Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hints and tips from Blogopolis 2012

When I first started my blog back in February 2007 (which if you do your maths...this makes me a blogging senior citizen), I had no idea what I was doing and even less of an idea about the potential of blogging! Five years on, and I love that blogging allows me to tell my stories, to meet new people (both irl and online), and to explore the opportunities presented me. Blogging is a never-ending learning process, and if you're an Australian blogger, Blogopolis is THE conference to attend.

Last Saturday, before the sun was even up, my Wollongong blogging buddies; Anorina (Samelia's Mum) and Eleise (What's on in Wollongong), and I went on a road trip up to Sydney for a fun day of networking and learning.  First on the agenda...catching up with online friends! Finally getting to hug Katrina (The Organised Housewife) in person, and sharing a cuppa, courtesy of sponsor Twinnings...vintage cups and saucers and all...very fancy. So silly that I travel to Sydney to catch up with Tina (tinagraydotme) when we live in neighbouring suburbs! lol.
Now onto the learning. I decided to go old school and take notes with good ol' pen and paper. For some reason, when I actually write something down, it seems to stick in my brain easier.  Blogopolis was broken up into a number of classes that were really informative and entertaining. Here's a little wrap up on each of the sessions I attended...

1. Idea Sourcing and Content Creation
Imogen Lamport - Inside Out Style blog

This was a great session! How often do you suffer from bloggers block? Imogen shared great tips for generating ideas for your blog, such as using the questions and comments that are left on your blog and facebook page; using the keywords people use to search your blog; referring to the calendar and blogging about popular holidays such as Christmas, school holidays, seasons etc; posting questions of facebook/twitter or conducting a poll; and guest bloggers. My favourite tip for the day was referring to magazine headlines and adapting them to your own blog, such as:

- The six best.......
- What's cool now.......
- How to thrive on.......
- I can't stand......
- The 7 Habits of......
- Have you ever....... etc

2. Blog Design 101
Katrina Chambers - Katrina from The Block

I'll admit it...I'm a fan of Katrina's, both from her appearances on The Block, and for her digital design.  This was a really timely session for me, because my blog is currently being redesigned by a designer, and I was able to ask some questions from a designers point of view. I've been worried that I've been annoying my designer by asking her to change things that weren't quite right. I know it will be beautiful in the end, but when you're spending money on something, you want to be happy.  I've already put some things into practice, such as utilising the footer area of my blog, removing my stats counter, adding a search button, and talking to my'll have to watch this space! Katrina has written a blog post about this session, which you can read here.

3. The Ins and Outs of a Media Kit
Phoebe Montague - Lady Melbourne

Another great session! I've been very slack putting my media kit together. I've been holding off until my new blog design is live, so that they'll have the same style. I have already read Tina Gray's media kit e-book, and Phoebe's session confirmed it for me, whilst adding a different perspective. I've come away with some great ideas for presenting the information in my media kit, and I can't wait to put it into print!

4. Opportunities Gained Through Blogging
Nikki Parkinson - Styling You
Hayley Hughes - Fashion Hayley
Christie Burnett - Childhood101
Larry Heath - The AU Review

Reading back through my notes, I notice I didn't write down exactly what the panel were doing, but more documenting ideas for creating opportunities for my blog. Thinking about such things as what image do I want to portray, that it's okay to say no to opportunities that are presented to me, and whether or not I need to revisit old content, and edit or delete it. I thought this session would be more about how to open up opportunities, but it was more about the opportunities that the panel had been afforded. This was probably my least favourite session of the day, but I still managed to take something away from it that I could apply.

5. Finding your own Voice and Staying Relevant
Penny Cai - Jeroxie
Eden Riley - Edenland
Zoey Martin - Good Googs
Phoebe Montague - Lady Melbourne
Moderated by Kim Berry - All Consuming

This is always a difficult topic, and who better to discuss it than Eden Riley. Her blog screams of her voice and is always inspiring. The way she speaks is how she writes and I admire her for that. The key messages were to be true to yourself, to do what you love and to be interested in it. Passion is the basis of any good blog. Finding my voice has been a little bit of a struggle, but I think I'm getting there...

6. Utilising Different Platforms to Optimise Your Blog and Traffic
Christina Butcher - Hair Romance on Pinterest
Caz Makepeace - yTravelBlog on Podcasts
Janice Wong - Chaigyaru on Youtube.

This was another really interesting session. First up, Pinterest. I had never really considered using pinterest to grow and promote my blog, and Christina discussed a number of ways that you can do this, such as creating a visual archive of your blog, sharing knowledge and inspiration, bookmarking blogs and daily reads, collaborating with others, and running competitions via pinterest.  The main pieces of information I want to share is to ALWAYS pin from the original source. When doing so, do just pin the generic web on the actual blog post, then pin. This will enable you to return to the exact pin, and not have to trawl through the whole blog trying to find it again. Also, if you don't want images pinned for your blog, you can install the "do not pin" code into your blog's html. Personally, I don't mind if someone pins from long as it's credited properly.

Next, podcasts. To be honest, I've never listened to a podcast and I'm not sure how relevant it is to my blog...but I'm open to it in the future! I really don't know if I'd have enough to say.  I guess I could wait until the next time I have the sexy flu voice, and then narrate 50 Shades of Grey. lol.

Lastly, Youtube.  Janice was so entertaining and fresh, and it made me want to start recording my own videos to share.  This is definitely something I want to try! I have a few craft projects coming up that will definitely need a little more explanation than just step by step photos. this space!

7. The Australian Blogosphere Panel
David Krupp - Nuffnang
Mrs Woog - Woogs World
Sarah - A Beach Cottage
Trevor Young  - PR Warrior

The last session of the day...and by this time, I was really really tired! The Australian blogosphere is growing daily, and as competition grows, great content will become more and more important. Content is king! In the last 12 months, I've seen some great opportunities for bloggers, and brands are becoming more aware that bloggers are influential and important to their media campaigns. I've said it before, and I'll say it this space!

This year's Blogopolis was excellent, and I will definitely be going again next year. Who's with me?

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