Yesterday, Saturday, September 21, 2013 I had the privilege of attending BlogPodium (@blogpodium), a Canadian event that unites design and lifestyle bloggers from across the country. This was the third year of the event created by the amazing Jennifer Flores (@ramblingreno).
Going to the event, I kind of knew that I would be one of the few male bloggers in attendance but I didn’t care. Seeing and meeting such inspiring and powerful female bloggers was inspiring. I was in awe of all their talent and dedication to what they love. Now this is an event for design and lifestyle bloggers but honestly, it is for all bloggers. The sessions provided information that any blogger could use and networking with attendees there gives you a great sense of support and access to a vast amount of knowledge.
The event started off with a keynote by the one and only Sarah Richardson, a prominent Canadian designer. She told her career story and addressed questions of how she made it and built a successful empire. She was funny, poised and delivered such inspiration to us all. I loved when she said, “Be kind to people. Inspire people. Think about the purpose of your message. Use it to make the world better.”
After the keynote you could attend various sessions throughout the day:
- Power Tools: How-To Clinic
- What Bloggers Can Learn From Magazines
- You Can Have Both Balancing a Day Job & Successful Blog
- From Blog to Business
- The Blogger Agency Dating Game: How to Get Noticed
- Creating a Style Guide for Your Blog
- How to Grow Your Business Using Social Media
- The Blogger-Agency Pre-Nup: Negotiating Win-Win Partnerships with Big Brands
- Get the Shot: Photography + Instagram Workshop
- Using Your Blog to Land Your Dream Job
- The Art of Monetization
- Photoshop for Bloggers
The first session I attended was, What Bloggers Can Learn From Magazines.
This session was led by Corinna vanGerwen (@vangerwen) and she did an amazing job. She told us how magazines are truly the original blog and how they are centered on content, images and inspiration. She gave us 10 tips on what bloggers can learn from magazines, which are the following:
1. Find Your Niche
- Find what will make your blog different
- Differentiation can range from subject matter, format, region, voice or look
2. Think Like an Editor
- Ask yourself, is this of interest to my readers? Does it fit within my mission? What’s the hook? Is it timely? Has it already been done?
3. Use an Editorial Calendar
- Every blogger needs an editorial calendar to keep themselves organized
- Issue themes than can be monthly or weekly, create Departments/Sections for your blog to organize the content, establish Columns as another way to present recurring formats, institute Features to highlight miscellaneous content
- An effective editorial calendar is all about balancing the following: topic, format, length, frequency, special themes, workload
4. Write Eye Catching Headlines
- Headlines are the key ingredient to sell your content
- Look at headlines of men’s magazines to see some great examples
- Three rules for writing headlines that work are: Sell the benefits, Be clear (puns, play on words, don’t work), and Write for both people and SEO bots
5. Write for Your Audience
- Your blog needs to be about the reader
- Magazines know who their readers are so as a blogger you should too
- You can find out who your readers are by looking at the comments within your blog, reading the blogs of your readers and of those who write similar content as yourself, reviewing social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, asking your readers to fill out a survey and finally by looking at your blog analytics
6. Practice ‘The Art of Packaging’
- Find the best way to present your content
- Some examples of how to package are: How-To, Recipe, List, Trend Piece, News Story, Review, Editorial, Essay, Profile, or Interview
7. Edit Your Content
- Sometimes you need to step away from your post and give it space
- Read it with fresh eyes, read it more than once and get a second opinion
- Things you should look for are: Length, Flow, Sense and Clarity, Avoid clichés, biases, sexism and stereotypes, and finally Check your grammar
8. Have a Style Guide
9. Fact Check Your Work
10. Identify Advertising
Corinna ended her talk with telling us that blogs really are about transparency and disclosure so be honest with your audience. They will appreciate that.
The second session I attended was, From Blog to Business, led by the super talented Stephanie Sterjovski (@stephsterjovski). Stephanie started her presentation with these powerful words, “Don’t start a blog to make money, do it because you love it.” This is so true and made me pause and reflect on why I blog which is, to have a platform and a voice to educate, help and inspire others pursuing a career in marketing. The session was loaded with helpful tips on naming your blog, blog design, finding your voice for your content and on different monetization tools like rewardStyle to help you generate revenue from your content. Another tip Stephanie had was what she called ‘The Frozen Dinner Concept’ for those overwhelmed in finding the time to produce content. Prepare several posts in advance when you have the time and when you are ready, microwave them and serve them over a couple of weeks to ensure your blog has the frequency your readers are looking for. The three things we were left to remember were, do not start a blog to make money, comparison is the thief of joy and stay true to yourself (brand). Some key books were recommended like, Blog Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, The Defining Decade by Meg Jay and The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer. Finally, Stephanie gave us a beautiful quote from Kid Rock, “If it looks good, you’ll see it. If it sounds good, you’ll hear it. If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it. BUT if it’s real, you’ll feel it.
The third session I attended was called, Grow Your Business Using Social Media, which was moderated by the amazing Brittany Stager, blogger and social media specialist (@mydailyrndmness) and consisted of a two-person panel, Meredith Heron, interior designer and television host (@meredithheron), and Neil Gazman, Manager of West Elm Toronto (@ngazmen).
Meredith gave a great structure on how to leverage all of your social media platforms – Using Instagram, take pictures of your work, which will feed into your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Use your Instgram photos in your blog posts and than Pin your images into Pinterest. Everything that ties it all together is hashtags so # everything. Meredith mentioned that she uses Echofon instead of Hootsuite to manage her Twitter and Facebook feeds. Neil spoke about how he interacts with customers using social media for West Elm and his passion, work ethic and knowledge was so inspiring. Brittany gave us a cool tip on how to find the original source of an image using reverse imaging – put in the URL of the image into images.google.com. It is key to always give the proper credit of images you are using to the original creator of those images.
Finally, I attended the session, The Art of Monetization, presented by Karen Bertelsen (@artofdoingstuff). Karen had the entire audience in the palm of her hand and we were hanging on every word she was delivering. I learned that the different ways to monetize your blog is by using Google Adsense and putting Google ad network ads on your site, working with Vertical ad networks, creating sponsored posts, selling your own ads on your site, creating an e-book, selling stuff off your website (best tool for this is Shopify) and working with magazines. If you are selling ads on your own site, the premium spot is a 300×250 pixel square on the right hand side as close to the top as possible. To see how valuable Google ranks your blog, look up your Google Page Rank. A score of 4 or higher is great.
If you are working with a magazine or another organization and writing a post for them online, you can look at charging $0.50/per word so a 700-word post would be $350. For a piece that is printed, you can charge $1 per word so for a 700-word post it would be $700. For a photo you have taken, you can look at charging $25-$50 for online use or $75-$200 if it is used in a Canadian printed publication.
Overall the day was amazing and I met such amazing bloggers like Brittany Stager, Fatima Sabri, Rashel Hariri, Amy Del Rosario, Judy Beeksma and Chrisse Allan. If you are a blogger this is a must attend event. I look forward to next year’s event and really fell in love with this blogging community.