Evo Conference Recap

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first Evo Conference presented by Mom It Forward and Today’s Mama – both of whom are wonderful clients of mine. The conference is billed as being about the “Evolution of women in social media” – but I think it’s reach went well beyond that aim. The information I gathered from there could easily be applied to my personal life, my business, my blogs, and would easily be useful for men as well as women. I am not a master of social media, and I don’t really intend to be one. I dabble in it. Just like I dabble on this blog, and Scriptygoddess. My main focus has and always will be what I do beyond these websites: of course my life in general, but from a business perspective, my web development. I went to the conference, curious to see what the sessions were about but not really thinking they would have that significant of an impact on what I’m doing. That assumption was wrong.

The first session I attended was about “Small Business Success” with Ciaran Blumenfeld, Lara Galloway, Lisa Leonard, Marlynn Schotland and Ana Roco-Castro on the panel. I went in hoping to find answers to whether or not I should grow my personal business and if so, how. I probably walked away with a slightly different realization than I expected, but that realization was that I don’t want to grow my business. At least not at this time. My business is me; coding. I don’t want to spend my time “running a business.” I want to spend my time coding. That’s it. So what I need to spend any additional business energy on is finding “partners” to help me continue that goal – primarily designers. I often get requests from clients to design, and I don’t really want to do that part of the project. So I need some reliable designers I can work with to do that part with me. As well, finding designers means they will also hopefully send work my way as well. That is, I think, where I need to go at this point in time.

The next session I attended was more for fun. It was a Photography Workshop with Aimee Giese, Casey Mullins, Jenny Cisney and Jen Lemen. Half of the session was spent listening to their tips and tricks and being inspired by their photography and points of view. The other half was spent outside wrestling with our cameras to try and create some of our own photographic magic. (Benspark got a photo of our group – the lady in the green halter top shirt on the left is me. Notice my look of total confusion staring at the scary settings on my camera? LOL! Also notice the bright sun, bare shoulders… and what you can’t see – lack of sunscreen. My shoulders still hurt from that burn.) I’ve been trying to be more adventerous with my D70 – so far the pictures I’ve taken on the manual setting pretty much suck donkey balls. But it’s a work in progress. I also think if I want better photos, I’ll probably need to get a better lens. A lot of the limitations I thought my camera had are actually limitations to the lens I’m using.

Oh, also – this session was up the mountain from where the rest of the conference was taking place. You had to take a 10 minute gondola ride up. At first this sounded like a ton of fun. But in reality, I don’t do so well with trust in mechanical things. Especially when I have to put my life in the hands of said mechanical thing, and instead of being a quiet, peaceful experience, the thing creaks and bounces and feels like it could drop you at any moment without a second thought. I was only able to snap one picture before I really had to hold on to the seat for dear life. Not that the seat would save me if we fell, but maybe my gripping the walls of the gondola would remind it to continue gripping the wire as we rode up. Moosh In Indy had a funny post about this experience too.

At this point I headed home for the evening. I understand there were a number of wild parties each night at The Canyons, but for someone who spends each and every day alone, at home, with nothing but a dog to talk to and my laptop to code on – I’m obviously not the most social, outgoing person on the planet. (Pretty ironic that someone like me would go to a social media conference actually.)

The next day I attended a design session in the morning. Scott Sorenson from StruckAxiom and James Rabdau from The Summit Group were on the panel, as was Rachael Herrscher standing in to talk about the design overhaul of Room 704. (The new design that was presented isn’t live yet) Again, this was more out of curiosity. I’m fascinated and intrigued by design. I wish I could do it better than I did in the past. I certainly like looking at and working with good designs – but it’s not something I feel comfortable doing anymore. The points were well made, about a logo not being equal to a brand. About how to create a brand and translate it across different avenues.

The early afternoon session I went to was about SEO, with Chris Frietchen and Carina Hoskisson. These two ladies really worked well together and gave a bunch of tips and tricks for writing content that is good for SEO without going too far. This obviously has relevance to my blogs, and to my business. Not that I write content specifically for my clients, but I’m often asked advice about these issues and I get the “basic” idea, but having some validation and new ideas presented was really helpful. I am definitely going to be putting their suggestions into practice. (In fact, in my last post about Printable Masks, I played around with manipulating the text the way they described, and I’m proud to say if anyone ever actually searches for “Printable Mask Ear Hook” – I come up #1. LOL!)

The next session after that was about writing reviews, making pitches to companies for sponsorship, etc. Connie Burke, Jane Devin, Christine Frietchen and Nick Wells presented. As you may have noticed, this is another area I’ve been dabbling with. I really am a total iPhone geek and love the playing with apps on my phone. I’d say about 20% (or maybe even less) of the usage on my phone is for actual calls, another 40% would be spent on email, and easily another 40% is spent playing with apps. So talking about the apps is a natural for me – getting apps for free that I can review is really fun. Connie gave insight on what companies are looking for, Jane gave insight as a blogger, Chris gave us tips on how best to construct the post and Nick on the legal aspects. One of their points was that bloggers should always be honest – giving the good and the bad. My standpoint has been up to now to try to be positive. “If you can’t say something nice…” That is not to say that I haven’t been giving the whole truth. Basically if I don’t like a product, I will usually just stick to whatever indisputable facts there are. I have at times made some suggestions on some items. But I understand their point that people want to see the negative stuff too.

This really was an interesting experience for me – start to finish. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but started to feel better about that as time went on. I am a pretty shy person, but I started to realize that many of the people at this conference had come to it alone as well. While I was coming into this huge group of people, many of them did not know each other – some of them didn’t know anyone until the start of the conference – and that realization helped me be a lot more outgoing. For example, one person I had really wanted to talk to was Alma. I have actually spoken with her on the phone before and will be working with her on another project. I really like her work and wanted to touch base with her and talk about sending clients who ask for design work her way. On Saturday, I tracked her down – found her table where she was sitting having lunch, plopped myself down next to her completely uninvited and introduced myself. That is SO out of character for me. But I am so glad I did it. She is just the sweetest person and I was so thrilled to finally meet her. I met a bunch of people at the conference – introducing myself to complete strangers. Handing them my card. Almost as if I wasn’t a social misfit at all!! LOL!

So, as you can tell, I’m pretty jazzed up about the conference. I’m not sure if we’ll still be living here come Evo Conference 2011 – and if we’re not, I’m not 100% sure I’d be able to go – but certainly if we are still here – I will definitely be going again. Maybe next time I’ll come out of my shell a bit more and join in on some of the crazy parties I was hearing about. :)

8 Comments

  1. Heather Carson
    Jun 28, 2010

    Hey- we chatted that whole ride down on the gondola and I had no idea you are a coder! I am a designer and coding is not my favorite. I’d rather design. I guess we were too busy not being scared of the heights to remember to ask about business :)

  2. Jennifer
    Jun 28, 2010

    HAHA! Yes – it was great to meet you! Anytime you need a coder, let me know! 😀 I will definitely hang onto your info and send clients your way!

  3. BenSpark
    Jun 29, 2010

    Jennifer,

    Thanks for the shout out to my little post about the Photography session. Glad to see that you had a nice time on the trip.

    The parties are where much of the networking happens. They don’t have to be crazy they can just be chill, I found them to be pretty relaxed actually and great for talking to people. Hope to see you there next year.

  4. Jennifer
    Jun 29, 2010

    Hey Drew! Thanks for stopping by! I kept seeing you around the conference, but I have to admit, my social-misfit-ness got the better of me and I didn’t have the courage to say hi. :) I promise next time I see you, I’ll get over it and introduce myself. 😀 And yeah, I definitely have to make it to the parties next time. …Baby steps… baby steps. 😉

  5. Rachael
    Jun 29, 2010

    Great recap post! AND a BIG THANK YOU for all you did to help us get there. You were so patient with all of our site madness! 😀 How many updates and changes can a couple of girls make? 😉

  6. Jennifer
    Jun 29, 2010

    Thanks for stopping by Rachael. You guys were totally fine. I know how it goes – especially at the last minute there. :) I was happy and proud to be a part of it all.

  7. Steph
    Jun 30, 2010

    My only complaint… we only saw each other briefly at the conference. Your recap is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experience. And… it was so great getting to chat more with your at lunch yesterday!

  8. Jennifer
    Jun 30, 2010

    Thanks Stephanie. Thanks for stopping by. It was nice to meet you and then again yesterday. Really enjoyed talking to you and I hope we can meet up again!

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