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Design Blogger’s Conference Recap

March 9, 2011 17 Comments by Dana Tucker

I recently attended the Design Bloggers Conference with Dana Tucker and Melanie Royals.  What you need to know is that they are two of the most wonderful, enjoyable people you could possibly spend time with.  Fun and smart — can’t beat the combo!  I don’t think we ever stopped laughing (seriously!), chatting, encouraging and enjoying our time together.  The stories I could tell you about our drives alone…!  (BTW, Melanie is a rockin’ driver! You heard it here first.)  There are so many things I’ve learned but spending time with them was a highlight.  I miss them!  I’m moving studio locations this week so it might be a bit before you get my conference thoughts but Dana graciously wrote a recap for you and shares a lot of the great information we picked up. Take it away, Dana!

After much deliberation and collaboration on wardrobe, I packed my suitcase and headed to the airport. I was on my way to attend the first Design Blogger’s Conference in Los Angeles and to  meet my cyber friend, idol and now business partner, Regina Garay, IRL (or In Real Life).

Airplane photo

I met Regina almost 3 years ago on Twitter. We started sharing and brainstorming social media marketing ideas. Regina invited me to teach a class with her at the upcoming IDAL conference in July in Hampton, VA. When we heard about the Design Blogger’s Conference on Twitter we decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to network with Design Blogging pros, collect the most up to date information on using social media for the Design industry and meet for the first time in real life.

As the conference drew closer, we found out that Melanie Royals was also attending. We all ended up staying at the same hotel and Melanie graciously offered to chauffeur us to and from the meeting each day. (At our own risk. Driving in LA is a little, A LOT scary.)

"Melanie Royals", "Dana Tucker"

Melanie and Dana at the Traditional Home Garden Party.

The three of us ventured out to an introductory cocktail party the first night. I have to admit that it was pretty painful and intimidating to be thrown into a crowd of 200 + designers/bloggers without knowing anyone and having to be smart, insightful, and witty enough to make an impression after 6 hours of travel. As it turns out, I think everyone else felt the same way. It started out a little stiff, but things loosened up towards the end of the night and lots of good connections were made.

As an icebreaker, I asked designers if they used any decorative painting in their designs. As I had suspected, most designers ARE NOT AWARE of the full scope of the work we do these days. Most were under the impression that FAUX is outdated and said that clients were not requesting it these days. When I probed further and asked if they were aware of metallic plasters, decorative masking patterns, Tattoowall, concrete overlays, all over stencils and various other current treatments they were very intrigued. They were either unaware of these treatments or didn’t realize they were executed by decorative painters. People, we have a lot of work to do educating these designers and elevating awareness of what we do in this industry.

Design Bloggers Conference

Some of the conference highlights were:

1) The Business of Blogging by Dan McCarthy of Network Communications, Inc.

Dan did a great job of outlining the reasons for blogging. He said, “Either you are blogging to help bring in new customers for your current business or you are blogging to create a new way to earn money.” About 95% of the attendees were there to find out how to use blogging to increase their core business. Some advice from Dan:

  • Use blogging content to organize your business and set yourself apart
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Interaction with people will make your passions and skills more visible
  • Regularity of content is more important than volume of content

2) A panel discussion with Blogging Stars

Design Bloggers Conference Speakers-Click to Enlarge

They discussed digital and print magazine publications and how they were both utilizing content from bloggers. They also touched on how it is getting more difficult to find fresh content and interiors to profile that have not previously been featured on popular blogs. It was brought up multiple times during the conference that if you have a project you would like to have featured in a publication that you should NOT share photos on your blog prior to submitting your project. Your best bet is to submit professional quality light filled photos for your project that have not been previously published anywhere. Wait a reasonable amount of time to hear back on your project before submitting to the next publication. So, do your homework and find out which magazine would be the best fit for your project and submit to that publication first.

3) Search Engine Optimization tips from both Scott Hanselman and Doug Cook.

These were mind expanding power packed sessions with lots of great tips on how to technically improve your blog so that it will show up better in search engines. This could be a whole post on it’s own. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure key words are found in the document body, the title, the document URL and any inbound text link.
  • Titles are important. They should identify key words in the document.
  • If someone steals your content issue a “DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE“.
  • Don’t blog bile. (Once you post something online it lives forever. Check out archive.org)
  • Have an “About Me” page. Use the same photo across all platforms.

The organizers of this conference, Design Sherpa did an amazing job of lining up industry leaders and BIG NAME design talent. Some of the other presenters were:

Suzanne Rheinstein Painted Floor from Elle Decor

Suzanne Rheinstein Painted Floor from Elle Decor

There was also a crew there filming for a new reality show for HGTV that is following around real life interior designers from across the country. Overall, there was quite a bit of buzz and energy surrounding the whole conference. It felt like we were part of something important, groundbreaking and game changing. I’ll leave you with some parting wisdom from Ronda Carman from All the Best Blog.

"Ronda Carman from All the Best Blog"

Ronda Carman from All the Best Blog

  • Define your “brand” (What is it that I do better than anyone else?)
  • Differentiate yourself
  • Focus, Focus, Focus (Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?)
  • Be Innovative, collaborate
  • Talk, don’t tell (Make it personal)
  • Practice good “netiquette” (collaborate, help people, be gracious)
  • Know your target

What a fabulous few days! My side still hurts from laughing so much. My brain is still throbbing from overload. If you have a chance to attend this conference next year, don’t miss it!

- Dana

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13 Comments

  1. Lisa McMillen
    1232 days ago

    Thanks. This is great info! I keep researching the blogging idea so I have a better plan of attack when I reach that point. I see all these blogs out there and just wonder what makes a good blog worth reading. All these tips are helpful. It sounds like you had a great time, too!

  2. kim costner
    1232 days ago

    Dana, outstanding job! Thanks for the recap of incredible information. I will definitely plan on attending next year!

  3. Irene Turner
    1232 days ago

    I actually love faux paint and trompe l’oeil as well. Wrote a blog post on Trompe L’oeil http://irene-turner.com/2010/06/trompe-loeil-fool-eye/

    The bottom pics are from older projects in Chicago. I did use some fabulous faux finishes on a project in Carlsbad CA…a bit of pearlized finishes etc. and painted back tiles for the back splash of the stove. They and I love it!

    Great re-cap Dana. Still floating from the conference.

  4. ColleenwithMurals&More
    1231 days ago

    What a wonderful recap, Dana. Thank you! I’ve yet to attend any blogging conference, much less decorative art. Just the thought makes my knees knock a bit! But I know I’d take away so much that it’d be worth all the anxiety.

    Thank you for sharing. I definitely want to check out all the great links you provided.

  5. StacyStyle
    1231 days ago

    This is a great comprehensive roundup of the Design Bloggers Conference. There are so many tips that I’m glad you’ve reiterated here! It was so nice to meet you and I hope our paths cross again soon! Stacy

  6. Christine
    1231 days ago

    What a fabulous recap….I was so disappointed that I was not able to attend so your blog with all the helpful hints on blogging is very helpful! Thanks for also educating us interior design folk about decorative painting!!!

  7. Regina
    1231 days ago

    Thank you all for your beautiful comments! ~ Irene & Stacy – it’s been a pleasure corresponding with you and I appreciate you both stopping by! What a fantastic conference, no? ~ Lisa, Kim & Colleen – SO glad you could take these tips and use them for your own sites. Dana & I hope to see you there next year! ~ Christine – We keep missing each other! I’m glad this info could prove helpful and yes, there is so much beauty in decorative painting these days. I love your glam designs and I think the right local artist to you would be a good fit for some projects. Much appreciate you stopping by! :)

  8. Dana Tucker
    1231 days ago

    I had so much fun at the conference and writing this article. Thanks for the all the comments! I might write another post to recap all the SEO tips. I’m definitely going back next year.

  9. Claudia Juestel
    1229 days ago

    Thank you Regina for such a great recap. I am still trying to digest all the information, and you summed it all up so well!

    It was such a pleasure meeting everyone.

    Cheers,

    Claudia

  10. StaciwithNancyKoltes
    1229 days ago

    Thank you so much for posting this on your blog. You did a great job capturing the highlights. There was so much great information to take in. Hopefully I can meet you next year, there were so many people to meet!

    Thanks again!

    Staci

  11. Ellen sweet Moss
    1227 days ago

    What an amazing experience you had! I’m charged just reading about it.
    Thanks,
    Ellen

  12. Melanie@designamour
    1227 days ago

    Thanks for the great memories, Regina and Dana! I feel especially fortunate to have attending this with YOU two (too)! :)

  13. Ruthie Staalsen
    1203 days ago

    I too enjoyed meeting you guys! What a great conference it was! I wish you lived closer so I could use your services. Great fun!

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