Today I'm at the Problogger Conference in Melbourne, Australia where over 300 bloggers have gathered to listen, learn, and share blogging tips.
We'll also be meeting, greeting and taking copious notes.
I'll be sharing my notes here live from the event so, even if you're not here in person, you can still get all the hot blogging tips instantly and share a bit of the excitement.
Let's get to it.
Blog Smart – But from the Heart – Keynote by Darren Rowse
First Darren will talk about blogging from the heart and then blogging smart.
1. Blogging from the heart
A blog that brings passion to their blog is almost enough in some cases.
Share your tears and your laughs. When you're passionate or creative you attract readers like you.
“No tears in the writer no tears in the reader.
No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
One of Darren's most popular posts was about going to see a George Michael concert and noticing a woman taking bad photos. He was more interested in her photography problems than the concert but he learnt from her. She was trying, taking photos and learning from that. She was enjoying herself and having fun.
Stories do something.
This isn't a how to post like the other posts on Digital Photography School (DPS) but it was hugely popular.
Likewise Jon Morrow's story on Problogger and a story about Darren's son.
So tell stories, share your own stories and other people's through case studies or interviews.
Building community counts too. One DPS post just asks a question and people respond to that in the comments.
Making a connection inspires people.
DPS image based posts are powerful. People love the photos and want to find out how to create them too. How can bloggers drive people to the informational posts by inspiring people and making them want to find out more.
People loved two videos Darren created where his kids pop up in the frame. They always remember that because of the personal connection.
Be playful – Another popular post was an April Fool post where Darren said he'd sold his post to Google.
Have fun – Darren wrote a post in the voice of his son. 5 Things you Should Know About My Dad.
Be yourself – “even if you're a dorky ginger like me”! Darren's words, not mine.
Run with your own writing style, whether it's conversational, snarky, witty.
Be useful. Those posts that solve problems are the ones people bookmark and return to.
It's fine to blog for self-expression but if you want your blog to be a business, treat it as one.
Consider your goals.
Darren was motivated by having six months to make it as a full-time blogger or get a job.
He started calling potential advertisers and making calls to land a sponsor.
The opportunities won't come to you be practice and reach out for them.
Write down your goals and commit to them.
Darren created five-year and one year goals. Many he didn't achieve, they were too big but many he did achieve.
Consider what you want to achieve with your blog and dream big.
Think about your readers, think about your branding.
“A brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room.” Consider what you want people to say about you. The more clarity you have about you and your blog the more clarity your readers will have on your brand.
This will also help you shape what you write on your blog.
Ask yourself where your potential readers gather online. This will evolve and change. Move with those potential readers and join their conversation.
How can you hook readers to not just arrive but come back daily.
Hooks are RSS, Twitter, Google+, Email newsletters, Facebook etc.
Create a sequence of emails that encourages readers to take this path:
Visit – Subscribe – Follow – Comment – Join – Buy – Spread the word
Make them offers or suggestions, not hard sell.
Develop a rhythm for posting and the types of posts you'll create.
Experiment, test and tweak constantly with design and editorial content to see what readers respond to.
On DPS every Friday they post a challenge and the readers share their photos.
Think about what you most need to focus on – blogging smart or blogging from the heart.
What can you do to keep improving your blog?
CASE STUDY with Caz and Craig from YTravel Blog
They started their blog to try to become location independent and earn a living at the same time.
Caz started by wanting to write and share a book but her inner demons said she'd fail. So they started trying to earn money instead but eventually came back to the travel book idea, did some research and decided to start their own travel blog in 2010.
Craig wished they'd got a professional blog design from the beginning. Recommends sharing a lot of personal stories and photos.
Remember: overnight success takes years:)
Don't worry about SEO or monetization too soon. “You monetize an audience, not a blog.”
How did they build readers? Guest posting is the best way to attract new readers. You need to do a lot of guest posting and be seen everywhere. Build your brand slowly and be seen as many places as possible.
They are strong on Facebook and focus on asking people to share their tips, photos and have fun. Create interaction.
Craig just returned from a trip to New Zealand with Qantas to support the Australian rugby team during the world cup. (The Australian Wallabies got knocked out by the New Zealand All Blacks last week.)
They were invited to attend a press launch and got the offer following on that.
They are dreaming of being sponsored to attend all the global sporting events. They offer to carry people's brands around the world. Not clear what they as bloggers will get in return though.
They can offer advertising, reviews, sponsored posts. Organize meet ups and expose brands to a wider audience.
They have recently employed Lina @MothersLetters to help them find sponsors.
The problem with these sponsored trips is finding time to get on the Internet and write or update the blog.
Are they concerned about people using their photos or putting up photos of their kids on the internet?
Not really. (I feel the same – Annabel) They do watermark their photos but feel if people use their photos or content there's no use worrying, they have better ways to spend their time.
Having kids has slowed down their travels but not stopped them. As the kids are older they can consider home schooling or just take the kids out of school and do shorter trips.
How to find blogs to guest blog on? Research similar blogs, see if they take guest posts and approach them with ideas. Guest post outside the niche too.
My Sponsor for the Problogger Conference 2011
I'm excited to be sponsored by The Tailor for my trip to the Problogger conference.
The Tailor is a luxury travel company that creates and organizes Australian and African travel experiences for discerning travelers.
Thanks to the Tailor I will be spending four nights in luxury at The Lyall Hotel in Melbourne and touring the city. I'm looking forward to writing about those experiences on my travel blog Get In the Hot Spot.
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