The Blogcademy: A Mash-Up
“You are a mash up of what you let into your life. Anyone can be creative if they surround themselves with the right influences.” –Austin Kleon
Words cannot accurately describe how ecstatic I was to attend the inaugural Blogcademy, a weekend blogging retreat in New York City hosted and taught by three of the most infamous and badass bloggers of all time. These ladies are jet-setters, fabulously eccentric, wise, and talented– but most of all, they are passionate about their art. And yes– the kind of blogging Kat, Gala, and Shauna do is art.
It was truly fate that I just happened to be browsing Twitter the exact moment my wedding blogger idol, Kat of Rock n Roll Bride, sent out a tiny message to the world that her latest scheme, a blogging workshop, was live and ready for students. I immediately stalked around the shiny new Blogcademy website, designed by Shauna: the date was right– John and I would be somewhat settled in marriage by mid-October; the price was manageable and the location– NYC– was obviously a plus. I called John (who was in Indiana at the time) and explained the situation. These three bloggers are INCREDIBLE (all-caps doesn’t do them justice)– Kat is my wedding girl crush, Gala is a MUST-READ, MUST-FOLLOW girl, just a total game changer, and Shauna is that girl who you wish was your real-life best friend or sister and also a badass designer. John said, “You’re really excited, this is important to you, you need to go.” So I did.
My reasons for attending Blogcademy: if you haven’t gauged the extent of my fangirl crushes on these bloggers by now, there’s no use explaining how it felt to not only be in person hearing them speak, but to become friends with them (best friends, in my version of it), to talk to them about their real lives and families and tattoos and have them remember you and think something about you is kind of okay. But the more relevant reason for attending was that as much as I love this blog, I needed to be refreshed. To see it through new eyes, to learn some invaluable tools for taking it to the next level, and to feel confident about it. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt truly confident that this blog is actually something.
Fast forward a few months– and hooray, we’re walking into our first Blogcademy session! This was the weekend in Instagrams:
From left: Gala, Shauna, and Kat bring the class to order! 30 lucky bloggers from across the world attended. Note: Gala is NYC-based, Shauna is in Portland, and Kat the UK.
Gala, a spectacular speaker, totally schooled us.
Mayhem! If Kat looks fun, she’s 100 times more larger-than-life in real life.
There were two parts to this workshop: the content and the packaging (ie, the bloggers themselves)–>
A quick-and-dirty content summary: how to blog properly (if you want to be successful), photography for bloggers (by the amazing Lisa Devlin), design, non-blogging content, and social media.
In no particular order, the Blogcademy Secret Recipe to Blogging Success (as curated by me):
1) Obsess over your content.
2) Don’t obsess over your stats. Checking analytics once a month is enough.
3) Become an expert.
4) Launch and learn– there is no “right moment” ever.
5) Don’t overcommit yourself (this pertains to content management and to diversifying your money-making strategies).
6) Project what you want to get more of. Don’t post content that will attract the kind of audience you DON’T want.
7) Use your blog to fill a need, a gap in your niche– and put your spin on it.
8) Become absorbed by things in and out of your niche. Don’t let your specific blogging niche become an all-consuming obsession.
9) Remember, when it comes to your blog content and your social media strategies– how can you help others?
10) Go for a design that’s relatable– simple design can project confidence!
11) Branding means: the way a person feels about what you’re offering. A brand is not a logo; a logo represents a brand.
12) Make people believe there is no substitute for your product.
13) Your brand isn’t what you say it is– it’s what your audience says it is.
14) It takes a team to grow a blog.
15) Make your content as personality-laden as possible… and throw some twists in there now and then.
Bonus– new favorite word: “Hench” (thanks Kat) and this quote rocks my world: “All bloggers should marry photographers.” (Kat again)
The lectures and projects and conversations were so priceless– but that personal touch from Kat, Gala, and Shauna themselves were what made the weekend unforgettable. They shared with us their personal schedules, how they structure their days and balance their jobs and fabulous lives. They shared stories about how they made it to the level they were at– the connections they made, the early blog designs they had, the content they produced, sneak peeks of their upcoming work. They shared their branding and design stories, showing us the evolution of their projects. They shared media kits, advertising structures, how to get a book deal, how to design a magazine, their journeys– professionally and personally– that made them the women they are today.
The main “takeaway” from the weekend– your personality is everything. It’s going to define your voice, it’s going to define your style, your branding, your direction. So trust. Sit back and really listen to yourself, focus on your passions and desires, your dreams and schemes. Kat, Gala, and Shauna– “thank you” just doesn’t cover it. It was an honor to be a part of the first class of graduates. If you ever want to go for a long run, give me a call! I cannot wait to see where Blogcademy goes next.
Thank you to Blogcademy SPONSORS! A Fine Press | Alphabet Bags | Crown & Glory | Devlin Photos | Finest Imaginary | Garden Apothecary | Miss Anastasia Perfume | Molly Crabapple | Peach Blossom | Solestruck | Sugarpill | Twinkie Chan