I made it!!! I made it alllllllll way to Atlanta, Georgia on a 17 hour Greyhound bus ride because of you! Yes, I really took a bus from Philadelphia to Atlanta and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, besides people wanting to have full blown convos at 3 AM.
After being chosen to be a part of the official Blogalicious Social Squad (a fancy name for the beautiful group of social butterfly volunteers), I was excited and figured that I’d get my travel arrangements in order sooner or later. As time passed, school was coming to an end and graduation fees and other financial obligations surfaced, causing me to get stuck in a real rut. Thank God I have awesome people like YOU who donated to make it possible for me to book a roundtrip ticket, even if it meant I’d be on a bus instead of a plane like I’d originally planned (I secretly hate flying anyway).
I got to ATL 5 days before the conference was even to begin for the purpose of spending some time with my friend who recently moved there. My 1st impression of ATL was exactly this—> “Oh, no…. see I need a train or bus line or something because like… how am I supposed to get around if I don’t drive?! Omg, it’s nothing to do… I am going to die of boredom”. This was all before I realized that:
1. My friend lives in the Conley area of GA, which is south of ATL where not even natives seem to be familiar with it
2. You do in fact need a car if you want to get around ATL comfortably
3. There is PLENTY to do, you just need to know the right people who know the right places!
After a few days of stressing because multiple cab companies refused to drive to my friend’s house to pick me up and take me downtown to the conference, and having VERY limited funds, the gates of heaven opened and I found a very affordable hotel that was literally a 5 minute walk from the conference. Hallelujah!
My new resting place was a hotel in downtown Atlanta which definitely wasn’t 4 stars (maybe not even 2 and a half), but it was going to have to work. Now the stress was gone, I was within walking distance from the conference, and I still had enough money left to eat real food for the next few days.
On Wednesday all the Social Squad members were to report for our orientation and to stuff swag bags (which were quite amazing I might add. Don’t worry, I’ll give the scoop on what was inside in the next post!). That day we all got to know each other, and I have to say that the afternoon shift set up a meannnnn assembly line filled with laughs and pandora. We were done those swag bags in record time! I have to give a shout to Ms. Jana, the Boss Lady who kept everything in order from start to finish, I don’t know how she does it!
The conference started the next day and as a Social Squad member, we were assigned to assist at specified panels each day, and then were free to attend any sessions and panels we wanted to! I have to say that I loved that set-up because we were getting the opportunity to get an inside look at the inner workings of how to run a conference, while also being able to enjoy it as an attendee. Since each of us were assigned to specific sessions, we knew well in advance where we had to be and what speakers we would be assisting. Ironically, I got chosen to assist Amy Dubois-Barnett, Editor-in-Chief of Ebony Magazine! Like, whaaaaa?! Since I found out that I’d been assigned to the keynote address, I’d started dreaming up what I’d say, exactly how I’d introduce myself, and how even a brief conversation would go if the opportunity happened to arise. When the day came, another panel was in session as Amy sauntered in quietly to take her seat and gather thoughts before addressing the audience. As it came time for the keynote to begin, I began rehearsing my quick intro in my head (total geek moment). Since Amy was already seated, Jana decided to initiate an introduction between us, and it took a little of my nervousness away. She was maaaaad cool, y’all! I totally felt like I was talking to one of you, she was so down to earth. As we explained to her that we would help her keep track of time, she asked if we could go with her in life to help her do that everyday.. ha. Now I can say thay I shared a laugh with Amy Dubois-Barnett, swoons. Our convo was brief, but memorable… at least in my mind.
The rest of the weekend was filled with thought provoking panels on blogging and branding by some of my favorites, including Afrobella, Luvvie, Marie Denee, Lamar Tyler, and more.
There were networking mixers where I got to meet dozens of bloggers from all over, I connected with the Digital Editorial Director of Ebony Magazine who recently spoke at my school, and I connected with fabulous brands like Pic Monkey, Heart of Haiti, and Friends Fun Wine at the pop-up-shop! This is the 2nd conference I’ve been to where I’ve felt a real sense of community and unity, all for the purpose of working toward advancement.
The season premeire Scandal party sponsored by Xfinity and hosted by Luvvie was AMAZING…… AH-MAH-ZING. Like, she came in her Olivia Pope BEST! It was a great time.
The brand suites were fun, informative, and inviting. The Colgate Optic White Suite was lavishly LAID…
ORS gave product samples and live demos…
And I took a spin in the new Kia SUV! Well, I was a passenger.. tehee.
Overall, I had a great experience at Blogalicious and I would definitely return for another dose! There’s so much more to say about this conference, so in another post, I’ll give you a list of the 10 best take-aways from Blogalicious 5 more photos, and all the deets of what was in this fab swag bag!
Until then, click HERE for the official event photos