Texas Style Council's annual conference. I've gone to quite a few blogging conferences over the year, and while I loved them initially, after a few years the keeping up with the joneses, rat race, popularity contest aspect of it all started to wear on me. I wanted something more meaningful and authentic, something more focused on relationships and community, which is what brought me to blogging in the first place. Texas Style Council's conferences were so much different that the other blogging events I'd attended. So much more low key, less focused on high fashion (which was never my thing anyway), and a lot more about making connections with other bloggers while still offering classes and workshops to help learn things you might want to know.
The last few TxSC events have been more of your standard conference style, but this year Indiana, TxSC's founder, wanted to pare it down even more to get back to the basics of blogging and really focus more on the relationships that blogging can create and sustain. This year's theme is CAMP: Create A Meaningful Presence, and it's held at a girl scout camp outside of Austin, where everyone will be staying in cabins, eating together in the mess hall, and doing fun camp-like events, in addition to having a keynote speaker and a select few workshops and presentations. I love learning, but honestly, I'm much more excited about the relationship building and so thankful that Indiana recognizes the importance of that aspect of blogging. I love TxSC because it always gives me a chance to meet up with old blogging buddies, but also meet new ones. In a conference setting it can be hard to go up to new people and meet them/start a conversation. As an introvert it's definitely not my first nature and takes a lot of getting out of my comfort zone. In a camp setting, I think that will be much easier and better facilitated by the fact that we're all staying in the same place, eating at the same spot, and while I love getting fancied up for fun events, it'll be nice that we're all casual and comfy, which I think is less intimidating.
I know there are tons of blogging conferences and events these days, but I truly believe that TxSC puts on the best. It might not draw the biggest names, or teach classes on becoming a million dollar blogger, but let's be honest, not all of us are in it to make a million dollars. Not all of us want to be famous, or get on Oprah, or have a decorating show on TLC. I mean, those things would be cool, but I'd rather go to an event where I feel like we're all friends, and you can talk to people about #bloggerproblems and they actually understand what you're talking about, like really understand. And you can share your goals to be on Oprah, or your goals to write a book, or your goals to just blog consistently, or your goals to do something other than blog, and everyone is supportive and excited. And you don't have to wear designer frocks and talk about runway shows or magazine features.
I love Indiana's drive to create a conference that is truly valuable to the attendees. After TxSC 2013 she writes,
"At the conclusion of TxSC 2013, there was this moment where I was thumbing through the program, marveling at all the people who had come. We had nearly 400 attendees, an amazing set of speakers, three very full days of programming, and incredibly supportive and well received sponsors. My staff was so hard working and so well balanced. We had found our stride. Despite the hard work and how personally I take every bit of criticism, I wanted to do TxSC14 for sure.
But as the year came along, I couldn't find an answer to my annual questions. "How can we do it better and differently than what we just did? How can TxSC be different from what's already being done?". I had already scrapped the panel format. I had already provided smaller workshops.
The landscape of blogging has changed a lot since 2010. The amount of resources out there for bloggers is astronomical. Aside from the networking part of the event, I couldn't figure out how TxSC14 could be something that added anything new to the conversation or provided anything of value to the attendees. There were other conferences out there doing what we did, but on a professional level."
As a gal who loves camping, I have to say I'm stoked out of my mind for the retreat. With plenty of time for hanging out by the campfire with s'mores, as well as inspirational speakers like Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess, Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind, and Sophia Rossi of HelloGiggles, I know it's going to be a refreshing and invigorating weekend. Yours truly is also leading a workshop type thing!
Since this year TxSC will be at a camp, the registration cost includes lodging and food, which is super nice especially because it's during SXSW, which makes it nearly impossible to get a hotel or cab in Austin. Registration is a bit more spendy than in years past for this reason, but I think it's way more affordable than airfare plus hotel plus food plus taxis.
♥ Shared, assigned lodging, based on registration type
♥ Five meals (Friday's dinner, Saturday's breakfast, lunch, and dinner, & Sunday's brunch)
♥ Four keynote sessions
♥ Your choice of Saturday workshops (choose three of nine)
♥ Access to blog mentors
♥ Friday night's Create + Connect mixer
♥ Saturday's Khaki Cool Jamboree (party!)
♥ Sunday's Badge Ceremony
♥ Digital headshot c/o Awake Photography
♥ Shuttle service to and from the Austin airport [arrives and departs around 3:00pm on Friday and Sunday]*
♥ More camp swag than you can shake a walking stick at
♥ ... and a few surprises!
TxSC is coming up, this March 20-22, so if you haven't registered yet, do it! Last year's TxSC sold out at it's 400 ticket max, and this year it's going to be smaller, with only 275 tickets available, so sign up while you can!
Indiana herself says that this isn't going to be a typical "blogging" conference. "If you want to know how different the 2015 installment of Texas Style Council will be, I just asked a possible keynote if she could speak on the topic of "Blog Success is Mainly Luck and Selling Your Soul to Advertisers but is Mainly Just Luck So if You Ask Me How You Can Get More Blog Traffic, I Will Stab You." She hasn't responded, yet, but I'm hopeful someone can lead that talk...
Point blank: if you want to attend TxSC to learn how to be a "successful blogger" and to get more money and more followers, this is not the camp for you. But if you want to make connections with creative women who are all about building each other up, TxSC is the place for you. Plus... s'mores."
To that, I say: