I’m finally coming down from my high after my first blogging conference. The information that I gained was empowering and I feel exhilarated and ready to take my passions by the horns riding them into the sunset. If I were into expressing myself overtly, I would have been jumping and skipping to the car after I’d hugged the necks of every presenter and admonished them with thanks. But that’s not who I am. Instead, I came home beaming with further confirmation that leaving the corporate world and pursuing my passion in writing was the right thing.
On Saturday, September 19, I attended the SoFabUniversity On the Road Conference that was put on by Collective Bias. Last week I shared that I would be attending and that I’d gotten my business cards ready to hand out–they were awesome and came in handy. I was a bundle of nerves as I drove in not knowing what to expect, if I looked right, if I would be able to conquer my nerves and network. When I arrived, I was surprisingly calm and a kind face greeted me. I was so excited to see my name and social handle on the name badges I couldn’t help but to let go of my nerves–I felt like I belonged.
Breakfast was good but I’m an emotional starver so I didn’t really eat very much. The first person that I met was fellow blogger Iyanna from Yannivlovely. We’d chatted on Twitter and I was happy to “know” someone there. The next person that I met was Josh from DriveShop who was super sweet and gifted me with my very own selfie stick
that I’m now addicted to. We were greeted by Rebecca E. Parsons who was also a panelist and speaker for the event and then we started. The line up of speakers and topics was pretty impressive and I was ready to learn.
How To Excel With Sponsored Posts
This was a panel discussion with the following:
- Matt Davis – EVP, Biz Development @MattDavis73
- Heather Brummett – Coordinator, @heatherBBlogs
- Lauren Blass – Sr. Account Director @LaurenRodkin
- Rebecca Parsons – Manager, @RebeccaEParsons
Some of the highlights of this discussion included:
- How bloggers are chosen–The analytics are important because they give a measurable number for ROI to give brands. But this isn’t the only thing that’s important–comments on posts as well as pictures are also important. The analytics make the sell to the brand easier.
- Money–These posts typically pay between $125-$750 depending on how much is required from the post.
- Preparation for writing these posts–Take the Shoppertunities course ASAP. Additional courses that help are photography, the art of storytelling, and writing sponsored posts that don’t appear sponsored.
- Additional opportunities in generating income
- SoFab writers
- Campaign Leaders (community member)
- SoFab Mentor program
- SoFabU Instructors
- SoFabUOTR Ambassadors
- Creative Counsel – Create fun ideas for what you’d like to do for a campaign
Your Passion Into Words-Storytelling Session
This was a session led by Rebecca Parsons who is AHmazing! We started the session out by looking at a picture of a baby crying and a Kleenex box. We had to write whatever came to mind when we saw it. There were a couple of other writing exercises like this where we had to write something really descriptive based on something simple. She encouraged reading books and publications that were in our niche which I thought was a great idea. We also talked about accurately expressing our passions through our words–taking the road less traveled with our words since we only had 3-6 seconds to capture our readers in the beginning. Part of being able to do this is in making close observations to what it is we’re writing about. In observing what you’re describing, Rebecca taught us the snapshot method which is when you close your eyes getting into the moment and truly envisioning what you’re writing. While you’re doing this you want to invoke all of your senses and really feel what you’re about to write and then put it all on paper (to be read as computer ha!).
One of the great takeaways I got was in not being lazy with my descriptions and to be more creative with my words. I know that as I’m writing, I want my readers to feel what I felt in the moments that I was writing and in order to do this, I have to use things better than, “Oh that was awesome!” or “Man, this is delicious” since these statements really don’t tell a story. “Awesome” and “delicious” feel different to different people and don’t offer an accurate description since you’ve learned nothing. And revise. I’m not so great at going back and re-reading and revising. Sometimes I think that my voice can be lost by making things sound perfect but that’s not really the case. Whenever I write, I want the story to be told in a way that makes sense and flows smoothly. I know that sometimes I can get lost in my thoughts and things can come out choppy–not what I want.
How To Turn Your Most Popular Blog Post into a YouTube Video
If you remember from my initial post about this conference, this was the session that I was most excited about because TheMrsTee told me that I needed to work on my YouTube channel. Fellow Atlantan Joyce Brewer of Mommy Talk Show lead this presentation. Joyce is a truly dynamic speaker and you can’t help but stay engaged while she talks. She started her presentation debunking all of the excuses that we could possibly come up with for not having a YouTube channel. I have to say, I felt a little silly for not having mine developed when she simplified what it takes to really get your channel on and popping. One of my concerns was getting people interested in my videos and these are the tips that she gave in response to that:
Get more video comments, views, shares, and likes:
- ask for them in the videos
- you have to give to get; reciprocate to other youtubers
- include the video in your newsletter; twitter, facebook, create a 15 sec clip for IG
- social media sites like http://likenation.com
- YouTube groups
Needless to say, expect more from my YouTube channel in the near future!
Developing a Unique, Personal Voice to Increase Brand Recognition & Build a Loyal Following
This presentation was by Summer Davis of Dirty Floor Diaries and this really hit close to home for me. I couldn’t even take notes as I sat and listened in awe as Summer spoke. I felt like she was speaking directly to me as she shared her life story and inspiration behind her site. Here were the things that really stuck out for me:
- Don’t apply for sponsored posts that you aren’t passionate about. I needed to hear this as I sit and apply for literally everything that comes across my way. Part of me does this because I really can related to most of these sponsored posts but she said something that was so important to me, “If you wouldn’t organically share this information with your friends or strangers then don’t apply for it.”
- Stay true to your voice even if it means losing some companies that want to work with you. She said that she lost this but because she was true to her voice, her readers remained engaged and she had companies that reached out to her specifically because of her voice.
- You are the only person who can write your story. You are your own competition.
I really loved her presentation. It was so personal to me because in starting this blog I want to cover so much but never lose my voice. I think I’ve pinned one thousand million trillion pins about how to get your post to go viral or make $100,000 in one month but the truth of it is, if I don’t love my own voice, no one else will.
The INGREDIENTS for a Great Sponsored Post (& Tastespotting-worthy photos!)
This was the keynote presentation by Nate Engels of WannaBite.com. Let me start off by saying that if you visit his site, be prepared to have food-gasms based off of his pictures. He photographs his creations in such a way that you can see the textures and almost taste them as you scroll through the photos wishing you were wherever he was. After visiting his site it was only appropriate that he give the presentation on the “ingredients” for great sponsored posts. Nate started his presentation off saying that your sponsored posts need to be your best posts and I couldn’t agree more. Nate shared that he and his wife have a process for applying to sponsored posts when one that they’re interested in comes up. This is something that I need to work on and listening to him speak gave me a greater understanding of why I was missing out on the sponsored posts that I was applying for.
One of the most popular questions that is asked is “why do brands worth with bloggers?”. A popular thought is that bloggers just want free things and that’s why we want to do sponsored posts. Here’s the thing, as bloggers, we offer a different type of voice that isn’t one of the brand that we work with–we’re the voice of the people and our reviews hit home with the intended audience of the brand BUT we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of selling the product we’re reviewing. In working with brands, creating good content is critical and in doing this we should be going above and beyond what’s asked of us through telling a story with both words and quality pictures.
When I started blogging in 2005, photos didn’t matter. But now? Now all bloggers are expected to be semi-professional photographers as well. Some things to remember when photographing for a sponsored post:
- products aren’t required in every shot
- be creative
- let the story/post sell
- save a little of the product for photos
- photos require planning and props
- do NOT overlook the importance of props
- think about foreground and background too
- leave space for typography
Lastly, Nate touched on the psychology of growing your influence. It’s important to leverage mobile connections–Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Periscope, etc. One of the things that he spoke about was the effect that favoriting and commenting on people’s posts had. It was really incredible and make a lot of sense. If you want readers, focus on social connections.
I tried to make this recap as informational as possible because I thought that everything there was worth sharing. One of the things that I can say with confidence is that I’ve gained the tools for success in the lifestyle I’m chasing.
If you have any questions about information here please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Have you been to a blogging conference before? What was your experience like?