a great host, providing yummy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and live music.
But the highlight of the evening was having time to catch up with old friends, and meet IRL those people that had, up until now, been “on-line” friends. It was like summer camp where you bond instantly and become hard and fast friends!
The smiles and laughter show what a fun time everyone was having!
Making those connections the first day translated into a valuable resource over the course of the conference, as everyone was happy and willing to share their tips, tricks and practical ideas about blogging and social media. Have a question? Not only could you get answers, but more importantly, you were also provided encouragement and support.
And the conversations went far beyond blogging and social media: all aspects of running a business and dealing with clients were fair game for an in-depth discussion. We all learned from each other, as much as we learned from the conference speakers!
An amazing line-up of speakers rocked the DBC!!
Talented, smart – and funny too! – the DBC speakers were the juice that motivated us! It was exciting to learn how they achieved their success, but the stories were also backed up with key strategies to help us achieve our business objectives. All the attendees went home with different tactics that were important to them, depending on what their business goals are, but collectively, we all felt that rush of inspiration that fuels our passion. The keynote speakers and celebrated designers Cynthia Rowley, India Hicks, Nathan Turner and Mary McDonald kept me entertained, inspired, laughing at their humor and gushing over their gorgeous projects and personal homes.
Justina is the author of the best-selling book “The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes”. She is also a social media maven as “The Jungalow”, where she has an on-line audience of over 1.5 million! She commanded the room as she shared her experience in creating a successful brand. Justina advised us to strive for authenticity (not necessarily originality) and be able to clearly define what your brand stands for in three words. “Create community around what you’re trying to build!”
And I can’t go without mentioning this cutie! Connor Dwyer is still in college, and this was his first time speaking at a conference. He was invited to speak because he rocks Instagram with almost 78,000 followers! Connor reinforced the wisdom many of the speakers shared again and again: know your brand niche and curate your images and social media postings to reflect this. Follow him @CONNORTD or @Thadthefinger to see how he does this successfully!
So much info was presented about building your brand, blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, writing, taking photos, SEO, analytics and brand/vendor collaboration by the knowledgeable roster of speakers. I know many of my friends were making adjustments to their blogging strategies and redefining their focus before they even make it back home!
Oh, and did I mention we got a mid-afternoon wine tasting? We did! And it was very good!! (Thanks Adam!)
So the key points I learned are this:
Be consistent with your brand.
Curate your marketing efforts to reflect your message.
And > use all the resources available to help you achieve this!
I realize that attending conferences are a big investment in time and money. But I also consider it important to take a “pause” now and then and take stock of where you are with your business and where you want to be. So I went to join almost 400 other attendees at the DBC in Atlanta. And it delivered! I only wished I hadn’t waited so long to attend!
There is a saying that goes:
Surround Yourself with People
Who have Dreams, Desire and Ambition;
They’ll Help You Push For, and Realize Your Own.
And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of DBC!
Full disclosure here: I won a bottle of wine for guessing correctly where next year’s conference will be held. And the winning city? Los Angeles. I’ve already got my calendar marked for 2017! Can’t wait!!
Delighted to call these talented designers my friends! Be sure to visit their blogs to see how they enjoyed the DBC. Plus they have really great blogs! Laurel won a 2016 Hall of Fame award for Best Writing – an honor well deserved, I love reading her posts!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susie Feia is co-woner of Feia Construction, LLC is an award-winning design-build remodeling firm. Known for a commitment to excellence with creative designs, quality craftsmanship, and excellent client service.
Feia Construction will enhance your life with any type of renovation, new construction or interior design. They specialize in additions, whole house renovations, kitchens, bathrooms and lower levels.