Months of waiting, preparing and blogging lead up to IZEAFest 2009. This was going to be the biggest event for me all year. It did not disappoint. I had known a few of the secrets going into this event because one of them you can see right now in this blog. Ted Murphy CEO of IZEA redesigned BenSpark.com, created my logo and propelled my overall brand to the next level.
I was like a kid on Christmas on the first morning of IZEAFest 2009. I got up early and loaded up the Ford Flex (we rented this and I loved it. Ford is not sponsoring me to say this at all. We may actually look into buying one.) Anyway, I got up loaded up the car and headed over to SeaWorld’s Ports of Call to start a great first day of IZEAFest. This would prove to be the most informative and exciting events I’ve ever been to. I was a little tired from the event at Busch Gardens the night before. Howl-O-Scream wasn’t really that scary for me overall and I enjoyed it. I loved the bus rides back and forth too because I got a chance to chat with so many fun bloggers.
The IZEA Insiders were asked to help out with registration so that was one reason that I got there early. The other was to get a seat right up front because I like to be as engaged in the event as possible. I got there picked out seats for us, Allison and I that is. I made 3 trips out to the car to bring in everything. First up were some Swag Bags that I made up for various people including the three Winners of BenSpark’s Ultimate IZEAFest Prize Pack. Those folks were Dwan, Buck and Melinda (more about them later). I also made up bags for Ted, and Ashely for everything that they did for me all year and Trevor and Andrew because they supported me all along and are good friends. Also Michael from Xshot. Michael and I have been friends for a long time and I wanted to give him a special bag of goodies.
At my table It looked a technological bomb went off. I had things spread across and entire 8 foot table. I brought so much gear and was going to do some live broadcasting but that never materialized because the computer I had is a piece of junk. The good thing about that was that I was able to focus on the speakers. I never did get to the registration table to help out. I was too busy giving out swag and setting up my base camp. I felt a little guilty about that but then the event began.
IZEAFest began with Craig Murphy coming on stage as his brother Ted Murphy. He did this great impression of Ted and then we saw the TV screen show Ted breaking out of his bonds int he back room and escaping and then heading to the stage. It was a riot. Prior to the keynote Heather in BC had made up about 30 “tedheads” and every time Ted said “Personal Brand” we were to raise our Tedheads. It was funny but we stopped quickly because it was throwing off his great presentation. This presentation was the one that I had been waiting for for months on end and it was finally here. You see Ted Murphy himself redesigned this blog and was highlighting my personal brand in his presentation. I was honored and so humbled that he choose me and my blog to do this amazing redesign. Ted created my logo with the “cameraman – as Eva calls him” as well as my new twitter background and this entire theme. I am so happy for such generosity.
After Ted’s presentation we were treated to 5 minutes of fame by my friend and famous blogger Murray Newlands. Murray talked about how blogging is all about conversation. Murray made some excellent points in his 5 minutes. He is one guy who really knows his stuff.
Taking the stage after Murray was Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com. Brian Clark has one of those voices that you can listen to for hours on end. I love his videos and his delivery. If you want to hear more watch the video about Thesis as well as the video about Teaching sells. You will be enthralled by the sound of his voice. I told him that later in the night after a few cherry vodka shots with Ted Murphy.
For lunch we were treated to lunch with Shamu which was a presentation by SeaWorld about how they have developed their brand. It started a little dry but then they brought in Clyde one of their Sea Lions as well as Lucky a sloth and then a parrot a bald eagle and an armadillo. It was really cool to get up close and personal with the animals and the trainers. Sea World really bent over backwards for us and this event and I certainly appreciated it. I also loved being able to have some of the Shamu ice cream bars as well. They are wicked tasty.
After lunch we had a panel presentation called screen gems. I was not impressed. And for the most part twitter during that presentation was exploding with how people were not impressed with one of the speakers. I tried to give this presentation my full attention but could not. I really felt bad for moderator Warren Sutton.
After that there was another 5 minutes of fame and this time it was Michael from Xshot who got up and revealed a few new items that were in the works. One of the items was a pocket sized Xshot. He showed everyone the prototype I was lucky enough to get one of them (there are only 6 out there). I need to test t out more but I love the new size.
Up next on the agenda was the Rockstars of SEO session. I went outside for this one and met up with Vanessa and Juliet of PokenGirl. They were given a five minutes of fame spot directly after this session. It was great to see them again and they asked me to help out during their presentation. I was to give up four pokens to people in the audience. Their presentation was a very good one too. They stayed around for the rest of the day because we were the sponsors for Karaoke at ICEBAR tonight.
After PokenGirl we were treated to a fantastic session by Sarah Evans about building a personal brand on twitter. Sarah is a wonderful person and I look forward to dining with her at Blog World Expo. Buck Daddy hooked me up with a meal with Sarah and some other great people.
The last session of the day was a panel discussion called Social Media Promotion. Some real heavy hitters in this one and the information was fantastic.
After the sessions wrapped up for the day Allison, Eva, Maureen and I went to Maggianos for dinner. We sat with Lisa, Christine, Michael, Alan and Dwan. Maggianos is a nice Italian restaurant. Dina from MarketLeverage asked us if we wanted to go. There were a ton of people in our party and we did a family style meal. It was nice sharing with everyone and playing with the pocket Xshot that Michael had given me.
After Dinner we went to a big time party at ICEBAR Orlando. This is a very cool (no pun intended) place that has an actual bar room made from solid ICE. You have to put on parkas in order to get into this place. The glasses were made from ice and there were seats made from ice. It was very very fun in there. We went in for a little while and then back out to the main bar area because karaoke was about to start. Vanessa and Juliet of PokenGirl and I had decided way back that we wanted to sponsor an event at IZEAFest, so we ended up sponsoring karaoke. I supplied BenSpark.com water bottles as well as $50 iTunes gift cards for the winning male and winning female singers. We also gave out prizes to the winning duets and the winning groups. It was a fun event and there were some awesome singers.
The winning female singer was Sarah Evans. She was wonderful. I ended up singing twice. Once I sand Wilson Phillips “Hold On” which I was supposed to sing with Ted Murphy but he bailed. The other one that I sand was “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” I sang that with Jennifer Leet of The Dirty Shirt. We had so much fun but lost our voices for the next few days.
After all the karaoke singers finished I ended up hanging out with Ted Murphy and crew while Allison went back to the hotel. I did not get sick but I will never drink cherry vodka again. In all it was a fantastic day.
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