Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of speaking at the first ever Gleek Retreat. It was a lovely, small, intimate “conference” set in beautiful West Olive, MI. Unfortunately I missed the second day, but what I did experience on day 1 was awesome! There were around 30 people in attendance including I think 3 guys. Jodi and Stacey did a fabulous job with the schedule, speakers, and location.

The Into the Woods Retreat is absolutely adorable. And the name completely fits. We missed the place driving by the first time because the winding driveway is completely nestled between a ton of trees.

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The location is exactly why Gleek Retreat was called a retreat and not a conference. It is a great setting for a small group retreat, family gathering, or scrap-booking session. There is a fireplace, cozy couches, dining area, kitchen, and several bedrooms with bunches of twin beds setup camp style.

Into the Woods Room

(photo courtesy SavvyChicSavings)

We talked about a variety of subjects which were all very informative including Monetizing your Blog, Building your Brand,  Developing your Niche, Using Other Forms of Media, and breakout sessions including Blogging and Taxes and the FTC, Tips on Working with companies and PR, Connecting with Social Media and In Real Life, Your Blog & Your Business, Getting and keeping readers, Blogging and Balance, and Photography Tips.

I spoke on the Developing your Niche topic cause well… I guess I’m a niche blogger. 🙂 I can’t remember what was said word for word, but if you have any questions, just ask! What I do remember is…. if you are thinking of getting into niche blogging, make sure that it’s natural. It should be something that you do from day to day anyway so that there is a natural flow of information. For example, scrapbooking, technology, fashion, cooking. Those are just a few of the things that some blog about because they do it on a day to day basis anyway.

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Don’t try to force yourself into a niche just because you think  it’s cool. If you know nothing about computers, don’t start a technology blog to get free stuff because it won’t work out. And readers will want to ask you questions that you won’t know the answers to. 🙂

There were some other awesome suggestions that I remember for building your brand. In terms of brand recognition don’t change around your logo too much, maintain consistency across your networks so there is recognition. I love meeting folks at a conference and they look at the business card and go “oh yeah, I’ve been to your blog” or “I recognize your Twitter avatar”. But recognition is just one step. Building a brand includes much more.

I wish I could remember ever word that was said during all the sessions, but I can’t! There are some awesome recap posts from other attendees as well. If you are interested int checking out some tips, you can:

  • Check out the link-up on the Gleek Retreat site for the other recaps.
  • Search #GleekRetreat and #GleekRetreat10 on Twitter for all the great tweets send before, during, and after the conference.
  • Check out the Getting and Keeping Readers notes from @KitchenStew and @donielle
  • Check out all the group Flickr photos that attendees and hosts have uploaded
  • Check out and follow the Gleek Retreat Facebook Page which is full of more great links.

Here are my Flicker photos:

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