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2011 Central Florida Bloggers Conference

by Meghann on July 16, 2011

eeeekkkkk….

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My first speaking gig is now over. Time to treat the sweat stains, steady my shaking voice, and float back to earth.

The Good News: I survived. People laughed. People cried (ok, only I cried). And I made new supportive twitter friends who I want to hug and follow forever and ever.

The Bad News: I was so not prepared. Rookie mistake. I was hoping to wing it, but as soon as I stood in front of everyone all of my ideas escaped me. I should’ve had notes, I should of invested more time in my slideshow, and I should of asked questions.

Lessons learned. :)

I might want to erase my 15 minutes of speaking from my memory, but the rest of the conference has been fabulous!

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I was up early to shower, primp, and prepare for my day. Once again, I can not thank Bess enough for letting me stay at her place last night! She’s a life saver.

I made a quick pit stop at First Watch for breakfast on my way.

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First Watch recently introduced Muesli to their breakfast menu. It immediately caught my attention as the perfect light summer meal. Homemade Muesli, Fresh Fruit, and Vanilla Yogurt. Yum. :)

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All mixed together and ready to eat.

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The Muesli was not only tasty, but FILLING. I felt stuffed well into lunchtime.

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The main event!

A few months ago I received an e-mail from Bess detailing her vision of an Orlando blogger conference. She noticed a missing niche in the market and wanted to create an event where local bloggers would come together to network, pick each other’s brains, and maybe even learn a thing or two in the process. The idea was genius and quickly grew from there. Orlando is full of amazing bloggers who are always looking for an excuse to connect – why wouldn’t it take off?

The local event sold out quickly and this morning 100 bloggers gathered in a local elementary school gym to tweet, blog, and be merry.

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I think I know Orlando Bloggers, but I really have no idea! The best part about the conference was meeting bloggers from every walk of life. There was a blogger for every niche out there!

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Still, I was happy to see some familiar faces in the crowd.

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Hi Julie! Hi Michelle! Miss you guys!

Bess kicked the event off in style. Isn’t she the cutest?

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Marc Middleton (from GrowingBolder.com) was the keynote speaker for the event. He did a fabulous job keeping us laughing and engaged. I loved everything he had to say – from the humbled beginnings of Growing Bolder (an online web channel you may have heard of through Katy Widrick) to his encouragement of living life, taking that leap of faith, and sticking to your guns when the going gets tough. Loved it.

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Ben (Adventures With Ben) was next. He’s one of those people I love to follow through twitter and Facebook, but only met him for the first time in person last night.

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I wanted to steal his sticker. So cute and fun!

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Ben was also a great speaker with tons of great ideas on partnering with fellow bloggers for content, utilizing guest bloggers to your advantage, and just getting your name out there.

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I was next.

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I partnered with Missy Ward for the presentation. Missy is a blogging pro who specializes in affiliated marketing and has seen huge success in the field.

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Since our two approaches were so different, we split the presentation in half. I spoke at first about my knowledge of ad networks, private ads, brand sponsorships, etc.

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The many faces of speaking Meghann (thanks Julie)

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And Missy wowed the crowd with her abundant knowledge of affiliated marketing.

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Seriously, this girl knows her stuff! You can check out the extended presentation at her website MissyWard.com

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Lunch time!

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Food Trucks are all the rage in Orlando. They’re popping up everywhere and weekly events featuring the trucks easily pull in 2,500 attendees on any given week night.

Sadly, it was a trend that erupted just after I left. Every week I see my favorite Orlando tweeters going on and on about the latest food truck bazaar; sharing what they had, and tweeting in foodie pleasure. I’ve been silently venting my jealously – all the way in Tampa – and secretly following all the food trucks in return.

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When Bess announced the Big Wheel Food Truck was the official lunch provider for the event I squealed in glee!

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Everything on the menu contains at least one local ingredient and the owner is just a great guy.

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I ordered the Mixed Local Greens Salad

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The crunchy rice was interesting on the salad, but the real flavor was in the Tamara Scallions (deliciously salty) and fresh avocado.

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There was a few shared plates on the table including french fries, fried cheese grit cakes and crispy artichoke hearts (my favorite of the three).

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Honest Tea provided the drinks. The Peach White Iced Tea was slightly sweet and tangy.

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Carolina shared a bite of her cookie for dessert.

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After lunch we broke into niches specific blogger brainstorming sessions. I ran the group of ‘Fit Bloggers.’ We discussed our favorite ways to stay active in Orlando and how to use social media to our advantage when training. Carissa mentioned designing Orlando blogger running shirts. <- loved that!

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J spoke about Facebook. She’s seen HUGE success with her Facebook page and had great knowledge to share. We have differing views on sharing content directly on Facebook (posting directly on Facebook makes my head spin), but I did have a few takeaways with sharing snippits photos and encouraging more interaction. (By the way… Meals and Miles’ Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/mealsandmiles ;) )

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We’re wrapping up for the day and my head is spinning with all the newfound knowledge I’ve gained. My pockets are also exploding with all the business cards I’ve collected. My google reader isn’t going to know what hit it. ;)

Are you involved in the local blogging community? Why not?! Get out there! You never know who’s out there, even if they’re not in your niche – it’s still great connections to have. :)

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn July 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Ahhhh oh my goodness that looks like so much fun. Jealllll. You all look so prettyyy!
Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn recently posted..Peanut Flour Lava + Cute Little Nuggets!

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2 Katherina @ Zephyr Runs July 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

It was nice to meet you today! These conferences will do wonders for awkward and shy bloggers like myself :P
Katherina @ Zephyr Runs recently posted..Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2

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3 Carissa July 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Loved this! You’re efficient and I made the blog! Double score! And you did a wonderful presentation! Your heart, passion, and knowledge shined!
Carissa recently posted..Semi-Homeade Lemon Ricotta Chia Muffins

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4 Christi July 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I totally took that picture of the beautiful girls at the table :) Thanks for sharing with the fitbloggers !!!

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5 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance July 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Very informative post! I really should get more involved in my local blogging community… There’s always more to be done!
Thanks for the update! I’m sure your presentation was fine– by the way :D
Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance recently posted..Tweet Tweet

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6 Victoria July 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

So nice to meet you and all the other fit bloggers! Thanks for moderating us :)

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7 Kristen (inspiredbydooce) July 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Notes are always great things to have when making a presentation- you just never know when you’re going to freeze up and notes are defi itely a saving grace when that happens. I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as you thought!

I have no idea what ki d of bloggers there are in my city. I’m sure lots- though since it is a bilingual (mostly french) city, I think that’s a bit of a challenge.
Kristen (inspiredbydooce) recently posted..fit abs 3,000 in 35 week 2

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8 Chelsey @ Chew with Your Mouth Open July 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Looks like you had a blast! I wish we had something like this in my area!
Chelsey @ Chew with Your Mouth Open recently posted..A Sign of Things to Come

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9 Callie July 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

We should put together a Tampa Bay Bloggers Conference. :)
Callie recently posted..The Beauty Left Behind

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10 Emilee July 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Count me in!

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11 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups July 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Looks like a great event and you don’t look nervous at all in the photos!

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12 Hillary July 16, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’d love to get involved in the Baltimore blogging community, but I have no idea where to start! A friend of mine who is a social media maven has been great about getting me out there a little, but I know I’ve only just put my toes in the big world of local blogging. This event sounds FANTASTIC!
Hillary recently posted..S’more What?

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13 Katie G. July 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Hey Hillary! I live outside of Baltimore! It would be awesome to get a group of bloggers together!
Katie G. recently posted..Inside my Mind

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14 Hillary July 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Absolutely, Katie! Let’s do it!!
Hillary recently posted..A Travel Day

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15 Angela @ pinching and packing July 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Love the idea of a Tampa bloggers conference, looks like it was a great event
Angela @ pinching and packing recently posted..Fit Friday – Scenic Stair Workouts

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16 Holly @ The Runny Egg July 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I have only met one other MN blogger – I’d like to meet more, but I just haven’t bit the bullet and put something together.

I NEED notes and slides and everything for presentations — I freeze instantly in front of people.

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17 Cait's Plate July 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I’m sure you were a total success up there :) I’ve watched the Meals and Miles show and you’re a natural in front of the camera so I’m sure it was no different!

All the food looks amazing! I’m craving a chocolate chip cookie now!
Cait’s Plate recently posted..Peach Pie

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18 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake July 16, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I love your headband… so cute!
Erica @ For the Sake of Cake recently posted..Chris’s Birthday Recap

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19 Chuck July 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I have been writing my blog for a while. It is never regular and not inspired but it is not really designed for other people to read. I never have an audience in mind when I am writing as I only write it for myself. I guess I should think about getting it out there. There is no a huge blog community in England. I am going to sleep on it. x

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20 lindsay July 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Looks like fun!

PS: should’ve means should HAVE!!! Biggest pet peeve ever. :)

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21 Lacey @ Lake Life July 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I agree! People saying “should of” is like nails on a chalkboard!

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22 Meghann July 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I actually had to google this to make sure it wasn’t should ‘of’ and that it should be should’ve. That one was tricky – apparently I’m not the only person out there who makes the mistake because the search resulted in a ton of ‘should of’s :)

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23 marie July 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm

She can’t even hit spell check for her posts. I doubt she’d catch something like that.

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24 Meghann July 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm

All of my posts go through spell check, but some things like using should ‘of’ or should ‘have’ are spelled correctly, so spell check doesn’t catch it. In my head it’s should ‘of,’ but now I know it’s wrong. I’ll go back and correct it now.

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25 Katherina @ Zephyr Runs July 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm

The anonymity of the internet brings out the best in people sometimes, eh?
Katherina @ Zephyr Runs recently posted..Poor for Life: The Blog Version

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26 Marie July 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm

No, it’s just being real. Booyah

27 Bri July 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Gahhh. “Of” isn’t even a verb. “Should of” makes zero grammatical sense. Maybe it is demanding to make sure every sentence is error-free and written in accord with standard English rules, but I would think it’d be a little embarrassing to have such frequent and obvious errors when writing is your job. And “anonymity” aside (btw: if, like me, you don’t have a blog, commenting anonymously is the only real option), I think most people would rather receive tips on how they could improve rather than live under false pretenses regarding how their work is received. That’s my take, anyway.

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28 Lacey @ Lake Life July 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I agree with Bri. It’s kind of disheartening to see someone blog full time yet not take time to research or try to improve their writing skills. If I made that many mistakes at my job, I wouldn’t have it for long.

This might be of some help:
http://www.onlinegrammarchecker.net/
Lacey @ Lake Life recently posted..A new format

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29 Alaina July 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm

There are so many Boston area bloggers that I have yet to meet. And I know there’s a ton in the city! :-) This looks like a fun event.
Alaina recently posted..Today’s Agenda

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30 Christine @ BookishlyB July 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I’ve had those days teaching- “oh it’ll be fine, I know my stuff, no biggie.” And then- boom! Umm, let’s do a quickwrite today, kids.
Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..I Would Make an Excellent Pottery Barn Buyer

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31 Margo @ Peanut Butter Trees July 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Sounds like a great conference! I always need speaking notes too, not matter how prepared I am. I often end up just holding them and never looking at them, but just knowing that they’re there make me feel 80% more calm and confident. I’m sure you did great!!

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32 holly July 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

What on earth is the get up you are wearing? And the bow? Um, no.

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33 Meghann July 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Ha! I like my bow. Gotta throw a little personality in there. :)

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34 Emilee July 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I like it too, you looked great!!!!!
Emilee recently posted..Ahhh Babies.

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35 Lauren July 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Looked cute!
Lauren recently posted..Run in the New Year

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36 Dina@DinaRuns July 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I had such a blast and learned so much today! It was great to meet you and all the other Central Florida fitbloggers.
Dina@DinaRuns recently posted..Are you fit?

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37 Krystina (Organically Me) July 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I’m so sad I didn’t know about this! I want to go next time! :(
Krystina (Organically Me) recently posted..Things Men Shouldn’t Do to (Women) Runners

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38 Stephanie July 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Oh gosh this looks totally awesome! I am sure you were amazing. i wish i got to hear what you had to say? How is the leg now with no stitches? Those food trucks are soo cool. Better than the icecream truck well…hmm

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39 Hilary July 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I’m honestly not sure there is much of a local blogger community here in Southwestern Ontario, but I have made one connection! Once again, jealous of your day, food truck lunch, and delicious-looking breakfast. Looks like a really inspiring and educational day…makes me all the more excited for HLS!
Hilary recently posted..Chill out!

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40 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Looks like a great conference! I’m still struggling to understand how to use facebook for something more than what’s on my blog would’ve loved to hear J’s input. She has done amazing with it.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Strawberry nectarine lime bellini

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41 Meghann July 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm

She has done amazing stuff! She found a niche market on Facebook and dove into it. Her biggie is bringing content directly to facebook, which I’m still wrapping my head around for my blog.

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42 RunningOnCoffee July 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Not sure there is much of a local blogging community where I am – I’d have to venture into NYC or Philly for that. I HATE public speaking. It took me 2 years to get comfortable giving presentations to my small (12ish) grad school cohort. Finally getting a little more comfortable with it at my work when I need to – again, 2 years in…haha. No food trucks near me to my knowledge. When I think of food trucks, I think of the trucks we referred to as “street meat” aka food you had when you came out of the bars up in Rochester and Ithaca NY. No field greens and avocado at those trucks :) It’s been several years though…maybe that has since changed.
RunningOnCoffee recently posted..Recap: HM5, Week 3 Training + Week 1 of FitAbs

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43 Professor Josh July 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm

It was great meeting you and your recap was excellent. Wasn’t Big Wheel Truck yummy! One my favorite and very professional – Tony rocks and would be great for catering events.
Professor Josh recently posted..Help Nominate PROFESSORJOSH.COM for the Top 10 Most Influential E-Learning Blogs

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44 Emilee July 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Hi Meghann,

I was at the conference today and I thought you did a great job! I’ve been following your blog for about a year now and I love it! This was my first blogger event and I was too shy to introduce myself. (Kicking myself now!)
You captured a good photo of me and my boyfriend in front of the food truck (me in the green shirt, him in the red hat) :) I’m in the Tampa Bay area too.

Keep up the good work!
Emilee recently posted..Ahhh Babies.

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45 Sana July 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Live and learn girl! You will rock your next gig :) I am glad you had a blastyyy!
Sana recently posted..QingZhen Halal Chinese

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46 Katy (The Singing Runner) July 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm

It was great seeing you today! You did fantastic on the presentation and it was great talking to you! :) See you at HLS!!! :)
Katy (The Singing Runner) recently posted..Frightful Fourteen

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47 Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) July 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I’m sure you did great! Public speaking is always nerve-wracking, no matter how experienced you are at it!
Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) recently posted..In case you were wondering

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48 Carolina @ Peas in a Blog July 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm

It was so good to see you today, you are adorable. Lets plan on seeing a football game when the season starts, I can’t wait!
Carolina @ Peas in a Blog recently posted..Central Florida Blogger Conference.

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49 JulieD July 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm

It was so great to meet you!! You did great. I had a lot of fun running the food blogger breakout session but was really nervous for that Q&A panel.
JulieD recently posted..Blueberry Hand Pies

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50 Maisie July 17, 2011 at 4:02 am

Your hair looks awful straight. It doesn’t flatter your face. It makes the hair itself look weird, dry/porous, and in bad shape. Just stop it with the straightening iron.

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51 Meghann July 17, 2011 at 7:25 am

Alright then MIss. How should I wear my hair? I’m dying to know.

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52 Maisie July 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

You should let it have its natural texture- that curly/wavy-ness you’ve been letting it do lately. That looks beautiful on you. It looks polished and put-together, it’s a style many people would love to have, so rock what God gave you!

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53 Su July 18, 2011 at 1:02 am

Agree

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54 Debbie July 17, 2011 at 6:41 am

Nice wrap up of the event. I bet it is bigger next year because I want to go!
Debbie recently posted..Gasparilla in Pictures

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55 Vikki July 17, 2011 at 7:34 am

Congratulations on your first speaking gig!

If you seriously want to improve your speaking ability, think about joining your local Toastmasters club. You will likely be the youngest person in the room by several years, but they give great advice and really do help you improve. I joined a few years ago for professional development and I’ve improved exponentially. I structure my speeches better. I know how to use the space in the front of the room. I use fewer filler words. The current problem that I’m working on improving is my tendency to talk too fast.

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56 Meghann July 17, 2011 at 9:03 am

Thanks Vikki! That’s a great idea!

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57 Vikki July 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Good luck on your next presentation!

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58 Jenn July 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

What is that necklace? What is that bow? Your outfits are starting to resemble your meals! A mixed up disgusting mess!

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59 Meghann July 17, 2011 at 10:12 am

I never said this was a fashion blog. I love my necklace and bow and I stand by them. :)

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60 Jess July 17, 2011 at 10:32 am

Good grief…rude much, people?

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61 Marissa July 17, 2011 at 11:37 am

Wow, people are so incredibly rude! Sounds like you had a great time!

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62 Natasha July 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for the recap of the event. I really wish I could have gone, but I had to work. I hope that I can go to the next event. Are there any blogging events in the near future?
Natasha recently posted..Fresh Picks to Follow: Ikat Prints

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63 Angela July 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I love how the mean comments have no links to emails or blogs. People are so rude! Be yourself and forget everyone else. I liked your bow, I wore a bow head band in my friend’s wedding and I loved it.

If you are going to give negative comments, at least have a spine and stand by them with a link to yourself.
Angela recently posted..Eating Paleo Week 2

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64 D July 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I think the comments were rude and didn’t need to be said, but while you may be a blogger, try and remember that there are people out there who aren’t. Why on earth should everyone have a “link” to themselves? What does that even mean? So I either need to a) have a blog or b) put my e-mail address on a website for the world to see, in order to have a valid opinion?

I get your point (and again, the comments were rude), but some people are just “normal” people reading blogs.

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65 Angela July 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Good point…. but everyone has an email- even my 75year old grandma! :-D You have a good head about it though! Thanks for showing me another perspective.
Angela recently posted..Eating Paleo Week 2

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66 D July 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I just reread my response and it sounded really harsh – sorry about that!!

I include my real email address when I comment but I certainly would NOT want it to be public :) And I don’t write my full name because a) people in real life call me “Dee” and b) what’s the point?! If someone wants to write a rude comment, they can make up any name they want, which is an unfortunate thing about blogging. Which also makes me think that plenty of other bloggers DO leave rude comments sometimes…because what’s stopping them? Something to think about, right?!

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67 S July 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

i thought your outfit was cute. your hair looked good. & i liked the bow. I can’t believe people take the time to read your blog and then comment if they don’t like what they see. Keep it up meghann!!

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68 kirsten July 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Your bow and necklace look really cute! :) I hope you are ignoring all of the haters, people are so rude.

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69 Katie July 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

What a cool conference! I wish I lived in Orlando so I could have participated! But yes…a Tampa area bloggers conference would be awesome! There have to be a bunch of us out there…
Katie recently posted..Safari Sunday

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70 Ali July 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

not a huge fan of the bow, but if you are, who cares, right! you still look pretty!! not sure why people are so mean anyway.

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71 Sophie July 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Wow, this looks like such a great idea! I wish I knew how to get involved with some more bloggers in the UK!!
Sophie recently posted..30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 18!

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72 kristin July 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

personally, i love the bow :)

food trucks are huge here now too – i love it!

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73 Kristina @ Love and Zest July 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’m so sad I missed it! When is the next one?

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