If any of you have been following me on social media over the last few weeks you would know that I have recently attended a conference on the Gold Coast called ProBlogger.
Problogger is an event aimed at writers, photographers, artists, marketing types, editors; anyone really who writes, makes videos, records podcasts or is interested in writing a blog or creating regular pieces for a specific audience.
It is an annual conference, now in its 8th year, which sees 700 – 800 people gather at a gorgeous venue called the RACV Pines Resort for 4 days of talks, workshops, networking events, inspiration, learning and fun.
This was my first time at Problogger and I really had no idea what to expect. I have been receiving emails and seeing facebook posts for a while from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, the founder and brains behind the event so when the opportunity came up to buy a ticket I did just that, and before I knew it, September was here and I was off.
I combined it with a cheeky trip to Melbourne, to visit friends, see some theatre, do some art workshops and get some shopping in. I figured if I was going all that way, I may as well make the most of it.
Melbourne was everything I know it to be. Cold, grey, busy, magical, decadent and fabulous. I was thrust into a week of creative goodness; time to be alone to think, reflect and breathe and I was also swept up in the ever warm bosom of many wonderful old friends who have made the leap across the desert to take up residence in the city of trams. Some of these friends I have known since I was 13 so it was fantastic to reconnect. My days were filled with making art and seeing art and my nights were filled with glitter and cocktails. Perfect.
Feeling renewed and like my soul had been given a huge bear hug, after 5 days in Melbourne I boarded a flight to the Gold Coast. After a mild panic over the confusion of Brisbane versus the Gold Coast and which airport I was landing at (It’s ok, it was Cooloongatta) I arrived at the resort and was surprised to see how breathtakingly beautiful it was. My room was on the 19th floor and this was the view I would be waking up to each morning.
For a brief moment I considered flagging the conference and just staying up here for a week, doing nothing but ordering room service, watching movies and having spas, but I quickly realised that that would probably not be the most productive way to pass my time and instead I started to get excited about this mysterious conference.
The organisation of the event was fantastic, there was an app which we had to pre download which told us exactly what we were booked into and where to go. We also were given welcome packs which consisted of pens and a notebook which included a schedule and various tips and maps. On top of that we were emailed each night to tell us about the schedule for the next day and any extra information we needed. There really was no excuse to not know what was going on.
The next 4 days consisted of masterclasses, workshops and talks all about everything digital. How to create products, digital storytelling, leveraging social media platforms, create regular content, tips and tricks to help you manage your time, SEO information, copywriting for your audience, combining many passions into one blog (my favourite!) , legal issues, how to create an online course, the list goes on and on.
We heard many fabulous speakers from Darren Rowse himself, to Brian Fanzo of Isocialfanz , Chantelle Ellam from Fat Mum Slim to Kelly Exeter to Veggie Mama, to Daniel Flynn and the team behind Thank you water.
For me, one of the stand out talks was from Emilie Wapnick who runs a blog called ‘Puttylike’. Her talk was called “Combining your many passions into one blog” and this resonated with me because I have been that person, I am that person! I have always been interested and curious about a plethora of things. I have transformed myself and what I want to be when I grow up many, many times. I am curious and I want to wear all the hats! In my undergrad degree we were allowed to do 4 electives from anywhere in the university. Wow! Heaven! I completed 9. Not because I got credit for them, not because I gained anything from them other than the actual learning itself. I just thought it would be genuinely cool to learn about astronomy, or women’s studies or creative advertsing.
Emilie has coined a phrase for people like this, “multipotentialite”….. Someone who is genuinely interested in learning about or doing many different things in order to feel like a complete being.
Someone who is doing a million things at once and has excitement and interest about a broad range of topics, jobs, hobbies, etc. To focus on one passion is to do a disservice to the others so sometimes us multipotentialites with all our excitement and enthusiasm, end up paralysed with the paradox of choice. And so we do nothing and all of a sudden that shiny exciting page of ideas becomes crinkled and discarded at the bottom of your mind and you just end up binge watching tv shows. Weighed down and dulled by inertia. How tragic.
Emilie argues that in a world where we are told to ‘find a niche’ and build on your prior knowledge. Where specialists are valued and scanner tendencies are seen as fickle, she argues that to focus on one of your interests to the detriment of all the others will end in disaster.
So follow your curiosity, find your overarching theme and just keep doing it.
Interspersed with all this amazing information and learning were fabulous morning and afternoon tea breaks and lunch of course. These breaks were a great opportunity to chat to the other people, get a few business cards, meet the weird and wonderful ones, connect and network. This is really important when you do mostly solo work. Especially if you are an extrovert as I am, because we thrive on people and the energy which can be found in a room full of personalities. Even better if you have something in common and many are creative types like yourself.
They say ‘find your tribe’ and while I certainly couldn’t relate to everyone’s passions (I will never be a minimalist or a paleo follower or a vegan for example) I did find quite a few kindred spirits and creative types who are on their own interesting journey and I will be following their work.
Break time also means food and we were treated to some delicious, beautifully displayed treats. Always a fantastic part of any conference. (told you I could never be a paleo vegan!)
There were little touches of creativity and innovation about which is always fun. The team at the hotel had set up two Selfie lifts, which were both decorated and we were encouraged to upload selfies. A group such as this who are present in the digital space are all pretty savvy with social media so everything was hashtagged and linked and uploaded. Olympus, the major sponsor, ran a cool competition encouraging us to get creative with some colourful camera straps. Orange Sky Laundry, a wonderful organisation which provides mobile clothes washing stations for the homeless around Australia had set up camp in conjunction with The Good Guys and were taking donations and running a few competitions. Everyone was touched by their story and what they do so this was well supported.
Daniel Flynn from Thank you water gave a very moving talk about his brainchild which is a not for profit company that is aiming to get clean drinking water to all the people in need throughout this planet, which is a lot. It’s ironic isn’t it that a huge amount of the world’s population do not have clean drinking water and the rest of us pay through the nose for bottles of stuff that comes out perfectly good and clean from our taps virtually for free. Disgusting really when you think about it. Just one of the many massive injustices in this world. It hurts my heart.
Please support Thank you Aus if you are able.
At night we had events and drinks under the gorgeous Gold Coast stars and it was a great opportunity to meet more writers and bloggers and accountants and mums and editors and people in the SEO / marketing fields. There really were people there from all walks of life. If you can think of it there is probably a blog or a website about it.
All in all it was an inspiring long weekend. I have been feeling like I have been in a bit of a rut with writing and editing and getting the 2 year complacency bug setting in so I was hoping Problogger would give me a kickstart back into my first love and my main passion and Im stoked to say that is exactly how I feel. The fact that I am writing the bulk of this article right now on the plane going home, in the dark while everyone around me sleeps is testament to just that.
Sometimes it is important to mix things up, to get out there and do something different. Meet new people, change your outlook, surround yourself with others who are doing similar things in this big, bad, sometimes confusing, sometimes lonely, often fabulous, colourful and amazing world we live in.
One thing I will take away from this conference which is actually quite valuable is the fact that I actually know a lot more than I give myself credit for. A lot of the basics and even some of the more advanced ideas and notions, I already know- I just need to believe that I know them.
For me this conference was all about meeting people, having a break, learning new things and getting some inspiration. I love writing and all that goes along with running this website but I just needed a boost to get my spark back.
After a fantastic, creative break in Melbourne and an inspiring and interesting trip to the Gold Coast I am feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard and implement all that I have learned.
Hashtag ready. Hashtag excited. Hashtag thank you. Hashtag let’s do it!
Please see our gallery below for some more photos: