What is a Blogging Conference? Evo 11′

I’ve had many people ask me what a blogging conference is, why I go, and what happens at these events. I thought the best way to share about my recent travels to Evo 11‘ in Park City would be to share my honest thoughts with a few pictures to go along with each inspiration.

Evo 11‘ is a social media blogging conference nestled away in the hills of Park City, UT, held at the Canyons Resort. This was my second year to attend and I’d recommend it to anyone. Just look at the beauty!

It’s designed for bloggers in general, like foodies, mommy bloggers, design bloggers, and dad bloggers, too, to come and learn about blogging, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. There’s always something new to learn and the speakers are usually outstanding! It’s a well-balanced group of people and I really enjoy that. And, yes, a blogger looks like a social media geek with an iPhone, computer, and camera in hand.

EVO is very family friendly, as you can see by the fun that my husband and I, our daughter and her friend, are having at the Bush’s Beans Party at Park City Mountain Resort. (More pictures below.)

We enjoyed an intimate dinner downtown Park City at 412 Bistro with the “Team Beans.” We do sort of feel like family now, since we’ve been working together with Bush’s Beans for about a year and a half. :) At blogging conferences you’ll hear great information about working with brands.

(Aggie and Maria)
(Katie, Cheryl, Kristen, Aggie, Laura, Maria, and me)

Attending a conference allows you to either dive into the lives of others and make new friends, or you can be really quiet and keep to yourself. One of the greatest gifts of blogging that I’ve received in the past 4 1/2 years has been very rich friendships. I’ve also found people with similar interests and passions as me.

Because I love to entertain, I think about the people I meet that I’d be giddy to invite into my home to a dinner party.

Wouldn’t a virtual dinner party be fun? I adore these ladies! (Annalise, Kelley, Helen Jane, Lisa, me, and Alison)

And these lovely ladies. Flavia is a brand new friend who I just met and our family could have swooped her up, packed her in our suitcase, and brought her back home with us. Katie is a sweetie, too, with a beautiful, family-friendly blog. (Katie on the left, Flavia on the right.)

Cheryl, Marla and Kristen know way more than I do about blogging, and are quick to offer advice and to help other bloggers out. They are resourceful and awesome ladies!

Aggie and I worked out hard climbing those BIG hills every morning. It was actually a very spiritual time as we reflected on our goals and direction for blogging. It was very refreshing, encouraging and exciting! (Love ya, girl!)

Another important fact I’ve learned over the years is that blogging is not about perfectionism, arrogance or pride. Blogging is about sharing your passions, giving out to others, and treating everyone with respect and dignity. For example, even when you may not have the perfect photo on your blog, it’s okay. For me, as the hostess of real life dinner parties, I rarely have time to stage and get the perfect picture before I’m waiting/serving my guests. That’s when I hope the story comes through and hides the not-so-perfect photos. (Love covers a multiple of sins, right?) :)

Here are some of the inspirational pictures from a food/photo workshop up in the hills of Park City at Lookout Cabin.

(Helen, me, Aggie, Maria, and Alison) Alison is a new breath-of-fresh-air-friend, too. Really special lady.

The workshop was photography instruction (taught by Helen of Tartelette) and a cooking demonstration. The food was delish and the setting was …well, … you decide. Go God!!

My favorite part of going to conferences is meeting new bloggers. You can tell right away when you meet a genuine person, because, again, they ask a lot of questions about your life.

(My new friend, Sara, from One Charming Party.)

One of the classes I attended was on food styling and photography with Diane Cu and Todd Porter from White on Rice. I learned so much from these two. They were relatable and taught us so much about the camera. As we ended each session, they encouraged us to take the information learned and to pass it on to 5 bloggers. In other words, their insights and instruction were not to be kept a secret. I so appreciated their “pay-it-forward” mentality.

Todd and Diane were very humble. Teaching is definitely “less about them and more about others.”

And then there’s the incredible Jeffrey Saad, with the same style of teaching, who taught a hands-on food workshop, sponsored by Bush’s Beans. This man lives and breathes enthusiasm and excitement. You can clearly feel his love for food and the people. (You can watch Jeffrey on July 12th for session 2 of United Tastes of America.)

I’m sort of starting to sound like a rerun here on RE … the people, the people … it’s not about us

I was able to reconnect with Tsh from Simple Mom and Melissa from The Inspired Room, two of my very first blog friends who I met 4 years ago at Blissdom. They are “balcony” friends in my life, for sure. Meeting people from different states (and even countries) is another added benefit of blogging. (These two gracious ladies also endorsed my book.) :)

I met Jo Packham one year ago at EVO, and if you don’t know Jo (Where Women Create and Where Women Cook), she’s also the founder of The Creative Connection conference, if you’re looking for a blogging conference to attend this Fall. I love this picture (below) of Jo and me talking, because it shows her in action. :) She is talented, creative … I think “bigger-than-life” explains her well. She has a new book coming out this Fall called: Where Women Cook: Celebrate!: Extraordinary Women & Their Signature Recipes. It’s a hard back book of 27 beautiful photographed parties and I’m very honored that my annual New Year’s Eve dinner party was included in this lovely book!

Back to the Park City Resort party, sponsored by Bush’s Beans … a few more “fun” pictures.


(hubs and I on the scary roller coaster ride)

So, who made this conference a huge success? I would say for sure the founders Rachael and Jyl, but also the speakers, teachers, sponsors, and the venue itself. But mostly, the people who attended.

As a group of bloggers were gathered around a “celebrity blogger” (very popular and wonderful person, just too many people gathered around) my family and I quietly slipped away and found the closing key note speaker. Have you heard of Me Ra Koh? Her keynote was so inspiring, we texted our teenage daughter to quickly come downstairs to join us. Both having photography and the same faith in common, she had words of inspiration, little nuggets of wisdom, that my husband and I could never have given to our daughter. It was our last little “gift” of EVO before the night ended.

So what is a blogging conference?

As we left the closing event and headed back down the steep mountain in the rain, and as we said our last good-byes to old and new friends, I felt happy and content.

It’s the positive relationships in life that make us better people. The ones that challenge us to grow, to have more courage, to make a change, to step it up, to try something new, to see things in a “new” light, to recommend us, to teach us to put perfectionism aside. Ones that encourage us to become better parents (which is more important than better bloggers), that inspire us to love our spouses more (when it’s tempting to love our computers more) … to become better people.

It was the people at EVO that once again changed my life.

Have you attended a blogging conference and if so, how did it change your life?

(Bush’s Beans paid for my trip to Evo 11′, but they did not pay for me to write this post today.)

More posts on EVO:
Completely Delicious
Two Peas and Their Pod
Use Real Butter
Ingredients, Inc.

48 comments on “What is a Blogging Conference? Evo 11′”

  1. Park City is so beautiful, year-round! Even though I lived in Utah for years, I’ve never done most of that summertime stuff, like that fun-looking roller coaster & the chute! Can just anyone go to blogging conferences like this? Would those just starting out get as much out of it as bloggers like you, who have sponsors & more followers? Just curious.

  2. What a beautiful {inside and out} group of gals to spend that time with… YOU especially Ms Sandy!! :-) It looks like this was an amazing experience. So happy for you all!!! Have a super start to your week!

  3. I would ABSOLUTELY love to go to this next year. Who do I have to sleep with?

    TOTALLY KIDDING. Gosh maybe I shouldn’t have typed that out. Why am I not backspacing?

    Really, how do I sign up for next year?

    Your account of the event is incredibly inspiring!

  4. Oh my goodness! It is SO beautiful there!!! And YOU ALL are so beautiful! And it looks like FUN!

    Putting it on my wish list for next year!

  5. Awesome recap!!! I love it! I wish I could have made it to Evo. But your photographs captured it beautifully and made me feel like I was there.

  6. BEAUTIFUL recap post! THANK YOU for spreading the love! I absolutely love reading these posts as they come in because we run around like crazy but can’t be everywhere at once. You make us look good! ;) Such great pics! Be sure to add what you’d like to the flickr group too!

  7. I’m so sad I didn’t go to this conference- looks like it was a blast. I guess I need to connect with that Bush’s Beans crowd! Fun stuff indeed!

  8. Such a lovely recap.

  9. Beautiful post sandy…thanks for sharing and letting us a bit more into your life! I have yet to attend a blogging conference, but think it would be fun!

  10. Sandy!
    You SHINE so BRIGHT!
    This post gave me chill bumps!
    How much FUN to gather with so many blogging friends.
    You are a doll…and an inspiration!
    Hugs from Bainbridge!

  11. It looks so beautiful out there! I’m so happy to read everything you took away from this experience.

  12. Lovely photos and recap! It really was an amazing weekend. It was so lovely meeting you, I hope our paths will cross again!

  13. What a blast Sandy. Beautiful place. Beautiful people. So happy for you.

  14. Sandy, what a great post! I agree with you, for me blogging conferences are all about the people. I just adore Aggie, Helene, Diane, Todd, Alison and many others who you have posted about and met. I hope to see you at a conference this year or next and actually get to talk more than we did at HomeGoods (BHF). Love your roller coaster picture.

  15. I loved reading your recap! You truly are inspiring! It was so great to spend time with you and Paul. We love you guys and miss you already. Please come visit us soon! You are always welcome! Great photos too. I might have to snag a few:)

  16. What a fabulous post Sandy……….you said it ALL so perfectly!!
    I can’t even wrap my head around it all yet!

    I love you and your sweet family! See you in Oct in Montana!!

  17. I’m so sad I didn’t come – I only live 40 minutes away!! Next year I will for sure, and I hope you are there so we can meet in real life!!

  18. You summed it up so perfectly – love you and your family!

  19. I loved reading about your conference experience Sandy, It was so wonderful for you Paul to share, I wish I would have been there and shared such a great experience with you, thanks for posting those pictures and what it was all about, Love you, Vinnie

  20. What a wonderful recap, Sandy. I came away from EVO so energized and inspired. It was so good to see you, beautiful lady!

  21. What an incredible post! I had chills reading it and even a tear or two. I am SO honored to be included and to have met you! I loved talking to you, and we really have a lot in common. You are so refreshing and talented, and I’m so glad to have met your lovely husband and daughter. I hope we will keep in touch, and one day, I can come over for dinner :)

  22. I AM Attending @TCCEvent The Creative Connection Event http://www.thecreativeconnectionevent.com/ with my daughter who will be a teacher. I cannot wait. It will be my first event like this and I KNOW I will be overwhelmed. I “watched” this event on twitter and learned so much and found many excellent people to follow on twitter. I’ve also been a long time reader of YOUR blog and am so happy for your successes. I, too, and a Reluctant Entertainer.

  23. Sandy, what a well written positive post! Looks like a very fun conference & there were many people there that I knew. Would love to have been there too, what a gorgeous setting. Maybe one of these years, I’ll get a sponsor too. then I could just hop around to blog conferences & catch up with my friends all year long. :) so glad you got to meet Alison, she is a doll. xoxo

  24. So happy you had such an amazing time and will plan to be one of your blogging buddies hangning wiht you next EVO. Hope to see you soon!!

  25. This was such a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing what the evo’11 conference was all about. I’m so sad that I missed it, but I found myself nodding at each of the points you made, each of your reflections. Perhaps we’ll get to meet at one of these things one of these days. :)

  26. What a lovely post, Sandy. It looks like Bush’s Beans is a very quality brand to be involved with – and they know how to have fun! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  27. Hi Sandy! Your post was so fun to read and the pictures were so great of the people, food, drinks, sites, etc. I love hearing about your trips with Aggie (I was Aggie’s guest last October in Napa)…hope to cross pass again! Take Care!!

  28. What a wonderful post highlighting this blogging event – wish I could have been there – I know I could have learned a lot!

  29. Wow Sandy – this was one of the best ever blog recaps! What a wonderful time you all had, and such a great group of Bush Bean gals.

    Miss you!


  30. What a great recap!! We are looking forward to our next conference. Believe it or not, the LoveFeast girls have never been to a conference together (we have taken turns at different conferences) ! We are thinking our next one is TCC in Minneapolis. We are hoping from here on out most of our conferences will be together. There is nothing like IRL connections!

    Blogging has been a great creative outlet ~ and the friends we have met a long the way of turned out to be true and inspiring!

    Glad to have you as part of the friends at our table!

    Chris Ann & Kristin

  31. Wow! I have always wondered what exactly goes on at blogging conferences, and that looks like it was absolutely amazing. Thanks for giving us an inside view. I love how the blogging community can be so far away yet so close :)

  32. Sandy, What a beautiful post. It captures the essence of the EVO conference perfectly. I was so touched so see that you mentioned me in your post–thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel very blessed to have met you and Paul and I just adored your daughter-what an intelligent, genuine and poised young woman she is. She will definitely shine brightly in whatever she pursues in life. She and your two sons are very lucky to have you and Paul for parents. Please thank Paul again for his sharing his photography knowledge with me so generously and patiently. I hope our paths cross again very soon; I would definitely love to come to Oregon. Our door is always open here in Houston, Texas, so don’t be shy. Love and Hugs to all of you!

  33. Meeting you was definitely one of our highlights! and you’re from OR. You’re extra special in our book. xoxo
    Love your amazing round of photographs and you shared the EVO story so well. Keep up your wonderful work! xoxo
    d and t

  34. Thanks for sharing the details. I’ve been thinking about attending a conference. It was really neat your family could go with you. The setting was amazing and it sounds like a time to refresh. Now I just have to figure out which one to attend…

  35. What a beautiful post of your time at EVO, looks like you ladies and gents had a wonderful time in UT. I have decided that I MUST attend next year. Those photos of you guys on the slide are just too fun! Hope to see you soon :) xoxo

  36. Oh Miss Sandy!! You shine so bright my friend. This re-cap post is so wonderful. Think I should just direct my readers here. Your words are beautiful & your photos capture this amazing experience. I am so happy we are buddies. What I would do to sit & chat with you for reals right now. What is next for us girl??
    “put perfectionism aside” <——- Imperfections make life FUN!!

  37. How did I not leave a comment on this yet, lol! I thought I did! I had an extra special time with you my friend. I am so grateful that you came into my life, this is why I love blogging!!! Thank you for our chats in the woods, what a place to really think out loud huh? You and Paul and Abby made me feel at home, especially during our fun happy hours in your room. Can’t wait to see you again.


    Oh and PS…thank you for getting me through the ski lift/gondola rides…GOODNESS GRACIOUS!!!

  38. Pingback: #EvoConf11 | Aggie's Kitchen

  39. Sandy- I’m still trying to wrap my brain around last weekend. It was overwhelming, inspiring, exciting, and tiring all at the same time. A highlight for sure was making new friends. Thank you for your hugs, laughs, kind words, and amazing guidance. You are refreshing, REAL and a total hottie! I do believe that’s the ultimate trifecta! Thanks for this recap and until our paths cross again. xx

  40. What great pictures! This looks like a conference I would enjoy. :)

  41. Sooooo loved hanging with you at evo this year, especially at the food workshop. You are always so fun. And you captured the conference perfectly. It’s so fun to relive it through everyone’s posts and your picture-heavy one is brilliant!


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  43. You look about 20 years old! Lucky girl. :-)

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  46. I want to be in Park City hiking again right now! Looking through this post made me smile :)

  47. I’m so excited that I’m attending this year – and that I’ll get to meet you!!

  48. Pingback: Watermelon Feta Bites with Basil Olive Oil for Aggie's Baby | reluctantentertainer.com Reluctant Entertainer I Sandy Coughlin - Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening

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