At the end of June (seriously how can it be a month ago already!) I headed to Hershey PA to attend my 1st multi day blog conference since my youngest was born. I have put off attending a conference because I didn’t want to leave the baby at home but when I heard that the iRetreat conference was going to be held in Hershey I knew I had to go. I headed down with my friend Jenna from Bucktown Bargains ready to learn and grow my site.
Having attended the conference in its inaugural year (when it was still called Reviewers Retreat) and knowing Cissy Mecca personally-organizer of iRetreat–I knew that it would be a top notch conference with a small, intimate feeling, outstanding speakers and sponsors and I was not disappointed!
Held at the Hershey Lodge I got to spend two days smelling chocolate everywhere I went! There were bowls of chocolate everywhere and the attention to detail is amazing, down to the chocolate kiss sheets on the bed. While I didn’t take my family to the conference, the Lodge is very family friendly with Hershey characters doing meet and greets in the lobby and it offers shuttle transportation to the parks.
Because the conference is deliberately kept small, it allows you to really interact and meet with great sponsors in a relaxed atmosphere where I was able to get to know what they are looking for in partnerships and hopefully that translates into great opportunities and experiences for you, my readers. Some of the sponsors included Musselman’s, who sponsored a really yummy lunch featuring their Cilantro-Chile BBQ Sauce. Other sponsors were Pampers, Carnival, yesvideo, Passion Roses, Jabra (stay tuned for an awesome giveaway from them!!) and Visit Hershey Harrisburg.
While sponsors are an important part of a conference, the real reason bloggers attend is to learn and grow from the experts in our field. I was thrilled to be able to meet Vera Sweeny and Audrey McClellan from Getting Gorgeous, two true rockstars in the blogging world. To hear them speak on the importance of partnerships and be able to ask them questions about how they balance their home life and work life, tips that they have learned in the years they have been blogging and more was just incredible. They truly are as real and down to earth in person as they appear in their videos and blog postings.
I especially enjoyed the hands on learning sessions I attended that dealt with photography, getting traditional media opportunities, trademarking your blog and Dan Morris’s sessions are always fabulous. One of the reasons it has taken me this long to write up these recap is that I have been busy implementing ideas and tips that I gleaned from the sessions. I loved that the atmosphere was casual and that all the speakers were willing to take questions so that we could truly get the most out of the sessions.
I was also able to meet up with some of my fellow Project Envolve bloggers and pr people so that was fun to put names with faces and to discuss the future direction of Project Envolve.
Finally, again because of the small and intimate setting of iRetreat I was able to meet and network with fellow bloggers which has enabled me to build and grow friendships with like-minded businesswomen.
All in all attending iRetreat 2014 has benefited me greatly and I look forward to attending future iRetreat conferences. If you are a blogger looking to take your blog or business to the next level then I highly recommend the iRetreat Conference, being held in New Orleans in 2015.