Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I Learned At Bloggy Boot Camp Minneapolis

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of attending the SITS Girls' Bloggy Boot Camp in Minneapolis.   (Yes, Minneapolis is over 1,000 miles away from NC.  Long story.)  It was my first blog conference ever and I really had no idea what to expect.  I was hoping for some networking and some good information.  I definitely got all that and much more!!

The networking was fabulous.  I met many bloggers from many different niches.  Some of them, I had never heard of.  Some of them I had heard of, but wasn't too familiar with them.  A couple were people I consider "blog friends" but had never met in real life.  I met Sarah Ruddell Beach from Left Brain Buddha.  I also met a newer blog friend, Jodi Flaherty, of The Noise of Boys.  It was so wonderful to talk with others about Facebook stats, commenting platforms, meme generators, and other "bloggy" stuff and know that they understood! :-)

Aside from the networking, there was what I can only describe as a plethora of information.  In my own effort to sift through the overabundance of data, I tried to pinpoint the top ten things that I could use.  I quickly realized there was no way I could narrow it down to ten, but I have managed to filter out my top fifteen.  I assure you this is only scratching the surface, though.  Hopefully, these are tips that will help others as well.

(For my loyal friends and family who read, most of this probably won't make much sense to you.  For that, I'm sorry!  Don't leave, though!  Skip to the bottom and read the quotes!)

  1. Video is the next big thing in blogging.  YouTube (which is owned by Google) is the second largest search engine.  Only Google, itself, gets more hits per day.  If you want to take your blog to "the next level," especially working with brands, then you need to get comfortable with video. (For the record, I'm NOT comfortable with video!)
  2. Instagram has 130 million users and those users post 40 million photos per day.  It is a great tool to enhance your social media presence.  However, you cannot include a clickable link to your blog, so it is important to include your url in your profile.
  3. Pinterest is now providing more referral traffic than any other social media outlet.  If you are using Pinterest, make sure you become a business and verify your account!  (Something that is now on my "to do" list.)
  4. When using Pinterest, make sure you are clicking all the way through to the original post.  Otherwise, the original blogger/poster is not getting the credit they deserve.
  5. Pinterest is a great tool to create some portfolio boards.  For example, you can pin all of YOUR recipes posts to one board.  You have an automatic "portfolio" to share.
  6. Google+ is a great social media tool that, basically, helps to make Google like you better.  However, you should apply for authorship (https://plus.google.com/authorship) - also something on my to do list.  (When you do a Google search, you know how some results have that little thumbnail picture of the person??  That person has applied for authorship which is why their picture pops up.)
  7. Your Google+ cover is just as important as your FB cover and a great way to grab readers' attention.  Create a cover using something like Picmonkey and include your url.  (Google+ covers are 2120x1192 pixels.)
  8. Protect you site.  Whatever your platform, take measure to back up and protect your site.  If you are ever hacked, you will be so thankful you did this.
  9. Get your stuff out there, but do not assume that getting a post on a big site (HuffPost, Scary Mommy, etc.) will give you instant fame and fortune.  Chances are it won't.  (I learned this a while back, but was glad to have others validate ti and realize it wasn't just me!)
  10. Facebook penalizes you for posting more that one link a day.  A good strategy around this, include the link to your post in the status once.  Then, post again later, including the link in the first comment instead.
  11. Having a regular writing practice is very important.  There is something to be said for writing "when the idea hits," but if you really want to improve your writing, you need regular practice (just like sports.)
  12. You don't have to (an probably can't) SEO (Search Engine Optimize) every single post you write.  Pick and choose the ones you really want to get the exposure.
  13. With regard to SEO, the title and the first 100 words are extremely important and should contain 3-5 keywords.
  14. Use Facebook Analytics/Insights to optimize your FB posting.  Insights will tell you when readers are interacting with your posts and which types of posts are getting the biggest responses.
  15. Picmonkey is an awesome tool for creating memes and making post pinnable.  But, save your creations as a .png file - NOT a jpeg.  PNG files will be clearer when transferred.
What to you think??  Are you doing these things??  Pretty mush all of them have been added to my now super long to-do list.  I am trying to pace myself and get them done one at a time!

Finally, here are a few quotes from the conference that were really awesome and inspiring.  I will also say that, if you ever have a chance to go to a Bloggy Boot Camp, you should.  It was definitely worth the time and money!

"What is your ending?"
"Live your life as the woman you want your daughter to become."
"Surround yourself with people who are as excited for your success as you are."
"Stop comparing your outsides to other people's insides."


The Dose of Reality said...

LOVE IT! Ashley and I went to Bloggy Boot Camp Charlotte earlier this year and we took away SO much wonderful information (and met and made so many friends). I didn't know that about the YouTube statistics. I am not at ALL comfortable with video! GAH! I'm not surprised to find that out about Pinterest and the referrals. On many days it is our number one referral source!! --Lisa

Martha said...

Great advice - maybe you should attend all blog conferences from now on and report back to us all! :)

Janine Huldie said...

Seriously great tips here and must admit I don't use Instagram as much as I should and I love PicMonkey (It is my go-to for photos now!).

Tamara Bowman said...

I really wish I could have gone. Next time. I would love to meet Jodi from The Noise of Boys too! I think I utilize some more than others. It's just a time crunch, really. I have to pick and choose. I'm getting better with twitter and Pinterest, but still struggling with Google+ and Instagram.

Robbie K said...

Thanks for sharing what you learned. I am NOT comfortable doing videos and I find vlogs very annoying--but based on the statistics it seems I am in the minority.

MamaRabia said...

These are some great tips! I am going to Pin this to read later, because if I add them to my to do list now I will have a panic attack!!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I m absolutely not comfortable doing videos either and have never posted a vlog. Apparently, though, we are going to have to jump in eventually!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Me either, Dana! I have an Instagram account and have taken about 3 pictures on it. I don't think that one is as important because it doesn't link directly to your site like the other do. There's only so much time in a day anyway!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Trust me, I came back from the conference completely overwhelmed and still haven't done many of these myself!

Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha said...

Great summary, Lisa! I've found since BlogHer that blogging and social media are so much more fun when you have met many of your bloggy friends! My head is just spinning from the conference with so many things on my to do list. Pinterest will be my big project this weekend!

Nina Badzin said...

You took such good notes! I'm going to refer back to this post to make sure I do the things I told myself I WOULD do after the conference. So great to meet you by the way!

Mo at Mocadeaux said...

Excellent job summarizing the high points. I've go so many things on my to do list, I will need to break it down into manageable tasks. I love that you included some of the quotes. I loved the Power Down session. It was the best affirming pep talk ever!

Michelle Nahom said...

Excellent tips! There is always something to improve on, isn't there?!!

Jodi @the noise of boys said...

Fantastic breakdown! I SO wish we could have had more time together! It was such a great experience to meet you (and your hubby briefly) in person!

Jodi @the noise of boys said...

Tamara, I have no doubt we will definitely meet in the future, too! :-) Can't wait!

Jodi @the noise of boys said...

There was a total mix in the room! Authors, foodies, crafters, newbies, part-time, full-time.... I never once sat with someone who was like me- and I even sat at the wrong lunch table. LOL

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