I just said yes to a trip to Destin with a group of strangers … 9 of them to be exact. As an introvert extraordinaire I cannot even believe I’m about to tell this story. It was absolutely the best thing I could have done.
I feel this warrants an explanation and perhaps a cautionary tale.
First of all … Florida sand. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. It’s so white and splendidly squeaky. It has magical powers that are sometimes capable of overriding common sense. As a little girl I remember spending lots of time playing in that white sand. It’s a little like coming home.
Second … behold the power of Facebook groups.
I love Facebook groups. I’ve lost count of how many I’m in, actually. I rarely visit the news feed any more, choosing instead to click through to each group I’m in based on notifications. (Facebook Groups App for the win!) I’ve chosen my groups well so they are life-giving spaces for me. I learn from people who know more than me, I help others who aren’t as far along on the blogging road as I am, I network, I plan and participate in events, promotions, and book launches via groups, and I connect with beautiful women in community with a resounding “Me, too!”
Very recently I was invited to join a Facebook group of about 40 bloggers by my sweet friend IRL Kayla Aimee. I couldn’t not say yes to that invitation. I knew it had the potential to help me grow so much as a blogger. It would have been downright silly. These women blog about everything under the sun, they share information and they support each other by promoting each other’s content. Their followings are massive in the blogging world. They’re an absolutely amazing community.
When I first scrolled through the feed in their group, I saw that they were planning a trip to Destin to network and relax, hosted by Newman Dailey. They immediately invited me to come, too, because they’re awesome like that.
As a blogger I was SQUEEEEEING! What an amazing opportunity to sit in a circle with women, some of whom are teaching classes at large blogging conferences and sitting on panels to discuss social media, affiliate networks and more, and listen to them identify problems and help each other solve them. Having them encourage me, with my fraction of the traffic and limited experience, was a balm. My brain is still buzzing trying to process all that I learned and implement it step by step.
And doing that on the beach? Well … who can say no to that?!!
As an introvert I cringed … ready to balk. I drove the six hours in case I needed to escape or be by myself for a few minutes. Well that, and buying a plane ticket at the last minute isn’t really in our budget right now since we’re in the middle of my husband’s political campaign. Plus, I really love road-tripping and I needed plenty of time to psych myself into doing this thing. My Audible app was stocked with good books like “Eat that Frog” and “Small is the New Big.” My Amazon Prime music app had a Brave playlist.
As a blogger, I wanted so much to be able to bring something to the table, to be an equal. And they never treated me as anything less. I shouldn’t have worried even a little bit. Also, has anyone ever NOT felt refreshed and rejuvenated after a weekend at the beach with a bunch of girlfriends? I think not.
Y’all … we’ve already established that I’m a geek who lives in jeans and ironic t-shirts, but I’m here to tell you, I hung with fashion bloggers (and probably broke more fashion rules than I can count). And they’re awesome, of course.
You’ll be hearing more about what I learned from them soon, but for now … TRUNK CLUB. When a girl’s husband is running for a political office, even if it’s a local one, she needs to take it up a notch. Otherwise people might think she’s his teenage daughter. True story. I’d like to think it’s got everything to do with some seriously youthful genes, but I’m starting to suspect maybe not.
The beach house we stayed in, Blue Heaven, was absolutely gorgeous with plenty of room for us to sprawl out. Sporting 7 bedrooms, 6 1/2 baths and a large, open common area with plenty of seating, it was the perfect fit for our group. We spent quite a few hours in the living room with MacBooks at the ready, typing notes, Googling questions, looking at plugins, talking about drip campaigns, and more.
Newman Dailey did such a fabulous job of hosting us! They coordinated dinner reservations to restaurants, got us on the in with the outlet mall just around the corner, Silver Sands Mall, for a bag full of swag and coupons, and made our trip effortless across the board.
I’ve talked before about the importance of networking in the blogging world. There are so many wonderful groups that you can be part of on Facebook. But the opportunity to sit face to face with other bloggers and share what works and what doesn’t? Priceless.
After spending the weekend with these ladies, I’ve been given a glimpse of something that rarely happens in the blogging world. Competition was left at the door. Teamwork took its place. One on one interactions, round table discussions, small group talks…they provided all of us with new ideas, accountability and more as we headed back to our real lives, refreshed and inspired.
This could have been a cautionary tale about what not to do when your online world collides with your real world. There are so many of those.
Instead, I would say it’s a cautionary tale to not let good experiences pass you by because of fear. Of course, be wise as you choose to meet up with online friends, (I was!) but don’t let fear cause you to miss out on an extraordinary experience. Also, if a blogger says you can travel the world for free by blogging, and it sounds too good be true, it probably is. Choose your blogging mentors wisely. Look for the ones who have been doing this whole blogging gig for a long time, not the ones who became famous overnight.
And always say yes to the beach.
If you need ideas for how to plan that getaway, be sure to visit my new friend Jessica Turner’s blog and check out her 10 tips for planning a girl’s getaway to remember.