As promised, my Weekend Wrapup today will focus on the Central Florida Bloggers Conference, and I have to split this up into two (or three) posts. I know many of you are fellow bloggers, and I want to share a lot of what I learned with you, rather than just posting a ton of pictures.
I got home from CFLBlogCon Saturday night with a notebook full of notes and a head full of ideas. The conference itself was great, but it was so fast-paced and full of information that I was a little overwhelmed by sorting through it all. After reading over everything, I have some great ideas for the direction I want this blog to take. But first, here’s the recap if you missed it!
The conference took place at the Orlando Science Center, which was a fabulous idea for a venue. Katy Widrick was in the middle of presenting the keynote speaker when the room suddenly got flash mobbed by Yow Dance.
After their spectacular performance, Lou Mongello spoke about quitting your job and turning your passion (blogging) into a career, which is something I’m sure all of us have dreamed about, and some of you have done.
Takeaways: Quit Your Job by Lou Mongello
- Commit. Treat your passion as your job.
- Put out great content with every post and build relationships with your readers. You never know who is reading/ listening. It could be the person you need to get noticed by to catch a break.
- Do more and be everywhere. Add podcasting, video, etc. Make content in different media and make it easy to find. Find the way people are more comfortable consuming it. More places for your audience to go = more monetization opportunities.
- Convert your audience. Treat fans as friends. This one really struck home with me. I try to build relationships with all my readers because the majority of blogs I read and interact with today are the ones that reached back out to me.
- Monetize through your audience, sponsors, and by selling yourself as an expert on your topic.
What NOT to do: Stop accepting freebies! (This is a topic we heard lots of varying opinions about and I’ll get more into why some speakers think it’s OK and why I do it sometimes.)
- Swag doesn’t pay your bills.
- This is your business, treat it that way.
- Know your value & don’t worry about what others are doing.
- Be realistic about your expectations. It takes time!
After Lou’s inspiring presentation, we were running a little behind schedule and broke into our individual sessions. The first session I attended was How To Build a Media Kit, given by Callie from The Wannabe Athlete. I met Meaghan from Just Me Aghan there, and learned a lot about the proper way to market yourself to brands.
Takeaways: Media Kits by Callie Cowan
- Have a 20-second elevator speech prepared. Who you are, what your blog is about, who your market is, and how you can benefit a company.
- Photo and blog header = instant recognition.
- Companies can check your stats, so be honest about your numbers!
- *Pitch your media kit to companies offering freebies. This was interesting to me because at first it was hard for me to say no to freebies, but I’d like to try this method of sending my media kit back to a company telling them why my opinion/ review/ sponsored post is worth more to them than a freebie.
Afterwards, Meaghan and I headed over to a vlogging session with Scooter Magruder. I think I expected some sort of magic formula for making great videos, but I left just as confused about vlogging as I was before, and a little intimidated. He said it takes him anywhere from 8 hours to a few days to film some of his videos! I don’t know how Cassey does it!
Takeaways: Vlogging by Scooter Magruder
- Vlog for SEO. Your search results are 50x more likely to reach Google if there’s a video.
- If content is king, audio is queen. People will forgive bad lighting and poor quality, but they won’t stick around if they can’t hear you.
- YouTube Creator Playbook: Best practices for vlogging and great resource.
The next session was all about SEO by Tom Jelneck. He debunked the myth that SEO is all about computer nerds and alt tags. In fact, SEO is all about the audience. This session really helped me understand how I can make my site more Google-friendly so it reaches a greater and more relevant audience.
Takeaways: 3 Pillars of SEO by Tom Jelneck
- Clean, concisely coded sites make it easy for Google to crawl.
- Avoid tons of WordPress plugins because the extra code distracts Google.
- Use text over graphics when possible. Keywords are key.
- The longer you blog, the more Google trusts your site.
- Build credibility by blogging frequently.
- Be careful of who you link with. If they spam Google, you could get blacklisted.
- Schedule with an editorial calendar. Deliver the message when it’s most relevant.
- Google loves comments, so encourage discussion and reply back.
- If you’re on Google+, use it for post updates to help Google index your site.
If you’re still reading, thank you! I know it’s a lot of text, but there’s so much to cover and trust me, this is the abridged version. Now onto the fun stuff!
At SEO, I somehow ended up sitting next to Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers. I was so excited because her blog was the first one I ever read, and her being so close to Gainesville and having so much to write about was a huge inspiration for me to start blogging. We chatted after the session and on the way to lunch, and she was so nice! It’s so motivating meeting someone you’ve looked up to and hearing their words of encouragement.
Lunch was served by Bahama Breeze of Orlando and included their Seafood Paella, grilled chicken, salad, spinach dip, and a yummy chocolate dessert.
After lunch, I joined a quick yoga session with Takeyah from Core Connection. At first, I was hesitant about doing exercise after lunch, but her session was so low-key and relaxing. Her voice just radiated positive energy, and she showed us all the right postures to stretch our sore backs and shoulders after sitting all morning.
The yoga session was just what I needed to give me the energy and clarity to tackle the afternoon. Since this is getting a little lengthy, I’ll leave the post-lunch sessions and the after party for tomorrow, and of course, more pictures!
A huge thank you and shoutout to Macbeth Photography for taking some great pictures of the conference (and my hands)!
I know a lot of my readers aren’t bloggers, and some are. If you blog, what’s the most important thing you learned on your blogging journey? If you don’t blog, what’s a question about blogging that you have for me?