Whole Parenting Family

The 100 Event & 10 better blogging tips


I went to Texas. Again. With BabyLoves. In the sling.AwakePhotography1016

This time it was for another conference. Last time was all about being women together. And supporting each other. And rap karaoke.

This time Megan, Bridget, Lauren, and Grace hosted us. Such sweet hostesses. They went so above and beyond. Every meal was sponsored. The drinks (no alcohol for this paranoid nursing mama) were DELICIOUS {hand squeezed lemonade, anyone?}. All the restaurants we went to were interesting and good, darned good food. The sponsors were generous with their swag and very generous with their insights. Every time I turned around, we were doing something fun and interesting. The ladies even played a little pass-the-baby so I could be bebe free for a few minutes to take notes when he wanted to a-gooop on me. Support these ladies. Follow them. They’re doing great things.


I want Bridget’s lipstick.

Bloggers of the world: come together for delicious food, amazing gifts, spurring conferences, and the opportunity to have an intimate luxurious weekend to learn, laugh, and love. {love? yes, love. we loved the freedom to wear heels. yes, I wore heels. and yes we had lots of girly moments wherein we said “i just LOVE you!”}

My sweet roommate Kelly and her beautiful shop with wood wall hangings, Britt of the infamous cattle ranching in New Mexico {infamous for her beautiful photos and fabulous style}, Olivia of her lifestyle blog & handsome son who is my son’s best friend. They drooled on each other. Can’t get better than that. Katrina of the gorgeous hair and handsome babies. Blythe of the rockstar California cool mama who makes me want to move and be her neighbor. Kate of the tranquil heart-moving writing & pics, and her sweet kiddos. Indiana of the inspiring outfits and great lipstick. Katie of the great food and northeastern musings.

Paige from Awake Photography captured our moments. Oh gosh oh golly. Dinner Friday was hearing about this awesome British company Joules, and Kendi–styling style blogger.  Saturday distraction expert Curt Steinhorst told us how to maximize our brain capacity. Of course, I was half topless desperately nursing a screaming 12 week old in the back so my distraction was at an all time high. This photo was right before he hit the fan.


**Nursing break. I nursed a lot while there. Why? Well, because I didn’t bring a bottle or a babysitter. And I nursed without a cover. With my jiggly everything. This may have shocked some of the ladies, but as it was all ladies, I figured it wasn’t anything that shocking. The sling covers quite a bit. But even when it didn’t, better to have a fed baby than a screaming baby. But I digress. More on the screaming later.**

I also sat in a great session with Stacy who shared the details on social media, marketing, and was helpfully specific. The other panel I got to listen to included Peacock Alley, Fossil, Lily Jade {oh you know the beautiful high end leather diaper bags Grace talks about}, and The Studio Digital. They talked all about the brand perspective. Loved loved loved hearing that scoop and being able to ask open questions about how to approach brands, etc.

In between we ate like kings at a deliciousous pizza joint sponsored by Twine Interiors. What a cool concept for DIY interior design. Check them out.

Oh, and then in the late afternoon, we attempted to attend Jenni Dawson’s photography session. Attempted because between the arched spine, spit up projectile style, and cough screams, oh, and bared breasts attempted to force nurse, it was clear he was over it. Upstairs to the room we retreated. He took a few hours to calm down and actually sleep and I took a few minutes to FaceTime with the folks back home. Win-win, after feeling sorry for myself for a hot five minutes that I didn’t drag my poor sainted mother to babysit alongside me so I could dump, nurse, and run.

So I missed out on the afternoon of learning, but did don my high platform stacked heels to party like the best of them at Peacock Alley & devour about 17 cake pops, a triple deluxe grilled cheese from a great food truck, and then a buttercream-sicle. Did I mention the fine linens we perused and pawed at? Their silk duvets are intriguing. Hopefully more on those later.

The bebe slept in the sling the whole evening, thankfully, so I could discuss cake pops in earnest with my girls.


Olivia’s pic. My dress is scandalously hiked up. I swear it’s not that short in real life–it’s the sling. Why is my arm awkwardly out? I was trying to look cool like Grace. She looks normal.

Sunday we went to an early mass, a quick coffee, and then off to another amazing meal of queens. I had donated a stash of my Whole Parenting Goods to the gift selection and oh-me-oh-my the gifts! We all got to pick something special to take home. If I had room, I would have snagged a lamp or rug! I opted for the Minnetonka Mocs coupon to give something to my sweet AA who has persevered with our older kiddos not one weekend this month, but two, solo. Tout seul.

Whole Parenting Goods etsy 100 Event

I’m definitely going again next year. You can’t not go. Say you’re going, blogger friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting one, or you’re the queen of the blogosphere. Everyone will get something out of it, personally, and materially. We were showered in beautiful gifts! and food! and conversation. It’s a very affordable luxury vacation. See you #thehundredevent next year.


So that’s my narrative, but here are a few things I learned: ^^ why do I look so out of it? I think the kids had hit my glasses numerous times right before I went so they’re pretty banged up. ^^

1) Plan your day around your calendar, not your inbox.

We can open our inbox and fall into responding to emails, while checking texts, scrolling Facebook/insta/twitter and doing a lot of a little of everything. And yes, we women think we are the queens of multi-tasking. But there’s a difference between multi-tasking and doing many things within one task. Doing dinner, texting, and bouncing a baby–can’t pay attention to it all. Emailing multiple people at the same time, bouncing around, that we can probably do well.

But when assessing our day, schedule out how much time to spend writing (and maximize those good writing hours), assign time for social media (when you need less sharpness), and when to respond to emails, etc. Think of when you’re at your peak, and do what takes the most brain power THEN.

2) Use great searchable words for SEO on your website itself, and in the descriptions you use on social media.

Search engine optimization. You need quality & quantity on incoming links. Think of what’s on your blog’s front page–well, your posts, but also your description maybe, or tag cloud, or whatnot. Those terms should be google search term hotties–things that people would look for that would bring them to you! It’s not just about having great photos. You need to also ensure your content is relevant and it shifts regularly.

Make a short list of words you want to incorporate regularly that are your hot words. Use ’em.

3) Photos photos photos. If you don’t shoot in manual, learn how.

Here’s a great manual provided by J. Noel Photography. It’s several bucks, but Jenni says it’s WAY worth it. Truly, truly, teaches you how to shoot in manual. I had the good fortune of multiple photo classes in high school and college. Did a few selfies before that was even a word. So although I shoot with my Sony 550 DSLR, I do harken back to my SLR days and try to always shoot manual.

Grace has a great instructional post on editing IPhone photos, if you don’t have your biggie handy and are shooting with ye ole phone camera.

4) Build audience through a natural network.

Find a blogger similar in rankings and goals and subject matter. Then work with each other, sharing posts, cross-pollinating your audiences. Network with those who are with you to all get better together. Then ask the bigs, like the four ladies who hosted this conference, for mentoring help as needed. But there is enough audience to go ’round. Don’t be stingy in helping your sister blogger. Promote each other!

5) Brands want to hear from you if you have a great idea on how to promote their product, or you have a fabulous following.

If you have 80K instagram followers, you can probably do any giveaway with most companies. But even if you don’t have that kind of following, don’t hesitate to contact a brand and say “I want to work with you for a review/discount code/giveaway. Here’s my zany idea of how to tell the world about you.” They may love it, and send you a product! Or at least a discount code for your readers. Love your readers and give to them. 🙂

It can take years to build an audience such that you have the clout to work with brands that have expensive or heck any products. Don’t be bashful, but also be realistic that you may have to ask 10 times before you get 1 yes.

6) If you’re going to take pictures of yourself, learn to do it so it looks effortless.

I don’t pose for my blog because I feel like a narcissist. I was told I need to get over that by doing a billion shots. Now if you are a lifestyle or fashion blogger, you’re probably over it already. I’m not there yet. But people like Kendi make it look easy because she does it really well. Practice, practice, and more, you got it. Practice.

7) Retrain your brain to find satisfaction where you want it to.

You’re always seeking dopamine for your brain to get that hit of satisfaction, that yummy feeling. Distraction lessens dopamine. You’re fighting against your biochemistry in your mind when you try to stay on task, instead of “quick check see if someone liked my photo” on Facebook. Retrain your mind, get more done, and eventually feel satisfaction that way.

Like me trying to cut out refined sugar. My brain tells me I WANT IT SO BADLY but my body tells me NO THANK YOU NO MORE!!!

8) Write from a real place. Your readers know when you’re dialing it in.

My sister and I just talked about this and it’s so true. Don’t write on a topic that’s hotly trending in your social media feeds. Don’t quick reshare your quickly formed opinion or take on something. If it resonates, and you shoot photos or write about it, great. But if you just write because you think it’s a topic people want to read on, or you have to force write, just do not do it. Your readers know.

Thankfully Molly says she reads through those posts anyway. Thanks, Mol.

9) Accept criticism and welcome it.

You’re not going to improve unless you can hear criticism that is constructive. If it’s nasty comments on the blog, forgive and delete. If it’s helpful, weed out the unkind bit and see what resonates. You’re not perfect. Your blog isn’t perfect. Your oldest sister might text you about a grammatical error you made. It’s happened . . . to a friend of mine.

10) Be different.  

In some ways, this last bit of advice is the easiest and the hardest for all of us. Be different than the rest. Be yourself. Great. Well, I am myself so of course that’s who I will be on my blog. But when you read and follow a lot of others, it is easy to imitate without knowing it. Use their slang. Edit your photos with similar filters.

You have to know yourself. What’s your angle. What’s your blog about. What can you add that’s unique to you? I struggle with that. I’m just another stay-at-home-etsy-blogger mama. I like natural living. I’m a recovering lawyer. I’m not terribly funny or artistic. So what’s my hook? How do I be myself, different, unique unless I know what makes me unique?

So think outside your box, blogger friend. What makes you unique? What’s your special contribution? The best part is that everyone has one. Let me repeat: everyone has a unique angle because everyone is unique. Find yourself. Then blog the heck out of you and you’ll soar.



  1. Jenny on August 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

    If I’m actually blogging next year and the conference is in Dallas, I’m there! 🙂 Thanks for the tips! You look awesome in these photos!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:09 am

      I raided my sister’s closet. I would LOVE to do it with you next year!

  2. Tammy on August 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for this advice – it is very helpful. Btw, is your baby sling homemade or can you recommend the brand name? It looks like a hit with baby. Tx

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Thanks, Tammy! The brand is Sakura Bloom and I LOVE THEM. I’ve worn two babies in them and the baby is happy–it’s so easy to put on–and it looks great with any outfit–dressy or casual.

  3. Jenny on August 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

    This is great, Nell, thanks for recapping it for us, and for the great tips!

    (p.s. I still can’t get over how amazing you look with that baby so fresh and all.)

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Jenny–you are too sweet! I hope you gleaned some jewels from my ramblings. These people really knew what they were talking about!

  4. Kathy H on August 13, 2014 at 9:29 am

    As a non-blogger blog stalker, this was a great recap as to what you lovely ladies were doing all weekend all over Instagram!
    And seriously thanks for your tips at the end, even this working mom needs to be told to get better at prioritizing actual work over the inbox. And re-training my brain away from the distractions of facebook and blogs while I’m at work, gah that’s going to be hard but definitely needs to happen!
    Welcome back to a land of much cooler temps 🙂

    • Kathy H on August 13, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Oh and can please use your bloggy brand powers to get a Sakura Bloom giveaway? 🙂 🙂
      I was wondering what kind of sling that was? Love it!!

      • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:11 am

        Oh I’m hoping to!!!!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Katherine–it is so hard to retrain our brains! I was sharing the tips with my working siblings and they were nodding and laughing and saying YES to the not-inbox-driven life. So glad to be where the weather is more doable. Whew! It’s HOT down there.

  5. Christy on August 13, 2014 at 9:59 am

    This was great Nell! If I couldn’t be there, I’m glad you were. ; ) You are such a rockstar for going with such a little baby who needs to nurse all the time. A beautiful mama!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Christy–I felt so tenacious with him the whole time as unlike Edel, a lot of these ladies (most?) weren’t moms and I didn’t want to ruin their experience with my little snuggle bug screamer.

  6. Rose on August 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Unsolicited breastfeeding thoughts from another mom of three under 5: my youngest (now ten months) was having issues eating at first, arching his back a lot and spitting up out his nose. We had his frenulum lasered, under his tongue and upper lip, and then it still took a session of infant sacral massage with a wonderful midwife to relax his poor back and help him digest all the milk he was finally able to get. He quickly became a happy fat little nurser. Even if you just try the massage that might help a lot! Good luck 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:13 am

      I love unsolicited advice (that’s my whole blog, right?). Usually he never has these issues, but you’re so wise to talk about the frequently undiagnosed tongue tie. In his case it was extreme fatigue combined with sick-of-being-in-the-sling-i-have-a-burp. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  7. Laura on August 13, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Great recap Nell – I’m jealous, looked like a great event and such a fun time. Thanks for sharing the tips; great motivation for me to get back to being a bit more intentional with my blog!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Laura–it was so helpful. And you do so many of these already, I’m sure. You have an awesome blog!

  8. Ana on August 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Nell- thank you so much for the recap and tips! Dallas is definitely on my wish list for next year, but it is great to get to live vicariously through you with this post. And your tips are really great!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Ana–for sure next year!!! I hope the tips help. I wasn’t able to listen as well as I would have liked (baby along) so be sure to check out Grace’s linkup for other people’s takes as they probably garnered more than I did.

  9. Kelli on August 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Sounds like so much fun!! I want to go next year 🙂 These are great tips too…thanks for sharing! I definitely related to the last tip and I think it’s why I haven’t updated my blog in a while. Also, the one about dopamine/distraction sounds right on!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:15 am

      It’s empowering to think that only you can blog YOU!

  10. Designs By Katy on August 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Nell! You COULD NOT be more lovely. And you took care of that baby like it was no thang. I was in awe of you all weekend. Thank you for your kindness. Look forward to reading your blog!


    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:16 am

      You are so kind, Katy! I can’t wait to follow your blog!

  11. Indiana on August 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Nell! It was so lovely to meet you. I had such a nice time chatting with you and regret not getting a sling tutorial from you whilest there. You’re a wonderful mama, and I’m thrilled to death to have met you and to be introduced to your blog and your Etsy shop.

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

      I just loved meeting you! I will post a sling tutorial. Promise. Love following you & your amazing gang of three!!

  12. Amanda on August 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    First of all, you going with your sweet baby is amazing. I struggle with taking my two to the grocery store much less a conference filled with so much fun, learning, and lovely! Second, love your recap. It was so hard being in Dallas but not being *at* the conference with so much amazingness going on! But am so glad you and all the other wonderful women were there. God’s Will is good and y’all are wonderful! Last, I love your tips! I will be re-reading them again soon (probably at night after kiddos are asleep) and may be emailing you for some mentoring too 🙂 So glad for Edel leading me to you and your beautiful space on the web! PS Loved every outfit you were! Love!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:18 am

      You were with us in spirit!! Please email me and any time! (I raided my sister’s closet for clothes beyond yoga pants!!). I was only brave because I knew the big kids were having fun with Dada at home and little bebe just needed to snuggle and nurse (and apparently scream, too).

  13. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on August 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Oh my goodness, this looks like it was just wonderful!!! I’m so happy for you that you were able to go. Maybe next year I’ll swing this event and Edel too 🙂 Thanks for sharing some of the knowledge!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

      It was really a special weekend. Next year–we need you at both!

  14. Blythe on August 13, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Oh Nell- this was so much fun. Wish we could do it all over again!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Miss you, sweet sister!!!

  15. Kelly Meagher on August 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Great re-cap, Nell! It was a pleasure, A PLEASURE meeting you! And I’m so glad things like e-friends exist!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

      I LOVED meeting you and can’t wait to tell the world about your beautiful breathtaking woodwork!

  16. Jessica Helgesen (Twine) on August 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    What a great post! It was so nice meeting you and we look forward to collaborating with you. I wish we would’ve been able to visit more. The whole time I was admiring your effortless looking hair! Loved the braid.

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Jessica– you are too sweet! We were all in admiration of your gorgeous tresses!

  17. giedre on August 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Aw, yay! This sounds like so much fun! I would LOVE to go next year! 🙂 Also: love all the tips for blogging, too. 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

      I hope you can be there! Hope the tips are helpful 🙂

  18. The Hundred Event on September 2, 2014 at 8:03 am

    […] Saturday was full of delicious food and remarkable content from outstanding speakers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. I could reiterate what I learned, but that’s already been done. […]