On Saturday, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Kidspot Voices of 2015 Breakfast and Masterclass.
What a day! So much learning. So much interaction. The two-dimensional faces I’ve followed across blogland suddenly sprang to three-dimensional life. I saw friends I made at the ProBlogger conference last year. I met new friends.
But back to the learning. So much learning. I live tweeted the event, so feel free to head to my Twitter account and search the hashtag #Voicesof2015 for a full rundown.
In the meantime, here’s the highlights reel.
1. You have something important to say.
It’s hard to believe sometimes. Whether it’s because you’re just starting out at this blogging gig or because you’ve been doing it so long you feel you’ve used all your content, you can doubt yourself and what you’re saying.
It’s irrelevant. It’s too obvious. It’s been said before. It’s been said better. It’s been said more clearly. I have nothing worthwhile to add to this conversation.
But you do. You do have something worthwhile to add. As Craig Page of Ogilvy PR said, authenticity is key. Don’t be anyone but yourself. If you are yourself, you have something to say.
And what you’re saying might have been said before, but it hasn’t been said the way you’ll say it. Caroline Makepeace from yTravelBlog drove this message home with a fabulous example: in music there are a finite number of notes, keys and chords. But people make new music all the time.
2. Blogging is hard work.
Whether you do it as a hobby or to earn an income, blogging is a slog. You make time to write, to share your content and to respond to comments. You painstakingly research topics and edit photographs.
You probably enjoy it (why else would we do it?), but it’s still work. So the advice from Pip Lincolne of Meet Me At Mike’s (who also happens to be the Voices of 2015 Editor) to work hard and work consistently stood out for me.
3. Work smarter.
Blogging is hard work. But you can make it less difficult by working smarter.
Heard it a million times? Yeah, me too. But Kelly Burstow from Be a Fun Mum went above and beyond with a very specific tip about working smarter.
4. Don’t spend your life on social media.
It is so easy to spend your entire life on social media. And when you’re a blogger, it’s very easy to justify the time. I HAVE to reply to all these Facebook comments! I MUST share this Instagram photo I was tagged in! MY COMMUNITY NEEDS ME!
Breathe. Take a step back. If you love social media and you feel the balance is right, great. (And congratulations! Please tell me your secret.) But if not, remember point 3. Work smarter.
You may like to follow Clare Hillier from Checks and Spots‘s lead and pick your preferred social media channels. After all, you can’t be everywhere all the time. And you won’t give it your all if you’re on a platform you don’t enjoy just because you feel you have to be.
5. Engagement isn’t the same as community.
If you have an engaged audience, then well done. Seriously. It’s not easy to develop. I’ve been blogging for almost four years, and can still drop a blog post or a Facebook question into what feels like a bottomless pit. (Although most of the time, I feel the engagement love, so thank you all very much!)
But building a community is another ballgame. I’ll admit that I was struggling with understanding the difference between engagement and community until Zoey Martin and Katie Michelle from Operation Move spelled it out for me.
6. The people who work for brands are just people.
If you want to work with brands (confession time: I still haven’t decided), don’t freak out. Don’t get scared by the bigness and everywhereness of brands. As Anna Hickey of Etsy said, the people who work for brands are just people. Connect with them. They won’t bite.
Phoebe Montague from Lady Melbourne gave some great tips for working with brands, and most of them were relationship-based. Build a relationship with the brand representative. Meet them face to face. If that’s not possible, call them on the phone. Don’t resort to email every time just because it’s easier; it’s too impersonal.
Once you have that relationship, be clear on what the brand wants from any sponsored posts and what you’re going to do for them. Are they after more social media followers? More visits to their website? Increased sales? All of the above?
And once you’ve done the post(s), follow up with the brand. Share your stats with them, and make sure the brand tells you how they saw it too. Did their social media following grow? Did sales increase? Montague’s example of a dress that sold out every time she posted a shot of herself wearing it had people nodding their heads and scribbling notes furiously. Anecdotes like that make your media kit stand out. (Note to self: create a media kit. If you decide you want to work with brands. End note.)
7. Sometimes you need to let go.
I will not mention Frozen. I will not mention Frozen. Oops. Sorry.
Quite a few speakers mentioned letting go of things in different contexts. Craig Page said that if a brand isn’t the right fit for your blog, don’t force it. If you work with a brand and it feels wrong, don’t go back. Let the relationship go.
Anna Hickey gave some excellent advice on doing so. If you decide against an opportunity or decide not to work with a brand anymore, do it respectfully. Explain your reasoning, be polite, and mention your openness to potentially working together in the future on different campaigns. Then let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore… Oops. Sorry.
Nathalie from Easy Peasy Kids also had advice on letting go, but she applied it to those of us who watch our stats too closely. (She also received a spontaneous burst of applause for doing so.)
8. (Bonus lesson) Bloggers rock!
A quick visit to Kidspot’s Voices of 2015 finalist list will convince you of that quick smart. Congratulations to all in the top 100! It’s a super impressive list.
And Kidspot has been busy since Saturday – the top three parenting and style finalists have already been announced! More congratulations for everyone.
Phew! What a day. What a lot to take in. I’m still recovering. Thank you to Kidspot, Garnier and Ford for hosting the events and making us all feel so welcome.
Did you attend any of the Kidspot events on Saturday? What did you learn?