Time sure flies when you’re having fun, and this past weekend was no exception. “I’m attending Blog Brûlée!” I had been exclaiming for the past couple of months, and now that it’s over, I find myself hesitantly crossing the event off of my calendar. I ate some pretty amazing food, stayed at the exquisite Smugglers' Notch resort where I was treated like royalty, enjoyed gorgeous views and crisp weather... you get the picture. (Disclosure: my attendance was partially paid for by the sponsors of Blog Brûlée).
I shall share the details and the scenic pictures soon, but until then, get ready to see a lot of smiling faces ;).
The co-founders (from left to right): Gretchen, Deanna, Robin, Regan
To be quite honest, I was overcome with intimidation and nervousness up until the very moment I met everyone (to those I shook hands with..I apologize for my clammy hands), but all the uneasy feelings swiftly changed to relaxation and cheerfulness. “Maybe I belong here” changed to “I Do belong here” by the end of the weekend.
Yes, we were there to have fun and be “wild” (hitting the hay by 10 pm), but more importantly, we were there to learn from the speakers and from each other on how to become better bloggers and become a force to be reckoned with in the blogosphere and beyond. To do so, we'll need each other to lean on, support, motivate, and even help grow thick skin with brutal honesty that comes from a place of genuine love.
EA Stewart, the Spicy RD, spoke to us about “building your virtual community.” I loved how she premised her talk around sharing the timeline of how her blog started and has evolved over the years.
The pieces of advice that really resonated with me were:
- Work hard. Just like with everything else in life, success doesn’t happen overnight. All those “big fish” or hugely successful bloggers, that I constantly compare myself to, were also small at one point. I loved EA’s imagery that big or small, we are all swimming in the same pond. So I’m going to start by ditching my self-debilitating thoughts and begin practicing gratitude like Kara. I’m going to work on building up my confidence and keep on truckin’.
- Set realistic goals. I tell myself that my faith and family come before anything else. However, between school, cooking, blogging, etc., I’ve realized that the two most important things in my life have taken a backseat. No wonder I’ve been feeling so bogged down lately. I learned that it’s ok if I can’t post 3+ times a week or if I’m not on top of social media at all times. I must find what works for me and, once again, stop comparing myself to others.
- Toot your own horn. Boy...this is a rough one for me. But going back to the whole building my confidence thing, I’m going to make a conscious effort to create and share, as EA put it, my “star studded” profile and work. I’m def going to need some accountability!
- Express and be yourself! I can’t tell you how many times I've thought to myself, “Gosh, why can’t I write like her? My style of writing is so boring..." and on and on. As you can see, I'd have so many more hours in my day if comparison was not part of the equation. “But I love your voice,” I vividly remember Marisa telling me as I shared with her my struggles. Come again? Really? This is just one of many examples of the overflow of encouragement and strength I gained from this weekend. I'm going to work on following my instinct, embracing what I consider an approachable, friendly voice.
- Share the love. 80/20 rule – 80% of the time, share other people’s content and 20% share mine. I’ll be quick to admit that I’ve been incredibly bad about this, but no more! I want to follow the footsteps of EA, who to me is like a social media fairy godmother. She waves her magic wand every time I post something so that its reach may be multiplied.
I’m truly thankful for this amazingly passionate and supportive community that I’m a part of, and I hope that we’ll be swimming in the same pond until we’re too big and fat to move..even then, I hope we stay together ;).