The ProBlogger De-Brief

I have been to ProBlogger! What an experience it has been! My head is buzzing with ideas and a determination to stay focussed and make this blogging thing work for me – and you, dear reader! There were a few messages that kept on reappearing over the conference, and making sure I am delivering a blog that has useful content that enhances my reader’s life is a message I heard loud and clear!

I thought I would write this initial post-ProBlogger blog post outlining everything that happened while I was away.

I shared here about some of the planning process that it took just to leave the kids. This was actually made all the more difficult thanks to me getting horribly sick the week prior to ProBlogger and then I made the kids sick! (Normally it’s the other way around!) Luckily most of the children didn’t seem to get quite as sick as I was, but the week before I left we had fevers spiking intermitedly throughout the week, general unwellness and lots of grizzling.

The morning I left my little girl was particularly out of sorts and had become very irrational. She needed a dummy and teddy, just for the 10 minute drive to drop me off! I did feel a little bit bad leaving behind unwell children, but it was also a bit of a pleasure. It had just been such an exhausting time!

The morning I left was busy, doing all the last minute pack, dropping things off at Kindy and doing a business card scramble! There were a whole heap of circumstances that had caused delays in my business card ordering process so I got the order away later than I had wanted and unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time, so the morning of I quickly made up another design, sent it into my church and they printed them for me (our printer is a bit dodgy!) and I madly chopped them up to size before racing  out to meet my friend that I was travelling to the Coast with.

My travel partner and room mate was my friend Letitia, we’ve been friends since we were 8 years old at school! She isn’t a blogger but just enjoyed having a few of days of quiet at the coast except for whenever she was out and about in the hotel being entertained by the parade of bloggers that were circulating around her. (Being surrounded by bloggers in bulk is quite an experience, as it turns out!)

Once we arrived at the Gold Coast, we checked in to the wonderful QT Hotel, I love it that you can sip free and fresh lemonade as you stand in line waiting to be checked in! It really is a wonderful hotel.

After relaxing in the room for a little bit, we went on a walk down the beach. It’s just as well I got some exercise, because after that I did a lot of eating. Let me tell you, the food QT serves up is absolutely delicious!

On Thursday night I considered myself very fortunate to be invited to a networking event by L’Oreal Paris. The event was in the penthouse, which made me feel very important heading to the top floor. Any feelings of importance quickly melted when immediately on arrival I knocked over someone’s champagne when in the crowded room I bumped the chair she’d left it on! Cringe! The rest of the evening was great. I’ll share what I learned during that event later, because ladies, I’m sure you will be interested in some make-up tips from a leading Australian make-up artist! Already I’ve been trying out some new routines, it’s so good to get out of the make-up rut that is easy to fall into when you are a busy mother.

After this was finished, laden with the most delightful goodie bag I have ever received, we made our way down to Bazaar for dinner with Tish and my blogging pals B Being Cool and The Crafty Mummy. Oh my, buffet with a difference. Delectable food, and not just your ordinary buffet fair either. Fresh seafood, baked whole fish, stews, grill, a wok station and amazing dessert bar to say the least!

We went off to bed with full tummies, ready for the big day ahead. And big day it was! For this debrief post, I’ll quickly go through all the speakers I heard, (you may want to check out their pages in all their blogging glory!) and give a sentence (or two!) summing up the main thing I walked away with from each speaker.

Darren Rowse – ProBlogger – Mr. ProBlogger himself gave the opening address about how even though we feel ordinary, we can still do so many things in our blogs to execute extraordinary results.

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income – Talked about converting casual readers into a thriving community. It was all about how making the people who read your blog feel special and what to follow everything that you write and be where you hang out (ie. on social media.)

Christie Burnett – Childhood 101 – “The 5 W’s for Finding Readers” I loved hearing from another parenting blogger and really hear how as a mother she gathers readers for her blog and what she does to  make her blog gain momentum.

Geraldine DeRuiter – Everywhereist – “Make Your Audience Fall in Love With You” – Man this woman, I fell in love with her when I read her blog for the first time a few days before the conference, and this was confirmed during her talk. She’s funny, romantic and knows how to inspire you to write a better blog that everyone will love.

Nikki Parkinson – Styling You – “Build An Online Community That You Love” Lots of practical suggestions here and I walked away wanting to make sure the tone on my blog was clear and consistent.

Darren Rowse – Digital Photography School – “Introduction to Monetisation” It was great to hear some of the strategies that Darren employs to make money through his photography blog. I found it inspiring listening to the strategies he has used in order to make his blog successful.

Keynote: 5 in 50 – There was a collection of full time bloggers here that shared their insights into being successful on a blog. Basically I walked away from this knowing that to make your blog successful you need to be strategic, consistent, care for your readers and WORK HARD!

And that was all on the first day! M

ore inspiration followed on day two!

Matthew Michalwicz – Life in half A Second – “From Ideas to Action” Set clear goals, get hungry to make them work and move beyond any fears to achieve these goals.

Shane Tilley – “Email Marketing Essentials and Innovation” Expect to see Caitlin’s Happy Heart to start producing a newsletter soon guys! I just need to work out how to do it!

Chantelle Ellem – Fat Mum Slim – “Using Social Media to Grow Your Blog” – Ever so humble and modest Chantelle was just lovely to listen to and it was reassuring that with a bit of hard work you can make things work by implementing organically formed ideas.

Bron – Maxabella Loves – “Fitting It All In” – The moment I saw this title I knew this was the session above all else that I wanted to listen to. I was not wrong, this session was the highlight of the whole conference for me. The time factor is by far the biggest challenge I have with blogging and there were so many practical suggestions that I have come home ready to implement. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Bron!

In between all this inspirational stuff there was delicious food! The lunch, morning and afternoon tea included in the package was so very delicious – and QT once again injected a bit style and drama to every meal.

Yes, I’m a sweet tooth. This guys were sooooo delicious!

I also loved hanging out with Tish and another close friend who lives at the coast over brekky on Saturday morning.

On the Friday night there was a par-tay. The theme was “Ahoy!”, it was a great excuse to dress in a nautical theme and chat with some lovely people.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at ProBlogger. I’m come away inspired and wanting to take my blog up a level. (Strap yourselves in people! I want to take you on a ride that leaves you doing fist pumps after each turn!) It also has left me soul searching the whole point of having a meaningful blog and where I fit in the blogging community. I’ve shared before about my Insecurities when blogging, and to certain extent, as inspired as I have been, the conference experience has accentuated my insecurities.

The conference was big and extremely crowded. I know there were plenty of people who were newbies there and who were there on their own. I was often on my own also, and it just felt so awkward. I’m halfway between being an introvert and an extrovert and I have to say, my extrovert was hiding all weekend. My extroverted personality more comes out with people I know, introducing myself and getting to know new people makes me feel nervous and awkward. Thankfully I got to meet some lovely people as well as ‘meeting’ some bloggers that I already knew online, but not in the flesh. Thank you for everyone I met there, sincerely, I loved meeting you and my smile when I spoke to you was genuine. However quite a few speakers talked about belonging to a ‘tribe’ or a group of bloggers that support each other. I don’t really have a blogging tribe, and as I looked around, similar to feeling like a schoolgirl, I wasn’t in ‘a group’.

That’s not to say it can’t happen, and if anything over the conference I’ve come away with a renewed energy to keep persevering despite my imperfections. To be truthful, I’ve never felt like it before, but the week before the conference I would have given up blogging if it weren’t for the fact that I had invested in my blog by going to ProBlogger. I was probably feeling depressed because I’m sick, and just can’t shake this bug, but at the moment, blogging is feeling like work, and even though it’s work that I love, I’m not being reimbursed for the time I spend on it and it has eaten into my family time recently. Which is not OK with me. Most of the time I’m OK with the blog being a labour of love, but lately it’s been work that has been very hard to juggle in with family life and my other commitments.

In his closing address Darren Rowse quoted Jadah Sellner saying, “Take Imperfect Action”. This is what I’m going to do right now. I will work out when to find the right time to blog with the triplets reaching a new stage of development. I’m going to keep putting one blogging foot in front of the other, learning as I go and hopefully in the process I can make life a little bit more useful, brighter and happier for my audience.

Do you ever feel like you aren’t quite in a group? Who gives you support? Do you have different support networks for the various hats that you wear? (eg. motherhood, work, blogging if you are a blogger?) Any tips on finding new ‘friends’ without coming across like a try hard or a stalker?

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  1. I’m not the best at making friends, something to do with the shy introvert I am, so not one to give advice. But give me a blog or a keyboard and mouse and I can type away till my heart’s content. Problogger does look like a lot of fun though, and very inspirational. And that food! Wow! That looks worth it in itself!

  2. Thanks Caitlin for your blogs. You are an inspiration to others. Maybe it’s your introversion that makes you a great writer.

  3. Yes it’s a hard thing to blog when it’s not giving you a financial return but if it’s giving you emotional pleasure then keep going, you’ll break through and find your way soon I’m sure! It was lovely to meet you and just keep on trucking… like the big bloggers said it’s all about hard work! x

  4. Ha ha…Im laughing at your qn about finding friends without being a stalker or feeling like a try hard. Many times I have thought both these but then I think ‘no’ I am being genuine in my commenting because I am actually interested and want to ‘connect’ as they say. I love seeing you run a muck raising all those kids. You are an inspiration. Yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel I tell ya and Im only 3 weeks in with 3 under 3. you had triplets. Bless your cotton socks!! I have so many ideas about how to grow and build my audience but time is not of the essence here and this baby biz is chomping a heap of it, but we’ll get there because like you, I enjoy it immensely. Im glad you loved the conference and I look fwd to seeing what it brings to your little blogging space. x

  5. Oh your photos are gorgeous! It looks like it was so much fun! Mind you, I am totally distracted by the awesomeness of your macarons and dessert. xx

  6. I’m surprised you even managed to get the time to go. I’d feel exactly the same way if I was there. I’m totally jealous of the food!!

  7. I was jealous of you that you had B and The Crafty Mummy to hang with – I don’t have any blogging friends IRL, only online connections. I had a moment in one of the afternoon sessions, where I sat down by myself because I couldn’t see anybody I knew, and felt like a bit of a “nigella no friends”, almost with a tear … but then somebody sat next to me and we got chatting and I was fine. I wish I’d had more of a chance to chat with you, but it’s just so chaotic and crowded it’s hard to even find people you know let alone chat with them!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

  8. Lol. Yes, I’d like to know how to not be a try hard or stalker too. I totally get what you mean about the awkward thing too. I definitely felt it. I think it’s only natural though. It was lovely to have a good chat with you and finally meet you and see your lovely smile IRL.

  9. Oh sorry Janet I only saw you from afar. It was totally awkward when I had no friends around, but everyone was just so lovely, so it only took someone to start talking too. And yes, I should admit, B and Crafty Mummy were my security blanket, and I was lucky that they were around most of the time, so I’m luckier than most. Love those girls.

  10. Ahhhh, I certainly had my awkward / alone moments over the weekend so I can relate to what you are saying for sure Caitlin. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. But at the same time I was one of the newbies that felt like they found their tribe – even if it was just for the single reason that we all actually understood what a blog is! 😉

    I’m so glad that I got to chat with you even if it was only a little. You are really beautiful. Hopefully we’ll be the well-seasoned blogging-sensation oldies next year 😉

    Amber at Adventures of a Rainbow Mama x

  11. I liked Darren’s comment about imperfect action too, because I reckon that is the only kind I can take, balancing it in with other things too. Nice to meet you at PB.

  12. Oh this all makes me want to start blogging…but it’s always the time factor. I don’t know how you manage it Caitlin! I struggle with only one child trying to get everything done that I want to.

  13. So fun! Glad you were able to get away and go! I have to constantly remember that blogging at is always secondary to my family and serving the church. Sometimes I allow it to take precedence but I do try to prioritize the callings He’s given me.

    Love seeing your posts, friend!!

  14. I know that “not in a group” feeling well! I felt a bit like that when I went to Digital Parents last year, but thankfully I found Vanessa (Babbling Bandit) and it was like long-lost friends. I hope you go next year, I will definitely find you and hang out with you!

  15. Thanks Jennifer. Prioritising things can sometimes be a challenge, but one that I’m constantly aware of, because like you say, you have to keep assessing it because it’s very easy for the things you enjoy to take more of your time then they should at times.

  16. Well, that’s nice to hear {because it would be BAD if it was as obvious to everyone as it was to me. Lol } It’s just weird hanging out with a few hundred people that you don’t really “know” on mass isn’t it! And I would have said the same things about you Caitlin!

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