This past weekend I was immersed in blogging. I attended a blogging conference in Hot Springs, AR called Arkansas Women Blogging University (AWBU). Just because it has Arkansas in the name doesn’t mean it’s just for AR bloggers. All the state groups under The Women Bloggers umbrella are encouraged to attend and I’m so glad I did.
I’ve been to two blogging conferences before and while they were great conferences and I learned a lot, this conference was head and shoulders above the others. What made it so great? Let’s break it down.
First of all the swag. When you go to a blogging conference you always walk away with freebies. The conference sponsors bring stuff and product to give the bloggers knowing that we will tweet our little fingers off about them. These sponsors brought it Bring It On style. Even though this is a smaller conference they were in it to win it. I came home with a huge jug of rice oil and eight bags of rice from Riceland Foods, Microplanes, oven mitts, aprons, gourmet balsamic vinegar from Di Nigris Vinegar, bottles and bottles of Mountain Valley Spring Water, a gift card to Robinson Lane jewelry, not to mention all the note pads, pens, emery boards, t-shirt, etc.
Next, the learning. I came home with my head full of information about how to start a podcast, Periscope, being a better writer, writing to get hired and tons of motivation. I even had the honor of presenting my own session: Letting Go of Blog Envy. This was my first experience in presenting at a blogging conference and the perfect opportunity to try my hand at public speaking.
We did something a little different and a lot awesome that I’ve never done at any other conference; we spent time giving back to a local non-profit. Conference organizers brought in The Pack Shack to teach us about hunger in Arkansas and what The Pack Shack is doing to help those in need. They brought all the supplies for 100 women to work together to pack shelf-stable, nutritious meals that will go out to families in need in Arkansas. In less than an hour we packed over 10,000 meals. Serious wow and had a crazy fun time doing it.
(me and my roomie, Rachel Hough)
Last (but not least) the friendships and connections. There were 4 of us from Oklahoma and it was amazing to get to spend time with them and get to know each other better. We all know each other online but that’s not the same as really getting to know someone’s personality in real life. When you read a blog you feel like you get to take a look through a window into their head. Then you meet them in real life and the door is opened to who they really are. You make the connection of what you know online with who that person really is.
There are also all the new connections I’ve made. it’s great to meet new people who know the ins and outs of being a blogger. You all have the same struggles and victories and can lift each other up, offer encouragement and cheer each other on.
(my Oklahoma Women Blogger sisters)
One thing I head over and over at this conference…women can be catty and competitive in the blogging word; but not this group. The women who attend AWBU are all about making connections and lifting each other up. If you are a blogger, keep AWBU on your radar. It will be in Fayetteville, AR next year. You can bet I’ll be there.