I really don’t even know where to begin with sharing all the things I learned at Reviewers Retreat 2012. I cannot put it all into one post, so be looking for several posts over the next week here on CEO of Me. I thought I would start with a really quick Top 10 List of Things I learned that I will expand on later, so here goes…
#10. The only way to get from the 3rd to the 4th floor at Great Wolf Lodge Concord, NC is to use the elevator. (Running around looking for stairs while racing to win a scavenger hunt will not help you find stairs that just do not exist. Side note: our team did win the hunt but only by a few seconds! Go Team Silver!) Thanks to Great Wolf Lodge for letting us crazy bloggers take over your hotel for this conference!
#9. Twitter is really fun and now makes sense to me! (Yes I was a Twitwit (aka Twitter nitwit) before this retreat.)
#8. The sponsors for the event were incredible and I loved all the free swag we received from all of them! It was great to get to meet and speak with brand representatives in person and hear what they are looking for from bloggers. (My favorite swag had to be the Eucerin lotions; I love their products, especially Auqaphor! Pampers seriously “pampered” us with all kinds of great products, e-bags gave us an awesome back pack and there were so many other great sponsors whose products I will be sharing more about on my blog later. I also have to say that the Kia Sorento is an awesome mid-size SUV, drives great, has lots of options and has room too! I’ll be honest I am not sure if I would have ever even considered looking at or purchasing a Kia before now.)
#7. “Your friends, fans, followers, readers are an asset NOT an audience.” – Ted Rubin (How often do we think of our readers as an audience we are writing to when we should be thinking about how to truly build a relationship with them & foster a community instead.)
#6. How to get started writing travel reviews and work towards becoming a travel blogger thanks to CanCan from MomMostTraveled.com (who is also super fun and funny!) and Sharon from Traveling Mamas. (This is something that totally interests me and I hope I can explore later on.)
#5. Tons of great tips on improving the quality of photos / images for posts on my blog thanks to Jen at Lehigh Valley Momma as well as where to find some great tutorials for photography, learning Photoshop and picmonkey!
#4. Don’t over-commit yourself or underestimate your value. Find out details of what a brand / business is wanting first to make sure you can do it and how much you should quote for the project before accepting or quoting your rates. (This can totally apply to any and all businesses, not just reviews / blogging). You deserve to be compensated properly for your time and work, this is your job. Believe in yourself and the value you can offer and brands / business partners / clients will believe that too!
#3. Your blog is your brand and it’s more about you & your reputation than it is about numbers & your stats. (I’ve been saying “your blog is your brand” forever!) Companies look for clean, professional designs, good grammar, solid content and a unique voice when they are considering working with a blogger. I think every blogger should make it a priority to learn about marketing and invest in a custom design on a self-hosted WordPress site. (Shameless promotion – if you attended Reviewer’s Retreat I would be happy to give you a 25% discount for a semi-custom design, pre-made design and/or Blogger to WordPress transfer, just shoot me an email at email@example.com and mention Reviewer’s Retreat and your Twitter handle. I love helping other bloggers improve their brand and online presence!)
#2. It is okay and sometimes best to just say no. (Always be true to your brand, your blog and yourself, even if it means not accepting opportunities to work with clients or brands that are just not a good fit for you, your blog, your niche or your readers. Also don’t take on more than you can handle whether that means more reviews or projects than you have time for or a project / client that wants more than you can realistically offer them).
And the #1 thing I learned at Reviewers Retreat is… (drum roll please)
All of these bloggers are even more awesome, amazing, inspiring, funny, sweet and kind in person as they are online!
Check out the list of Reviewers Retreat Attendees on Twitter to follow them all and get links to all of their blogs: https://twitter.com/#!/BridgetteLA/reviewer-s-retreat-2012
Extra special shout out to my fabulous roommates (pictured below, full post about them coming later): Eleanor at BelleSouth, Jerri Ann at Mom~E~Centric, April at Krazy Clippers, Shanaka at Mama Bee Does and Lindsay at Laughing Lindsay!
Shout out also to a few other bloggers I was thrilled to finally get to meet in person too like Meagan at Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Amee from Madame Deals, Mickey from A Helicopter Mom, Meredith from Suburban Coupon Mom and Becky from Week99er!
Of course I have to say a big thanks to the Bridgette and Cecelia from Double Duty Divas (and Cool Baby Kid / The Not So Blog’s Experimental Mommy) and Angie from My Four Monkeys, Renee from What Mommies Need and Jena from Ramblings of a Healthy Chick who put this whole fabulous retreat together! You ladies did an outstanding job! I cannot wait for Reviewers Retreat 2013!
PS you can read my other Reviewer’s Retreat posts here.