I’ve been blogging since 2010 and often speak about building community, an important part of publishing online. Community doesn’t just mean your site’s readers, or a public group on Facebook. A small community of fellow bloggers who support each other can be a key to business success. These are sometimes referred to as a Mastermind group.
Two years ago I spoke at a conference about building community on Facebook. Afterward, I also lead a discussion on the topic for a smaller Roundtable discussion. Once the event was over, a women who’d come to my roundtable posted in the event’s Facebook discussion group that she wanted to start a private Facebook group for a small Mastermind tribe.
Of the dozens who expressed interest, about ten or twelve came to the first virtual meeting. Over time, we’ve concentrated down to a core group of six. The six of us have had a virtual meeting once a week for the last almost-two years.
This year we wanted to meet in person for a few days of brainstorming. We planned a three-day retreat so we could all meet in person and get work done together. Here’s what we did to plan our Mastermind meetup.
Our event was sponsored by Mediavine. Mediavine is a full-service ad management company. All of the members of our Mastermind group who qualify are happy Mediavine clients. Personally, I love having an ad network that is always looking to make ads better for the publisher and the reader. If you have a website you’d like to monetize with ads, I don’t think you can do better.
Even if you aren’t a Mediavine client, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel and learn from their helpful videos. I especially recommend the recordings from their conferences. One of the women from this Mastermind attended the most recent event held at Google Headquarters and had an amazing experience.
Settle the Details For Your Mastermind Retreat
When: We decided to meet during the week for a Wednesday to Saturday event. This gave us two full days of work time.
Where: Since most of us live in the south, we met in Atlanta. Some of us could easily drive in, and for others who did live farther away, Atlanta is a major airline hub with tons of good flight options.
Venue: I’ve been to retreats where we stayed in a hotel. I liked that because at night there was more privacy and I just love hotels to begin with. For this event, we rented an AirBnB so we’d have more room, greater privacy, and a full kitchen. We stayed a little outside of Atlanta, closer to the airport, and less expensive than the city proper.
Meal Planning: We planned some dinners out and also made a run to the grocery store for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages. We had options accommodating those of us with dietary restrictions.
Budget: Our house rental and grocery store run comfortably cost each of us much less than a hotel stay of three nights plus all restaurant meals. Consider finding sponsors to defray costs.
Planning Your Mastermind Retreat Schedule
We were looking forward to spending time together just as friends, but we determined our main goal was to dig in a get work done. To facilitate this, we determined a theme (Beating the Summer Traffic Slump), and also set a schedule for our days.
We broke our days into blocks and each member could have a time to teach or speak to a pertinent topic. This gave us time to have our laptops or notebooks open and really dig into a topic or tool.
Tip: have a way to screenshare, whether you connect one laptop to a television, or use a tool like Zoom to link up.
Ideas for topics: any topic or tool your members can teach the others on productivity, newsletters, Tailwind, Airtable, affiliate marketing, working with virtual assistants, Google Analytics, Trello, Pinterest, SEM tools like SEMRush, shooting photographs and video, taking headshots, etc. Whatever you are good at, bring those skills to benefit your group.
Look at this great picture of Lynsey of Moscato Mom taken during our retreat.
Bring in Speakers
We were very lucky that our sponsor, Mediavine, sent us experts to speak to us on topics we chose. They ran us through features of the ad network we’d overlooked, like maximizing our revenue from in-content video, and did site audits for us. This was million-dollar help that resulted in better blogs and more ad revenue before we even left the retreat.
Our Mediavine experts stayed in the house with us. This worked great since we weren’t pushed for time, they had private time and space for their regular work, and we were able to hang out and become friends. Nicole and Heather were knowledgeable, professional, and a pleasure to work with. Having them there really took our retreat to the next level.
My friend Greg Hoffman owns Apogee Agency, an affiliate program management agency in Atlanta. He hosted a lunch-and-learn for us, bringing in a catered lunch and speaking to us on affiliate marketing. We’d arranged for him to come in for an hour and a half, but he generously stayed three hours.
We were so lucky to have an industry expert like Greg answer all our affiliate marketing questions. For our members who were new to affiliate marketing, it explained a lot of terms and concepts and help spark ideas on an often-overlooked way to monetize websites.
Plan Some Free Time
Our main focus for the event was work. We didn’t want to spend time away from our families that wasn’t productive. Still, it’s important for us to spend relaxed, social time together. We see each other on-screen an hour a week, but wanted to have time to hang out and have that friend time we didn’t get during our meetings.
Dinners out of the house and a trip to a place with live band karaoke gave us time just to be together as friends. This helped us really focus on our work during the day, knowing we had time for casual chat later.
Set Goals and Follow up in Your Regular Meetings
Our Mastermind group feels like we’ve grown and achieved since we started meeting. We attribute this to both setting goals and the accountability of the group.
Use your Mastermind retreat to set goals for the upcoming quarter and year to help keep your blogging business on track.