AWBU 2015- When I Changed My Mind About Blogging

AWBU 2015- When I Changed My Mind About Blogging

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Hot Springs for Arkansas Women Bloggers University, or AWBU.  It’s the 5th year for the conference, and my second time to attend.

Last year was extraordinarily great-  I met great people, learned a ton, and had a great time.

And I didn’t think it was possible, but this year was 10 times better for me than last year.  I was able to catch up with friends, ate some great food in my former hometown, stayed at a beautiful historic hotel. But more than anything, this year’s AWBU made me change my mind about blogging.

The beautiful Arlington hotel was our home for the weekend

 

Let’s start with the friends.  Before joining the Arkansas Women Bloggers, I had made a few friends blogging, mostly people who were just like me – newlyweds, young, no kids, similar interests.  But joining ARWB gave me a world of fantastic friends.  Friends who are cattle farmers, who are teachers, who are professional writers, who are so knowledgeable and so giving of their knowledge. It’s such a blessing to have them in my life. Being able to laugh, talk, and learn together this weekend was truly a gift. We also had a ton of fun together playing games and being silly.

My friend Janeal is a friend I wouldn’t normally have. She’s a meat scientist at U of A and a cattle farmer. She blogs about everything meat you need to know (it’s super interesting!). She’s funny and I love learning from her. And when we were tasked to wear derby hats in honor of Hot Springs hosting the Arkansas Derby, she did this. 🙂

 

I was able to hit up some of my favorite eateries around town during my stay.  Since I grew up in Hot Springs, I have plenty of food memories I wanted to revisit.  I had a healthy, delicious lunch at Cafe1217 before the conference started, indulged in pancakes and homemade sausage at the Pancake Shop, and had a lovely dinner on the patio with friends at Rolandos.

On the way to the Pancake Shop, a man told us to look at the rainbow. I’m glad he pointed it out! We were talking so much, we probably would have missed it!

 

I also made some new friends this year. Along with meeting some bloggers I had only known online (I’m looking at you Julie and Kelcie!), I brought a new friend along. My friend Holly had talked with me about blogging a while back, and I told her the best way to learn and get connected was to go to AWBU.  And we had a great time together.

Holly and I in the First Security bank photo booth

 

One of the best things about this community is their willingness to give back. All 85 or so of us got together Saturday evening to pack over 10,000 meals for local families through The Pack Shack.  Somehow, they made this incredibly fun (I mean, we stopped packing food at one point to do the YMCA!), and it was so very fulfilling to help our neighbors.

We make hairnets look gooooood

 

So much of this weekend was just about being in the presence of great women.  It’s such a privilege to get to know these ladies.  They are business owners, fantastic mommas, creatives, dreamers, and doers.  One of the highlights was spending a great dinner together really having fantastic conversation. It’s such a respectful, open place.  We had great conversations and endless laughs as well.

In the presence of greatness.

 

One of the fantastic perks of the conference is that our leader, Stephanie, makes such great relationships with companies around the state and they donate AMAZING goodies for us to try.  Riceland rice, Mountain Valley Water, Aromatique potpurri, and the three of us even won trips to Branson thanks to a budding relationship with the Branson CVB.

Headed to Branson, baby!

 

And lastly, what would a conference be without some learning? ha! The focus this year was mostly on writing (which I need!) and had some great presenters.  Mari Farthing‘s session was totally inspiring to me, and so was Stephanie Clinton‘s.

Stephanie Clinton presenting on blog envy

 

Through the great sessions at the conference, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to take this little space a bit more seriously.  I have great pride in the writing work I do for my job and for freelance clients…but often, I’m slapping up posts without even editing them here! I love this hobby, and don’t want to suck the fun out of blogging. But I want to do my best for me. Those of you who read deserve to read my true thoughts, my best work- not whatever I can crank out. That’s how AWBU changed my mind about blogging. It made me realize that even though this is a hobby, I can be purposeful and strategic and care.
The weekend was fantastic, and I’m having a serious case of “back to life, back to reality” (I hope you sang that!) today…but once I get all the goodies put away, the bag unpacked, and I make a plan, I’ll feel ready to take on the world. Or at least my corner of it.


That time I went viral…

That time I went viral…

So I didn’t plan on being a big deal online….but my post from Tuesday went viral in a big way.  Like 16,000% growth for my little blog.

I mean, I’m thankful for the faithful readers I have.  I’m not a “big” blogger by any means.  I have some friends I’ve made in this space.  But somehow, Tuesday’s post, after I shared it on Facebook, really resonated with people and started getting shared big time online.

Tuesday was a big day.  I passed my biggest traffic ever in a day by lunchtime. Then it kept growing.  And growing.  And growing.  And I was freaking out. I was texting mom every time we passed another milestone.

Then Wednesday happened.  And my traffic was exploding.  I had to quit responding to comments because I work and couldn’t just spend all day keeping track of stuff.  There were some nasty comments, but that’s expected.  For the most part, people were supportive and great.

This is all I saw on my WordPress app.  I was nuts.

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And then Wednesday night my site crashed.  Out of bandwidth. It was CRAZY.  I submitted a support ticket to my host and they got me back up and running this morning.

Let me say this: I did not intend for anything to “go viral.” I didn’t write a crazy click-bait post.  I just had a conversation with my husband and wrote about it.  I’m glad people found it interesting.  It’s a little strange to think that hundreds of thousands of people read my blog, saw my pictures, and now know about my corner of the Internet.

The first thing my mom said when I told her about my growing traffic was “You’re going to have to get more interesting, Britt.”  Gee thanks, Mom.  Even SHE thinks I’m boring!  And I am!  But I love my little boring life.  My dogs, my husband, my love of sewing, cooking, and clothes. Teaching Zumba, my faith, my friends….it’s enough for me.  I don’t need my life to “go viral.”  I’m glad to have had a flash in the pan, but I’m thankful for the every day- and when the crazy dies down, it will all be just fine by me.


Friday Five: Things I Did This Week

Friday Five: Things I Did This Week

I’m coming off of two REALLY busy weeks.  This week still had “extra” stuff that’s not normally part of my routine…but life is slowing  back down to normal.  Which I’m thankful for.

 

Even with the business, I did some cool stuff this week.

 

1. A post I wrote about my college town, Arkadelphia, posted to OnlyinArk.com. It features some fun stuff in that area, and also BEAUTIFUL photography from Dr. Kluck.  He was my campus doctor when I was in school…but now he’s involved in more of an administrative role.  He’s great.

2. I wore these beauties.  They were a part of last week’s Ann Taylor order.  I got them SUPER cheap (like 75% off sale price!) and I’m sort of sad that I didn’t order every color at that great deal.  I’m watching for them to go on clearance again.  They were comfortable and cute!

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3. I partnered with HansonGuy.com for a post about Ash Greyson, Hanson’s documentarian.  Jeff runs HansonGuy.com and he does cool interviews…and then he lets me write them up.  You can check it out here.

4. I bought Mikey a dog Halloween costume.  I found a triceratops hat online….and he hates it.  I thought we could be the Flintstones with our pet dinosaur…but not gonna happen.

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5. I started trying out Mary Kay Clear Proof.  I got a sample of it from Influenster…and I’m super happy so far at how it has acne medicine it in – but it’s not drying out my skin.  That’s a win for sure!

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes*

 

Anyway, those are five fun things I did this week.  I have a fun weekend, so be sure and come back Monday (and probably Wednesday…it may be too much for one day!) to hear all about it!

How was your week?  Do you dress your pet up for Halloween?  Have a great weekend!

 

 


Friday Five: Internet Faves

Friday Five: Internet Faves

Welcome to Friday!  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could really use a weekend.  Tyler’s high school reunion is this weekend, so I’m his tag-along.  I keep reminding him to introduce me to people when we talk to them.  Otherwise I stand there quietly like a creeper over his shoulder.  So let’s hope he remembers what we’ve been practicing. “This is my wife, Brittney.” ha!

This weekend is also Tiger Tunes/Homecoming at my beloved Ouachita Baptist University.  Sadly, because of the high school reunion, I’m not going.  I’m pretty bummed out about it, so I’ll probably stay off social media most of the weekend so I’m not constantly reminded about missing out at OBU. I mean, how cute are my baby Tri Chis?  Ouachita’s Dr. Kluck took pictures last night.  Tri Chi are “Kindergarten” for Tunes…and it looks SO cute! I can’t wait to see the video

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For today’s Friday Five, I wanted to highlight five cool things online I saw this week from other bloggers.

Let’s roll…

 

1. The first item is not from another blogger.  It’s from me.  I updated my Dr. Pepper chocolate cake post with a new image. It’s shiny and new and actually looks like something you might want to eat.  Check it out.

2. My bloggy friend Kaylin made a yummy pumpkin-n-peas pasta.  It sounds AMAZING and will be hitting our dinner table soon.

3. My friend Alden and I are talking about heading to Orlando next year for Epcot’s Eat to the Beat and to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I like HP, but I’m not a crazy potter fan like my bestie Alden.  But, when I saw Sarah had guest posted a butterbeer recipe, I HAD to check it out.  Who doesn’t want to make this stuff at home?  It sounds amazing.

4. My friend (both in real life and blogland) Keisha is doing an awesome series this month. She got stories from friends about the things they have overcome.  Check out the intro to her Overcomer Series, and then keep checking back for the stories.

5. The amazing Arkansas food blogger Kat Robinson posted about one of my favorite local joints- Talianos.  Read her review, and if you want to come visit me…I’ll take you to eat there! ha!

 

So that’s it friends.  I hope you take some time to check out these fun posts today.  I mean, aren’t Fridays for pretending to work while catching up on blogs?

Have a great weekend!