BlogHer’12 was this weekend. I got back yesterday evening and I spent last night and this morning processing the whole thing. I learned a lot and came away energized to start some new projects and implement some new ideas. Here are the top five things I learned. I’ll be posting about the keynote speakers later this week.
There’s been a lot of uproar over the “Promote” button and I have to admit, I didn’t really understand it all. I learned that you don’t need to promote your posts, you just need to make sure people engage with them. Your posts will be shown to about 5% of your followers, randomly selected. If no one likes or comments, the post won’t be shown to anyone else. If people do like or comment, the post will be shown to more and more people.
So how do you get people to like or comment? Because let’s be honest, even without the “promote” issue, that’s still what I wanted and struggled with. They gave us some awesome ideas, including: use fill-in-the-blanks, ask people to “Like or Comment”, keep it short, use pictures and video, poll the fans, give simple “Did you know…” facts, and much more. I’ve already started implementing these tips, and I’m excited to keep going. Like my Facebook page for more!!
I would, ideally, like to make some money from blogging/writing. I know plenty of people do, but it often seems to involve reviews/giveaways for giant companies. Companies and brands that I often wouldn’t feel comfortable working with, either because I just don’t use those products so it would feel fake or, more importantly, because I don’t agree with those products and I wouldn’t want my readers to think that I did.
Nevertheless, I went to a panel on working with brands just to see what it’s all about. The biggest thing that everyone on the panel – brands and successful bloggers alike – kept coming back to was authenticity. You shouldn’t work with brands that you don’t believe in. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for your readers, and it’s not good for the brand. Your most important asset as a blogger is the fact that your readers trust you. Above all else, you must maintain that.
So maybe I won’t be working with Huggies or Hostess any time soon. But at least now I know I was right all along. And I do have some ideas for building brand relationships with brands that I trust and am comfortable with.
Some key quotes from the panel:
- “Blogging is media plus personality.”
- “Integrity is more important than everything else.”
- “Stay true to your voice and your values.”
- “I’m never going to be anybody’s shill.”
- “Be forward thinking” – brands are already planning for 2014.
- “Have patience but be resilient.”
The word on the street is that vlogging is the next big thing. If you’re not making and posting original video content… well, you just aren’t hip. So I went to a two-session vlogging boot camp and I learned a hell of a lot. I learned how to make a video, how to edit it, and how to promote it. All on a very basic level, but it’s enough to get me started.
Now, I just need to get started. I hope to post a vlog within the next couple weeks, so expect to really get to meet me soon!
Some key quotes from the panel:
- Always start with strategy. Know what you want to achieve before you even write an outline.
- You don’t need the best equipment, just pay attention to your lighting and sound quality.
- Keep your video short and focus on a single topic.
I went to a panel on how to pitch stories/articles to media outlets. I learned a lot but more importantly I realized that I need to just start doing it. There’s no perfect story or perfect time to start. Now is the time. So just write already.
More practically, I learned that monthlies are planning 5 months in advance, and internet news sites are probably planning a month out but will obviously take something more immediately for a news story that just comes up. The pitch should be short and punchy and you should get to the point within the first three sentences. Why is your piece a good fit for this magazine/website/paper and why are you the person to write it? And finally, be authentic.
One of the biggest, over-arching things I took away from BlogHer’12 was the idea that I should treat my blog/my writing as a business. I should understand what my readers want and give it to them. I should be consistent and integrated and I should respect what I’m doing.
Yes, blogging/writing is my passion and it’s fun and therapeutic and entertaining. But if I want it to be more than that I need to treat it as more than that. I have some big ideas for the future and I hope you stick around with me and watch them unfold!