Recently I had the delightful experience of attending my second ever BloggerConf, which took place in the Mansion House, last Saturday 20th of May.
For those of you who didn’t get the memo this year, BloggerConf is a conference held for digital content creators of all shapes, sizes, platforms and brands. Whether you’re a blogger, a vlogger, social media fanatic or have any other sort of online presence, there’s something to be gained by attending BloggerConf. For some, networking was the ultimate goal; for others (myself included) they were there to take a small sip from the well of information that was this year’s colourful panel of speakers.
As I mentioned, this was my second time to the party, which meant I had some tricks up my sleeve. For instance, this year I knew that my phone should be charged to the max in advance of the event; I also set it to energy-saving mode and carried a portable charging device. I made sure I looked at least reasonably presentable, as BloggerConf is a hub of many many photo opportunities. I also knew to bring some snacks to munch on as required throughout the day, anticipating that the coffee and lunch provided might not be enough to sustain me for the many hours of information-guzzling.
I attended with fellow blogger, Shameless Sparkles, and we had an absolute ball of a time, listening to motivational and informative talks and meeting fellow online creatives, all while silently taking notes and making plans for our own blogs.
On that note, here are thirteen and a half changes that I’m going to implement now that I’ve heard dozens of tips from expert after expert after expect.
Create a vision statement
I regret to say, this is a step that’s long overdue. When I originally created Confessions of a College Dropout my primary goal was to discuss mental health matters and what I’ve learned from my experiences with anxiety and depression. However, things have changed since then, and now I find that I’m writing more and more about my academic journey (as I make my heroic quest towards finally earning my degree!) and my experience as a writer. So my first step is to re-evaluate and determine what exactly is Confessions of a College Dropout and who is it for?
Start from scratch
This one’s been in the works. Blogging and creating online content through multiple platforms is something that I hope to do professionally someday. I’ve always known that when I graduate from college I’ll want to start over with a clean slate and a new agenda, for lack of a better term. I’ll want to rebrand and redesign as I begin my career in writing. Confessions has been an amazing start, allowing me to develop my writing skills and get over my fear of existing on the webbernet, and hopefully it’s something that I’ll keep up once I start afresh. However, I definitely want a clean slate so that I can apply all that I’ve learned and create some really polished content. So that’s forthcoming, pending the obtaining of my degree.
Upgrade my domain name
…And as soon as I start building my new site, approximately a year from now, the first thing I’ll do is ensure that I have a .com, .ie or .blog domain name. It looks sleeker and more professional, and it’s one of the most basic tips that has been suggested to me on more than ten occasions, but it’s also one that I’ve had to ignore due to my lack of funds. The hope is that once I graduate I’ll actually have the privilege of being employed and having salary, ideally one which can support a fancier domain name.
Design a logo
As branding happens, I feel like a logo also needs to happen. I’ve dabbled with some in the past, which may be revisited, but now is probably the time to consider something a little more business-card-friendly, rather than just social-media-appropriate. Luckily, my course has me pretty well trained in graphic design and my partner is an extremely talented animator, so between the pair of us I predict some pretty neat designs.
Again, one of the most basic tips that you’ll be given upfront whenever you decide to start producing your own content: come up with a schedule, be consistent and stick to it. If you decide to post once per week, post one per week. If you decide to post every day, post every day. If you decide to post once per month, you might want to rethink your schedule. If you decide to post once per year, you’re never going to make this into a career.
My schedule, very unfittingly, is terribly inconsistent. Now that I’m free from college, I’ll be posting five times per week, generally Monday through Friday, but once college recommences, who the heck knows?!
Once I start over, from the ground up, that’s when my schedule will solidify. Until then, I’ll be open and honest about what I’m able to produce and when.
Source images more carefully
Sinéad Keavey, a Partner at William Fry law firm, gave a very important talk about defamation and copyright as it relates to online content producers, and it was incredibly eye-opening. It is so imperative to ensure that all of the content that you use is your own or that you have permission to use it. So from now on, all of the images used on Confessions will be either my own graphics or my own photographs. Which leads me to…
Become a photographer
Now, I’m not talking about dropping everything and exchanging my pen for a camera, swapping from a life of writing to a life of creating images. No. In fact, I dropped the photography module in my college course as soon as I was given the option. But it is very clear that a blog’s images should be of a certain standard and my photography, thus far, would probably not meet that standard. So I’m going to learn. I don’t have state-of-the-art equipment, but I have a smart phone and a basic knowledge of composition, framing and colour, plus the internet to tutor me along the way.
Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an online tool which came highly recommended at BloggerConf. It allows you to monitor the performance of your content so that you know what works and what doesn’t in the eyes of your audience. Once you’ve got that data, the rest is up to you. You can do more of what has been successful for you in the past and you can improve what hasn’t performed so well, thereby improving the quality of your blog overall. So that’s a tool which I’ll be thoroughly investigating ASAP so that I can apply my findings when I do start anew.
Pay more attention to headlines
I’ve always been pretty lax about my post’s titles; they’ve been an afterthought, often one word and not a particularly informative word. But the headlines are what makes someone click or scroll by; they have to be attention-grabbing and informative. Otherwise your hard work may never get the audience it deserves. So from now on my titles are going to be a little more deliberate and a lot more explanatory.
Don’t let earlier works gather dust
Did you know that a Tweet only has a lifespan of two hours? Apparently after two hours it’s likely to be lost in the Twitter newsfeed, thereafter only existing on the Tweeter’s profile page. That means I need to Tweet again and again to continue to promote my work… and I shouldn’t only be promoting the recent stuff. I’m going to start reposting all of the work that I’m most proud of so that the views accumulate over time. It sure beats just leaving it there, helplessly, waiting for someone to stumble upon it at some faraway point in the future!
Start a YouTube channel
This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for several years now but ohmygod the cowardice! It’s a terrifying idea, putting my face on a screen for people to watch and comment on. But nevertheless, it appears to be happening, mostly as a result of a talk given by fitness YouTuber, Rob Lipsett.
“Just start a channel, start tomorrow,” he said. Just start. That is, after all, the hardest part.
And thus, I’ll be vlogging my progress as I participate in Camp NaNoWriMo come July and I’ll be linking those vids with my blog and social media pages. And on that note…
Get my social media act together
Social media scares the crap out of me. I mean, Confessions doesn’t even have a Facebook page, for crying out loud! I’m years behind and floundering as it is. But. Once again, this is one of the most basic tips than any blogger or vlogger or online personality will tell you: you have to be active on social media. As many platforms as possible. So, that means I have to start investigating not just Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but also Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Tumblr, as well as all the other ones that I don’t even know by name yet. It’s gonna be quite a trek to get through all of them, but I owe it to myself. And as a sub-section on this point…
12.5. Join the Facebook group
From what I heard at BloggerConf, from both the speakers as well as fellow conference-goers, it sounds as though the Irish Bloggers Facebook page is a very useful resource for content creators, both practically and socially. For me, I’m mostly just looking forward to being part of a group of like-minded individuals. It can only be helpful to watch and learn from others who have more experience (or even just different experience) than me, so I’m hoping that just being let into the fold will help me to become a better blogger.
Keep in touch
Although I’m not the most socially fluid person, I did manage to make a few contacts at BloggerConf (mostly thanks to the social butterflyness of Shameless Sparkles). I had the pleasure of meeting two fellow bloggers and one vlogger over the course of the day and we’ve all exchanged Twitter handles. I’m very excited to see more from all of them and learn from their experiences as content creators as well as my own. Hopefully by next year’s conference we’ll all have bettered each other somehow.