Teachings of BlogHer ’12
Have you seen my other recaps of my weekend in NYC for BlogHer 2012? You can catch up by reading the following posts:
I worked out, ate, and tried/received some pretty sweet products while away last weekend for the BlogHer conference. And while those are all activities I love to do, the information I knew I’d receive was the reason I signed up the moment tickets when on sale in the first place. As soon as the BlogHer webpage had an agenda published, I was there, taking notes on which sessions I wanted to attend…and realizing I’d have some tough choices to make!
Saturday’s first session Leveraging Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram was really helpful in regards to the first two social media channels and pretty basic (for me) in regards to Instagram. The only thing new I learned about Instagram was how to change contrast, remove frames, and blur photos (sorry to all you Insta-experts but I didn’t know where those buttons were!), but I got important take-aways regarding Pinterest and Google+.
I honestly only got my Pinterest account after hearing from Kelly Olexa (Fitfluential CEO) and other Ambassadors how essential having one was to both branding opportunities and building a blog. I was never interested in Pinterest in the first place and still have trouble finding motivation to put time into my it. What’s great about BlogHer is the tips not only give the knowledge I need, but the motivation required to take that knowledge and put it into action:
- You don’t need a mass amount of followers to make Pinterest work for you. Find your niche audience, and pin content that niche will enjoy. If you’re one of the few pinning content a small audience wants, they will flock to you. Don’t “follow all” for others either. Just choose a few of their boards that interest you most.
- Think of Pinterest as a place for visual tweets. Utilize the hashtags (but less can be more, don’t use all 500 characters) and make it easy for people to pin your material with “Pin It” embedded buttons. But don’t tweet everything you pin (obnoxious).
- Pins should be visual, not valuable. Put the value on your site…that way followers see the pin, and are tempted to go there! Make sure at least a couple of your board’s are related to your blog’s content, but beyond that it’s good to pin other content – shows followers the “real you”.
- When you re-pin, check to make sure the ORIGINAL content source is where the pin links to. If it’s not, find the original content and pin that. Also, be sure to add in your own description, don’t just use the one that “comes with” the re-pin.
- Make your images watermarked (I don’t like this…I don’t plan to do it #sorrynotsorry), a max of 600 pixels wide (and square images are preferred to rectangles), and choose a “catchy” image that represents a board’s content as board cover.
- Don’t just pin your own content – repin others’ and comment, too. Repins and likes build the community you’re aiming for.
I’m not even linking you all to my Google+ page because it’s essentially just…nothing. This session gave me the tools I need to implement to make my page great. And the overarching message here was that my blog NEEDS a Google+ page and it needs to be great, because no one likes Google more than Google. The better a blogger is at using Google+ to its full potential, the more Google will embrace your blog and it’ll show up in searches more often. Your author rank will shoot through the roof if your Google+ profile has these three fields filled out: Other Profiles, Contributor To, and Links. Google+ should be looked at as a digital publishing platform extension for your blog, and if you post publicly (beyond just your circles), your blog’s content gets huge exposure. I learned that I need to:
- Follow people producing content similar to mine, add them to circles, and +1 their content. Just like Pinterest, it has to be a built community.
- Share your content – one share per blog post is a good rule.
Saturday’s How to Price and Value Your Services panel called to me immediately. Like Kelly Olexa always tells us – never be afraid to show brands you KNOW your worth. I would like to know it…I know I’m worth something, but how much? How can I convince people my blog can be my business if I don’t know exactly what I’m talking about, or what I’m selling? I got so much confidence and inspiration out of this panel. I got that final CLICK in my brain that said, “Caitlin, get off your ass, GET SELF-HOSTED.” So I’ve already gotten that ball rolling. I hope to tell you all that I’ve become self-hosted a max of two months from now. That’s the deadline I’m setting for myself.
I discovered tools that will help me build my media kit, like TweetReach and HashTracking. The Google Analytics I will be able to use once self-hosted are going to be HUGE in terms of providing quantifiable data – right now I’m short on that, and in marketing and advertising, it’s all about the numbers. The panel taught us that marketing and advertising departments are more cut-and-dry to work with – if they pay you for your services, you better give them that ROI. PR departments are a bit fuzzier – they can’t pay you, but the long-term relationship developed between PR department and blogger often leads to a paying relationship between advertising department and blogger. The biggest message from one panelist that stood out to me was her quote “I never write for free”. What?! I do that every day. She also said “I will not do a post on your press release.” What?! I’ve done that before! The way I look at it, no relationship is “not worth my time” if it could potentially lead to great opportunity down the road. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it – but I think usually, I hold back in asking for what I think know I deserve because I’m scared, not because I think writing for free is fun. The confidence I got out of this session to put myself out is truly priceless and I can’t wait to implement it into my action plan.
Though it wasn’t a panel session, the keynote with Katie Couric during Saturday’s lunch was captivating – not just because of what Katie had to say, but because of the unity and energy I felt with the other conference attendees as we banded together in admiration of the same woman. I had forgotten what Katie has been through with her husband’s death from cancer and appreciate that she is starting a new daytime talk show that will give her the freedom she wants to cover a wider range of news – both the “fluff” and the “hard stuff”. After all the hard work she’s put into the news industry, she deserves to be doing what she wants!
I was grateful to have Fitfluential Ambassadors to attend sessions and eat lunch with during the conference, especially since I’d made the trip to New York by myself!
Oh yeah…I went to NYC for this conference by myself. To me, the biggest takeaways I got from BlogHer ’12 are that I decided to go and registered on my own. I found a room to stay in with three other women I didn’t know. I wanted to learn how to be a better blogger and meet other women who love what I love so badly, that I didn’t even hesitate to get on the train Thursday afternoon by myself and chug (come on, had to use that verb) toward the Big Apple.
Yes, I was scared to be away from my “usual” eats that are comfortable to me mentally. Yes, I was concerned to have no high-intensity cardio on my agenda. And yes, I did anticipate being up past 11pm most nights.
But my appreciation for the opportunity available to me was stronger than my fear and anxiety. Not once before leaving did I consider backing out. Not once while in the city did I think I shouldn’t have come. Not once on the train ride home did I listen to my mind when a little voice said, “It wasn’t worth it to come on this trip. You should feel guilty.” Instead I spoke back, and I said, “You are amazing. You went to New York City, to a conference mostly of people you don’t know, by yourself. You pushed your comfort zone’s limits because doing so would make you happy.”
As you can tell from this wildly wordy (hehe) post, I absorbed a crapload (to put it bluntly) of information at BlogHer. But the most valuable lesson I learned comes down to four words: “I can do it.”
Have you ever attended an informative conference? Did you see any interesting speakers there?
Do you have any more tips for me on any of the topics I covered here?
Have you ever taken a trip alone? Were you nervous to do so?