I FINALLY attended my first blog con—The Central Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference (a.k.a. CFL Blog Con 2012).
Yes, I’ve been blogging for years, but (1.) I’m horribly shy and the idea of hanging with hundreds of social media mavens scares the bejeezus out of me, and (2.) there’s no wiggle room for plane tickets or hotels in my budget. I stay local. Luckily, they kicked off the first Central Florida Blog Con last year (but I missed out because I didn’t buy my ticket soon enough). I didn’t make that mistake this year.
I came. I saw. I learned so much my brain nearly melted. So please bare with me if I wander off on any tangents.
This year’s conference was held at the amazing Orlando Science Center. (If you want to know how much I love this place, see this previous AWARD WINNING post—more on that later.) It was a bit of an adventure getting there. I had to drive through the Orlando Heart Walk, weaving between walkers as I drove on the wrong side of the road. (The cop told me to, I swear.) I parked next to Captain Jack Sparrow and his wench who were speaking pirate-eze. Was I in the right place?
I was exactly where I needed to be. There just happened to be a big pirate fest going on also.
As we settled into the dramatically steep CineDome, the laptops and smart phones glowed and a flash mob broke out. No, I did not dance. I would have needed a few mimosas to gather the courage for spontaneous, extremely public dancing.
I thought I’d just share a FEW nuggets of wisdom that rocked my blogging/social media world. You probably know all this. Remember: I’m new to these things.
First up: keynote speaker Lou Mongello (of WDW fame)
- If you want to blog full time, treat it like a job. Don’t expect overnight success.
- You never know who is watching. Build great content from day one.
- And the much debatable Don’t accept freebies. Coca-Cola doesn’t pay their employees in coke. Freebies won’t feed your kids or pay your bills. Demand more.
|Them: laptops, iPads, technology. Me: pen & paper.|
Marketing Yourself: How to Build a Media Kit by Callie @The Wannabe Athlete
- Always have an elevator pitch ready.
- Add services offered (i.e. freelance articles, sponsored posts) to your media kit.
- Save it on an EDITABLE pdf so it can be sent out and updated regularly.
- Your social media stats are important, not just for high numbers, but to show engagement and influence.
- Include your location. You never know when people are looking for locals.
- ORGANIZATION is the key to success
- Organize your Google reader to make scanning blogs more efficient (and find the plug in to comment directly from reader).
- Make Pinterest work for you: use a Pinterest widget on your blog sidebar & WooBox app creates a tab on your FB page to show all of your boards.
From I.P. to M-A-G by Kyle @Brink Magazine
- Feature others who already have a built-in audience.
Tweet Your Way to Success: Developing a Social Media Strategy for Twitter by Rachelle Lucas @The Travel Bite
- Use manageflitter.com to prune who you follow and keep your ratio balanced.
- Curate & share content from your niche AND other areas of interest.
- Must, must, must use Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or other tool to manage lists and schedule tweets.
- Old school “RTs” still rock. Don’t be a me, Me, ME tweeter. Don’t be a stalker.
Widgets and Gadgets for Bloggers by Professor Josh @Professor Josh
- Use Delicious to bookmark tweets, posts, photos, videos, articles. Tag and organize, share and have access to links anywhere.
- IFTTT.com is some kind of magic I must figure out.
- Use Zite to create your own perfect source of news feed.
- Evernote syncs projects between all your computers and devices.
More Ways to Monetize Your Blog with Amanda Tinney @Disney Everyday
- Did you know you can FLIP blogs? I had no idea. Check out flippa.com. Mind Blown.
- Use google trends to discover what terms people are searching.
- It’s better to link a post to FB with an image.
- Brands want video: just 30 seconds of exciting and engaging content will make them swoon.
Extreme Makeover Facebook Edition with Jeanette @J’s Everyday Fashion
- You CAN monetize FB through affiliate links in captions.
- If you build a consistent, engaged following, you can sell it as a part of your package.
Whew. Are you tired yet?
Organizers made this Blog Con paper-free. All the presentations slides (including the 12 or so I couldn’t attend due to conflicting schedules) are available to attendees via Doccaster. I’ve downloaded all of the sessions and I’m waiting for a chance to learn about the ones I missed.
Now, imagine squeezing in some social time, a yummy lunch catered by Bahama Breeze, a quick yoga session, and gadget recharging time. I’m tired and exhilarated just thinking about it. (Note to self: I MUST get more gadgets. Like an iPad. And an iPhone. Or at least a tablet. My laptop with a burned out battery just does not cut it.)
|Mmmmm. . .Death by Chocolate and Dulce de Leche|
After all these amazing sessions, there was the Yelp after party in the DinoDigs. Yes—food, friends, and adult beverages while surrounded by dinosaur fossils. Absolutely fabulous.
|I need to track down this new cider.|
And I was so honored to have my #CFLGood Blogging for Good post about the Orlando Science Center selected as the winner! I am proud to support such a wonderful organization.
|Hanging with some of the Central Florida Lady Bloggers (me, Paula, Michelle, Christine, J, and Jackie) at the Yelp party. They make me feel short even in 3-inch heels. Photo borrowed from J via Paula.|
Thanks to all of the organizers, speakers, and sponsors of this year’s event. They did a fantastic job. I’m ready for next year!
*Thanks to Macbeth Photography for letting all the attendees use his photos!