Seven things I learnt from the ProBlogger conference

I spent last weekend at the Gold Coast.

ProBlogger-conference-reclining-in-tents

Rachel from Parenting Central; Amy from HandbagMafia; yours truly

Before you all roll your eyes at this #humblebrag, I’d like to point out that the rest of my family spent the weekend at the snow. I missed my children’s first trip to the snow.

Hawker-family-at-the-snow

I was a little sad about that. Okay, a lot sad. Cue all the tears.

But as I was at the Gold Coast, along with 500ish other bloggers, talking, learning and humble-bragging about blogging, it’s hard to complain too much!

I learnt a lot at the ProBlogger conference. Not as much as last year, when I learnt not as much as the year before. But more than enough. And here are my top seven lessons.

1. Brands are getting on board the blogger train.

Choo-choo! All brands aboard this blogging juggernaut, stopping all stations to international interweb success and stardom!

Some brands have been all about bloggers for a long time. Others are just starting to realise that bloggers have great trust with their audiences, and better cut-through than some traditional forms of media.

If you’re interested in working with brands, know YOUR brand well, so that you can better pitch the ideas that will resonate with your audience and achieve greater success for you both.

2. Video is getting bigger and better. And it’s more forgiving than you think.

Video is EVERYWHERE. Of course, YouTube exists. Der. But all other social media platforms are also introducing (or have introduced) video.

Why? Because people want to see behind the scenes of their favourite bloggers. They want to see what led to the development of certain posts. They want to see how one could possibly create such a gorgeous Instagram feed. They want to hear your voice, see your face in motion instead of in stills, and hear the thoughts as they spring from your head instead of post-post editing.

Also, despite it being your actual face out there in blog-land instead of words to hide behind, video is more forgiving. Readers (viewers?) will forgive errors and imperfections in video that they won’t forgive in print.

Which is why people respond with glee instead of derision when I post something like this:

3. People are clever.

Bloggers are constantly told to find their niche. Find a niche and stick to a topic, so that people know what to expect from your blog. Simples, no?

Sure, it makes sense. But I prefer to give my readers a little more credit than that. I can write about words, etymologies, book reviews and current best practices in editing, and then jump across to family and parenting. I trust my readers to be able to make that jump with me.

And I trust them to jump off if they don’t want to. (I’m sure some readers jumped away as soon as they realised this was a post about blogging! A blog post about blogging featuring bloggers at a blogging conference. Blogception.)

4. Don’t let ‘this problem is too big’ stop you from at least trying to solve it.

You might have a problem with your blog that you can’t see your way through. You might see a problem with the world that you feel too small to make a dent in.

However big or small your problem is, it won’t resolve itself. You might not take the right steps to solve it; you might not take big enough steps to solve it. But you’ll never solve it if you don’t even try.

And when others see you trying to solve a problem they care about too, they just might step in to help. On that note, check out the work of Rafiki Mwema – I guarantee that once you know about it, you’ll want to help, too.

5. The boring admin stuff is important.

Blogging isn’t all writing, publishing, basking in glory, fame and fortune and enjoying glasses of champagne with your blogging besties.

ProBlogger-Bec-Em-Mel

Bec from Seeing the Lighter Side; yours truly; Mel from Hugzilla

Don’t get me wrong; those things rock. But blogging is also a lot of admin. A whooooooole lot of admin.

And it’s important. It’s important for consistency. It’s important for ease of use. It’s important for helping people find your blog in the first place. It’s important for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

It’s important for making Google your friend instead of your enemy. If in doubt, remember this little song:

Old MacDonald had a blog
S-E-S-E-O
And on that blog he had only one category per post and no tags unless they didn’t produce a new page and keywords in the title, first 100 words of copy and meta description and no broken links and fast page loading and properly disclosed sponsorship arrangements and backlinks and ease of transition so that the Google bots can crawl the site easily and give him a big fat golden star
S-E-S-E-O

Catchy, yes?

6. Ideas are as (more?) important as (than) execution.

The ProBlogger conference had a number of sponsors, most of which ran a competition during the course of the event.

Most of these competitions were visual, and I wasn’t going to bother entering. I had an iPhone, not a camera. I’m a word nerd, not a visual creative. Why bother?

But then I thought, why not? Why not at least try? (See point 4 above.) So I headed to the Olympus stand, grabbed some ribbons, replaced the shoelaces of my favourite shoes and went for a walk, snapping pics as I went. And one of the pictures won!

Olympus-competition-emhawkerblog-winning-shot

This is not a great quality picture. It’s not in focus. You can’t see the pattern on the right ribbon-slash-shoelace.

But it’s bright. It’s fun. And most importantly, it’s unique. No-one else made shoelaces out of their ribbons. It caught people’s attention, and it won me a voucher so that I can get better equipment and take a better quality photo next time. Thanks, Olympus! #notsponsored #winnerwinnerchickendinner

7. It is important to find your tribe.

I’ve heard this at ProBlogger every year, and I didn’t really get it. Yes, I had bloggy friends. Yes, I could go to those bloggy friends with questions and expect honest, useful answers. Yes, I loved spending time with them and learning from them.

But a tribe? Really? Do we have to define it that way?

But this year, I get it. I have finally found my tribe. How do I know?

ProBlogger-conference-last-breakfast

Clockwise from front left: Bec from The Plumbette: Mumma McD from Toilets aren’t for Turtles; Mel from Hugzilla; yours truly; Amy from HandbagMafia; Tash from Gift Grapevine; Rachel from Parenting Central; Bec from Seeing the Lighter Side; Jo from You had us at hello

Because I’d be devastated if I was voted out at Tribal Council.

 

Did you attend the ProBlogger conference? What did you learn?

Comments

  1. Hugzilla says

    BAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAH! Is that seriously a picture of CROCS?! Think carefully before answering, because the Tribal Council may very well vote you out.

  2. says

    You will NEVER be voted out! I totally agree though, I don’t think I really got the ‘my tribe’ thing until this year. Thank you for an awesome weekend xx I hope you get to go to the snow with the kids some time soon!

  3. says

    S-E-S-E-O… I’ll be singing that all night! The tribe and community is what makes this whole bloggy thing worth it. And what a tribe! I loved meeting and hanging with you and those superbly talented and funny bunch of gals. Looking forward to doing it all again xx

  4. says

    Gutted I’m not in that tribe photo (silently crying in the corner)…mind you, we’d seen each other twice in the one week and you were probably sick of me…

  5. says

    Love your takeaways and love that you came out and said you didn’t learn as much as last year (or the year before) but you still came away with important knowledge. Apart from money and no babysitting options (very important) the other reason I didn’t get to Problogger this year was because I got less out of it last year than I did the year before. I was worried that I would waste my money even if I did push through those other barriers. But reading this has reassured me. As well as the fact that I missed out on all the bloggy fun. Will have to bust my chops to get there next year!!!!

    • Emily says

      Reflecting on it, even last year most of the lessons I learnt were from fellow attendees rather than content. Am thinking of organising a brains trust weekend away next year.

    • Emily says

      There are people who don’t think it’s important, there are people who know it is, and then there are people like me who know it is but procrastinate the admin. 😉

  6. says

    It was great to finally meet you and yes, SEO was a biggie for me cos I pay little attention and last time I even checked my Google Analytics wasn’t connected properly and that was over a year ago!

    So… it’s on this year’s #todo list.

    • Emily says

      Must play around with Google Analytics. The nerd in me loves it, but I have definitely not yet discovered its full potential.

    • Emily says

      Haha, thanks! Throw lots of words on one note – GENIUS! (I actually tried singing the song and I can’t get through that bit in one breath.)

  7. says

    I was so jealous of you all! Wish I could have been there to meet you in person Em! I’m trying to catch up on everyone else’s ‘problogger recap’ posts to learn a thing or two. Love your OldMcdonald song and congrats on your pic winning the comp! xx

  8. says

    BAHAHAH I love your video. It was amazing.

    And yes, SEO is important. Unfortunately. But I’m pretty sure the drinking wine with awesome bloggers is essential too.

    • Emily says

      Thanks for letting me use the pic! Love it. The lighting is perfect – it’s a great advert for the camera I want to get with my winnings.

  9. says

    So sad that I missed out on ProBlogger – your tribe is absolutely AWESOME… I have tribe envy! What I didn’t know/would love so more info on is ‘one category per post and no tags unless they didn’t produce a new page’… What does that tag part mean? Aren’t tags like keywords? Does Google hate me?

    • Emily says

      Thanks Shari! Tags are fine if used correctly. I think Jim’s concern was in blogs where the entire post is replicated on the home page and in any tag or keyword searches. Then it becomes duplicate content. If your blog’s set up to only show a snippet or summary of the post, it should be fine.
      But don’t quote me on it. Check your site for duplication. And lots of other things. If you’ve got a virtual ticket for #pbevent, check out Jim Stewart’s presentation on SEO for more info. Or look him up – he’s @jimboot on Twitter. Hope this helps x

  10. says

    You won! Congrats. Love that snap of your shoes. I didn’t make it to Problogger this year. First one I’ve missed in four years. Sounds like it was another great event. Thanks for sharing some of it here. Great wrap up, thank you.

  11. says

    Love the song it’s such an important thing, I so need to do much more of. Congrats on winning the prize, very clever, and you have a lovely bunch of tribal council members. Have a great week. X

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