Blogging Lessons from Blogopolis

Blogging-Lessons

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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.

“Traffic is something passing by, it is audience you want to build. They keep coming back.”
– Caz Makepeace of Mojito Mother and yTravelblog

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?

Related Posts

The Boggling World of Blogging

Things I know – Blogging Mini-Breaks

Things I Know – After 100 Blog Posts

You have a voice, “Use your words”

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I’m linking with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.

AND

Linking with With Some Grace for FlogYoBlogFriday (FYBF).

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37 thoughts on “Blogging Lessons from Blogopolis

    • I remember the first time I heard the term “FOMO”, I found myself nodding vigorously. I had push that monkey off my back! Glad you enjoyed the post, Maria.

  1. Thanks for writing all these V. I would have loved to attend as well and it seems such a great learning experience.

    I’ve got Google Analytics too but hardly go in to check on anything unless companies ask for stats. It’s a great idea to check and really see why people come in to read my blog.

  2. Something I really liked when reading about what people were posting about Blogpolis was that small bloggers are never “just” anything (from Zoey I think). There are so many bloggers out there that truly we can feel so small and lost. But no matter how small, we still mean something to somebody and can make a difference.

    • Thanks, so much Robyn! I guess I was meant to share after all. My take on what I learnt is personal to me but I think it’s fascinating what others also take away from the same sessions. For me, it just reinforces we need to blog in the way that suits us best because we are all so different.

  3. i really liked this – it was great to have everything in summary point, partic about the stats etc… it can be hard to look at them and get caught up by them and the numbers etc, but i liked how you pointed out the other side of that. xx

    • Thanks for dropping by, Lyndal. Glad to have been enlightening. I can totally look at stats differently now. It’s made them seem less like a “dirty word” to me! 😉

  4. This post was very interesting but one thing completey took me by suprise. This ‘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?’ Why did I never consider that before. I thought I knew a heap about SEO. I’m shocked. I’ll be paying closer attention to this question when I write my post for now of. That was a informational gem!

    • Glad to have shed some enlightenment on the SEO stuff, Penny! Doing that “DIY SEO” activity just came to me as he was speaking and explaining what the plugins do. It is more time-consuming than I assume a plugin would be but it has already been such an interesting exercise in how I craft my post titles! It was also lovely Grace @ With Some Grace, that helped me feel it worthwhile bothering with SEO when she said it’s made a huge difference with hits. People are finding their answers! 🙂

  5. Blogopolis was my first blogging conference and I while it was really useful and loads of fun I found the information overload totally overwhelming. I’m SO grateful for all the post-conference debrief posts! They’ve helped me remember some really good points!! 🙂

    • I agree. The debriefs have been really helpful, Cathy. There is always so much out there it can totally be overwhelming. This post might be of interest on that point if you haven’t already read it. It’s by Kelly Exeter titled “How to avoid the post-conference blues.” (http://ozbloghosting.com.au/avoiding-post-conference-blues/)

      I wondered why I didn’t feel overwhelmed but I think my point 5 in the post answers that – I’d already been moderating what was best for me in the world of social media so I think that’s helped temper my expectations both during and after the conference. Still, I do wish I had more time to do so much more!

  6. You’ve chosen excellent quotes from Eden, Mrs Woog, Caz and Phoebe. I think I might print them all out and stick them to the wall in front of me, along with your final paragraph. A great, succinct post with much food for thought – I’m glad you decided to write it.

    • I’m glad the post was helpful for you Rachel. I do love those quotes a lot. I actually had to spend some time searching for Eden’s quote so I can always refer back to my post now to remember them!

    • There was a lot, Jess, but all really useful. SEO is something I’ve wanted to learn for a while since I first heard the term bandied about. I just never had the patience to research it on my own. That presentation was supposed to made available to everyone after the conference but I haven’t found it yet. I’ll let you know if I do.

  7. Thank you for putting this together, Veronica. I’m hoping to get to Blogopolis next year and would imagine the amount of information is overwhelming and will take some time to digest. These recaps from everyone are really helpful.

    • I’m glad I put it together for myself too, Jayne. There is a lot to soak up but I suppose how overwhelmed one gets might depend on what pace you want to implement it all. I’m on tortoise pace right now, so it’s okay. 😉

  8. 2 of my favourite presentations would’ve been Nicole Avery’s and Jeff Tan’s. I think with the SEO stuff I want to keep figuring it out and applying it until it becomes second nature to me. It’ll be a challenge, nevertheless.
    So great to catch up with you! Hope to get to do it again (without all the bloggy hype) soon! x

    • I really enjoyed Jeff’s a lot too, Grace, but sorry to have missed Nicole’s. I downloaded the info but it’s just not the same as hearing her run through the slides in more detail. Look forward to another catch up soon too!

  9. Thanks so much for writing this Veronica. I too love the Eden quote. I am not sure about the finding your voice thing. So much to think about. I have bought a ticket for problogger later in the year which I am looking forward to, though mostly to catch up with other bloggy friends!
    I have found even though I have cut back massively on how much time I am spending on social media and reading/ commenting on blogs, I am enjoying it more. It was getting to be quite a chore!
    I look forward to meeting you one day.

    • The Problogger event should be interesting too. I’d love to go sometime. The social side is a huge incentive too but for the financial investment, I made sure I learnt something too! 😉 It’s interesting you are enjoying it more now though blogging less. I think for me, once I stopped letting the pressure get to me, it was more relaxing. The obligated chore driven activity is such a burden! I do feel the niggle to spend more time but I know where my priorities are right now. Fingers crossed we will meet sometime in the very near future!

    • Thanks Carli. I still struggle with FOMO but my head it taking over more often and reminding me I can’t do it all, learn it all, know it all, be part of it all. My head gets too cluttered with the info anyway and which makes it ineffective anyway.

  10. You managed to get so much out of the SEO and stats session! It’s normally the one thing most people will put in the too hard basket. I’m seeing a different (geeky) side of you 😉

    • Before this conference, Tat, I’d put SEO in the “too hard” basket too. I knew I’d learn more if I could just listen to an expert and he was pretty good!

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