This past weekend I was in Charlotte for Bloggy Boot Camp. In case you are wondering what that is, it’s a blog conference put on by the SITS Girls Founders Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci. This is the second SITS Girls event I’ve attended…the first being in NYC a month or so ago. Once again, they did not disappoint. It was an action packed day full of great speakers and networking! And the highlight for me, as it was in NYC, was listening to Tiffany and Fran speak. They both explain things in an easy to understand way, so you really do “get” what to do and how to do it.
I traveled (and roomed with) a friend from my town, another blogging mom, Steph Rufa. There was a cocktail party the night before, and even though Steph and I got in a little late, we decided to swing by. When we got there, all the tables were full of people already engrossed in conversation. But Steph and I were there to make new friends so we started to descend on one that looked like it might have a couple of seats. Before we could get there though, Ashley Abele of Other Half Media stopped and welcomed us. Sometimes at events it feels like speakers are unapproachable…not so here! Ashley was very friendly. She and Shell Roush gave a great talk the next morning about getting off your blog to grow your blog. Then we started talking to Cynthia Wheeler of NW Designs. Cynthia is an absolute hoot. She started off the conversation with “you guys look like you might be my age…” Uh oh…are we really old? I don’t feel old. She was exactly right though. If you know how old I am, you know how old all 3 of us are. Although…I thought I was a couple years older…I have always had problems with remembering my age (and it goes both ways…sometimes I’m younger too). Luckily for me, Steph was there to remind me exactly how old I am! I lost a couple years this time!
And then of course, there is another funny story to be told. Sometimes I think they follow me. With a long day ahead of us, a good night’s sleep was in order. I slept great in my very comfortable bed at the DoubleTree Suites in Charlotte. Steph did not. She is a lighter sleeper than me and apparently I snore. Since it was a big joke for the rest of the conference with everyone we met, I figured I might as well “out” myself the rest of the way. I promise to bring earplugs for future roommates. I am sure she will probably tell this story in much funnier detail if she writes a post, because of course I was the one sound asleep so I don’t remember sounding like a freight train! Hopefully it wasn’t actually that bad!
All kidding aside, getting back to the conference, I have to say Tiffany and Francesca do a top notch job putting on a great show. One thing I really liked was how they assign seating all morning. For those bloggers who don’t feel very established and don’t know many people, this is a great way to meet people and not feel like you are on the outside looking in because everyone is sitting with their friends. Sure I would have liked to have been seated with some of the blog friends I have made over the past few months, but it was really fun because it seemed like at every table I sat at, there was someone who I’d been tweeting with, so I got to meet more people than I would have than if I had just hung out with my “tribe.”
I also liked the atmosphere of a smaller conference. It was nice having only a few sponsors there because you really got a chance to talk to them. I was one of 5 Ambassadors for Keurig Brew Over Ice, which I’ll tell you more about later. And it was truly a treat to hear Casey Petersen from Collective Bias speak! I learned quite a bit from his talk!
My Biggest Take Aways from Bloggy Boot Camp:
Connections count. Blogging is a lot more fulfilling if you form a tribe. Stay tuned for a post from me in the next few days on this topic!
Use social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram…it can get overwhelming. Pick one (or two) to start with and use them consistently. Once you’re comfortable, add another. Being social is important!
Get the little things fixed…NOW. One nugget from Tiffany was that you should link back from Twitter to your About page, rather than your blog itself. Why? Every post you write is not going to be your best work. Companies that you may want to work with may be clicking on your site and the last thing you want them to see is you ranting about the horrible day you just had. Send them to your About page instead!
Learn SEO. When I started blogging, SEO was like rocket science to me. I feel like I am finally getting it. Certainly I am no SEO expert, but I feel like I am gaining the knowledge I need everytime I attend one of these events.
Blog design is important. A messy blog isn’t appealing, and I can definitely attest to having clicked on a blog and clicked off immediately because the design was unappealing (hard to read, too busy, etc…) I do have a few things I want to fix on my blog, like cleaning up the sidebar.
Needless to say, I came home with a huge to-do list! I wish this had been a longer event, and that I had stayed over the second night to network a little more! But all the more reason to head to Bloggy Boot Camp: Brand Edition in Dallas! If you’ve never been to a blog conference, I highly recommend the SITS Girls Bloggy Boot Camps. You’ll get the info you need to be successful, explained in a way you will understand!