This past weekend I attended Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore hosted by SITS.
I had a blast and met tons of amazing ladies. The icing on the cake was Catherine from Evolving Mommy came all the way from Colorado for the conference and to visit.
The conference was small, less than 100 women, most of which were moms, all of which were bloggers. The atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming and we even had rotating assigned seats to encourage mingling.
There were several different sessions and I learned a ton. Here are some of the highlights:
1) I need to buy my URL. End of story. It is $10, what have I been waiting for?
2) How to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Tara from Feels Like Home gave an amazing presentation highlighting the top 10 things we can do to optimize our blog traffic from search engines. Being a hobby blogger this was my far the most informative, helpful session of the conference. I learned so much and she gave me so many easy things I can do. I am excited to begin to implement some of her recommendations.
3) The Wordpress vs. Blogger debate. There has been a lot of buzz in the last 6-9 months about moving your blog to WordPress from Blogger. Some of the reasons why WordPress is better were explained such as you own your own content, better SEO, more flexibility and customization, and variety of other reasons. I am still not personally ready to move to WordPress. There is a decent financial commitment as well as a time commitment to learn the new system. For now I am going to buy my URL and focus on some different improvements but plan to reevaluate in 3-6 months and see what I think.
4) Set goals for my blogging and keep it simple. Just try to do one new thing a week. Baby steps.
5) Keep my focus. Blogging shouldn't be stressful, blogging shouldn't make you feel guilty! This is me sometimes. I enjoy blogging so much. I enjoy writing, I enjoy reading other people's blogs, and I enjoy the sense of community. Time is at such a premium at this point in my life. I feel guilty and stressed when I can't post enough or can't read the blogs I follow at regular increments. This was an important message for me to keep my focus and chill. I blog because I enjoy it. If it becomes just another chore or another stressor I am doing something wrong.
6) PR, Amy from Resourceful Mommy also gave a great presentation about PR. She talked about putting together a PR kit, how to pitch, and knowing your boundaries. She reminded us we don't have to work for free and when we work with companies doing reviews and giveaways, if we aren't charging we are working for free. She also talked about the importance of networking online through forums and groups of other bloggers. She reminded us to be professional in all avenues, Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs.
7) I need a Facebook Fan page for my blog. I've seen others do this but purposefully kept Facebook for my IRL friends and Twitter for my bloggy friends but it looks like creating a separate, business Facebook Fan page is important.
8) Despite rumors, the FTC is not going to fine mommy bloggers for not properly disclosing reviews and giveaways. The FTC puts out guidelines and would have to start an enforcement action to do anything, and even then they are going to target advertisers and PR people. Disclosure doesn't have to be detailed or fancy. Simply saying, "Acme Co. provided this product for review" within the post is adequate disclosure.
9) Even though I am a social person and love meeting new people, 3/4 of the way through the day I was feeling overwhelmed. Instead of putting myself really out there and trying to meet a bunch of new people at the end of the day, I mainly stuck to people who I had already met earlier in the day or looked familiar to me. I feel like you can only put yourself out there so much before you get a little uncomfortable. Also it was such a whirlwind, everyone's names, blog names, Twitter names, and faces were swirling around in my head. By late afternoon it was becoming a jumbled mess.
10) I am not ready for a bigger conference, yet. I feel like I learned a ton and I am excited to put what I learned into action but I am glad I didn't jump the gun and sign up for BlogHer 2010 before having this experience.
This Saturday I have another bloggy event, Momz Share an event for local Baltimore, DC area bloggers. This time it should be a bit more laid back and about half the woman. With any luck I will meet a bunch more great local bloggers, can't wait.
The view from the front of the conference room