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My Trip to Chicago for a Conference

Back in 2005, I was already blogging about a game called World of Warcraft. I started on Blogspot and began writing every day as a way of journaling my way through my levels playing the game, as it’s a game that your character “levels up” as you play and gain experience. My memory was notoriously bad enough to warrant wanting to keep a record of things. I don’t know why, but I’m grateful that I did, as it would later become my career and way I bring in money. Websites and writing, that is, not playing the game.

I soon moved to the WordPress platform when my traffic reached levels that I thought deserved a domain name, so I bought a domain name and got a terrific hosting plan. I distinctly remember how painful it was to purchase an $80/yr plan up front, but it forever changed my life as I continued to write, break my site, fix my site, and grow an audience.

One blog I visited regularly at work was a haven for positive professionals who mused about life topics and business decisions. While I didn’t own a business yet (though I fantasized daily about being my own boss), I found that I had a knack for weighing options and discerning right and wrong in complex ethical situations based on others’ feedback of my comments. The Spring after Beautiful and I were wed – Spring of 2007 – the community around this blog organized a conference in Chicago called SOBCon: Successful Online Bloggers Conference.

Houston, we have a problem

I was flat broke. We were making enough to get by, but a $200 plane ticket, overnight in a Chicago hotel, and a $600 conference ticket were all out of the question. I was ready to sit at home and wait for everyones’ blog posts about how wonderful it was to actually meet each other.

Little did I know, an older businessman in India was unable to attend, so he offered his ticket via the organizer to a “most deserving individual who can’t pay their own way.” She chose me out of all of her contacts. I graciously accepted the ticket, but I meekly advised her that I couldn’t pay my own way to get there and stay there, either, so I was dearly sorry, but she would have to gift the ticket to someone else.

She was to have none of that and told me to write a post about the conference and what attending would mean to me and attempt to digitally hitchhike to pay for the plane ticket and hotel. By the end of the first day, I had over $100 donated to the cause! I attended that inaugural conference with much chuckling and smirking from family that I was going to a “blogging conference” as if it was such a dorky thing to do.

Little did they know who those people were. The contacts I made there that year and the next year have fueled out business ever since 2008 and through word of mouth, it keeps on growing. I missed the last 2 years due to college graduations in the family (mine included), so I’ve been hankering to attend again to meet up with old friends and network my butt off to make new friends and contacts.

It was a phenomenal, life-changing lineup of speakers and I likely doubled the number of face-to-face professional contacts over 4 days. I was also able to meet several clients for the first time whom I’d only done business with over e-mail and/or Skype. What a treat! Oh, remember the name: SOBCon? It now stands for Successful Online Businesses Conference, of which I am now one.

Here are my favorite photos from the weekend.


  1. Looks like you had fun with the “new” camera! 😉