This weekend I went to a blog conference here in San Diego. I know that a number of you (my father-in-law in particular) are scratching your heads going, “What the heck is a blog conference?” One of the sponsors from UPS even admitted that he wasn't sure what he signed on for with the blog conference. “I was half expecting to find a bunch of dudes playing Dungeons and Dragons,” he confessed. Instead, he found 125 women (and the occasional very brave man) throwing around terms like SEO, readership and brand loyalty.
This conference was Bloggy Boot Camp. It's one of the more intimate blog conferences, bringing together members of the online community to connect in real life and hear from some of the best and brightest bloggers, writers, PR experts and business leaders. In eight quick hours, attendees get to learn about new technologies and gather tips from as many as a dozen expert speakers. This weekend's conference covered everything from building site traffic to vlogging and branding. I'm not about to rehash the whole day in a couple paragraphs, but here were the biggest takeaways I got for my blog in particular:
Five Blog Conference Takeaways
1) Make content accessible. Readers visit your site because they want to hear what you have to say. Don't detract from your message with a flashing sidebar or a page that takes forever to load. My readers will probably notice that I've changed the homepage since last week. This was a direct response to some tips I heard at the blog conference. By putting full posts instead of lots of content previews on the home page, it's easier for you all to get right into reading the latest stuff (and the site loads a lot faster now). Next, I hope to create a “Best Of” section on my sidebar so new readers have an easy place to catch up on some highlights.
2) Maintain a consistent brand. It's important for bloggers to know exactly what sets them apart and to celebrate their unique qualities. I think what sets me apart is my ability to simplify things that can seem overwhelming. I personally started blogging after settling down out of college and quickly realizing that I was utterly clueless about how to cook, clean and function in the real world. The blog has been my way to document all the “how tos” along the way in a humorous and relatable manner. I'd really like to stay true to those roots.
3) Learn to photograph. Everyone likes to look at pretty pictures.
4) Create a media kit. Blogs are being taken seriously by PR professionals and marketing firms, who often reach out with great opportunities for bloggers and their readers. It's important to make information accessible to companies you may want to work with. This is particularly true for me, not only as a blogger but as a marketing consultant and freelance writer. More and more I find my online life overlapping with my offline career, and employers now view the blog as an important part of my portfolio.
5) Interact. Other bloggers are a great resource and an awesome support group. Get out there and join the club. Tweet. Facebook. Vlog. Join blog network groups. And for goodness sake, if someone takes the time to comment on your site, respond to them…even if it takes a long time to get around to it.
My next blog conference is BlogHer coming up in August. I look forward to hearing even more great tips and seeing some familiar faces at the world's largest blog conference for women in social media.