My first blogger event was absolutely incredible. I had the pleasure of being one of many attendees at the third annual blogging conference called Blog Jam Atlantic. And let me tell you, I had no idea what to expect.
I drove up to Halifax feeling a little uneasy on Saturday night, after having finished my shift at 4:30PM. OK, my boyfriend drove, and I mostly slept… But when I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t help imagining what this blogging event would look like, how many people would be attending, what kind of people I would meet, what kind of information I was going to learn from both the speakers and my fellow bloggers? I had so many questions I knew I would eventually find the answer to.
The morning of my first ever blogger event came faster than I could have imagined. I got ready as fast as I could, knowing full well I would not have time to do my hair like I would have wanted. As soon as my makeup was all done and I was dressed, I quickly woke Max so he could drive me down to the Prince George Hotel.
I was half running into the hotel, worrying I would be one of the last ones to arrive, as I had forgotten my watch. Relief washed over me when I saw the conference room wasn’t even half full yet. I composed myself, checked in, and went to find a seat.
Today, I thought to myself, I am investing in myself. I am here to cultivate new knowledge. I am here to engage with others and create new friendships. I am here to learn and to grow, both as an individual and as a writer.
And that I did – plus so much more! So I thought I should share with you all the 10 things I learned from attending a blogger event.
1. How To Meet Fellow Bloggers
I’ve never been the greatest at meeting new people. I never quite know where to start or how to approach people without being awkward. And I definitely had no idea how to meet people who were just as passionate about blogging as me. But you know what? It was actually so much easier than I thought.
Throughout the day, I met such a large variety of writers and bloggers. First, I met this AMAZING young woman named Kayla Findlay who is moving abroad to New Zealand next Wednesday for a whole year! Sitting at the table with us was Jennifer Naugler of Simple Local Life who does work in her community highlighting everything to offer on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, plus meal planning and recipes – always one of my favourite things to check out!
I also spoke with this incredible entrepreneur Madeleine Corke during one of the workshops, and I lived this surreal moment wherein she noticed that I wrote down Tiny House on my sheet, and asked if I had followed her on Instagram. I said yes. I remembered loving one of her recent photos. Then I explained what I was writing about. She proceeded to tell me she had followed me back on Instagram and was hoping she would get the chance to meet me in person! SOMEONE WANTED TO MEET ME?? THAT’S AMAZING!
I also need to mention my quick chat with one of the speakers, Crystal Richard of East Coast Mermaid – who is from MONCTON! I waited around about 15 minutes just so I could interrupt a conversation to get to talk to her so we could keep in touch and I could actually say I had met another blogger in the same area as me! I can’t wait to meet everyone else in the Greater Moncton Area (and nearby)!
2. The Importance of Connecting with People
From the very first speaker until the last, every single presenter mentions the important of connecting with your audience. People want to connect with people, not with a brand, not with a business, not with a product – they want to connect with YOU! People feel most connected when you are open, honest, and upfront. Sharing your struggles, your pain, and your biggest challenges is what people will relate to because they are going through the exact same thing, and they want to feel like they are not alone! By feeling connected to you, they will want to learn more about you – so you need to let your personality shine through. As our first Keynote Speaker said: “Be vulnerable, and be bold!” On top of all that, if you want sponsors, they need to know you can connect with people, because that’s exactly why they need you! I feel like that’s something I really needed to hear and I will definitely be focusing on that from here on out!
3. How To Pitch to Sponsors
Speaking of sponsors, what an amazing presentation we had by Julie Elsdon-Heigh about reaching out to sponsors! This is something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw that the schedule was published, as it is something I felt I’ve always struggled with. How do you approach sponsors? How do you even know WHO to approach??
Well, apparently, there’s this thing called “pitching,” wherein you tell a company or sponsor about yourself, tell them you want to promote them in exchange for products, services or payment. You might be asking yourself how one would go about doing that, and I will tell you just that – you need a bio, a headshot, a MEDIA KIT and you need to figure out which brands will fit with you blog or business. Once you’ve got that all sorted out, you need to make initial contact giving them your pitch, explain why they should sponsor you, and ask if you can send your media kit. Do not send your media kit right away, wait until they respond. If this response if positive, send them a proposal with ALL the details, including your media kit, your pitch deck, etc, etc!
I’ve basically been working on this ever since the event finished, so watch out sponsors, I’m coming your way!
4.The Power of Social Media
I’ve always known that Social Media is a very powerful tool that research hundreds of thousands of people every single day, but one of the presentations really put it all into perspective for me.
Anita Kirkbride of Twirp Communications gave an awesome talk about which social media platforms work best for certain blogs and business, while others may not be as ideal. She outlined the pros and cons, plus gave incredibly helpful tips on how to make the most of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and so much more. I think the most important lesson out of all it is to stay consistent on whichever platforms you choose, and not to choose too many, because you can’t be everywhere at the same time. And you can’t just use all social media tools the same way! Please do not repost the same article on Facebook 5 times in 1 day – but on Twitter, go right ahead. 😉
5. What The Heck Google Analytics Is All About
I’ve seriously been unaware of how to use Google Analytics since I started blogging. I heard about it, but I never fully understood it, so I kind of just ignored it. I’m actually not 100% sure if it’s even on my blog, but it certainly will be as of today!!
We had this amazing – and hilarious! – speaker, Alison Knott of Eraserheader Design, who spoke to us all about what Google Analytics is, the jargon surrounding it, a brief how-to, what you should look for, what’s more important, how to get more people to visit your site, and how to e-mail reports to yourself. There was SO much information, it felt a little bit overwhelming, but now that I’ve had time to sit down at home, absorb everything, and start looking online at all the tools she suggested we use, it’s becoming a lot clearer. At least, I hope.
6. You Can Literally Blog About Anything
I spoke to SO many people during the event, and almost every single person was writing about something very different and very unique. I mean, I am in no way surprised that I was the only one blogging about Tiny Houses, but it did surprise me the variety of other subjects. For example, one young woman had a blog entirely about tea – brilliant!! Another woman said she was writing about her spiritual journey, while her husband had been recently blogging about Reiki, as he is a Reiki teacher developing new techniques. Some people were blogging about woodwork and metal work, while others focused on parenting and family issues. One person has a blog about beers and another person was promoting their photography business. There were job coaches, branding businesses, travel writers, lifestyle bloggers, graphic designers, style & fashion bloggers, start-up bloggers, foodie bloggers & bakers, animal rescue writers, and even one person who wrote solely about the homeless. I swear to God, if you want to write about something, ANYTHING at all, you can! And all these people are making money doing this, so don’t think you can’t do it too!
7. How To Efficiently Brainstorm New Blog Post Topics
There was this incredible workshop called Lean Content Strategy that took place during the event, lead by Crystal Picard, and it seriously blew my mind. She asked us all the right questions, and gave us a TON of information on how to come up with lots of new blog post topics and ideas. What stuck out most for me was a list she gave us of Content Prompts, specifically the following ones:
>> Yes Session Brainstorming: turn off the internet for 30 minutes and write EVERYTHING down. Say yes to everything. Weed out the bad ideas later.
>> Notebook Method: Carry around a notebook and write your ideas down as they come up in conversation, online, or even in the shower! (OK, maybe not in the shower)
We were each given a worksheet and some time to work on our own list of blog post ideas, and each one of them had to have a Call To Action that was specific to the blog post. I had a hard time starting up, but after I wrote down one or two, I ended up filling the entire page!
8. How To Get My Name Out There
Another very interesting talk was done by Crystal Richard of East Coast Mermaid, whom I’ve already mentioned earlier but I definitely think she deserves to be mentioned twice! During the presentation, she spoke to us all about how to reach out to TV stations, newspapers, radios, and pitch our digital publications out to reporters and journalists. Her talk was really inspiring, challenging us to dream big and take action on those dreams. I am thinking a lot more clearly about where I want to be featured, and how I can make that a reality. I will definitely be getting my name out there, just you watch!
9. How To Build a Business Plan For a Blog
Ok, so I did take an Entrepreneur class in highschool, but I honestly don’t remember very much, let alone how to make a business plan. So when I saw there was a talk going on about that very subject, I knew I had to be there!
Mel Hattie of Mel Had Tea – genius! – did an AMAZING job telling us the step-by-step process and what your business plan needs to contain:
>> Cover Page & Executive Summary
>> Industry, Customer & Competitor Analysis
>> Company & Product Description
>> Marketing Plan**
>> Development Plan
>> Critical Risks
>> Financial Plan**
**These two are the most important parts!
Now I just have to work my butt off and get this done!
10. How Amazing Blogger Events Really Are
I had such an incredible time, words cannot even express. BlogJam is a fantastic conference that I would highly recommend to anyone who is blogging or even remotely interested in blogging. You will not regret it, so make sure you sign up next year – maybe I’ll see you there!