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.
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
- 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
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 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
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.
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!
- Have you ever been to a blogging conference? What was your favorite part?
- Who’s going to Vegas next year for Blogfest??