I’ll admit it, I haven’t been to a ton of blogging conferences. 99% of the time it’s the cost – while I am so blessed to stay home with our son, it doesn’t leave a lot of extra wiggle room in the budget to pay conference fees + travel/food for all of the incredible events I would love to go to. Thankfully this year Great Day Farms sponsored me so that I could attend the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference at Ferncliff Camp. And you guys? I really cannot express how much fun I had!
First of all, Ferncliff Camp + Conference Center is such a great little place. I was so impressed with how comfy and cozy and friendly it felt just being there. The staff was incredible too – literally running all over camp to help our group out with whatever we needed. We were truly taken care of the whole time!
Second, I had just the best time getting to know so many new and fantastic bloggers from all over the state of Arkansas, but also from Missouri, Mississipi, Alabama and Texas too! I could talk for days on end about all things blogging and it would just sound like I was trying to speak Russian to anyone else, but us bloggers – well, we just get it. Widgets and ad networks and sponsored posts and vlogging – it’s our language, you know?
Now like I said, I haven’t been to a lot of blogging conferences and I will certainly not say that any of them are bad, but the experience at AWBU was just so wonderful. None of the cattiness (let’s face it ladies, it happens whether we want it to or not), the competition, the comparison. It was just community; a warm and friendly community of women who are all passionate about a lot of the same things and truly looking to learn and grow with and through one another. There were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new (to me) faces, but every single gal I met was just incredible.
The first day, Foodie Friday, was jam-packed with deliciousness and was totally my cup of tea. Food blogging is totally my thing and I love it, but it was also really great to get out of my food blogging comfort zone the rest of the weekend too. Friday night was a delicious buffet of treats – I took some homemade lemon curd and 4 different quiches to show of the Great Day Farms eggs I practically live on – and practically ate my weight in other delicious food as well. All that plus a glass of wine (courtesy of Natural State Distributing), and a little later on I had an apple pie bourbon drink with the ridiculous Rock Town Apple Pie Arkansas Lightning + ginger ale. Y’all, that stuff is sooooooo tasty; this is the second time I’ve ever had that drink and it’s truly fall in a glass!
Day 2 started with an absolutely uplifting and inspiring talk from Scott Page of CCF Brands. I was literally moved to tears many times by the passion with which he spoke about the company and about it’s CEO – Jesus. If y’all know me at all you know that I a) am passionate about the Lord, b) love companies who believe the same things I do, and c) cry all the time over everything. Always. ALL THE EMOTIONS!!! Not to mention ALL THE CAFFEINE!!! Airship Coffee is something I heard about while I was in Rogers a few months ago and I didn’t take the chance to visit their shop then, but I drank WAY too much coffee to make up for it. Think jittery shaky and headache-y (it happens when you drink coffee for hours straight without a lot of other food or water) – but it was just so good! I couldn’t stop.
Fast forward through some other truly incredible speakers who just lit up my brain and forced me to scribble endlessly in my notebook – Tricia Goyer, Tracey Eyster, my sweet friend Kyran – their words were so inpsiring and exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. I was in love and totally on fire!
Oh, and then.
Sophie Hudson (BooMama) started her keynote speech.
I told you guys I cry a lot, right? Because OH MY I could not stop! Every word that she was both hilarious and wrought with truth. Every.Single.Word. I wanted to just stand up and hug her the whole time she was speaking because all of the things I feel all the time about blogging – the good and the not so good – were being brought to life with her talk. When she was done and I found out that I had gotten a free copy of her book (WOOHOO!!!) I couldn’t just let it sit there unread, and I’ve been reading a chapter a day ever since. I don’t want it to end!
The rest of the day was spent going to some more fantastic presentations and then gearing up for dinner. I spent that evening chatting with some really amazing women – Nikki (amazing photographer), Taylor, Heidi and Stephanie. These girls are my people – I loved every second with them! And since I’m kind of faux outdoorsy we sat inside in the nice A/C and bug-less room rather than allowing myself to be eaten completely alive outside with mosquitos.
The next morning there was a 5K and I was just so sure I was going to join in the fun until I realized that this was one of the few mornings I would maybe get to sleep in, so rather than wake up early to exercise I lazed in bed and went over my presentation notes. OH THE PRESENTATION. Yes, I spoke at the conference about finding and developing a blogging voice, and I worked so hard on getting my presentation just right – and then come to find out my computer adapter didn’t work and no one could see it anyway.
I may have freaked out a bit. But I hope that what I said made sense anyway! I have some thoughts on my presentation that I’ll likely be sharing in another post down the road, but let’s just say that I couldn’t have asked for a better group of women to hang out and talk with. I had a blast!
Guys, I really can’t think of enough great things to say about this amazing conference that I was so blessed to be a part of. Everything was just so wonderful and fun, the women were fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back next year!!!
Also, I’d like to say a couple of big thank yous – first, to Stephanie who is the brains and hard work behind Arkansas Women Bloggers + The Women Bloggers. She is truly a visionary in this blogging field, and has opened so many doors for me as I continue down this path. Stephanie, you’re wonderful in every way!
Another big thank you to Heidi, my roommate, for just being awesome and totally putting up with my unique brand of introvertedness and humor. I had so much fun getting to know you more throughout the conference and am so blessed to work with you!!!