(A little blogy Reminder! Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a couple freebies from the FitBloggin’ sponsors on my Recap Part 1 post! Everyone loves a good yoga DVD! You have till Sunday for a chance to win!)
You see, I started blogging after spending months and months reading. Then I finally built up the courage to start my own little blog. I signed up on wordpress, gave it a name, and that was it. Other than that, I had no idea how to “blog.” I tried to take notes at my favorite sessions, luckily there are live blogs for me to reflect back on!
There were a couple sessions that I was particularly intersted in:
Using Social Media to Drive Blog Traffic. If it weren’t for the blog, I probably would have never signed up for Twitter. I didn’t get it, I had no desire to use it, so I just avoided it. But then I learned that Twitter was a good thing to have for my Blog life. So I signed up. Until then, I used facebook, and that was it.
I learned in this session, I should probably be using Pinterest. And that there are a ton of tools out there to boost my mediocer social media savviness, like Pinerly, HootSuite, and TweetDeck. If you don’t have TweetDeck, check into it. Its pretty awesome. I can’t actually have it until I upgrade my operating system, but I saw it on other people’s computers and it helps optimize your tweeting, organizing hashtags and followers, and more.
Mainly I learned to keep content engaging and give readers something they want to follow. Don’t fill up their twitter and news feeds with repeat tweets about why they should read your post. Key points:
Who: Who is your audience? #hashtags
What: What is your message? Description
When: When is the best time to share?
Where: What networks will you share with?
Why: What is your intention? Comments, traffic, more shares, etc.
How: What is the easiest way for you to share your content (Manually, syndicated, both?) (source: Live Blog by Missionmeltdown)
Building Your Brand: At first, I didn’t even know what having a brand meant. I had to ask a super blogger like Carla from MizfitOnline what her brand was before I really understood it. So this session was kind of a must for me.
But also for anyone who wants to drive more traffic, create content with ease and avoid that writers block! For anyone who wants to increase their presence online and give their space a little more meaning, and I sure do. My little running/travel/horse blog has turned into a fitness blog and I need to harness that in my “brand.”
To help me define my brand I need to:
- Know who my target audience is.
- Dive into insights using analytics like Sprout Social – best social media management ever created.
- Create a personification of my brand: favorite color? Age? Develop my “voice” based on my target audience. (For more tips see the Live Blog by Molly)
I am definitely defined by my “Am I There Yet?” persona. I think at least. I would say my brand is all about progress. Making progress on the road, making progress on the scale, and always progressing my marathon time. That’s why I always feel, am I there yet? I would say thats my brand. Now I need to reach my readers in that respect through my blog.
Which brings me to A Better Blog Design on a Budget. I was also excited about this session because I read all these blogs with cool layouts and logos and I want that too. I learned a few things about defining your design.
You don’t want to make your readers think to much, you want your content to be easy and self-explanatory. Speed is essential, you want your readers to know where they can go next, how to find something, and to stay consistent. And lots of ads are bad. Lots of flashing, blinking, side bars are bad. Thank goodness, because I doubt any company would want to advertise on my site anyway.
There are great web developing tools out there and a lot of places to get free themes for your blog, change your colors, and even free hosting. I was pretty intense on this subject because I would really like to bring my site to life. And when it was all said and done, I learned something very valuable.
I learned I can’t do a lot of the things I want because I don’t self-host. Waaah, waaaaah….. Yeah, sad face. I can’t add plug-ins or use premium themes because I don’t self-host. I used WordPress to host my site, which is a free service. Yes, I own my web address aityblog.com, but I don’t pay a web hosting company like GoDaddy or BlueHost a monthly fee for my own space of x-amount of bandwidth. Therefore, I don’t have certain capabilities.
So, no major blog changes until I change servers. You will know when this happens, readers, because more changes will come with it! Stand by!
I also sat in on Alicia of Poise In Parma‘s presentation Taking your Online Community Offline. Not just because I had to Cleveland represent, but because I was curious. I mean, I attended Ohio Blogging Association meet ups, but how did it all get started?
Alicia did excellent on her presentation. And as always she was relatable and engaging. I think that she really inspired others to reach out to bloggers in their neighborhoods and communities and actually meet those that you converse with online everyday. She offered ideas and tools to achieve a good meet up, and that you don’t need an event planner to do it. Just a location and a few easy online tools. Like facebook! Where would we be without facebook?
There were also some Discussions you could attend. They were less lecture like and more of an open forum with 4 microphones around the room as well as a handheld to pass around.
I attended two discussions, first was Self-acceptance and weight loss. This discussion gave everyone an opportunity to talk about how they felt about their body image and how they gained self-acceptance. I was so moved by some of the stories I heard from those around me I got very teary for the start.
Alicia (Cleveland! Woop, woop!) stood up and shared her story on weight loss and how she maintains everyday. She has a great story, you should check her out. I sat and listened not planning on saying much when the question was posed “do you think self-acceptance means you give up?”
The conversation flowed from one point to another I felt I needed to share my thoughts on exercise and running. I tend to unfold close to race day and lose trust in the fact that I can do it. I get close to marathon day and just see failure in my future even though I am more than prepared for it. This conversation lead to some of my insecurities and before I knew it, I was crying like a baby admitting to the entire room that I struggle with self-acceptance and that I am desperately looking for it sometimes. And it felt amazing.
This was a discussion that ended to quickly and a few people even approached me after it was over. I learned I need to trust myself more and to just know that self-acceptance will come. Just like everything else, it takes time.
The second discussion I went to, I went in the middle of since it overlapped with something else. The Business of Blogging sounded like it would be interesting but by the time I had gotten in there, the discussion got out of hand. People were nabbing the mic as others waited in line, it was more of a “hear me!” free-for-all than a discussion like the Self-Acceptance earlier that morning.
When a girl asked what to do if she could not blog for an extended period of time, and if she would lose readers or not, someone said, and I quote, “No one will miss you, it’s not like you are Diane Sawyer, get over yourself.” This was said only moments before another person said, “I hate blogs.” Seriously. She said that.
These are definitely not the only sessions I attended. I attended the How to find success as a freelance writer with Carla from MizfitOnline. I don’t know if I will ever do freelance work for large sites, but I would love to do some guest posts and meet other blogger/readers.
I also sat in on Monitizing through the Pitch with Kelly Olexa, founder of #FitFluential. Honestly, the only thing I remember about her presentation was that she was absolutely hysterical. She talked about how to pitch and how not to. What to ask for and what not to ask for, and provided examples of the asinine requests and pitches she received. I laughed the entire time. If you get to attend any speaking engagements where she is presenting, go. No joke.
It was a weekend of serious learning. We will talk about all my key takeaways in Recap Part 3. Oh yeah, 3 parts and the final one is the best!
Are you interested in blog design or driving traffic using SEO? Already in-tune with you analytics? What session would you have liked to attend?