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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. :)

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