Last weekend, I attended a three day conference for bloggers and social media junkies.

Do you want to know the coolest part? You know, aside from it being extraordinarily informational, outrageously inspiring, and jam packed with amazingly talented people. It took place in my backyard.

orange-bubble-canyons-resort(Photo courtesy of Justin Hackworth)

Well, almost.

It actually took place at The Canyons Resort. Which many of you know just happens to be one of my favorite stomping grounds and a place I spend a lot of time during the winter months. The resort and staff couldn’t have been more gracious. They represented Park City so beautifully that I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like a proud mama.

I learned so much over the three days, I’m still feeling a little high from all of it. You can read more about it here.

evo-conference-2011(Photo courtesy of Justin Hackworth)

Jyl and Rachael are the masterminds behind this amazing weekend. The actual full name of the conference is The Evolution of Women in Social Media but it is simply referred to as Evo. The conference focuses on the power of social media and how we as woman can use it to build our blogs, create brands for ourselves, and how to better connect and engage with our readers and potential clients. It’s three days of non-stop learning whether it be through panel discussions, hands-on workshops, networking, partying, or meeting new people. Which, by the way, I did all of the above.

Without a doubt, the highlight of these conferences for me is meeting people in real life. It’s one thing to read someone’s blog or have a conversation in 140 characters on twitter but nothing is like meeting face to face, exchanging a hug, and having a conversation while looking that person in the eye.

Connecting with other bloggers is where it’s all at for me. I’m all about the “social” in social media! Connecting with fellow bloggers is what I find to be the most impactful. So, yes, I learned a ton from the food workshop and food photography workshops and, yes, I learned about writing proper headlines and making sure I check my spelling but it is and always will be about the relationships I form.

These ladies are what I got out of Evo………

with-style-and-grace-lisa(Photo courtesy of Justin Hackworth)

Lisa is a talented photographer and recent gluten-free convert that writes the beautiful blog, With Style and Grace. She’s adorable, funny, and smart. A triple threat if you will. We hit it off instantly and behind her beautiful eyes is a little bit of mischief. I think she and I would have a bit of trouble fun if we lived any closer!

alison-jen-kelley-evo'11(Photo courtesy of Justin Hackworth)

Jen is my twitter BFF. She’s one of few non food blogs that I read. I love her blog, How I Mountain because the girl can flat out write. She doesn’t write about one particular thing per say. One day it’s about family, one day it’s about mountain biking, and the next it’s a “how to” on bedazzling her snowboard helmet. We hadn’t actually met before the conference but since we only live a few minutes away, happy hour and some mountain time play dates are in our near future!

Alison is the first food blogger I ever met. And is officially my first “blogger friend.” Alison lives in Alabama, and man, I wish she lived closer. She is so laid back and easy to talk to. If she lived in Park City I know I’d have a new friend to burn some energy with! She is the epitome of southern charm with her kindness and graciousness. She is a recipe developer, published cookbook author, and active yogi and runner. Just a wee bit intimidating. She writes about all of it on her blog, Ingredients Inc.

dara-cookin-canuk-evo-conference(Photo courtesy of Justin Hackworth)

I’ll admit, when I first met Dara, I was a little star struck. If you read her blog, Cookin’ Canuk, you’d know why. Not only does she take Uh-mazing photographs but her food is just that good. Trust me when I tell you that I read a lot of food blogs and Dara’s is one of the best. I want to make just about everything on her site. I love this photo of Dara because all weekend I would catch her working. Either on her blog, submitting photos, or taking notes. Even though she’s one of the best, she’s still listening, learning, and growing. Hard not to admire that.

ingredients-inc-and-completely-delicious

This is a picture of Alison and Annalise on the gondola riding up to Red Pine Lodge at The Canyons for the closing party. Annalise, baker extraordinaire, writes the sweet blog, And Now For Something Completely Delicious. Annalise is so talented and like me, she doesn’t make any money blogging. She has a “real” job and blogs on the side. We had many conversations on how we could grow our blog and make the shift from working to blogging. It’s not an easy thing to do but if anyone is capable of doing it, it’s her. She’s a way bigger deal than she thinks she is and has just about the sweetest smile ever.

aggies-kitchen-bushs-beans

The lovely Aggie from Aggie’s Kitchen. Aggie is a “girls girl.” She and I could relate on so many levels. She’s a mom of two who started blogging for an outlet and has become the real deal. It’s no surprise she’s done so well. She’s genuine and after just meeting her you feel like you’ve been friends for ever. We bonded over our lack of camera skills but I think something clicked for both of us over the weekend so hopefully we’ll both be posting some great food photo’s from here on out!

sandy-maria-bush-beans-workshop-evo'11

And where to begin with these two lovely ladies? Sandy of Reluctant Entertainer is something else. And I mean that in the best way. I immediately was drawn to her smile and warmth and It’s like she intuitively knew what I was going to ask and her and she seemed to have the perfect answer ready to deliver. Her advice and direction was invaluable. While I definitely took some blogging advice from her, she ended up giving me so much more. We talked family, relationships, kids, and trying to maintain balance. Because isn’t that what it all comes back to anyway? Balance.Talking with Sandy and her husband, Paul, made me strive to to become not just a better blogger but a more present Mom and wife as well.

Maria lives in Salt Lake with her husband Josh and together they write the wildly successful blog, Two Peas and Their Pod. Have you ever met somebody that totally exceeds your expectations? Well, Maria, otherwise known as the “cookie queen” and her husband Josh are those people. I don’t know if either of them have a bad bone in their body. They are funny, generous, and are going to make the best parents. They are expecting their first in the fall!

tequilla-shots-red-pine-lodge-canyons

So if anyone were to ask me, “How was Evo?” or “What did you get out of Evo?” My answer would be these ladies.

I walked away from the weekend feeling inspired, excited, grounded, connected, focused, and fulfilled.

I met some truly amazing women that before this weekend I only admired from the webisphere and am now lucky to call friends.

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17 Responses to Evo’11: A Blogging and Social Media Conference

  1. Maria says:

    I loved reading your post. So many fabulous woman that I look up to! EVO really was about friendship. I left wanting to be a better person because of all of the talented, inspiring, and lovely friends I was surrounded by. Thank you for the kind words. We think the world of you! I am so glad we connected in real life. We are always here for you. And Josh is willing to babysit anytime:)

  2. Sandy @ RE says:

    So blessed to have met you. I, too, loved our talks “outside” of blogging and life in general. You are the best and I can’t wait to continue our friendship in years to come! Thank you for the sweet words, friend!

  3. Such a wonderful tribute to all the great women at the conference. Can’t wait to join you next year.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. You captured the conference and, most importantly, the people perfectly. Thank you for your really sweet words about me. You are truly one of the most genuine people I have met in a long time and I hope you have plenty of opportunities to hang out together. We fell in love with Park City again that weekend and plan to drive up more often. Don’t be surprised if we show up on your doorstep.

  5. Aggie says:

    Oh Kelley…I just loved reading this. I’m so happy we met and had time to chat in the car before all the “busyness” set in. You are the sweetest and I know that if we lived nearby we’d be having many “playdates” (for us & the kids!). You are such a down to earth gal and I really love that about you…thanks for all the kind words, I think the world of you. xo

  6. Annalise says:

    VERY moved by the nice things you wrote about me. Thank you! I have really enjoyed getting to know you over these past few months and I’m glad we live close enough to get together regularly. And I absolutely agree with you, blogging is all about the people you meet.

    P.S. I actually do make money through ads on my blog, though very, very little!

  7. Great post! These pictures are awesome! I loved that you are the first person I met at EVO last year, and that our friendship has grown. You are such a relaxing, cool, talented, smart woman, and I am so happy and lucky to be your friend!

  8. Kami says:

    I’m so glad we met! What a great recap. All you “foodies” make me want to be a foodie too. 🙂

    That top image is breath taking!

  9. Jill says:

    Kelley – Reading your post made me want to attend (and I am not even a blogger). How fortunate for you to have met all of these great women in person … and that they got to spend time with the wonderful you!

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