I invested in my blogging development this year and purchased a ticket to the 2015 ProBlogger event on the Gold Coast. I also invested in a plane ticket. Accommodation. A hire car. And a big brave You-Can-Do-This-Inner-Boost for the shy introvert inside of me before walking into a room of 700 people.
When I launched my blog in September 2014, I kept hearing about the ProBlogger experience. THE ultimate blogging event for Aussie bloggers. I was excited but nervous to attend for the first time. I was also stoked to be reunited with my little family, as regular followers of my blog would know, that my husband lives away from us in Brisbane for work at the moment. The photo above is of my son and I playing with the sponsor Olympus’ props before I headed down to learn for the day.
Despite both my hubby and son getting sick, we had a wonderful time – and I walked away with a head full of knowledge, inspiration, and ‘spring cleaning’ agenda items for my blog and social media.
For those who were unable to attend, I have done a round up of some of the key lessons and takeaways from the 2015 ProBlogger event in the hope that it might help your own blog or business in some way.
2015 ProBlogger: Opening takeaways from Head Problogger, Darren Rowse
- It is worth investing in yourself and your business. Input (e.g., through professional and personal development, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc) is essential in order to sustain quality output (e.g., through blogging, and providing quality products and services).
- Don’t forget to sit back and regularly ask yourself the question “How are you?” – and to truly listen to the answer. The health of your blog and your business is often linked with your own health, self care and feelings.
- Develop systems, processes, and schedules that can make you use your time efficiently. If you were to track your ‘working’ time – where would you be spending most of it? Is that where you want to be spending most of it? There is an app called Rescue Time that is supposed to help you become more aware of how you spend time on your computer, so that you can make changes and be more efficient.
2015 ProBlogger: Specific takeaways for those creating E-Books
Nat Kringoudis spoke about her experience and lessons from releasing e-products, including her first e-book Fertilise Yourself where she sold 25,000 copies. Her advice included:
- Get the best editor and designer you can afford – this will help ensure you release a quality product.
- Dream BIG and ask someone you admire to write the forward – you never know, they might just say “yes”.
- Release at least 7 themed announcements before launching your e-book (e.g., updates, giveaways, etc). Ensure your audience know it is coming and are hyped and excited about it.
2015 ProBlogger: Specific take aways for Pinterest Users
The Pinterest session presented by Ruth Soukup confirmed what I’ve suspected for a while now – my Pinterest boards are a mess and are a pot of wasted potential. Over the past few days I have been systematically going through and ‘spring cleaning’ my Pinterest boards using the following snapshot of some of the suggestions made by Ruth:
- As a blogger, you can use Pinterest as a tool for driving people to your website and access your quality content and services. Try not to focus on the number of re-pins you are getting – and instead focus on how you can make your Pins captivating enough for people to click on through to your site.
- Remember that unlike other social media platforms, people use Pinterest to access quality content. They have a problem, and are searching for the solution. In your Pin descriptions write 3-4 sentences that clearly outline the problem you are solving and how clicking through to your website content will help solve it. Where possible, create a sense of urgency in the description, so that readers click on through to your website NOW, rather than pinning it to possibly (and unlikely) return to later.
- Use beautiful pictures with bright colours that make the image ‘pop’ and capture the user’s attention. People are less likely to click on Pins that show people’s faces – so crop them out or blur them where possible to focus more on the subject matter in the image. Use a heading with captivating design and wording. Vertical images are better than horizontal images – and in terms of size 600 pixels wide is the recommended minimum (with 1000 x 1500 being even better).
- When your Pinterest boards are beautiful, polished, and super clean, consider making use of the Collaborative Boards feature (with like-minded friends or professionals) to join forces with other Pinterest users to get even more exposure.
2015 ProBlogger: Specific take aways for Instagram users
The Instagram session by Jadah Sellner also left me with an Instagram ‘spring cleaning’ list. Jadah’s website Simple Green Smoothies was one of the first websites I subscribed too, and one of the first Instagram pages I fell in love with. It was amazing to hear first hand her tips for maintaining a smashing Instagram account.
Below are some of my main takeaways from this session:
- In your profile description, make sure you include a prompt and link to your website opt-in. You can use a link shortner (e.g., Pretty Links) to ensure it is short and tidy. People also love a few emojis relevant to your brand here too – to add a splash of colour and character.
- Ensure that every image you post aligns with your core message. It might have a different focus (e.g., teaching, adding value, selling, giving away), but it should always align with your WHY and brand. Remember that when people come to your feed, they will generally look at the first 6-9 photos. Take the time to periodically check your account from the perspective of a new potential follower – ensure the last 9 photos represent your account and don’t be scared to delete any that don’t!
- Remember that people use Instagram on their mobile phones – and if they follow through to your website, will likely experience it via mobile phone. When possible, ensure your website is mobile friendly.
- Ensure your feed is beautiful and includes pops of colour. Instagram users LOVE red too! Posts with red are much more likely to get likes than photos with other colours!
- Edit your photos. Don’t use the Instagram filters. Afterlight is a wonderful app for beginners to use.
- Use a scheduler to schedule your photos. (I can’t remember what tool Jadah said she uses – but I personally use Latergramme and know that Hootesuite just added Instagram to their bundle also).
- Track your statistics using different tools and apps. Iconosquare is great for statistics. Social Rank is great to see who is following you.
- Post a picture of yourself once a month and introduce yourself to new followers – say “hello”, tell them your WHY, and invite them to access your opt-in.
- Constantly think about how you can add value to your community and cheer them on toward their transformation journey. Ensure that 80-90% of your Instagram behaviour and engagement adds value, and the remaining shares your products and services. Simple Green Smoothies add value through a number of ways in their Instagram feed – one example is by providing the full recipes for their smoothies with the photo and not expecting visitors to go to their website for the recipe.
- Consider featuring members of your community in your feed to celebrate them and their transformations.
And finally, here is Jadah’s 1-3-5 method to increasing your Instagram followers:
- Choose a hashtag that your dream client might be searching for. Search for it yourself. Click on an image that appears to be from a dream client.
- Comment on 3 of their photos. Don’t spam them. Don’t write crap. Write genuine comments on three different photos.
- Like 5 of their posts. Again, don’t spam them. Like 5 photos that genuinely resonate with you.
That person will then likely check out your feed and if it resonates (and your last 6-9 images are beautiful and on brand and add value) will follow you.
2015 ProBlogger: Specific takeaways for making sales through email
Speaker Alita Harvey Rodriguez mentioned that 65% of shopping cart conversions come from email. Some ways to turn email into a tool for making sales include:
- Introduce an email automation series for those who subscribe to your email list. This means sending them more than the one welcome email – but a series of emails before they are added to your main newsletter list. This automation series might include, for example:
- Email 1: Hello, welcome, you’re loved, and here’s your opt-in gift.
- Email 2 (3-7 days later): Reminder to access welcome offer + some blog posts that might help them (Send them blog content related to their behaviour and where they subscribed on your website. If you are not ready for this, start by sending them your most popular blogs posts).
- Email 3 (3-7 days later): Invite them to connect with you on social media too, include feedback from others about how valuable it is over there (e.g., a screenshot of a thread saying how fab you are).
- Email 4 (3-7 days later): Include more Freebies, value, or special offer (with an expiry).
- Trigger emails for people who have been inactive on your email list to check in on them and attempt to re-engage.
- When people go to unsubscribe, make it so they can change their preferences – for example to request less emails from you. If they do unsubscribe, ensure in the confirmation email that you invite them to follow you on social media – some people will be happy to do this instead of having emails in their inbox.
- When it comes to sending emails – always test subject lines. Subject lines that have been tested are much more likely to be effective. Funny, personal, and/or short and lines tend to work best.
2015 Problogger: Specific takeaways on how to handle criticism online
Heather Armstrong (from DOOCE) spoke at 2015 ProBlogger about the horrific criticism and cyber bullying she has been victim to over her 14 years of blogging.
People say the most horrific and inhumane shit to other people. Heather played a recording of her reading out some of the things people had actually said to her online about her work and family – I was so deeply shocked, was misty eyed, and couldn’t believe (but simultaneously could believe) what I was hearing. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen or heard about someone being bullied online.
I was so captivated that I didn’t take any notes. But here is my recollection of some of Heather’s advice from her experience of dealing with ‘haters’:
- ‘Haters’ forget that bloggers, celebrities, and public figures are human. She shared the story of Lindy West and what happened when she confronted her ‘troll’ and how he wrote to her afterwards apologising and saying: “there is a living, breathing human being who is reading this shit. I am attacking someone who never harmed me in any way”.
- Just ‘shaking it off’ and moving on often doesn’t work, especially when the ‘hate’ keeps coming. Allow yourself to feel, to be upset, and to hurt. And remember the amount of pain that person must be experiencing in order to write such horrific things to someone they don’t know. Remember that they are hurting, try not to be defensive or hateful in return, and instead feel compassion for them.
- It is okay to delete negative comments. It is okay to not allow people to come into your ‘home’ and poop on your floor.
- Remember that constructive criticism is telling someone how they could have handled something better so that they can be aware, perhaps right their wrongs, or do something differently next time. You can provide constructive criticism politely and with kindness. Name-calling, belittling, threatening, and insulting – is not constructive criticism.
- Seek help when/if you need it.
2015 ProBlogger: Specific takeaways for those who want to work with brands:
Andrea Michelle shared her expertise on how to engage and work with brands. Some tips to takeaway were:
- When reaching out to a brand about a possible alignment, the people you want to talk to are the Brand Managers, PR and Media Agencies.
- When assessing the merits of working with a blogger, brands are looking at relevance, engagement, advocacy, and reach.
- Reflect on what type of brands you might like to someday work with. Use their products and create awesome content around their products – oh and don’t forget to tell them about it.
- Create a Media Kit that makes your worth clear – and what is in it for the brand if they were to work with you. Remember that it is a value exchange!
- Use this tool from Secret Bloggers Business when trying to determine how much to charge for a sponsored blog post. And you can use this calculator to work out an hourly rate, if needed, for a quote.
- If you’ve worked with brands previously (paid or pro bono), ask them for a testimonial to include in your Media Kit.
2015 ProBlogger: Other inspiration bombs and take aways
- It is worth investing the time and money into getting out of your blogging den and meeting some of your online friends for the first time. Personally, this alone was worth my investment in the 2015 ProBlogger event.
- It takes a lot of time, and trial and error, to become an “overnight success”. Don’t stop chasing your dreams and following your WHY. Be persistent. Continue to take imperfect action. To help people transform. To give. And trust that things will happen if and when they’re meant too.
- Know your audience. Get to know your audience. Who are they? What do they want? What are their hopes and dreams? What’s getting in the way of them becoming the person they want to be? Listen. Observe. Help them transform.
- Focus. Take one step at a time. Focus. Focus. Focus.
I hope this long but brief summary of some of my takeaways from the 2015 Problogger event helps you and your blog in some way. I’d love if you’d share in the comments below – what is one to three things that you are going to focus on from this list for your blog or business moving forward?
Let’s soar together,