10 Career Lessons I Learned Last Weekend

I went to an annual blogging conference over the weekend (hosted by rewardStyle, a monetization platform for bloggers); so today, I’m bringing you a recap of ten general career lessons I walked away with after the conference… Eight things of which I strongly agreed with — and two I did not.

rewardstyle #rsthecon conference recap

After this weekend, though, I must say… I have two moods: Sleep is for the weak — or sleep for the week.

If you are a Snapchat follower (@coralsncognacs), you know that the last few days, it’s been all about the former… Whoops!

Everything in moderation, right?

best healthy juice bars in chicago

At any rate, let’s talk:

Regardless of whether you’re a blogger or you work your ass off in a separate industry/full-time job, doesn’t it seem like every time you turn around there’s a panel or conference or something work-related that you have to go to/attend/make time for in order to reach that coveted next level of wherever you’re at? Shit, man.

Sometimes, this is true — and no doubt great for your professional growth — but a lot of it is that noise that we talked about in this post last week.

I know that many of you couldn’t attend for financial reasons (or, you know, you’re not a blogger), but I have a lot of thoughts to share from the experience. So without further adieu…

//

10 things I learned from a blogger conference (#rStheCon):

1. Relationships are the key to your success. Period. At the end of the day, it’s all about who you know, how they’ll remember you and how closely you’ve taken care of that relationship. Being authentic, kind and interested in other people’s lives (in a genuine way) will get you far in not just your career, but life.

2. Surround yourself with people who set you up for success.* Similarly, your success is tied directly to the people you surround yourself with. My favorite thing about the rewardStyle conference? People! Being around 200 fun, talented, hungry-for-more people chasing a dream similar to yours is a great way to leave you feeling energized and excited about what’s to come — and of course, motivated to kick your own ass into gear.

*And return the favor. You will never ever ever be less successful for celebrating someone else’s accomplishment. There’s plenty to go around, my friends.

corals + cognacs wearing a lace-up black bodysuit from topshop

*What I wore: Topshop lace-up bodysuit (it’s f’ing amazing and under $40), C/MEO skirt (more here), Sam Edelman shoes — the ones I told you I wear every weekend. Shop below:

//

3. Look at your numbers. Your stats. Like, really look at them. Your favorite social media platform might not be the most efficient/that’s driving the most traffic to your site. Take a day (or longer) to deep-dive into these analytics and re-think your social media sharing strategy. Don’t be intimidated if this isn’t your professional background, you can learn it just by telling a story with numbers: If Pinterest is one of your top traffic drivers, figure out why/what content does well and spend more time here. (You can use websites like CoSchedule to schedule pins, FYI. Total game-changer.)

4. Surprise! You do not already know everything. I’ll be honest: I did not feel that I learned a great deal from the conference this year — but that didn’t stop me from gleaning some great business insights (hence, this post). The conference was beneficial, yes, but not so much for me on the knowledge/education front, as I have a background in marketing analysis and digital media. Plus, I stay aggressively up-to-date on social media trends.

Regardless, you can — and will — learn from literally anyone, so even if you “know it already,” challenge yourself to figure out what that lesson is. Oh, and listen more than you talk. You’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason.

real-good-juice-co-chicago

5. Go with your gut. Throughout the weekend, there were a series of smaller expert-guided educational sessions. Most I found interesting, but truthfully I didn’t agree with a few of the best practices being discussed in each (more on that below in points #9 and #10). That’s my own personal opinion, of course. Even though I think it’s important to always find the lesson in what you’re doing, at the end of the day, go with your gut… But make sure your heart and head are on similar pages.

6. Video is the future. And our attention spans are getting shorter, so get to the point. I mean, look at how popular 10-second messaging apps are becoming! Which leads me to my next point, in that…

7. Candid photos are always better than posed photos. 

corals & cognacs, pursuit of shoes, bows & sequins bloggers at rewardstyle conference in dallas

Our outfits, left to right: On Jess: Lily Pulitzer dress / On Ashley: Privacy Please kimono dress / On me: Saylor dress (on sale for 40% off) and those Sam Edelman shoes — again (also on sale)! Shop below:

*Note: Both Ashley’s and my dresses are from REVOLVE, which is an extra 10% site-wide off with code CANDY this week. Go. Now. RUN!

Love these gals. We had so much fun together!

///

Last but not least…

8. Abandon the plan. This falls somewhat outside of the realm of the conference, but let’s just all accept that nothing in life goes according to plan.

Long (very long) story short, I missed my flight home on Sunday morning and ended up missing my first SoulCycle class of the day. Really, really not ideal — and I hate feeling like an unreliable teacher in that sense. There was literally nothing I could have done (my Uber blew a tire on the highway at 4 a.m.) — and  as I’ve been saying to my classes: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with it.

Let’s not worry so much about that 10% and focus instead on the other 90% — the shit that we can control.

gold-metallic-headphones

///

What I disagreed with…

Now, there were two notable topics from the conference that I really didn’t agree with — and here’s why:

9. “Most of your time and effort should go into your blog.”

So, there was a lot of emphasis at the conference this year on putting your website first-and-foremost. After all, your dot-com is the only thing you actually, truly own. I get it, and there’s a lot of validity to this.

To date, social media has been an ever-changing extension of our blogs (and brands); but honestly, I think that in many ways the digital industry is becoming platform-agnostic, meaning you can be influential on any platform you want (and put the work in) to. Of course, you should think about your overall objectives before you quit posting all-together to focus on your Insta-game… Having a holistic digital presence is better than just having, say, a big Twitter following. That’d be like having huge quads but no calf muscles. You feel me?

10. “You have to bucket yourself into a niche.”

Do you, though? Let’s be real — life isn’t one-dimensional. You and your blog don’t have to be either, but I say that with one caveat: YOU have to be consistent. In your voice, demeanor and online persona (if you have one).

I am a prime example — I cover a lot of topics: lifestyle, fitness, fashion, career, and so on. I think it’s more important to find and hone your voice and stick to that, rather than stress about placing yourself into a niche. How are you different and what makes you stand out?

///

If you attended the conference and have similar feedback, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And as you know, I have my weekly “Ask Me Anything” series now as a part of each week’s Link Love, so fire away!

Images via: Source, My Instagram

22 comments

  1. hi Hallie, *love* your blog and always look forward to seeing what you’re up to. i wanted to comment on this post because i really appreciate that you’re not just lapping up whatever traditional wisdom is out there about careers, blogs, whatever. you’re thinking about what works (and what doesn’t) for you, and then passing that along to us as something that we can consider — and apply to our own lives/careers — as well. thank you!

    i also want to say that what you mention at the end of the post, that your blog is multidimensional — that’s *exactly* what keeps me coming back here to read, and i bet a lot of your other readers feel the same way. sometimes with those only-fashion or only-fitness or only-cooking blogs, i get the sense that the writers spend their entire days doing whatever it is they’re writing about… and nothing else. (and hey, that’s what they do for a living, so no wonder.) but what I really admire about your blog is that you bring everything together and show how the different elements of fashion, fitness, career(s), social life, etc. are coming together in one person’s daily life, and to me, that looks a lot more like *my* life than the more one-dimensional blogs out there do.

    (p.s. just in case you haven’t caught it yet, there’s a small typo in your post — probably the result of sleep deprivation! — i think the expression is “without further ado.”)

    • Such a sweet comment, Nell. Thank you! I think that’s the thing about traditional wisdom — these days, our lives and industries are so ever-changing, we’re foolish not to think for ourselves and be realistic about what’s new or what’s now. You know?

      At any rate, thanks again. Grateful to you (all!) for spending some time on my little corner of the internet each week. Hope your day is a great one! x

  2. YES. So many good things here. I particularly identify with 1 & 2 – people are impoooortant. Surrounding yourself with good ones is everything. And on niches!!! Yes. Aren’t we doing the lifestyle blog thing? Doesn’t that pretty much negate any niche? That’s why I love it – everyone can relate and make a connection.

  3. I love all of these points and you’ve taken away such valuable information to share.

    I completely agree with you about 9 & 10. I tried to bucket myself into a niche and I wanted to quite blogging because of it. I completely fell out of love with what I was doing. When I found out who I wanted to help instead of a “niche” it change everything and I’ve been more happy!

  4. I think you really hit #10 spot on. When I take a look at the blogs that I read on a daily basis, they don’t really have a specific niche. They cover a variety of topics and I think that’s what keeps it interesting and keeps me coming back. Also, as someone who writes a blog and creates content, I think I would get burnt out very easily if I had to keep producing similar things over and over. Part of the fun of blogging is that we get to create things that we love and sometimes they don’t necessarily fall into the same category. It keeps it interesting and, I think, makes it more relatable.

  5. Love these tips! I also agree with you on the disagree statements. I mean, yes, you want your website to be great, but without social media people may not even find you! And I never got the niche thing. My favorite blogs are a mix of a lot of different lifestyle topics but with the same pov!
    Kisses,
    Sarah
    EverydayStarlet

  6. I totally agree on #10. I love C+C because you cover so much and because you are real in your posts! I blog as a hobby and really enjoy it, but I love posting to all sorts of social media platforms. I try to keep the focus on my blog, but you have to drive traffic somehow! Thank you for being real in your posts, you are an inspiration for other bloggers who want to be real too! Your snaps this weekend… were hilarious!

    Thank you for not being a niche blog – I love reading about all aspects of peoples lives, not just one thing. I definitely try to emulate that on Delta Chic.

    Thanks for the advice, Hallie!

    emily
    http://www.deltachic.com

  7. I’ve found that the longer I blog, the less conferences are about helping me and the more they are about meeting back up with friends I have made online and don’t see as often. There’s only so many times people can tell you you should be self-hosted or that you need to be authentic and create good content. I think social media is the aspect that changes the fastest, but sometimes even a yearly conference may not glean as much new info about that either.

    I used to get my hopes up high for every conference to be like my first where I learned a TON, but truthfully now it’s more about the people in my life and reconnecting with them.

  8. The niche thing makes me crazy. Do you need one or not? I certainly hope not. And if you ask me- I can’t tell you what my most favorite blogs niches are! UGH!
    On another note- I love that blue dress!!

  9. Thank you so much for this post Hallie! I’m glad you were your honest self and spoke about the things you didn’t like; so many people would have posted a recap that said “the conference was amazing…I learned so much!” or not disagreed with the content at all.

    An interesting point about niches and I would piggy back onto your comment by saying that you shouldn’t force yourself to find a niche. What makes your blog so great is that no matter what you’re posting about, the content doesn’t feel forced or fake. I feel a lot of other bloggers jump onto the next big thing (lifestyle, travel, beauty, fitness) because it’s been called the next big thing. You’ve always made different topics a part of your blog, so it feels natural. I read some blogs that are only fashion, so it would be weird if all the sudden there were fitness tips on it.

    Also love the bodysuit/graphic skirt look!

  10. Sing it sister! Seriously… this post was so helpful! I totally agree with sticking to your voice rather than only sticking to one topic. As of now I’m only blogging about fashion, but I’m constantly doing DIY projects. So why not post those as well right?! I love your writing style and I’m so happy I’ve come across your blog 🙂
    Love, Lindsey
    http://nomisniche.blogspot.com/

  11. 1. I am so happy I finally got to meet you in person! Let’s aim for hanging out more next time. That’s what I love and hate about these conferences… I get to meet a lot of people IRL, but then everything is so slammed it’s hard to actually spend time with everyone!

    2. I totally agree with all of your points! I almost always feel that conferences don’t necessarily provide “groundbreaking” information, but that my time with like-minded individuals teaches me SO much. I learn about different platforms, how others do things differently (& better!), tips/tricks/advice and finding those people that we can chat with that actually *get* what we do!

    3. The points you disagree with are ones that I had a hard time swallowing this weekend too…. While I get your blog is the only things you physically own, people aren’t taking the time to visit and most importantly stay on those sites 24/7 like they did, say, 4 years ago. If anything they’re spending more time on social and less on blogs, so it’s important to build those channels and devote a lot of time, like you said, in the ones that are efficient!

    Always love these kind of posts! Keep kicking ass, Hallie! 🙂

  12. Thanks so much for sharing the insights Hallie! Loved this post.

    I also find it hard to put myself in a niche, when I don’t feel as a person, I live in a niche. Completely agreed with your points!

    I am curious how social media is evolving and how that changes things with blogging and the future. I am always a bit nervous to know if I am doing the right thing regarding the direction of my social media!

    Hoping your out of the rut and things are good!

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    xo
    Krista
    http://www.hundredblog.com

  13. Pingback: Brunching + Highlights - Rhyme & Reason

  14. Pingback: Link Love, Vol. 91 - corals + cognacs

  15. Pingback: This Weekend - Sincerely Jennie

  16. Pingback: Weekly Rounds Vol. 38 - 26 and Not Counting

What do you think?