What Blogging Conferences Taught Me in 2016

I love blogging, but I think that comes as no surprise.

I love writing, organizing, maintaining (not as much), and especially learning about what is changing and happening in the digital atmosphere. The landscape of blogging and social media changes at such a rapid pace that there’s always something new to learn and if you have issues with change or open-mindedness, then you may find yourself stalling out or giving up out of frustration.

Blogging is HARD WORK. For those who don’t maintain one, it seems as if we sit down, do a brain dump, post and DONE! For those who do, you know that it’s emails, editing, pictures, replying to comments, scheduling social media, planning content, creating graphics, and so on. If you want to compare it to exercise (sure, why not), blogging is a marathon. You have to work to get good at it, you need to keep going when you may not want to, and you don’t always see the finish line and prizes until much later than you expect.

As I’ve already recapped, I went to two blogging conferences last month: Blogfest and Fitbloggin‘. I did a brief recap of both and wanted to take today to focus more on actual points that I took away from them this year.

The blogging sphere changes every year, so here is what I took away from two blogging conferences and what they taught me in 2016.

Working With Brands

This year was a great year for talking about brands. I felt that companies were finally understanding the value of blogger collaborations and taking what we do more seriously. At Blogfest, we kicked everything off with with a panel consisting of three brand representatives: Siggi’s, Vital Proteins, and GymGO. We were able to hear some tips directly from brands, which was extremely helpful.

Some of the biggest takeaways from both conferences I went to were:

  • When pitching:
    • keep emails short and concise
    • ask how YOU can help THEM (or provide your own ideas)
    • include your social media info in your email signature so they can find you
    • be as streamlined as possible. Cut down on the back and forth emails.
    • if it’s a brand you really care about, work with them. Many smaller brands might not have the budget right now to pay as much as you’d like. Develop a relationship, take less, and stick around for the long haul where you can hopefully grow with them and receive an increase in payment.
  • In your media kit:
    • make it visual. Clean, crisp images
    • include rates to cut down on the back and forth emailing
    • provide samples or links of previous work
    • create different packages for different price points
  • Etc.
    • if you try a product and don’t like it, let them know first. Email and ask them what they want you to do. Be honest!
    • brands learn from bloggers. Inform them of the latest trends.
    • talk about past campaigns and successes

Monetizing

Blogging usually starts out as hobby. People want to reach out, be heard, and help others. For many, blogging remains just that and that path is 100% totally ok. Others decide that they want to do more with what they’ve started and work towards making a side or even full-time income from their blog.

  • Aside from sponsored posts and creating your own products to sell, other income you make is conditional on your readers, which means you don’t have much control over it.
    • Ads and affiliate marketing depend on a large and engaged readership, which means if you lack either of those, you won’t see much return.
  • With the prevalence of ads these days, many readers have become “ad blind,” meaning that they are less likely to click on ads or may even employ an ad blocker to get rid of them altogether (I do).
  • In today’s landscape, your best bet for controling your income is to manage your financial relationships with brands, create your own product such as a book or workout plan, or pursue paid opportunities outside (but related to) your blog.

Earlier this week I removed all of the ads from my site. I was making less than $50 a month on ads and I felt like my site looked much cleaner without them. Since my desktop has an ad blocker installed, I didn’t realize how cluttered sites can look until I was reading blogs on my laptop. More than one site had large videos in the middle of a post, which was extremely distracting and made me reconsider what I was doing with my own site.

As I work to grow Erin’s Inside Job, I’m relying on the few sponsored posts I do and those opportunities outside my blog such as freelance jobs I’ve gotten as a result or random paid speaking engagements. Each blogger is different and if you’re interested in monetizing your blog, find what works for you!

Sidenote: Yes, that book is still in the works. The passion part of it changed a bit and I’m about halfway done. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know!

Social Media

Social media is ALWAYS changing. Last year I remember the focus being on Pinterest and Instagram and while they’re both still very powerful and important, this year Snapchat and Facebook Live were added into the mix. I still don’t have a Snapchat account, as I know this will be the death of me and I will never be able to put the phone down again, but I know it’s extremely popular. There’s not a lot happening with brand and sponsored work yet, but that could be a totally different story next year.

Update: literally right after I scheduled this post, “Instagram Stories” popped up on my IG, which is basically IG’s version of Snapchat. See how quickly things change?? Also, I may actually start using it if it’s already integrated in IG. Eek.

  • Video is becoming more popular with the addition of Snapchat and FB Live. Several speakers said that FB Live brings a ton of views and traffic since Facebook’s algorithm seems to prefer video clips in general.
  • In the brand panel from Blogfest: the top two social media platforms they are currently utilizing are FB Live and Instagram
  • Figure out your social media rates separately from your post rates as some brands may not be able to pay for an entire sponsored post, but do have the budget for one on IG or Twitter

Attendees

As I’m about to enter my third year of blogging, I realize with each conference that it is more and more about the people. The other bloggers and content creators who we identify with, form friendships with, and just GET.

I’ve made some incredible relationships through blogging, which, to an introvert such as myself, is an incredible feat. The past two years of conferences for me has allowed me to meet people I love in real life and delve into awesome mastermind sessions by exchanging ideas much faster than over email. It’s an amazing and supportive group and I’m so happy to be able to get everyone all in one place, even if it’s only for a couple days.

img_1488 img_1757 Blogfest

Hopefully some of this info was useful if you are a blogger and for those of you who attended one or both of the conferences, let me know if I missed any big points!

Questions:

  • Have you ever been to a blogging conference? What was your favorite part?
  • Who’s going to Vegas next year for Blogfest??
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36 Comments

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:35 am

      Totally. It’s so freeing!!

  1. August 3, 2016 / 6:07 am

    I have learned so many of the same things attending conferences as well.
    Back in the olden days 🙂 when I dumped BlogHer ads for that very same reason everyone thought I was crazy. There was a waiting list to get the ads on your site etc. but the clutter plus the little money made didn’t seem like a win to meet then or now.
    Carla recently posted…Im in love with a flotation tank.My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:35 am

      Totally. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to optimize them etc for very little return.

  2. August 3, 2016 / 6:15 am

    This is a great post. I haven’t attended a conference yet but I would love to go to Vegas. Excellent, informative post. I myself have avoided ads. I totally agree that it ads to the clutter and I don’t want to “bother” my readers.
    Sarah Dudek recently posted…The Lesser Known Benefits Of RunningMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:36 am

      Come to Vegas next year!!

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:36 am

      Yeah I didn’t have video ads so that also contributed to it not being a whole lot.

  3. August 3, 2016 / 8:30 am

    Erin!! Great informative blog post as ALWAYS. Loved reading about what brands like to see from bloggers, especially when it comes to emails and media kits. i’ve already made some mental notes to change some things in my media kit based off your tips in this post. I also might delete my Google ads; You’re right – i dont think the benefits outweigh the cons of cluttering the page, not to mention I have Ad Block on ALWAYS. So i’m sure 99% of other people do too.
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat recently posted…July Love + Weekend GetawayMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:37 am

      Haha right?? The first time I read blogs on my laptop I was like HOLY CRAP this is distracting.

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:38 am

      Glad I could help! I know – I’m getting too obsessed w IG stories now. Eek.

  4. August 3, 2016 / 9:36 am

    I’ve been to the Wordcamp in my city for the last few years and I’ve learned so much. I’m very grateful that people are generous with their knowledge and willing to help others.

    I’m signed up for more of a social media conference in October which I’m looking forward to. Like you, I find meeting other people at conferences half the fun. You never know who’s going to be there.
    Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona recently posted…August GoalsMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 3, 2016 / 9:38 am

      I’d love to go to ALL THE CONFERENCES, so if you know of any other good ones let me know!!

  5. August 3, 2016 / 9:59 am

    Great info Erin…Just used FB LIve a few minutes ago for the 1st time. So easy to use! Need to learn more about it so if you know anymore, keep us posted my friend!
    Lori

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:21 am

      Will do Lori!

  6. August 3, 2016 / 10:15 am

    I realized how cluttering ads are too, and I was so thankful to get rid of mine, because they just weren’t worth it. I’t’s encouraging to hear your experience too, cause I don’t feel as alone in that choice.

    Also thank you for sharing everything about pitching a brand. That is really helpful for someone like me who still feels so lost about really wanting to help the brands I love without being selfish or self-promotional.
    Emily recently posted…25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me Before Now + A Giveaway!My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:23 am

      Just make it a collaborative effort. Think of ideas of how you could help them market their product. Basically any work you can do that makes their job easier is great!

  7. August 3, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Hey Erin, do you see a benefit to smaller bloggers like me, who also have a full time job and athletic commitments, doing all the extra things with brands? I want to reach out to some that I like but should I come at it through an athlete lense or a blogging lense? I am also studying to get my health coach certification, so my blog may change if that happens. I love blogging and enjoy the engagement, but should I keep doing what I am doing and growing slowly so take more large steps to make it another job?
    Thanks for reading.
    Ellie recently posted…Cold Brew Coffee and WIAWMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:27 am

      It can take some time to figure out exactly what you want to do and where you want to go so I’d sit and think about the bigger picture and where you realistically want to see yourself going. I don’t see why you can’t come to them through both lenses since you’re both of those things and that’s what makes up your whole blog. My blog evolved since it started as well and it’s totally fine to change as you grow. I always like to really listen to my gut about decisions and usually my first inclination is the one I want to do even if it seems tough or hard. Hopefully that helped some, but feel free to email me if you have any more questions!!

  8. August 3, 2016 / 7:21 pm

    This post is so helpful! I hope to go next year! 😀 I definitely feel a little discouraged some days but overall blogging is the best! I’m an introvert too so I totally can relate!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Birthday RecapMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:27 am

      It’s the best for sure. I don’t know what I’d do without it

  9. August 3, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    Blogfest is in Vegas next year?!?! I’m totally in!
    I wanted to come to both Fitbloggin’ and Blogfest this year but, I had to cancel my trip to Indy and I never registered for Blogfest. That whole grand baby thing totally threw a (super cute) monkey wrench in my plans. But, I’m rejuvenated and ready for next year! 🙂

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:28 am

      Yesss. Reunion!

  10. August 3, 2016 / 8:36 pm

    Some good information!
    I really want to go to a blogging conference. Vegas is one of my favorite cities, so who knows? Maybe next year will be the year. 😉 Oh, and fellow introvert here, so I GET IT.
    I’m so glad you touched on ads. After switching to self-hosting, I didn’t even bother setting up ads – even though that was *originally* one of the reasons I switched. I just HATE how intrusive they’ve become. I skip reading a lot of blogs I once read often (on my mobile phone at least) because of that. Grrr.
    Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine recently posted…Why I Haven’t Jumped On The Sweet Potato Toast Train (Yet?)My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:29 am

      It’s so distracting! For me, it’s really only worth it if you have TONS of readers

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:29 am

      Hahaha oh yeah. And I just wish there was more time to hang out! We need to make a whole retreat of it!

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:30 am

      That sounds like the best conference EVER. Now you just have to come back over here so we can do it.

  11. August 4, 2016 / 8:16 am

    This post is really helpful to a somewhat blogging newbie! Interesting about the FB live. I’m thinking of making a snapchat just for my blog too. I really do wanna go to vegas next year!!
    Alyssa recently posted…July 2016 Recap My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 4, 2016 / 9:31 am

      Dooooo it! It’s so much fun. I never got snapchat bc I knew it would take over my life but now there’s IG stories where I already spend half of my life so basically it’s all over now haha

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 5, 2016 / 10:08 am

      Wasn’t Blogfest great?? Come to Vegas!!

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 7, 2016 / 8:32 am

      You should go! There’s plenty of info about that stuff if you google it. Also there are lots of pre made media kit templates too to get you started!!

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