Fiona and I were lucky enough to run a stand at this year’s Blog On conference, which was hosted by the wonderful Laura Seaton, to promote Portland Street and meet new bloggers. The event was fantastic, with over 140 bloggers attending, and I couldn’t imagine meeting a nicer bunch of people. While we were busy manning our stand and eating sweeties (we were located right next to Swizzels Matlow!), bloggers made their way eagerly into the conference suites to learn new tricks and insights to help them improve their blogs.
After attending, I posted a message in the Blog On Facebook group, asking attendees what their favourite takeaways from Blog On were. So many people responded and it’s clear everyone had a fantastic time learning, seeing old friends and making new ones. Below are the key lessons bloggers learned at the event.
Pinterest is a discovery tool not a social media network
Pinterest hosted a really interesting session for beginners, in which they described the most effective ways to utilise the platform for blog exposure. Beth Law, an attendee who blogs at Twinderelmo, said: “I loved the Pinterest session and learned that it's not to be looked upon as a social media platform, but as a visual discovery tool.”
This was very much a theme Pinterest ran with; their platform does not necessarily offer instant exposure, but has more longevity than other networks such as Twitter and Instagram due to the way users search and consume content. They advised avoiding using multiple hashtags to help users find their images, and instead write long insightful descriptions, so that people can discover relevant content easily. They explained their users visit the website predominantly to find inspiration, instead of going on there to switch off and browse, which is what sets them apart from social media networks.
Claire Farmer, who blogs at Six Degrees of Harmony, said: “The Pinterest session was fabulous - it was like a lightbulb moment. I have used Pinterest (unsuccessfully) for years but the advice was so simple and just involves tweaking current methods. Hopefully I'll see an improvement in interaction and engagement”.
2) Changing your way of thinking can beat writer’s block
One of the sessions was run by our very own Graham Allchurch and Mindy Gofton, who are head of digital marketing and head of strategy and innovation at I-COM respectively, and contributors to Portland Street. The session explored the idea that, even though bloggers may think they have content down to a tee, changing the way they generate topic ideas can unearth a whole new universe of content topics and evade the dreaded writer’s block.
After running through lots of different tools and techniques, (Graham has summarised the best tools here in this blog post ) he ran a practical activity which involved bloggers generating new content ideas based on one of the methods.
Jo Dunlop, who blogs at Mummy’s Knee, said: “My favourite takeaway was the activity that Graham did to help get you through writer's block. I don't particularly have writer's block just now, but I now have 9 posts headings ready to be written and formulated into my visual one pager,which was an idea [of Graham’s] I also loved.”
The full presentation (including the awesome activity) is available to Portland Street members, just sign up using the form at the top of this page.
3) Understanding functions on your camera will improve the quality of your photographs
Imagery is incredibly important when it comes to running a successful blog, images are what initially attract a potential reader’s eye, and can increase the number of shares, and consequently exposure, of your blog exponentially. John Arnold ran a session to help bloggers understand the different functions on their cameras such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and explains how to utilise them to improve the quality of photographs.
Jennifer Dixon from Mummies Pennies said: “Both the photography sessions were favourites for me, the technical session with John gave me a much fuller understanding of the settings on my camera, many of which I'd simply overlooked up until now.“
We will be sending a photography basics piece to subscribers within the next few months, so be sure to subscribe using the form at the top of the page.
4) Monetising your blog
Many bloggers commented on my post in the Blog On Facebook group saying they loved Emily Leary’s session on making money from blogging. A few different bloggers mentioned how it boosted their confidence in terms of approaching brands. Emma Hunt from The Cheshire Wife said: “My favourite session was with Emily Leary about making money from outside your blog. It's given me a huge confidence boost to go out there and ask (I'm super shy)”.
Helen Costello from Casa Costello also commented on the session: “My favourite thought-provoking tip was from Emily Leary’s session. She encouraged you to consider which brands you want to work with [this]s not the same as which brands/products you want to own”.
my key takeaway?
Why it has to be my time spent in the ball pit of course!!
If you want lots of top tips every month, including actionable advice on how you can make your blog even better, sign up to Portland Street for free using our form. We also run regular competitions and advertise exclusive and exciting brand collaboration opportunities to members.