Saturday, March 17, 2012

Notes From Story At Home, Part Two



Saturday

On Saturday, the whole day consisted of breakout sessions where we had three classes each session to choose from.

Leigh Anne Wilkes 
She is a popular blogger at Your Homebased Mom, another blog I had never read or heard of before this conference (I say another because all the aforementioned blogs were ones I'd never heard of before). She spoke about blogging your passion and growing your blog.
  • Focus on your passion.  Is there an area in your life in which good things happen?  Do you have an aptitude for something you like?  What do you do naturally, effortlessly?  What could you teach?  What brings you joy?  About the only thing I could think of that applied to me in this case is cleaning and organizing--what a boring blog that would be, I think!
  • Be yourself on your blog (some people won't like you).
  • Be authentic and open; share the good and the ugly.  Not sure if I agree with this.  People don't want to read the ugly unless it's something they can commiserate with.  I guess you'd have to find a balance, like three happy and good to every one ugly. 
  • Provide quality content (content  is king):  fresh, relevant, consistent
  • Community is queen.   Utilize social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  She said that Pinterest can increase blog traffic by 25% but I'm not sure I want people repinning my stuff, and I have yet to join Pinterest.  Plus there are all sorts of legal ramifications of using Pinterest that sounded extremely confusing to me, which I learned about in the next breakout session. She also talked about finding a community of like-minded bloggers. I wanted to think that Mormon Mommy Blogs (MMB) was that community for me, but I have been somewhat disgusted with a lot of the things they post about over there. I link up to Women Living Well, but since I'm LDS, lots of those bloggers over there think I'm not Christian. So it's been a hard road for me to find a community of "like-minded bloggers". There aren't a whole lot of other bloggers out there who want to discuss major social issues and concerns wrapped up in religion. So we'll see.
  • Be patient, work hard, and be consistent. I have been writing my blog for four years now and I'm kind of frustrated with the traffic and comments I get, which is very little. I'm not sure how to get more people interested in reading and leaving comments. I'd like to have some good discussions on here but can't seem to generate the interest.
  • Then she talked about reasons why people stop reading a blog:  posting too much or too little; sell too much stuff; too much about yourself; too much politics or religion (unless it's a religious or political blog); bad language (funny, because Jen over at People I Want to Punch in the Throat drops the f-bomb about six times per post, sometimes three to four times in one paragraph, and she has about 2700 followers and gets about 150+ comments per post); and there's music playing, a black background, or too small of font. Then she talked about reasons to follow a blog: it's pretty; lots of pictures; the content; makes you a better person for following; makes you laugh, smile, is genuine, makes you cry; the writer responds to your comments.

A decently trafficked blog gets about 20-25K hits/month, according to Mrs. Wilkes.  She summarized by saying 1) work hard; 2) do it because you love it; 3) be patient. 

I feel like there are some changes I'd like to make on my blog after listening to her workshop.  I'm not sure what I will change, but just know there will be some changes. 

Tauni Everett and Alison Moore Smith
These two ladies talked about monetizing your blog.  Now it would be nice to be able to make money off something I spend all this time doing, but the way they presented it, I felt very overwhelmed and destined to failure if I were to ever try doing that.  Not only that, but I didn't understand half of what they were talking about.  They did touch on some of the legal ramifications of blogs, linking to other blogs, Pinterest and other social networking sites.  One thing they said was that if you do a giveaway on your blog, you aren't supposed to post about it on Facebook.  I didn't know that and have seen many, many people do it (and did it myself once, but the giveaway was a joke.  Not only did I only get two people who even entered the giveaway, when I tried to contact the company, they never got back to me.  Never.  I've tried and tried.  So if you entered that giveaway, sorry about that).  So I'm not going to waste time transferring my notes because I really didn't understand most of what they said.

The next class I attended was called Striking a Balance Between Real Life and Online.  I was not impressed with the first speaker's presentation so I will skip that.  The second speaker, Jana Parkin, gave a little quiz that seemed relevant:  (Jana also has a popular blog but I couldn't find it.)
  1. Was the first connection you made this morning with a live person or an electronic device? What about last night?
  2. Have you spent time outdoors today?  Yesterday?
  3. Have you spent more than 90 consecutive minutes connected to the Internet in the last 24 hours?
  4. Have you spent at least 20 minutes today focused on relationships?
The next class was Telling Your Story--Isn't that what your blog is for? and the speaker was DeNae Handy.  I heard her speak at the Casual Blogger Conference in 2010 and she gave pretty much the exact same spiel.

She talked about writing the Hero's Journey, referenced in my post yesterday.  How the protagonist, a regular person, starts out, is given an extraordinary assignment, they meet an ally, then there's the moment of truth, a watershed event, the allies are rewarded, enemies are banished, and the hero is crowned king.  She compared it to musical phrasing and needing a resolution in the music.
Other tips:
  1. Examine the writing you already like and what elements of those genres are in common with each other.
  2. Keep it to 500-700 words.
  3. Short, simple paragraphs and sentences (3 sentences max per paragraph on a blog).
  4. Use literate language (proper grammar).
  5. Be careful about humor slipping into sarcasm that can be demeaning and hurtful.
So I guess I  have to work on all that, since I tend to write blog posts more like essays.  Hmmm....

Last, but not least (my favorite class of the whole conference):
Integrating Your Blog With Social Media
Michael Reynolds, CEO of SpinWeb
First, he listed blogging purposes:
  • Tell a story to connect with family and friends.
  • Market a business or a non-profit.
  • As a platform for a cause.
  • To teach and to educate
  • Personal branding--how other people perceive you
Then he talked about blogging goals:
  • Gain new readers and subscribers
  • Bring more traffic to your website
  • Ignite conversations
  • Research topics or gather information
He then discussed the different social media platforms:
Facebook--very casual, good for social blogs, friends, family, consumers
Twitter--fast-paced, action-oriented, snarky, personal/professional
Linked-In--All business, good for professional blogs, groups
Google Plus--High concentration of tech-savvy, creative people
Youtube--good for embedding videos into blogs, increasing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts

He gave tips on a blog infrastructure to make it more attractive and accessible and easier to read.  His workshop was very informative and gave me ideas on how to improve my blog's look and functions. 

All in all, it was a good conference and has made me rethink some of the things I write about and also the structure of this blog.  I do have some things I want to change, but I'm not sure how much change there will be.  Keep on reading, and thank you for reading! 

Please leave comments here on the blog if there's anything that you like about what I've posted previously and any suggestions for what you might like to see.  Thanks!

1 comment:

swedemom said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

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