A hoard of enthusiastic bloggers assembled in Birmingham on Saturday to chat, learn and eat cake at BlogCamp. Sally Whittle and her Tots100 team had put together a schedule covering the basics and the future of blogging - from building your brand to understanding the dark art of SEO. But was it any good?
BlogCamp wasn't one of these events. But it was free, had fancy food and exciting speakers.
So what did I learn? Here are some highlights:
Have an opinion
If you want comments and engagement on your blog then get off the fence and say what you really think. Just don't expect people to agree with you.
Don't be the blogger who turns up to everything
If you want to work with brands, be selective about the events you go to. But if you turn down an invitation, make sure you leave the PR aware that you'd be interested in other events that are more relevant to you and your audience.
If you decide to snark, beware the freaks and weirdos who will find you
(FYI 'snark' = 'snide remark')
Stu Heritage had some great stories from his career as a professional snark to share, including some he couldn't really go into detail about. In general, pick your target carefully before you snark and try some self-deprecation along the way. And if all else fails and you get into trouble with American lawyers, do your best Hugh Grant impression and befuddle them with your accent.
Social media recommendations are the new SEO backlinks
The social recommendations you earn for your blog are more precious than the One Ring, so make the most of them. And at the very least, get your blog a Google+ page.
Paid/sponsored posts should be 'no follow', end of
Plenty of bloggers in the room said they'd been pressured by PRs to include 'follow' links from sponsored posts despite Google being very clear on this issue. If you receive any kind of payment for your content (products or cash) then make sure the links in your posts are 'no follow', or you could incur the wrath of Google.
Your blog belongs to you, so be true to it and just say 'no'
It was really disappointing to hear the stories from bloggers in the room who had been treated badly by PRs and brands. If a brand wants a piece of your page rank by nefarious means, you can and should say no. It's your blog and you need to protect the content and community you've worked hard to build.
- DON'T BE A DICK
Stu Heritage was talking about the art of snark here, but I think this applies to every session of the day (and not just blogging either).
If you want to develop your blog, don't be a dick; if you want to work with PRs, don't be a dick'; if you decide to snark, don't be a dick; if you're a PR or brand working with bloggers, don't be a dick.
There are lots of other great posts about the sessions that go into far more detail than I have. There's a list on the Tots100 site here.
I had a great day and would have hugged Sally Whittle before I left had she not explicitly advised everyone against this. Maybe next time.