I learned so much at Bloggy Bootcamp that I could never sum it up in one post, but I'm going to talk about some of the things that really stood out to me. It's no secret that I'm a Tip Junkie lover, so many of the tips are from her. I would also like to give a quick shout out to Charmin because they rocked the Friday evening party (thanks for the cheese!).
1. Tip Junkie is not only smart, she's nice! And she shares.
There are so many bloggers out there that are tight-lipped about their success. Or they are walking bodies of knowledge but choose not to share – for various reasons, but mostly because they're afraid others will “beat” them. Tip Junkie taught us that it's best to lift each other up. We are all our own competition, and yes other bloggers are our competition too, but we shouldn't be competing with our friends – we should be helping them.
2. You need to treat your blog like a business if you wanna make $$.
From the get go, if your goal is to make money, treat your blog like a business. Don't start out on Blogger. Start out on self-hosted WordPress. YES that means there's an expense – though it's a small one. I don't know about you, but moving to WP really kicked my ass in gear as far as actually working instead of just getting sucked into social media all day. You need to establish an end game (what's your ultimate goal?), and write down the steps you need to take to get there. I still need to figure out what my end game is, besides being filthy rich. :)
3. Always expect a return on your efforts.
This one is soooo hard for me. I help people daily. Well, all day long.. every day. And I rarely expect anything in return because I just enjoy doing it. But lately I've noticed some people that call themselves “friends” have been using me – both for knowledge and PR contacts, and just help in general with blogging. I only had a few people help me when I wanted to start making money with my blog, and I know how it feels to be told “no” when I ask for help, so I never turn anyone down. But… it's biting me in the ass and I'm going to start expecting a return on my efforts. Or at least a thank you…
4. Work efficiently.
Make a list of what you're wanting to get accomplished each day, and work on the hardest task first. Reading my post about productivity will help you do just that.
5. Be seen IRL. *gasp*
This one I'm taking on head first and going for. I have severe anxiety and have for years and years. I hate social situations, I hate even being seen in public. Always have. I even remember I used to get physically ill when I knew I'd have to go somewhere and speak to more than a few people. Crazy, right? Well a few years ago I sold Mary Kay (only briefly, yuck) and I had to break out of my shell. Now my Mom and I call it “putting my Mary Kay face on” because working in the beauty business, even though it was a short time, really helped me to realize that I have more inner strength than I ever knew.
I still get a bit of anxiety when going places, but I deal with it. I make myself do things I'm uncomfortable with. At the conference this weekend, I saw two girls that were off by themselves being unsocial (is that a word?). I dragged them over with us and made friends with them. That is so NOT me! I would never do that. But I put my Mary Kay face on and I realized that I can do anything if I have a good enough reason to. The reason was to make those ladies feel welcome and I really hope I accomplished that. :)
Anyway, enough rambling about that, but when you hear my announcement next week you will see that I really am going to work on being seen In Real Life.
6. Sidebars are not a badge dumping ground.
The Nap Warden taught us so much valuable information, but the one piece that really stuck out for me was that sidebars are not a badge dumping ground! I've seen so many bloggers ruin their awesome blog with tacky badges all over their sidebar. Your sidebars are valuable real estate. Advertise for yourself or your paid sponsors, or friends (the ones that don't use you and screw you over), or for companies you really super love. Don't just put 30 badges there because you're a member of different websites.
7. Dali Burgado is so cute!
Okay maybe that wasn't the most professional way to introduce her, but I am seriously blog-crushing on Dali Burgado. Don't tell her I said that! She is smart, beautiful, and she shared so much knowledge with us! It'd be a match made in heaven if she wasn't in love with Google. Ergggg. I don't like Google. :( But, in order to be successful online you have to at least attempt to peacefully coexist with Google (even if they steal your money after you've displayed their ads for months for free).
I learned a lot from Dali, but some of the most important things were to create shareable content, and to know what the trends are. I'm bad about not caring about trends, but while listening to Dali I realized I can always put my own spin on the trends and still be “following” them, but not. Ya know? I never want to be that cookie cutter blogger, but if I want to continue to make money with my blog I do have to try and fit in a little bit.
Dali also taught us that categories are good, whereas tags are not that important. I don't even use tags on Slap Dash Mom, but I was obsessed with them back when I owned Randomosity. It's nice to know that they're not so important that I need to get frustrated over not knowing which ones to pick. :)
OH and also, create a Google Plus account! I already had one but I didn't have one for Slap Dash Mom. I've been trying to avoid G+ but Dali talked about how important it is and how it's going to be the “in” thing over the next year or so, so I joined. Add me to your circles. :)
8. “Please don't tweet that” is like a mantra for speakers.
Seriously, I heard “Please don't tweet that!” at least half a dozen times and it made me LOL every time. I never knew how attached some bloggers were to their phones until I looked around the conference and saw they were tweeting during our little get togethers. I mean, I think it's kind of a given – and sponsors love it – but I try to give my full attention to the speakers and I barely understand Twitter on my phone anyway so I couldn't do all that.
9. Don't be an asshole.
I am not even kidding when I say that Tiffany Romero was speaking (the driving force and co-creator of the entire conference) when someone raised their hand and asked if she could “move it along” because we were “already running behind” and she “wanted to hear the next speaker”. Not. Even. Joking. So help me god (or bob, or whoever), if someone interrupts me when I'm talking and says that, I will stab them in the eye. Okay maybe not, but I'd cry afterwards. How rude can you get? Yeah, it was running late, but who cares? Everyone was still going to get to speak. I had to leave at 5PM, but was I going to interrupt Tiffany (or anyone) who was giving us super valuable information? HELL NO because that is rude.
10. Have fun and be you (unless you are an asshole).
I was so so nervous (see #5 above) to talk to anyone at this conference. If I didn't know a few bloggers already (by “know” I mean I talk to them online), I don't know if I would have introduced myself at all. Slap Dash Mom is a brand new blog (going on 2 months old now), and I knew that nobody would know who the heck I was. I am not a “mommy” blogger. I'm not a coupon blogger. I'm not one of those bloggers that has a “niche”. I'm just me. It's kind of like if you get a pack of 100 cookie cutters, I'm the deformed or broken one. That's not necessarily a bad thing I guess, but I just feel like I don't really “fit in” with other bloggers sometimes.
With that being said, I just loosened up (without wine, mind you!) and figured hey, whatever happens is meant to be and if everyone hates me I'll go back to hiding in my bedroom and blogging. No big deal, right? :) When some of the women asked what my blog was about, I told them “oh just everything” and they'd ask about my last few posts. Of course I talked about the controversial ones (like My Daughter is Not a Lesbian… or Maybe She Is), and some people seemed put off by it while others really embraced me and said it was awesome that I wrote about whatever the hell I felt like.
Just remember to be you because nobody else is like you. Even if you are one of the bloggers with a niche, you still have a voice and it is your own, so own it.
I'd like to say thank you to everyone I met at the conference, to all the bloggers that were nice and saved me a seat when I was wondering where I'd sit, and to all of the amazing speakers that taught me more about blogging a day than I could ever learn elsewhere.
Thank you SITSGirls for putting it all together and thank you to Tip Junkie (Laurie Turk), Cynthia Wheeler (Nap Warden), Dali Burgado, Danielle Smith, Tiffany Romero, Francesca Banducci, Allison Tallamantez, and Annie Shultz for speaking.
And finally, thank you to the party girls for showing me what a wine bong was. My life is now complete. ;)