Bloggers, Tacos and Minnesota Inspiration

Minnesota bloggers rock. I know because I spent Saturday with 150 of the best, brightest and kindest people at the 2nd annual MN Blogger Conference.

Talk about a recharge! There is no way I can capture the energy in black and white print (Kate Hopper could, but not me) so I am going do the next best thing - introduce you to a few of the people I had the pleasure of talking with, learning from and being inspired by. 

Among the people I met were Lee Svitak Dean, Food editor for the Star Tribune and author of Come One, Come All as well as Amy Peterson, writer of Green Your Plate blog. Do you see a trend here? 2 people - 1 topic . . . food. There is an amazing network of food bloogers in town and frankly, this sounds much more interesting than human resources, leadership and growth. I am a far cry from a foodie but that doesn't mean I can't add a few food blogs to my reader for inspiration, right?

Two non-foodies I met were Emma Wilhelm, an author of 8 Dimensions of Leadership, DiSC Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader and Christy Eichers, an old band leadership camp buddy of Charlie Judy, HRFishbowl. Go figure!

The inspiration continued in the sessions:

Lee Oden, Top Rank Marketing. With nothing more than a blog and some savvy community building techniques (think hub and spoke and meeting the needs of your customers) he created a globaly recognized online marketing business.

Paul DeBettignies, HireCast Consulting. After warming the crowd up he dished about networking, using the back of your business cards, being nice to others <karma always comes back to you> and the difference between lurking and stalking.

Communities may develop around a website or a blog, but they don't stop there. Led by Kate O'Reilly, Clever Kate, panel members Jen Emmert, Prior Fat Girl, Meghan Wilker, Summer of Dresses, Stephanie Meyer, Fresh Tart Steph, and Ian Schwartz, St. Paul Tweetup shared their commuity building tips: people will hate on you and you get to decide how to respond, invite people to participate in the community, and there is not best approach to community growth. 

I'm a Squarespace girl. I've felt a little alone in the Wordpress world, but no more. Enter Josh Braaten, Big Picture Web. He's my very own Squarespace connection. If you use Squarespace, think about using it or want a side-by-side comparison of Squarespace and Wordpress, he's your guy.

I heart Kate Hopper. Have you ever written a blog post that felt flat? Um, yes. Kate shared ways to ground your stories in details and bring people to life by describing tastes, smells, sounds, textures and touches. Her first book, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers will be out in Spring 2012.

The taco bar rocked, the location was superb and the parking was free. Wait, the entire event was free thanks our sponsors Top Rank Online Marketing, Allina Hospitals and Clinics and KARE11. Yes, free!

Not sure how Missy BerggranArik Hanson and the planning team will top this in 2012 but I can't wait to find out!


This weekend, I spent Saturday in a cooperative workspace with 148 Minnesota bloggers at the first MN Blogger Conference. Being one of the few (maybe the only) blogger writing on leadership, growth and HR, I had ample opportunity be exposed to other blogging topics. Yes, there is blogging beyond HR.

With three keynotes and fifteen breakout sessions, information to suit any topic, style and level of blogging was there for the taking. From generating ad revenue and editing CSS in WordPress to analytics, SEO and finding your authentic voice - there was a session for every interest.

My two favorite sessions were Growing as Writers: taking Your Blog Posts to the Next Level by Kate Hopper, author of Mother Words-Mothers Who Write and How to Get Published: Get a Book Deal Out of Your Blog by Bonnie Harris, founder of Max Marketing, Inc.

Top three take-aways for me:

  • I am not a blogger, I am a writer. I am not a blogger, I am a writer, I am not a blogger . . . get the drift?
  • PR people and their pitches can be a blogger's best friend. So, to all the pitches I ignored . . .
  • Analytics matter, links matter and @adamsinger has got this SEO stuff down cold.

Ok, here's a fourth take away. Blogs are cool but it's really all about the people. Look them in the eye and it all takes on a new meaning. Here are three "sets of eyes" that left an immediate impression with me.

  • I recently started reading The Extraordinary Ordinary. This weekend, I met Heather, the author, and heard her speak. Talk about an amazing woman, a gentle spirit, a strong soul. I will read her writing with a whole new level of meaning (and understanding) for me.
  • Another person behind the blog I met was Judy, a strong woman - with presence, who is my daily, caffeinated, up to the minute, "source for crazy things" at Just JudyJudyJudy. Subscribe. Now.
  • A new person, and blog, to me is Jennifer at Prior Fat Girl. You can't be in the same room with Jennifer and not want to know more about her. She's fun, she glows and she's real. A blog I am adding to the reader because of the person.

So, before I go, I have to mention that I did a video interview at the conference. David Erickson asked me, I said yes. After escaping and avoiding these video things for the longest time, this time I didn't. Why?

It was time to just own it and do it. 

It is what it is and now I have that behind me. Phew.  

Wonderful organizers, fun attendees and very knowledgeable, helpful presenters and generous sponsors. Looking forward to the second MN Bloggers Conference.

Cheers to the MN blogging community!