Cutting away the fat and reconnecting with my bloggy tribe at #AWBU

It might sound cliche to say that "no conference is possible without the sponsors" but at Arkansas Women Bloggers University, that is so much the truth. I wanted to start this blog out by saying thank you to all the organizers and sponsors you see detailed in the graphic above. These companies did so much more than donate money and get their logo on a program. They interacted with us. They educated us. They believe in us. I've never been to a conference before where I can name all the sponsors and can identify at least one person from each sponsor company with whom I had a meaningful reaction during that conference. This is different. I connected in some way with each one of these sponsors. That tells me how truly invested they are. No, I wasn't asked to say any of this.
It might sound cliche to say “no conference is possible without the sponsors” but at Arkansas Women Bloggers University, it’s the truth. I wanted to start this blog out by saying thank you to all the organizers and sponsors you see detailed in the graphic (courtesy Arkansas Women Bloggers) above. These companies did so much more than donate money to get their logo on a program. They interacted with us. Educated us. Believe in us. I’ve never been to a conference before where I recognize all the sponsors and have met their representative. AWBU is different. I connected in some way with each one of these sponsors. That tells me how truly invested they are.

Whew! Last weekend was a whirlwind. I completed my third summer trip and this time it was to one of my favorite conferences: Arkansas Women Bloggers University.

AWBU is an annual blogger conference where Arkansas Women Bloggers members (and sister organization members) enjoy a weekend of learning, fun and fellowship. The sessions are stellar and I always come away with new information and most of all, inspiration.

I took gobs of pictures but most were from a distance so they are blurry. Never fear, collages to the rescue! Let’s take a look at the highlights: 

I had two great roomies, one each night. I loved getting to know both of them better!
I had two great roomies, one each night. I loved getting to know both of them better! Stacey is on the left and Vickie is on the right.

The conference moves to a new location each year, which gives us the opportunity to see different parts of our own state and it gives more bloggers the opportunity to have the conference close to home. This year’s conference was in Hot Springs at the fabulous Arlington Hotel. It’s the oldest hotel in Arkansas and breathtaking. I was pleasantly surprised that their “accessible” room was, in fact, accessible. You would be surprised at how much trouble I have in much more modern hotels.

The Arlington Hotel is lovely. Everything from the old architecture, to the great staff, to the fact that they still use KEYS instead of those stupid cards.
The Arlington Hotel is lovely. Everything from the old architecture, to the fascinating elevators, to the great staff, to the fact that they still use keys instead of those stupid cards.

Of course the speakers were all great. Our speakers included Georgia Pelligrini, Lela Davidson, Rhea Lana Rhiner, a panel of women in agriculture, Chef Matt, and many women from our group who shared their expertise.

AWBU Speakers

At Arkansas Women Bloggers, we are deeply invested in our community both as a state and in our towns. Each AWBU has some element of helping others. This year’s featured organization was The Pack Shack NWA, which packs meals for people in need. The 10,386 meals we packed in less than an hour will go to Siloam Springs and Hot Springs.

The Pack Shack

Cutting out the fat

As I reviewed my many conference notes, I tried to discern a common theme. I feel like I can sum it all up with, cut out the crap. But to be polite, let’s call it fat. By this I mean cutting out the negative voices that surround me with my blog and business. I mean cutting out extra words. I mean cutting out extra steps. I mean cutting out whatever it is that is holding me back from success.

Here are just a few of my major take-aways:

From Lela, I learned to celebrate every day, to stop thinking small, and that smiling is not for me-it’s a gift for someone else.

From Georgia, I learned to really focus on finding my circle of trust and that it’s OK to not listen to people I don’t trust, even so-called experts. I valued what she about success comes from growing your business/blog slowly and organically. I can’t be an overnight success and it’s unwise to try.

From Rhea Lana, I was encouraged to realize that considering 80 percent of small businesses fail, I’m succeeding by still being in business. I also realized (again) that I must quit letting fear cripple me. This includes fear of others putting me down, fear of failure, fear of messing up. She also reaffirmed how important it is to cut the drama and only focus on people I trust to grow my business.

Suzy reminded me of many self-editing ideas including “when in doubt, leave it out” and to never sacrifice quality for speed.

From Julie, I came to fully realize and admit I need a writing sanctuary. This writing in the front room on a TV dinner tray isn’t cutting it. I’ve talked to John and we will have to make changes, but I’m going to move into the room we originally planned as my office. This is the takeaway that fills me with the most peace. Another idea that stuck with me is that I can’t wait for the right environment and “clear” feeling to come. I have to create it.

From the “get hired by ARWB” panel, I took away the reminder to keep writing good and crisp. I get too wordy and that’s not good. As bloggers, it’s easy to write the way we talk as a way of letting our personality shine through our writing. That’s often extraneous. This also makes me realize the words coming out of my mouth could be more succinct.

From Taylor, I learned the next steps in podcasting and finally decided this is something I need to do. This is a way for me to get in my audience’s ears and not just their eyes. This is perfect for my business.

From Mari, I was reminded that I am responsible for my own words and that word choices have a huge impact. She also reminded me that I need to invest in myself by getting away from the darn computer. I know all of this, but the reminder from someone else is reaffirming.

From Rhonda and Allyson, I found three apps that I downloaded immediately. I’ve already used the app that lets me create a PDF from a picture on my phone. Life just got more efficient.

From Jeanetta and Kelly, I learned more about Periscope and came to a realization how it could help me. Between this session and Taylor’s, I’ve decided to use Periscope and YouTube for my blog and podcasting for my business. It feels good to have that decision finalized.

Reconnecting with my tribe

I’m grateful I was able to attend this conference. There were financial issues that arose in July that almost made me back out. I even tried to talk myself out of the idea that I wanted to be there, that I knew I needed to be there. I’ve been feeling disconnected lately from my blogging tribes overall and it felt good to reconnect.

Bloggers seem to just get each other. We don’t agree on everything, but in ARWB, we make an effort to keep that sense of community. I’m tired, but still feel refreshed both personally and professionally.

 

2 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Did you find some of what I had to be helpful? I agree, it doesn’t help when all people tweet or share is “oh this is great. I’m learning so much.” It needs to be more specific.

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