February 8, 2018

Creative @ Heart and #allthethings

You may have heard about this little thing call Creative @ Heart through social media, the web, or from another creative. Actually, it’s not so little. It’s kind of a big deal.


I first heard about C@H last winter when one of my favorite photographers, Katelyn James, posted about it on her instagram, three days before registration opened. Before this, I didn’t even know in person conferences were a thing in the creative industry (yes, I know…). So there I was, struggling in my sixth year of business as a part-time portrait photog, reading #allthethings C@H including the speaker’s bios and social media creeping, mind racing with possibility. Up until then I had never financially invested in any kind of workshop, webinar, or conference; I took full advantage of every free resource I could to try and grow my business. Don’t get me wrong, free resources and education are absolutely fantastic! But I knew if I wanted to take my business to the next level and get out of the pit I was in, I’d have to invest eventually.


I’m pretty sure I was the first one (ok, maybe not) to register for round 7 and it was the best decision I made for my biz.

Three things I wanted to gain from C@H before attending the conference:

  1. Education – I could do the creative stuff but the business side, nope
  2. Community – selfishly I just wanted to be surrounded by like-minded people
  3. Confidence – I was always taught creatives couldn’t make a living being full time


After 6 months of planning, prepping, being way too excited, and a 7 hour solo road trip later, I made it. I was actually there. In Raleigh, NC. Meeting my roomies. And freaking out. The good kind of freaking out.


In a matter of 3 days, content was dumped on me, love was poured out, memories were made, and personal decisions were finalized.


After the conference, I took two days to just sit and think. I don’t know about you, but after something BIG happens, I tend to sprint full speed ahead into whatever’s next. I don’t take time to breathe, think, pray, meditate, or plan. But this time, I knew I needed at least two days to process everything that happened, all of my conversations and advice given to me, and the truck load of content. In those two days I was able to plan ahead and make some decisions about my future. My life had drastically changed (it felt like it to me!)- I had decided to switch from portraiture (seniors/families/weddings) to commercial photog (working with businesses and products).


Creative @ Heart gave me a solid foundation to build my new business on (at 16 years of age, starting my biz, I didn’t have any foundation). Each speaker and panel leader spoke about different aspects of the business side and the creative side. Each had their own story and experience that lead them to their success. And each spoke practically about action steps to take in our businesses. Because of this conference and community, I had the confidence to step into my new season.


Honestly, if I wouldn’t have taken the leap and purchased my ticket to C@H, I wouldn’t be as confident, wouldn’t have the abundance of resources and support I have now, and wouldn’t have made my passion my full time career (<—- this happened 6 months later!! Yes, I am now a full time commercial photographer!).


If this is your first time attending Creative @ Heart, welcome to the family!! To some of you, you might be freaking out thinking, “Why did I just spend all this money on education? Will it be worth it?”. The answer is YES. I can 100% reassure you that this might just be the best thing you will invest in for your biz. So much so, that you might invest in another C@H conference like me! Yup, I will see you there 2018 attendees!


A few bits of advice/encouragement based off of my first experience:

  1. Room with other conference attendees! I almost stayed with friends in the area instead of attendees and I’m so glad I chose to room with my gals. Lord knows I love my friends dearly, but rooming with other attendees allows you to really meet other creatives, bond over everything, process things that were spoken, and helps keep you accountable to your goals after the conference.
  2. Take a few extra days. A day or two before the conference starts and a day or two after. Practically, this helps you travel timely, allows you to process everything, and let’s you take that mini vaca you actually need.
  3. Explore the city. I took full advantage being on a mini vaca and explored before, during, and after the conference. Every city has a unique vibe and culture, why not try something new?
  4. Be open. If you go to the conference close-minded, you won’t learn or grow. Yes, I’m sure you’ve got some stuff down in your biz, but I highly doubt your an expert at everything. There’s always something new to learn or some perfecting to be done!
  5. Go deep. This community is about love and support. No one’s perfect. No need to put up that wall. Be vulnerable about your struggles, ask questions, and also give real advice if someone asks you! #communityovercompetition
  6. Ask questions. Ask the speakers, ask the breakout session panelists, ask other attendees. You’re there to learn, there’s no shame in asking questions. And everyone is SO NICE. Trust me.
  7. Put into action things you learn. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you got handed valuable info but never put it into practice? Why even go if you know you’re not going to implement change after you learn it? Just trying to be real here.


You’ve got this, girl (or guy). This just might be the best thing about to happen to you. I kid you not, I was so overly excited for six months prior to the conference and it wasn’t in vain. My expectations were far exceeded! I met the most amazing people, learned WAY more than anticipated, and now am part of one of the most loving communities. Can’t wait to meet you!