I recently joined 24 other bloggers for the inaugural Prime Blogger Conference in Chicago, Illinois. It was fantastic and I'm so excited to tell you all about it!
I flew into O'Hare on Wednesday, May 15. My wonderful friend, Betsy Burnett, went out of her way to drive me and Marie Segares to the host hotel, the Courtyard Marriott in Deerfield. (A word about the hotel: I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and was fully satisfied with the room, the cleanliness, and the amenities. However, checking in and out was a hassle. They insisted on creating separate accounts for my roommate and me rather than just letting us work it out between us, then managed to mangle the split that they had insisted on. I'm still dealing with the billing. Super annoying.) Anyway, when I got to the room, I found a nice surprise from my roommate.
Jessie Rayot is a crochet blogger who has christened me Honorary Crochet Blogger and welcomed me enthusiastically into the fold, even though I don't know how to crochet. Actually, Jessie taught me the basics using my new kit, so I actually do (sort of) know how to crochet now! Let's just say I need to practice a bit more before I can actually be anything other than Honorary.
On Thursday, May 16, a shuttle picked us up at 7:30 am to go to Prime Publishing headquarters where the conference was held. We had a wonderful breakfast spread, sponsored by Tonic Studios.
All of our classes took place in the conference room. That empty chair in the front is my spot.
Our first session was "Content 101: How to Choose What Content to Create and Update." I'm confident in my more recent content, but this session was very valuable in deciding what to do with older content that needs updating. I put a lot of items on my to-do list during this session!
Lunch was at Portillo's. I highly recommend it.
I was completely overwhelmed by the huge menu and confusing ordering windows, but once I got things figured out, I couldn't have been happier. The Chopped Salad was absolutely perfect. If I were local, I'd be eating this ALL THE TIME.
We returned to Prime for our next session, "SEO Need to Know: An In-Depth Look at SEO Tools and Strategies." It was incredibly helpful. You should see my to-do list!
Each of our breaks was sponsored by a different company. Thursday afternoon's was sponsored by Leisure Arts, one of my favorite blog partners.
Next, we had a hands-on workshop. We got together in small groups to work on specific issues we had. I worked with Ann Strecko Koeman and Betsy Burnett. We were the only three at the conference who use Blogger (most use Wordpress, but Squarespace and a few others were represented), so we were able to work together to figure out some Blogger-specific tweaks we each needed.
This is my friend Janet Van Lone Trieschman pretending like she didn't notice my camera.
There's Laura Kelly Walters! You may recognize her licensed art. It's adorable.
The Prime staff worked their way around the room helping groups as needed. The very affordable conference fee would have been worth it simply for this one-on-one help.
At 5:00, the shuttles took us back to the hotel. We each left with a swag bag stuffed full of goodies. Spot anything in there that interests you? (If you said no, I'm not sure why you read my blog, but thanks!)
Dinner was at Saranello's.
The food was incredible. We started with antipasti and bread, both amazing. Then, chopped salad. My entree was eggplant parmesan and the table shared platters of gnocci with tomato vodka sauce. Dessert was apple crostada. Everything was SO good. Wine flowed generously throughout the evening... perhaps too generously, as my glass never dropped below 2/3 full, no matter how much I drank!
We were up bright and early on Friday, May 17 to catch the shuttle to Prime. When we arrived, we found a delicious breakfast in the kitchen and painting supplies on our tables.
The make-and-take was sponsored by DecoArt. We used stencils to paint designs on wood panels. This is Tamara Kelly from Moogly. (Tag line: Crochet. Knitting. World Domination.)
Here's mine, in progress.
Our first seminar of the day was "Start Spreading the News: How to Get Eyes on Your Page." This was very valuable for me. I feel like my blog is chock-full of great content, but hardly anyone sees it. I'm going to be implementing some changes to see if I can do something about that.
We went next door to the craft studio for a Facebook Live, where we learned how to use Therm O Web's fabulous foils and flocking.
Then we got to play.
Some people finished their projects quickly and started working on their blogs. Others went back to painting. From left: Shirley Mathistad (no blog yet, but hopefully coming soon!), Linda Dean, Michele Brosius, Beth Watson, and Ann Butler.
Lunch was from Lou Malnati's. You may recall that I've had their deep-dish pizza before and I am a fan.
So is Betsy.
After lunch, we had a link-building and newsletter workshop. After this valuable workshop, I have started the steps to debut my newsletter. (Coming soon!) The next session was "Get Paid: Additional Ways to Monetize and Promote Your Blog." Then, the closing keynote by Stuart Hochwert, President of Prime Publishing.
Our closing party was sponsored by Oliso.
And with that, PrimeCon officially ended. It went by in a flash. Fortunately, most of us weren't leaving until the next day, so the party continued. Literally! We stopped by Portillo's on the way back to the hotel to pick up three of their famous chocolate cakes.
Good cake need not be justified, but in this case, we did actually have something specific to celebrate: Jessie's birthday!
We stayed up late chatting, playing games, and hanging out. My fellow bloggers are really awesome people.
If you're looking for some great blogs to read, here's a complete list of the attendees' blogs. Check them out!
I flew home on Saturday, May 18 and was in bed by 7:00 pm. The trip was a whirlwind, in all the best ways. I learned so much, reconnected with old friends, and met new friends. I left with specific things I need to do to be a better blogger and I'm excited to put them in place. If you are a blogger, I highly recommend attending a future PrimeCon. You won't be disappointed! Thanks to everyone at Prime for all your hard work.