Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lady Blogger Social Online Conference - recap

Dear readers,

As I promised to you in my Monday Looks Forward, I would like to write a recap about the Lady Blogger Online Conference. The post is going to be long and first I wanted to do it in two pieces, but I kind of got carried away and instead of two posts you have this one!

First, let me say, that it was a lot of fun. While most of the participants started their conference in the morning, it was already 5 pm here. So when other attendees were having their morning coffee, I was already drinking my evening coffee. When conference day ended for me, the time showed already 1 am. This is the wonder of online conferences - it does not matter where you are or what you do, the online conference is always bringing people together.

I registered to the Lady Blogger Social Online Conference already months ago and when the 8th of July started, I was very excited about it. Lady Blogger Social Online Conference took place over three days, starting on the 8th and ending on the 10th of July.

Some Facts and Numbers:

7 sessions on Friday
6 sessions on Saturday
4 sessions on Sunday
16 presenters
71 attendees from US, Canada and well, 1 from Europe and that was me.

Content of the Conference:
As the title of the conference says, it was about social networking. I will not go into detailed overview of all the sessions, but would just like to bring out some ideas and thoughts what I got out of it. Lot of things and topics what we discussed are known, but not to used by many bloggers.

Friday:
The conference was opened by the keynote speaker Sherri McConnel, CEO/Business Model Expert who spoke generally about the importance of blogging and how blogging has influenced the world.

She was followed by Jenny Dean, whose session concentrated of the blogging platforms and investing in blogging software that organizes content around keywords to drive better engagement of search engine visitors. I have to admit, that this is an area, what I do not know much about, because I have not been so interested in the technical part of the blogging, like SEOs, market affiliates etc. So I was listening with big interest - just to find out that there is still so much to learn about!

Next session was about travel blogging presented by Caz Makepeace who talked about  what it takes to become a successful travel blogger, including topics such as mind set, design tools needed specific to travel blogging, content, traffic, social media, and so much more!

April Durham’s session was about many of the necessary “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of designing your blog.  From making your own graphics, to how to choose a blog designer; tons of tips on making your blog design compliment the content. I was very frustrated after that session. Not because it was not useful. It definitely was, but I just felt so totally lost in the "designing your blog" world. Well, I know what to do with pictures and vlogs etc, but I do not know ANYTHING about HTML, scripts.... ewwww. I know that lots of people find it easy-breezy, but for me - I get chills even when I am thinking about it. I guess I just need to get over it and start watching some online tutorials available.

The next session was held by Caitie Ramsburg who has been working with top brands, connecting bloggers with their marketing goals. She is working for BlogFrog and her presentation was lot of fun! My blog has yet nothing to do with pitching, marketing etc, but I think that this session was very useful for me indirectly. She talked about what is important for big companies, brands when you contact them.

Stephanie Peterson talked about how to balance honest writing with integrity and sensitivity and about the juggling act, how to be a committed blogger when you have other priorities (e.g., marriage, children, other careers, family, friends, and yourself). Her presentation was sincere and simple and came from her heart. I think many bloggers, including me, find it difficult sometimes. I have a small kid at home, daily work and career and above all that, I still want to blog, I want to find time for it! Stephanie talked out of her own experience and therefore it was easy to relate to.

Saturday:
Christie Crowder discussed something all of us bloggers struggle with - other people not being able to understand and support blogging. I luckily do not have that problem, I only need to consider my kid, but since I am blogging when he is already in bed, I can take the late hours of the evening to blog undisturbed. But there were lot of participants who had big problems with family, husband etc not understanding why the blogging is important for the bloggers, why does it take long time, why is it important for the blogger. Christie gave a lot of tips how to involve the close ones more into the process.

Holly Homer brought up a very interesting question:  As a blogger you CAN achieve adventure and money, but is that REALLY what you want?  She emphasized to think about before you spend the countless hours of investment required to get there.

Next session was held by Ronique Gibson with tips for helping fellow bloggers decide on how to choose a niche for their writing/blog, but also choose a topic that is part of them, and is of interest to the point of obsession. Her session was about helping bloggers realize that they should write for themselves, and not an audience, and that you will always be your worst and best critic. I really enjoyed this session!

And then a surprise - the only male presenter! Kole Mcrae's message was very clear - Less is More! this actually created a lot of discussions, because many attending bloggers considered the quantity, simply because their blog and especially clients do require it. Most of them were frugal bloggers where the clients want to see the number of page views, followers, more than 3 posts per day etc. I have to admit, that for me blogging has always been Less is More. for me the blogging is about message, about the content and also when you think about book blogging them it is fairly impossible to read 3 books per day every day! Of course, you can write 3 posts about books, reading, authors, news etc. I also visited Kole's blog and I loved it! It is simple, sincere, there is a message in every post he writes. Of course, he is a professional writer, so no wonder he is good at it!

Michele Mcgraw talked about tools out there that we use when it comes to blogging and social media. Oh dear! Besides the big social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, there are so many other tools that I did not know even existed: Seesmic.com, Listorious.com, StumbleUpon, Hootsuite etc. My perspective is that it is impossible to reach out to the whole world (I do have life to live!), but you need to choose which channels you are using and learn how to use the efficiently!

J from J’s Everyday Fashion went over the components of great marketing: dedication, branding, networking, partnering, and social media strategy. That lady was brilliant! She is keeping her blog in Facebook under photo albums under which she writes her posts! Very good idea!

Sunday:
Sunday started with goal setting session held by Julie Herbert. She actually had two sessions on Sunday, first one was about goals and SMART goals and later she had another session where she talked about how to use your blog and online media for philanthropy.

Carolina Moore talked about what to do when your blog has gone stale, how to keep yourself and readers interested.

Last, but not least Mary Jaksch  went through how to turn a small blog into big business. Her presentation was very interesting and useful! She talked how to grow your readership and how to plan and produce digital product. I have to admit that her session was one of my favorite! Not because I am planning to grow my small blog into huge business, but the ideas she mentioned, the freshness of what she told - it was a very good ending to the conference!

As you can imagine, it was all very intensive, there was a lot of information I got, so now I need little time to let it all settle in. Then I can start implementing some of the things I learned from the conference.


Organization of the Conference:

The sessions were divided into live sessions, telephone conference calls and pre-recorded sessions. Live sessions were organized over Ustream.com and it worked actually quite nicely. There were some minor technical issues, but it was nothing that disturbed. During the sessions we were able to chat both with each other and also with the speaker and most of the questions asked in chat were answered by the speaker right away, so it made the presentations and communication with the audience dynamic and easy.

Finally, all sessions were recorded, so I have the possibility to go over to the conference site and watch them as many times as I want. I have used this possibility more than once and I really love it!

Lady Blogger also organized a very professional conference site were all participants have access to. the site includes all the recorded sessions, forum with discussions, interest groups, member information etc, so you had all the information available in one place. Nice and easy!

Networking with other participants:

Besides the fact, that the conference was well organized and interesting, I also enjoyed networking with other participants. I have visited many of the blogs who participated and it is always fun to see, how others are managing their blogs. There were not many book bloggers at the conference: I think there was only 1 besides me, it was still overwhelmingly fun to communicate and network with the organizers, speakers and participants.

I am still visiting the site every day, writing posts, asking questions, sharing the know-how. We even decided with some bloggers to make a group for buddies for cooperating and I am looking very much forward to that, because I sincerely believe that we have something to learn from each other and especially from the speakers!
I think that the participants of this conference were actually the best examples of social networking - contacts were made, blogs were visited, pages and blogs followed and commented. I loved that!

Summing it all up:
For a fairly new blogger like me, this conference was a lot of fun, it gave lot of new ideas and know-how and it was genuinely useful.

Thanks to all the organizers and presenters for making this conference! You all did a very good job and in case you organize something like that next year - count me in!

Happy blogging, everybody!

2 comments:

  1. Hi! I'm sort of one of the other book bloggers. I do books, movies, TV and music on my site. I had a great time at the conference too. I was a bit overwhelmed by the design your blog segment. I don't know how to to do ANY of that stuff. I'm hope I will continue to talk with all of you. It was wonderful connecting with other bloggers.

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  2. Hi Colleen, thanks for coming by!
    Hahaa, the designing part overwhelmed me too.
    It was really nice to meet you at the conference!

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