Being neither a Mum nor an American, I spent my first year of blogging watching enviously as other women trooped off to blogging conferences and the like, tweeted about it for weeks before and and then wrote great posts afterwards on what a fabulous time they’d had and how all the secrets of blogging had been unlocked for them in a single day.
And about how lovely the cake was.
There are a couple of events that are open to a wider audience this year, and the first was in Birmingham yesterday.
These are my 10 Things I Learned at BlogCamp.
1 – Be the most You that you can be. We need to have strong voices and develop our own style and tone, right down to key words and phrases. Writing the way we speak is a great way to start. The early part of blogging (when very few people are reading) is a great time to experiment with different styles.
Look at dooce.com and the Waterstones Oxford Street twitter feed for great examples.
2 – Have a view. Don’t do ‘opinion’ pieces that cover off all the sides of the argument; express personal thoughts and encourage people to debate with us. Much better to give that debate a strong starting point and let people react.
3 – Snarking about things that are really current, from current tabloid news and what brands like Starbucks or Sainsburys are doing this week, through to what’s happening on the tv screen right now, is a great way to engage with people and have fun. Snarking about real people (even if they’re celebs) or about things you’re really bothered about, is where it’s more likely to get upsetting and difficult to take – so those of us who are on the delicate side need to steer away from that stuff. And snarking isn’t the same as moaning.
4 – Creating e-courses about creativity and personal growth are lots of work to set up, but a great way to connect people (and a fairly strong source of income if done well as an offshoot of a successful blog).
5 – Great e-courses use a mix of video, written pieces, slideshows, community support and prompts / ‘homework’. Leading real-life training sessions is a great way to develop some teaching skills.
See Camtasia software for recording the computer screen and talking through instructions at the same time.
6 – Google is totally fine with websites linking to each other; that’s how the web works. Google’s also fine with links being sold, but they must be set to ‘nofollow’. This is clear in Google’s terms and conditions, and it’s a big risk for anyone who wants google to recognise and rank their site. (Linking anywhere shares a bit of our Google pagerank with wherever we’re linking to. Adding nofollow stops that happening).
7 – PRs building brand awareness are likely to be totally fine with nofollow. SEO people are providing keywords and pages to link to; they’re less likely to want nofollow links (and there will always be new bloggers who are willing to give follow links in return for payment).
8 – Blogs need to be really simple for people to find, follow and share. Marketing has to be part of what any blogger does, so going along to relevant events, promoting the blog wherever possible and making sure that it’s easy to navigate are important. If we’re wanting contact from PR people, we need to make it simple for them to find our email and get in touch.
9 – Lots of us are quite sniffy about using press releases to inspire content because we don’t want to be doing that stuff for free. To bloggers from journalism backgrounds in traditional media, it’s really normal to take content ideas from a range of sources – and press releases can be a great part of that.
10 – PR people have all sorts of spooky ways of analysing who’s being inflential online, what their followers are interested in and who’s talking about the things that relate to their product. They’re fine with being approached by bloggers (although not just for samples and free stuff), and are open to talking about new ways to present content about their products.
I have an eleventh point as well, which I guess would only apply to a few people. Mike was a BlogCamp participant too (he’s been doing a photo-blog this year, and he’s come away with loads of ideas). It was great to have someone to be with, but that was a bit too safe and I didn’t throw myself into mixing with other people. I’m kicking myself about that now, as I know that part of the point is to get involved in the community of bloggers. I think that’s what we call in youth work my “better for next time”.
The event was great. The points above were a struggle to cut down to 10. I’m stupidly grateful for having had the chance to be among fellow bloggers for a day. Thanks to Sally and her team for putting it all together.