Hello Everyone,

Last week I got the chance to attend a blogger conference, called Blended. I thought it would be a great opportunity to go and see what something like this looks like.

The conference took place in Florence, Arizona (how convenient) at a winery (…again, how convenient ).

I have never been to Florence, but the little parts I saw from it while driving through, were pretty typical to a small Arizona town but as soon as I entered the gates to the winery, it was like I entered into a little village from a fairy-tale.

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE WINERY:

  • It hosts about 250 weddings a year for people mostly out of state or out of country.
  • The Barn where the conference mostly took place was originally in Green Bay, Wisconsin and got moved to Florence {I believe} in 2010.
  • They have enough room to hold two weddings simultaneously.
  • There are 3 wedding donkeys and they carry two buckets that are filled up with beer. They just wander around and people can stop by them and grab a beer out of the bucket during the weddings.

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Let’s rewind to Wednesday night:

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After work Ben and I went to pick up the rental car which turned out pretty awesome. The people at ALAMO were so nice! We got to joke around with them and they gave me a better car than what I actually signed up for. They are always super nice and very kind, they are my favorite to rent a car from.

When we got home, I started packing. At this point I didn’t know that a blogger conference is a synonym to: we will feed you and give you so many snacks that you will burst. So I packed a small amount of snacks. Looking at this picture I probably would have been able to feed the entire conference myself. Not sure what was I thinking,  I only ended up eating one apple and had a bunch of  chewie fruities that are exactly like Starburst but an organic, Non-GMO version. 

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I started packing and Echo kindly offered his moral support…this dog…

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3 Stages of Blended

STAGE 1: Thursday morning – We are all strangers

I got to the place a little early so I walked around and took pictures of the nature and set up before everyone else arrived.

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People slowly started coming in around 8 o’clock and some looked just as lost as I was, while others had a very determined walk…those were the ones, us, the lost ones, tried to copy 😀 After we got our name tags we had to find a seat. It was time to socialize. This is where I usually have trouble. I walked around a little bit, smiled at some [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][at this point] strangers and chose my seat based on the location of the table so I have a good view to the “stage”. Nobody was sitting at that table. I saw some bags and sweatshirts that were saving the seats but no table-buddies yet. I sat down and started unpacking my bag, like I am in first grade, about to start my first class ever:

Notebook, pen, another pen just in case first pen rolls away, tissue, sweatshirt, computer. I am ready.

By the time I got done organizing my stuff, three very chatty ladies arrived back to the table, seemingly knowing each other, greeting me with a big smile:

  • Well, helloooo new friend – they said
  • Hello – I said it back quietly while my heart was about to jump out of my chest

We introduced ourselves to each other and they went back to their conversation and I pretended to be busy on my computer so I don’t look as lonely.  Because I am smooth like that. The room and our table was slowly getting noisier as more and more people started wandering in looking for their seats. Then the presentations started.

(Read about 10 things I learned at Blended 2016 here)

Around noon it was time for an hour and a half break and some delicious lunch…

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STAGE 2: Thursday afternoon – The mingle

Chipotle was kind enough to sponsor our lunch so I loaded up my burrito bowl with some delicious carbs and protein. Even though it was very hot outside, I went up to a table with a small group sitting at it and joined in on their conversation. This is something that is very hard for me to do but I am happy I didn’t just go and find a hidden spot by the lake to eat my food at.

Even tho, this place was my favorite quiet spot:

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During lunch we talked, exchanged business cards, and got to know a little more about one another and it was very nice to see familiar faces around in the next day and a half.

After lunch break, there were separate classes going on in different topics so we got into smaller groups. This way I also got to meet other people and had more chance to interact with the speakers too. I went to the Printables by Erin and Affiliate Marketing by Kelley Wilson presentations. They were both very informative and I learned so much.

This is Kelley Wilson, from Miss Information. She gave us a great presentation on affiliate marketing.

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My plan with the blog is to make a living with it one day so having so much information on how to create your own products and doing additional affiliate marketing was amazing. I wrote down so many things, my hand was cramping.

After the presentations we took a hay-ride around the property with the owner who told us a more than impressive story about how he built this business up from nothing…in the middle of nowhere.

During dinner everyone was chatting about the day and we were all more comfortable around each other.

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STAGE 3: Friday all day – Blended

I woke up Friday, well rested after sleeping for 9.5 hours {Sleeping Beauty} and ready to take on the day. I felt more confident to go and see my conference friends. I knew I was going to see familiar faces and will get to joke around with them. We had more presentations, activities, food, laughs, s’mores, and a DJ playing music at night. It was so fun to develop bonds with so many new people. We truly blended and it was an experience I will always remember of.

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Conclusion

It was absolutely worth the trip, the time, and the money. I came home feeling accomplished because this situation was way out of my comfort zone. I was very happy I did it, that I had the courage to go up to others and to meet them, to talk about them, myself and my goals in general. I met people who pursue or already live the lifestyle I want to live, I met others who think alike.

I, as many others, had to come home with a souvenir. I am not a big red wine fan, I never drink red wine, but I tried Pomegranate wine at the winery and fell in love with it. So delicious. Too bad the only way to get it is to go to Florence. I should have bought a barrel of Pomegranate wine instead.

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And we also got a year subscription to the iBlog Magazine 😀 And yes, I reacted to this fantastic news just like the lady on the front cover.  

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