So you booked your ticket (or you’re curious) and you want to know what to expect? Here is the lowdown, from the inaugural Blonde Abroad x Institute of Code blogging retreat.
You’ll be picked up by an Institute of Code-hired driver from the airport or your villa (I recommend flying in a day or two early to get over jet lag, mo time mo bettah to explore!) Your driver will take you, and any other girls on your stop, to the Institute of Code villa. You’ll be greeted with a mojito and hugs, everyone is warm and welcoming.
Each day is jam-packed. Most days you will have a morning session of classes and an afternoon session of classes. Our days typically started at 6:15am with yoga, followed by 7:15am breakfast, with classes starting around 8:15 or 8:30am. See photo above for the classroom set-up. Be on time so you don’t miss anything, but remember that everything flows on Bali time (similar to ‘island time’) – so hop in the pool, grab a fresh juice, and soak in the delicious humidity and Bali vibes.
Don’t worry, each day you will have a lunch break (at least an hour) to hop in the pool and do recess. Lounge chairs, pool towels, and floaties make for fun in the sun. Swan races down the infinity pool are a tradition; bring your A game.
In the afternoons, you’ll dive back into content in the classroom. Kiersten and Institute of Code mentors alternate in leading sessions. Kiersten and Lauren (her partner behind the scenes) lead the blogging content, social media strategy, branding and affiliate sessions, a Lightroom tutorial, and more. Oftentimes, the best learning happens over dinner or cocktails by the pool, as questions lead to interesting stories about what life is really like as the Blonde Abroad.
Practical, hands-on sessions help you master your technology (read: turn off the autofocus features on your camera) and photography (rule of thirds, golden hour, and leading lines).If you bring along new technology – go pros, drones, etc – you’ll have the chance to master them with expert assistance. Kiersten and Emile will also help you get comfortable in front of the camera, and think about how you want to appear in your photos in a way that is true to your emerging brand.
Throughout the retreat, you will cover the following topics, as advertised on the Institute of Code website:
- WordPress fundamentals
- WordPress blog design
- SEO Optimization
- Content creation
- Social media strategy
- Instagram strategy
- Using Pinterest to gain targeted followers
- Video as a social platform and business
- Lifestyle and Travel Photography tips & tricks
- Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials
- How to Gain Exposure
All of the above is covered, in addition to affiliate, monetization, and brand strategy. Some of the highest value is provided by discussions with peers and mentors to get clear on your brand, your audience, your mission, your goals, and your niche. This work is invaluable to crafting a clear and compelling message for your audience. Consistency is also key; so this work helps to align and differentiate your social media strategy for each platform.
The whole experience culminates in a round of presentations on the 10th and final day of the retreat. Everyone has the opportunity to share their progress on their website, demonstrate alignment on Instagram and Pinterest (et al), and ask for feedback. It was awesome to see how far everyone had come from day 1 to day 10, and to hear all of our peer’s ideas and recommendations for building audiences and creating partnerships.
No one became instafamous overnight, but everyone walked away with a brand identity, as well as the tools to create captivating content and build a business. Who would have thought all of that could happen in 10 days in Bali?
- Bali Blogging Retreat: The Blonde Abroad x Institute of Code
- My Digs: The Institute of Code Villa in Bali
- The Noms: What I Ate for 10 Days in Bali
- The Funs: Activities & Adventures in Bali
- The Ultimate Bali Packing List
- 12 Girls Convened to Follow Their Dreams (a poem)
- Bali: Know Before You Go
- The Girls: 12 New Bloggers to Know (coming soon!)
Follow @hautescout on Instagram for past & future photos from the retreat!
*Tip:* Look up #tbaretreats on Instagram for pics from all the girls.