So last weekend was Blogtacular my second year attending and only my second ever blogger conference… and on Friday I’ll be attending my third in the shape of Britmums Live.
Between my first and second conferences I’ve learned a lot. This year I made the bold decision not to attempt to take any photos, it goes against every fibre of my being, but I knew that it would be impossible to listen, take notes, meet new people and take photos.
So this year I did a lot more listening, a lot more note taking and I tried to spread my wings a bit more and push myself to talk to other attendees. I stepped outside my comfort zone (and I suspect all of ours) by approaching a blogger who I admire and wanted to meet (Laura from Side Street Style) and I talked to many others I’d already connected with through social media.
So what did I learn? I think there were two levels of learning. There was the literal stuff we were told, the facts, the quotes and the ideas and then there is what it all gets mentally crunched down to after the event… which is perhaps more interesting.
The opening keynote speech was from Grace Bonney of Design Sponge who talked about the changing face of the blogging industry, the fear of being left behind and of getting older in a young industry. She talked about how to deal with change through a five step plan, which included having a good support network of friends and peers with whom you can discuss your concerns. She finished by saying that once you’ve examined and considered a new idea you will have a choice to either swim with the tide or swim upstream and although the latter won’t be easy, you can take ownership of it and make it something that distinguishes you.
My second session was a Q&A with a panel of PR Pros and was the most valuable talk of the day for me. The message rang loud and clear that Content Is King and I was encouraged to hear that PRs do like being approached and that if an idea is strong enough your stats won’t matter. Keys points from the discussion included…
- PRs really love great photography
- Be up front with who you have worked with and be proud to disclose
- Try to incorportate your disclosure artfully into the post body rather than at the end of it
- A pet hate of the panel was the use of asterisks to disclose
- Guest posts are a turn off, especially when there are too many on a blog
- Brands don’t give things away for ‘free’, it comes out of their marketing budget
- PRs have the tools to tell fake follows from real ones so don’t compare you numbers to other bloggers
- If someone offers you something for under £50 (either goods or cash) don’t do a whole post on it as it will damage you long-term
- “Don’t bend your voice to fit with a brand. The reason the brand is working with you is to connect with your own individual voice”
A Pinterest session lead by Zoe Pearson followed the lunch break. I have already worked with Zoe in my capacity as a Featured Pinner. Pinterest now has 30 billion pins and 750 million boards and Zoe advised us that to be successful board names need to be searchable and not cute and clever. Though the visual quality of what you pin matters, it’s really the description (the longer and more descriptive the better) that ensures that pins success.
- The average pin is repinned 11 times
- Follower count is not a great measure of success on Pinterest
- Most content is consumed through searching and not through your profile page
- Look at what people are pinning from your site ( eg : www.pinterest.com/source/www.maybushstudio.com) and see what they are pinning versus what you are pinning
- Have boards that show the ideas, people and places that inspire your content
- Hashtags no longer work on Pinterest as they were seen to attract spammy behaviour
The first of two styling sessions was next with Marte Marie Forsberg showing us her food styling techniques. As a photographer who delights in over-exposing it was intriguing to see the beautiful dark images she captured by turning the dial the other way. The most useful advice I took away from her talk was when she told us to use all our senses to work out what elements to capture in images if we are telling a story – So you should walk into a room and smell and listen to what is going on before you choose what to photograph.
And the last session of the day was from Betty magazine, who had one strong message in their presentation : the confidence of knowing what was Betty and what was not. Charlotte Jacklin talked of how Charlotte Melling who originally conceived the magazine would sometimes reject ideas for photoshoots because they didn’t fit with the ethos behind the magazine. They spoke of finding a unique tone of voice and planning photoshoots so that images were captured in pairs with a good amount of variation of landscape and portrait.
So what did I take away from it all?
As I was digesting the information from the weekend, I stumbled across this post from Mammasaurus and it seemed to entwine with a lot of what I was taking away from the conference. I think what this year’s Blogtacular has emphasised to me is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to pursue quality over quantity. There seems to be a race at the moment to churn out as many posts as possible during a week, sometimes a day. I personally find it too much, both as a reader and a writer. I want to only publish great content and I want that content to be a showcase of great photography.
I also feel that it’s probably ok to decide to leave certain things behind, if you do it for the right reasons. I have played with youtube for the last six months and I believe it can add a great extra dimension to my posts, but it is never going to be a priority for me. Likewise I can see that some social media channels are more important than others and that’s ok as long as you are strong on a couple.
Oh and finally, if you don’t have a bright red lipstick, you are nobody. I might need to sort that one out before Britmums Live…
All images except the top one courtesy of Mollie Makes