I didn’t initially plan on writing a post about my attendance at Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012. I knew a lot of other people would and I just thought I’d be entering a rather crowded space with yet another Blogopolis post. Then I read the post from Cathy of The Camera Chronicles and decided it was worth the effort, if only in my own mind, to pull together the gems I gleaned from the day from my first blogging conference.
1. Social Media Tools and Blog Design
I’m a bit of a geek. I like the techie side of blogging. It suits the part of me that likes to analyse things into their components and assess how best to put or keep them together. It was no surprise to me that I enjoyed learning about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Google Analytics, and using additional social media tools to enhance my blogging (besides Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), such as Pinterest, Youtube and podcasting.
I’ve also started to consider whether it’s time to self-host. Thus far, I’ve kept my blog fairly basic drawing on my resources, but self-hosting would mean a design overhaul and a financial investment.
2. SEO – Serving the Answers People Want
I’ve started double checking my post titles in Google to see how “searchable” they are. (I call this a “DIY version of SEO” since I can’t access the SEO plugins without being self-hosted.) If I type in a search term, are the resultant websites going to be the type of sites I want my post to be associated with? Do I title my post, “Secrets Revealed” if I am talking about tips for blogging? “Secrets Revealed” brings me to a plethora of hits but none about blogging. As Jeff Tan, Digital Strategy Director at Initiative Melbourne, said in the SEO session, “people search for answers not the latest headlines”. It would be better if I simply titled my post, “Tips about Blogging.” Which leads me onto the next gem I learnt in the SEO session.
3. Stats are not just about amassing followers but can help to craft post titles and content
It’s been a long time since I regularly checked my statistics. The main reason was that I didn’t want to be overtaken by an obsession for numbers and followers. Growing my community has always been a desire (that’s one of the main reasons I started blogging) but I’ve always been a little scared about chasing a large blog following. The larger the following, the more responsibility I feel. A tweet from Eden Riley of Edenland last November sums it up best for me:
“Before you ask for more followers for your blog/twitter/facebook…
maybe you should ask yourself where you are leading them.”
I learnt at Blogopolis, however, that stats can be used for more than just obsessing over my page views and number of comments. The information about referrals, search engine terms, my top posts and shares, and where shares are referred to, can be invaluable in understanding where people learn about my blog and also what they come to read from me. This can give me ideas for content but also let me know where I can engage most with my community. For example, today I noted that my posts are three times more likely to be shared on Facebook than Twitter, which brings me to the next gem.
4. It’s about the readers. Always.
“Readers come first. The readers are the blog. Without them the blog is just an online diary.”
– Mrs Woog of Woogsworld
What keeps my blog alive is the engagement I have with my readers. This little community, many of whom are repeat visitors, is my little tribe, my online village. I feel the richer for knowing them. I have been inspired by many of them. I have learnt from many of them. I have been challenged by many of them. I have now even met some in person and proudly call them friends. They are more than just a statistic. As much as I have gained from them, I want to give back and I try my best to do so.
There is even a human element in the technical. In the masterclass about SEO and Google Analytics, I learnt that Google looks at our links to other blogs and equates this as a sign of trust, adding value to our community connections and ranking. The same is interpreted from our use of social media because we are given credibility from our audience reach.
5. Stay true to myself
Staying true to myself is my final gem.
When I started blogging, I became caught up in the wave of what I thought was required to get noticed, to build a following, to make connections. It didn’t take long before I felt I was in a rudderless ship on a fast-flowing river and losing control. At one stage, I was spending up to 30 hours a week on social media, posting three times a week on my blog, surfing on Facebook, lurking and chatting on Twitter, reading and commenting on a plethora of blogs. Even though I was on maternity leave, I became concerned about my time investment. I had decided not to monetise my blog (at least not for now), yet I was almost “working” a full-time job and without any remuneration. A mini-break last October was the start of change for me.
Once 2012 ticked over, I made the choice to cut back my time on social media. I resisted the FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) that was biting at my heels and made the decision to “take the helm of my ship” instead of just going with the flow. I realigned my priorities, put family and home first, and relegated blogging to the backseat.
Cutting back does not mean I am less dedicated to my blog and my community. On the contrary. I’m just more measured and purposeful in what I do. I try to post at least once a week, but mostly when inspired to, blogging organically.
In being purposeful, I’ve thought quite a bit about my voice. This statement from Phoebe of Lady Melbourne reinforced the value I have placed on thinking about my voice and how this feeds into a big picture for my blog.
“What is your point of difference? What’s different about your voice?
The personal blogger niche is very crowded.”
In building a blog, I can apply numerous “rules” or guidelines, but at the end of the day, it matters most that I blog according to my goals, purpose and time commitment, and stick to that. I can always learn from other bloggers, but I can’t allow myself to get swayed by anyone else’s journey. I have my own to road to travel.
Did you attend Blogopolis? If so, what did you learn? If not, was there something you’ve learnt from reading about others who did?
I’m linking with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.
Linking with With Some Grace for FlogYoBlogFriday (FYBF).