This post recaps a sponsored trip. My expenses were covered. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Eat Sea Retreat at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Thanks to the resort and a couple of other amazing sponsors – Stonyfield and Nature’s Path, a small group of amazing bloggers were able to get together for a few days to eat, drink and chat about blogging and life.
Our group included:
- Amelia at Eating Made Easy
- Liz at The Lemon Bowl
- Ashley at Edible Perspective
- Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain
- Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats
- Megan at Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
- Nikki at Seeded At The Table
The group was the perfect size for productive, yet intimate blogging sessions and for me it was a great mix of bloggers I knew very well and some I was less familiar with. When I was initially invited on this trip, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. My plan was not to travel much until Squish was a little older but as I learned more about it- who was going, what the agenda was, I decided it would be worth it.
And I was so right. It’s probably the most valuable thing I’ve ever done for my blog.
Being a part-time or full-time blogger is a somewhat unique career and because of that, it can be a bit isolating. It’s not like we all work in the same building, or even the same city! We don’t always get a chance to meet the people we interact with every day. Opportunities like this are wonderful because they allow bloggers to connect in person and talk about the behind the scenes blogging things that people in your personal life might not necessarily understand because they’re not bloggers themselves. It allowed us to share tips and tricks, offer constructive criticism and critiques, brainstorm and problem solve.
But probably most importantly, it allowed us to support each other. I titled this post with one of my favorite quotes “We rise by lifting others”, because although all 8 of us are bloggers and some of us even blog in similar niches, work with the same brands, etc, there wasn’t a single time during the trip where I didn’t feel 100% SUPPORTED & ENCOURAGED by everyone else who was there.
Blogging is a tricky beast and if you let it, it can easily become a cut-throat, competitive, money-obsessed occupation. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, this retreat just went to show that in many cases, bloggers can be each other’s best advocates and supporters.
One of my favorite activities from the trip was what I’d call the “struggle circle”. We all came up with one thing we’ve been struggling with lately, described our problem to the group and then we went around and everyone offered a suggestion or solution. Since we all had unique experiences and insights, everyone left with several different ideas and suggestions for fixing their problem. We covered everything from time management to rebranding to blogging burnout to figuring out how much to charge the companies we work with and so much more. And many of us found ourselves relating to more than one of the struggles.
It was so refreshing to be able to chat with people who understood what I was going through or had been in my position previously and could offer insight. Most of us have been blogging for 5+ years and to be able to have a “meeting of the minds” like this where we could share experiences, tools, suggestions and encouragement was absolutely invaluable.
I could go on and on about my trip but I’ll leave you with these 5 valuable lessons that this trip helped remind me of:
1) Stop comparing yourself to others. What are you doing when you’re comparing yourself to others? You’re doing nothing to move yourself forward!
2) Just do it. There’s never going to be a “perfect” time to do something, whether it’s increasing your rates, quitting your job, rebranding, whatever. It’s always going to be scary, but you’ll never know until you try.
3) Find your niche and rock it! You cannot please everyone. If you try to, you’ll end up being mediocre in lot of areas instead of excelling at a few.
4) Get help. If there are things you don’t enjoy doing or don’t make the best use of your skills or talents, find someone else to help you do them.
5) Spread the love. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, support you and encourage you and make sure you’re doing the same for those people.
To give you a brief recap of our trip: I got to LAX around 9am on Thursday and took a cab to Amelia’s house. We ran to Whole Foods & the farmer’s market to get some supplies and then headed up to the resort. After we unpacked, we met up with Ashley, Megan and Lauren at the pool. Liz & Kristin arrived and we headed back to our villas for a happy hour.
That evening we had a several course dinner complete with wine pairings that was incredible. Friday morning we were up early and after a delicious breakfast thanks to our sponsor and then we spent the rest of the morning taking turns leading sessions.
Liz and I shared our tips for productivity tools and time management techniques, Ashley and Kristin talked about building a loyal following and Lauren and Nicki branched out and talked a bit about how to approach brands and expand your portfolio. The great thing about the sessions is that we had a rough outline but then we were able to each chime in whenever we wanted and address other related issues that came up.
After our session we had lunch on the patio of our villa cooked by some of the resort chefs and then we squeezed in a little more time at the pool before heading back to our villa to get head shots taken. We enjoyed a happy hour at one of the other resort restaurants and then came back to make dinner and chat some more.
Saturday morning we fit in a couple more sessions before the first group of us headed to the airport. It was a quick trip but it was jam packed with useful information.
Like I mentioned before, I found the chance to get together with such amazing women and fellow entrepreneurs in a small-group setting to invaluable and it definitely gave me a push to make some changes and improvements I’ve been contemplating for a while now.
Huge thanks again to Terranea, Stonyfield and Nature’s Path for making it possible and to Amelia for organizing such a great retreat.
A few sponsor-related notes:
- If you’re looking for a California vacation destination, I highly recommend Terranea Resort. The resort staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, the rooms/villas we stayed in were spacious and clean and the resort itself was beautiful, with all sorts of available activities from hiking to spa treatments to poolside lounging. It was like escaping to Hawaii for the weekend- without the extra-long flight!
- Stonyfield has a couple of relatively new products you should check out: Greek & Chia Yogurt and Oh My Yog! I hadn’t tried either before the retreat and I liked them both! The Oh My Yog is delicious for dessert!
- Nature’s Path Organic also has tons of great products. My favorite was the Qi’a Superfoods Hot Oatmeal packets we got to try for breakfast. They were a fun change from my regular oatmeal and SO delicious. I loved the Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed flavor!
What’s the most valuable life lesson you’ve learned or been reminded of lately?