Apparently I am a Gleek

Hey check it out!  I’m in the Hot Seat over at Jessica’s place, Four Plus an Angel, today!  A bunch of you asked me the juicy questions and I did NOT hold back with my answers.  Go check that out a minute before reading here.  We can wait.


This weekend I attended my very first blogging conference.

It required me to drive 8 minutes from my house, so it was sort of hard to turn down.

Gleek Retreat {A Blogging Conference}

I have been told “Gleek” is Glee + Geek.

And it has nothing to do with the show, Glee.  Which is good because I have never seen that show (please don’t hate me.  I just don’t like my TV to be a musical.).

Anywhoodles, I learned a few things and I thought I would share them with you, my lovely readers.

1. Get there on time. As in when registration starts.  Saturday registration started at 8am and the conference started at 9am.  I left my house around 8:20 and stopped at Starbucks and arrived around 8:45.  And had to sit in the front row.

Nothing wrong with the front row if you are a front row kinda person.  I am not.  I like to take it all in from the back. Near the door in case I have to get a drink or pee.  But as you can see, I made myself comfy nonetheless.

2. Have good business cards made. I had a massive brain fart and didn’t even think about that fact that I would want my cards for Gleek Retreat, so I was stuck making mine quickly on Friday, and having Cort print them for me at home.  They were Ok, but now I have some fun ideas for the professional ones I want for BlogHer.

3. Bring a sweater. When I got dressed on Saturday, I put on a skirt, tank top, and thin sweater because it was supposed to be 80 degrees.  The conference room was probably around 40 degrees.  I wish I had worn pants or at least had a sweater or wrap.  Shivering was involved. And possibly teeth chattering.

4. I am pretty good with the social media. There were definitely some times when I was mentally patting myself on the back for already doing what some of the speakers suggested.  I have a facebook fan page, I tweet, I am trying to Stumble. I ENJOY doing the social media connecting part of blogging.

5. There are things I do not know.  Like at all. I took notes like a mad lady when speakers mentioned things about SEO or using pictures in your posts or ways to market your brand.  And now I am looking at those notes and I still don’t have a clue.

6. There is a plugin on wordpress that helps you put your pics in your post from flickr. I haven’t figured this plugin out yet, but I watched Emily use it and she told me it helps your blog load faster.  Win.

7. Nobody knows who I am. I think it’s easy to feel like all of twitter knows you when you interact with a ton of your followers on a daily basis.  But not EVERYONE in the world follows you or reads your blog.  Also?  There are over 200,000,000 blogs.  I repeat, nobody knows who I am.

8. I’m a good writer. Yes, I have to keep re-learning this.  It’s fun when someone new comes up and says, “hey, I checked out your blog last night and I REALLY like it!  You are an amazing writer.”  And then I start to say, “oh stop, whatever.” and remember to just say, “thank you!” because my writing is not too shabby.  most of the time.

9. I am shy. It’s true.  When put next to some of my blogging role models like Heather and Brittany, I  have a hard time sticking my hand out and saying, “Hi, I’m Katie.  Love your work,” and then just being me.  I do the awkward hang on the outskirts thing and smile and try not to look like a total creepy stalker.  When I finally get the nerve to say something?  My mind goes a little blank.  Thank Moses that there were cocktails involved when I finally decided that I was being ridiculous and just put myself out there.  I hope I can remember this for BlogHer.  Otherwise I will be in a corner somewhere crying on the phone to Cort.

10. The prime real estate on your blog is the left hand corner under your header. This is where the eye goes first.  If you don’t have content here?  You should have your about.  If you have an ad there?  They should be paying you BIG bucks for that spot.


Getting ready to get our Gleek on


I would say my first blogging conference was a success for me.  I am glad Cort bought me the ticket and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone (and by comfort zone I mean my yoga pants and spot on the couch), and meet new people.

And I am glad he is encouraging me to go to another conference in August (BlogHer).

I realize that this next conference will have about 3,000 more bloggers than Gleek had.  I am guessing that the more bloggers around me, the more awkward I will be.

I am hoping not though because the biggest thing I learned this weekend?  Be yourself.  People will like you.

It worked for these two:

Heather (@mamaspohr) and Meredith (@lifescrazyjoke) rock out


Look!  Sluiter Nation is getting BIGGER! We now have a Sponsor page!  This is where I will be spotlighting highlights, doing reviews, and giving away pretty things.  Just for you.  My lovely readers.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Yay, Katie! And at first, I totally thought this was a Glee thing! Duh…

    I will be hanging on the outskirts WITH you at BlogHer, because nobody knows me and I’m shy too! Can’t wait, though!

    • the funny thing is that with my own friends and surrounded by people I am comfortable with? I am so not shy. my family is going to laugh at this post. But you and me, Sherri…we will cling to each other at BlogHer.

  2. It was my first time, too! And I was SO glad to meet you! We’re similar in a lot of ways, and I’m glad I convinced myself to go. I’m not doing blogher this year, but maybe something else?

    • there are LOTS of great conferences I would LOVE to go to during the summer, but they all seem to fall on dates when I should be home (like my son’s second birthday. pfft.)

      And it was AWESOME meeting you! Love making new friends…especially those who like their vodka on the rocks. HA!

  3. I’m so happy that you could make it to Gleek Retreat this weekend… it was awesome having you there! 🙂 Loved your recap of everything learned. What did I learn? At first chill, go turn the heat up. Glad you had a great time!

    • It was GREAT! If you do it again next year? I am so there again. Love it! I learned more than what is just here, but it’s really hard to put some of that stuff into a post. Most of what I took away I think we can use with The Red Dress Club. Which makes me SUPER excited!

  4. HA! That was a fun surprise at the end.

    Also, I totally liked you. You are good in groups. I would have never guessed that you were shy. As a matter of fact, I thought you were funny.

    Glad we met.


    • girl, you rocked that mic! I was jealous 🙂

      I am not usually shy except when in really new situations where I feel like the rookie. I totally felt like a rookie this weekend, but I am so glad I met you! You are way funny too! I have not felt that comfortable and good about myself while hanging with women in a LONG time.

  5. Sounds like a fun time all round! Glad you did go.

    And yes, you are a good writer. Very good writer.

  6. So glad you had such a good time. I love seeing this list. When I switched to WP last week, the first thing my husband said was that I needed flickr for my photos. I love posting lots of photos so I’m going to try to learn how that plugin works this week.
    Remind me in August to pack cardigans!

    • Yes! I can’t figure out why mine is not working, but I just started using Flickr this weekend when I found this out!

      Plus it’s an easy way to share photos, I am finding out!

  7. Not a fan of Glee either. (Weird, cuz I do love me some musicals.) Since I can’t make it to Blogher this year, I’ll have another year to come up with a tag line. And a Contact page. And a button…

    • every dang time you comment I laugh. Every flipping time.

      Also? I am so not adding a tag line to the blog. You all were right. I’m good.

  8. Sometimes I feel like there is SO much to learn about blogging and social media that my head could explode. Glad you had a good time! I’m hoping to go to a conference one day too!

    • Oh Kimberly, I totally agree. I felt like I learned so much and then when I sat down to type everything went blank. There is just so much to know!

  9. I’m so glad your first conference went well.

    I’m also glad that you cleared up that whole Glee thing – because I have though for a while that it was a conference for people who liked Glee. (which I don’t watch either)

    • I really don’t get the name. At all. I get the Geek part, but not the Glee part.

  10. Lucky you the conference was so close to your house. I will be a BlogHer too which will be my first conference. I can’t believe it’s going to have so many people there.

    • I think going to this little one with only 40 people made me even more excited and nervous for BlogHer! Yay that you are going!!!

  11. Great recap, I have lots to learn about SEO, accepting compliments and speaking up and talking to new people and also have never watched Glee.

    • me too. I feel like I am JUST scratching the surface with SEO. There is so much to know and it all seems so technical.

  12. I’m glad that you went & learned a lot 🙂

    Why is accepting compliments such a difficult thing to do?

  13. I’m glad that you went too!

    I was super excited about it and then as I got into Holland I got really nervous because like you I’m a bit shy and tend to hover more than putting myself out there and all that. Outgoing is not a word used to describe me!

    And I can’t believe that you posted about it already!

    • Normally? I am an outgoing person. Making a fool of myself is totally cool. But not when I feel like the rookie in the room…which is how I felt this weekend.

      I have so much to learn!

      And yes, if I didn’t post last night? I would have never done it!

  14. JDaniel4's Mom says

    It sounds great! I need to apply what you learned to my blog.

    • I didn’t post EVERYTHING I learned because I really couldn’t think how to put it without being boring, but needless to say, it was a great weekend!

  15. I was a first time conference attendee at Gleek Retreat as well. Really felt like the right size for a newbie to me. So glad you had a good time.

    And, even though I didn’t get a chance to have a big conversation with you (I really only remember a quick hi in passing, sorry!) and I’m REALLY bad at commenting on peoples blogs, I did know who you were 🙂

    • Sarah! Yes! I am sorry I didn’t get to talk to everyone more! It was a great size and I tried to rotate the “groups” I sat with. I sat with different people at lunch, at dinner, and at the bar, and I STILL didn’t get to talk to everyone! Ugg! I can’t imagine how it will be at BlogHer. Overwhelming, I am sure!

      And now I am blushing a bit that you knew who I was. I felt like such a rookie!

  16. I’ve seen you around twitter for awhile now and have popped over here on occasion. I am well aware that I can be a bit of a blog stalker as I don’t often find the time to comment (I’m getting better!). And if you are that close to Holland, you are not that far from me…..we could do coffee sometime to make up for it?

    • It’s true! I am close to Holland! In fact, I live in Holland Township with a Zeeland mailing address in West Ottawa Public School district.

      Coffee is a for sure!

  17. Glad you loved your first conference! Sweater is always a must! I have not yet been to a small conference but man would I love to go! BlogHer is so big and like all of those 2,000,000 bloggers seem to be there and have never heard of me….not surprising but sometimes twitter makes me not feel all like a wall flower you know. Hope I will see you at BlogHer!

    • Yes! I know what you mean! Twitter makes me feel like I have a zillion friends and it’s where “everyone knows my name”. But in the grand scheme? Nope. I am wee and little.

      And I hope I get to meet you at BlogHer too!

  18. It blows my mind that there are over 200 millions blogs. I mean, I knew there were millions, but whoah… It’s a wonder anyone knows who any of us are. I need to not think about this when I get into one of my, “Why do I even bother?” blogging funks.

    Glad you had fun at your first blogging conference. 🙂

    • tell me about it. I sort of couldn’t concentrate after I saw that stat. I felt so small.

      But it was way fun and that is what matters!

  19. how amazing and this list will really help some of us just starting to really harness our own blogs. I can’t wait to get to a conference like this.

    I am so happy I KNOW YOU…the rest of the world will soon too!!!

    • I am happy to know you too, Kir! And yes, these mini-conferences are pretty fantastic. Not too overwhelming and packed with good stuff!

  20. I went to Gleek Retreat (it was my first conference) last year and seriously didn’t know anyone. I think you did a way better job of ‘working the crowd’ than I did (either this year OR last year)!

    Although in my defense – I was very distracted by my hard drive crash – but still. I should have just shut the stupid laptop and mingled.

    Glad you had a good time – after going to Gleek last year I went to Blissdom this year and would have been even LESS mingly (yes, that is a word. I said so.) than I actually was.

    • you could have fooled me, girl! You struck me as a real leader this weekend! I didn’t feel like I worked that crowd well at all, although I really tried not to stick to the same person/group the whole time. I wanted to meet and mingle with as many people as possible. I had no idea Michigan…especially West Michigan…had so many bloggers!

      • Oh, shucks. Thanks 🙂

        Yeah last year at Gleek is when it kind of occurred to us that we were a ‘force’ – it’s so cool to see that we’ve pulled together and started supporting each other in just a year. Can’t WAIT to see what the next year brings for West Michigan and the awesome bloggers we have here – and I hope YOU are part of it!

        • I hope so too. I haven’t been able to go to anything this year because it seems like all the meet ups are during school or too late/far away for a school night. But I do enjoy the fact that there are so MANY bloggers here! I had no idea!

  21. Loved meeting Katie! I though you were a rock star blogger once I found out you are one of the Red Dress Club ladies. Can I hang out with you too at Blogher? It will be my first big conference. Ack!

    • Annnnd now I am blushing!

      Of course you can hang out with me! Chances are that I will be with the other Red Dress Club ladies since Nichole is my roomie 🙂

  22. But was there dancing? Because no conference is complete without breaking it down on the dance floor. 🙂

  23. I only talked to you a little bit, unfortunately, but knew I would be checking out your blog. Awesome recap. Glad I remembered my sweater, even if it was ugly. And since it was my first conference, I too felt a little shy and even more unkown than you! Learned a lot though and was really happy to meet you.

    • Terri it was great to meet you too! I think it was the perfect conference for us rookies. I just loved meeting so many people who like to blog like I do!

  24. Oops I tried to fix my unknown typo and it told me to “slow down, you are commenting too fast.” Gee thanks, like I didn’t know that already. So much rattling around in my brain, I could not sleep. Blog redesign is the most important.

  25. Would never have thought you would be shy. Glad you had fun at the conference! Loved those ‘Hot Seat’ answers. So funny!

    • you know, I am usually not shy. But when I feel like the new kid or a rookie in a situation, I like to soak it in and not be an awkward weirdo. I think I was still an awkward weirdo. oops!

  26. brilliant! & yes, i totally just went and swapped the layout of my blog. LOL!!!

    • i thought people would find that interesting. In fact, if I ever redesign again, I want my content on the left and two sidebars on the right. Good to know that my wish? Is the best for design!

  27. I have like zero interest in all the traffic-driving stuff (though I admire the hell out of those of you who do), but the conferences look like fun for the socializing.


    And you can bet your ass I won’t let you be shy.

    • the socializing part is by FAR the best part! I had a delicious cosmo and laughed my ass off with some people whom I admire greatly. What is better than that? Oh…YOU being there would have been better than that!

  28. Good advice, all – and you are quite the gifted writer.

    I’ve yet to attend a blogging conference, but I’ve been to many-a-programming conference, and I like to think of them as very similar. Except with the male-to-female ration reversed.

  29. Wow, that Gleek thing scared me to DEATH!!! I love this article, and congrats on your first convention!! I love conventions, but it’s flute conventions for me! Congrats on your sponsorship also!

  30. Um, you will so not be on the outskirts at BlogHer. Because we will be together and we will be a party of two if we need to be. No crying in baseball, friend.


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