When you attend a blogging conference, you probably have some specific ideas about what you want to learn there. Maybe you want to learn to increase your traffic, improve your blog design, and how to make money from blogging. Well since I attended Bloggy Boot Camp in Dallas this past weekend, I am going to tell you FIVE THINGS that I learned from the SITS girls and other speakers at the conference.
Five Things I Learned at Bloggy Boot Camp (BBC)
1) Treat Your Blog Like A Business
If you are a blogger in Texas, I would be willing to bet that you know Laurie Turk of Tip Junkie. Laurie has achieved the one thing that many of us beginning bloggers dream about, she turned her blog into a full-time money-making business. While many of us start out blogging as a creative outlet or to share funny stories about our children, eventually we have to decide if our time is worth the investment we are making in our blog. One of Laurie’s Top Ten Tips of Success is – if you want to make money from your blog, you have to treat your blog like a business. Do you have goals as a blogger or a vision for your blog? Do you have strategies or an action plan in place to reach those goals? Consider putting together a business plan for your blog so that you can focus on what is important and critical to your blogging success.
2) First Impressions Are Important
When a reader visits your blog for the first time, is your blog making a good first impression? Cynthia from the Nap Warden told us that whatever lies “above the fold” on your blog is the most important. That means that a visitor to your blog should not have to scroll down the page to see navigation buttons or to figure out what your blog is about. Also, easy to read headers, light backgrounds and simple designs are the most appealing. In my opinion, the best investment you can make if you want to take your blog to the next level is to hire an experienced blog/web designer.
4 Real Tip: Below are three contacts that I would recommend for blog design services:
3) Create a 12 month Editorial Calendar
After blogging for over a year now, this is one of the simplest but most effective pieces of advice that I heard at Bloggy Boot Camp. An editorial calendar can keep track of the topics you want to write about and schedule them in advance. You don’t want to wait until the night before school starts to write a post about back to school shopping, it would be more effective to post it a few weeks before the start of a new school year. As a food blogger, I need to start testing Christmas cookie recipes waaaayyy before December rolls around, so I am scheduling cookie baking in early November. Not only will your posts be more timely, but you will have a month full of writing prompts to help you avoid the dreaded writers block. (4 Real Tip: Never write a blog post apologizing for the fact that you have nothing to write about, no one wants to read that!)
4) Form a Tribe
There are thousands of other bloggers out there who may be just like you; those who write for the creative outlet blogging provides, those who want to capture the funny/infuriating/disgusting stories about their children, or those who dream of supporting their family from full-time blogging. Navigating the blogosphere alone can be difficult and you are going to find out that you need some support along the way. A Tribe is a group of 3-6 people, preferably with different skill sets or niches in blogging, who you can connect with as a support group. Even if you do not live in the same area, you can create a private Facebook group where you can post questions, ask for advice or share best practices. This should be a trusted group of women who want to see each other succeed and who allow you to be your true, authentic self.
I am still looking for my Tribe, but I think I found a few potential members at BBC this weekend!
5) Use Social Media to Grow Traffic
Social Media is an important marketing tool to grow traffic to your blog, but don’t let it take over your life. With so many social media options available, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Tiffany Romero from SITS girls suggested devoting one day a week to a different social media outlet. While I check Facebook every day, I may only get on Pinterest or StumbleUpon a once or twice a week. Devoting a day to each of these will allow me to stay involved without interfering with my writing time.
What you are posting on social media is just as important as how often you post. If your Twitter feed only shows links to your recent posts, you are not interacting enough with your peers. Take 5 minutes a day to comment on other’s tweets, share links to other blogs that your read and utilize hashtags (#BBCDAL for Bloggy Boot Camp Dallas).
One last thing that Tiffany reminded us, is to NEVER neglect your family for business. Make sure you are giving your kids & husband the quality time they deserve and taking breaks from the technology that keeps you in touch with your business. Yes, that might mean closing the laptop and turning off the ringer on your phone for a few hours each day. The bottom line is, my blog is important – but not more important than my family.
Don’t miss your chance to attend Bloggy Boot Camp, there are two more dates scheduled for 2012!