This weekend I attended my first ever BlogCamp in Manchester. Last Year I caught glimpses of it on Twitter whilst feeding, a then, Baby Z and wondering what it was about and if it was any good. Not having been before there was that part of me that thought “Do I really want to go on a SATURDAY?? When I could be having a lie in instead?” Oh wait, lie in? That stopped two years ago didn’t it? Oh. Yeah. Oh ok then, I’ll go!
In truth, I was really looking forward to it and looking forward to meeting the other lovely ladies I have now tweeted for over a year but not yet ever met. Its always nerve wracking isn’t it? Till you open your mouth. Then all of a sudden you’re not nervous anymore and 15 minutes later realise you still haven’t taken a breath, let alone shut your mouth to let someone else talk! It was particularly lovely to finally @_Katie_Bailey, @TheMotherGeek, @WitchesRave, @ButWhyMummyWhy, @GhostWriterMumm, @Minty_B, @LakesSingleMum, @KateAb and many more. There’s always a few that I plan to meet, then forget to find, then discover after the event that they were there and I didn’t say hello.
It was a BRILLIANT day, I met so many lovely people and finally put a face to the avatars I am forever talking to online. And sometimes, just a chance sit down next to someone you don’t really know that well can lead to having the best blogcamp buddy you could hope for! (@ButWhyMummyWhy). I was expecting a day of just Google+ but we got something a lot more and I walked away with a LOT of handwritten notes in my little black book. My intended note taking tool was the much cooler iPad but that had been stolen by Little Z who needed to have urgent and much more important conversations with the annoying Talking Cat. Motherly guilt of leaving him with Grandma on a Saturday meant I didn’t put up much of a battle.
ANYHOOO….Onto what I learnt. The day was focused around how to improve your blog ad filled with really interesting sessions from different speakers including Cathy James from the Nurture Store giving tips on how to get the best out of Facebook and Pinterest to promote your blog, Ruth from GeekMummy telling us how to take that step into the vlogging world and, Becky and Tom Arber talking about how to improve your photography with the camera you already have and finished with an panel of bloggers giving us their tips and tricks on how to find the time to fit it.
Using Facebook to optimise your blog: (By Cathy James from the Nurture Store)
I nearly fell off my chair when she said she has around 8,000 facebook followers and 25,000 Pinterest follower. I have about 58 facebook followers and until yesterday had completely forgotten my password for Pinterest!
It seems facebook is an excellent tool to build up a following as long as you treat it with a bit of care. A LOT of us are using it simply to blatt out automated links via Networked Blogs (guilty) and never look at it again. Facebook has recently changed its algorithm and things like this are ranked a lot lower in their points system so ends up getting less exposure than other things. This is a big change that a lot of people haven’t realised yet (again, me included). So some of the tips are in respect to that. The main ones I captured were as follows:
- Make your Page appealing in its appearance. Include a cover and a logo. Be consistent with the logos that you use on other platforms like Twitter and Pinterest and keep names consistent. Else it causes confusion
- There is a facebook app by woohoo which allows the use of tabs on your page – Use it!
- Make sure your web page link appears on your facebook page
- Rather than use automated ways of posting to your facebook page, do it yourself! Upload a photo and then add a link. The photo will appear much bigger and get much more exposure than an automated link and an automated picture of the home page of your blog.
- Be interesting! Create a sense of community. Ask questions and engage with your audience. People will reply and get the sense of a “living” page rather than something you’re using just to plug your blog
- Post old blog posts – get them exposure again.
- Think about the time you are scheduling things. Especially if you want to reach out to the States. Then post when they are most likely to see it (e.g. 2 am BST!)
- Put on Inspiring quotes and images.
- Run a special series – E.g. A daily, weekly activity.
- Schedule IN facebook – they have a lot of little settings to do this
- There are secret societies on Facebook – these help networking. Although not sure how you find them! (Wear a Mac and lurk around with a false ‘tasche?)
- People need to share and like your stuff to appear in people’s timeline.
- About 50 Boards is a good number to have. Any more will look too cluttered. I personally thought about 20 would do the trick but then I haven’t used Pinterest properly for ages so I should probably delete that last bit.
- Design Board Covers
- Portrait photos and pics work best
- Don’t be afraid to have the same pin on several boards
- Like things through the day and then only pin things once you’ve checked their not infringing copyright
- Promote your own posts by pinning to your boards
- Put them onto collaborative boards
- Link through to your Twitter and Facebook
- Again, keep all logos and names consistent
- Hand pick bloggers and allow them to pin to your boards – creating collaboration and community
- Image is KEY!
- Pinterest has a massive audience in America – Select times to pin! (Not sure if you can schedule a pin though?)
- Re-Pin your own pins as time / seasons change
VLogging / Making Videos (Ruth from GeekMummy)
- Always film in landscape mode
- Get a good mike if you’re using a camcorder
- Stand up if you can – this creates more energy
- If you’re nervous about talking to a camera then place a pic of someone you like next to the camera
- Turn image stabilisation off on camcorders
- An ipad and iphone / Android work ok for short videos
- Make a few bullets but try to let it flow / speak naturally
- Keep it about 5 mins long
- Editing on iPad – Something called iMovie is good
- YouTube has some simple editing features.
- Practice makes perfect!
Photography (Tom and Becky Arber)
- You don’t to have an amazing camera to take good pictures (hurrah!)
- Don’t just focus in on the person, include the background. Tell a story
- Think about angles
- Create a focus using objects from the surroundings (Trees, lines etc)
- Use the light! Again think about angles
- Don’t chase your kids around, wait for them to wander into shot, make it natural
- Make use of negative space to create interesting shots (A big sky, a white background)
- Get down at your kids angle
- (There were a lot of good SLR tips but my mind started wandering at this point as I don’t have one. I MAY have been thinking the next lot of cakes we were going to get in the break!).
(Thank you Sally Whittle and Jen Walshaw for a brilliant day or cake, learning and filling my head with lots of ideas!)