I Got Schooled: 5 Blogging Lessons from the BlogU Conference

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5 Blogging Lessons from BlogUJust like in college, I came prepared with my notebook, at least twenty pens (in case they all ran out of ink at once!), and a healthy dose of self-consciousness. This time, however, I also packed blogging business cards.

Then I went and got schooled at the 2014 BlogU Conference.

Because the conference was a mere 45 minutes from me, I opted to commute, which means I missed out on late night chatting and dorm room shenanigans. But that didn’t stop me from learning a ton of helpful information about blogging.

Like the good student I am, I will now demonstrate all the knowledge I gained by summarizing it neatly and concisely in list format.

That means I earn an A+, right?

5 Blogging Lessons from BlogU Tweet this!

1. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

Saturday’s keynote panel focused on bloggers as colleagues rather than competitors. The ever wise Nicole Leigh Shaw noted that just as we aren’t limited to reading one novel or author, so we also aren’t limited to reading and supporting one blog. When it comes to blogging and freelance writing in general, any wealth (or pennies, as the case may be) is meant to be shared!

What does collaboration between bloggers look like?

It means sharing other writers’ content with your social media networks every single day.

It means facilitating joint campaigns on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to drive more traffic to everyone’s sites.

It means thinking outside the box for ways to come together to share knowledge, resources, and support.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

I came away from the conference feeling empowered to make requests—of editors, brands, fellow bloggers, and even family and friends. Karen Alpert expertly reminded us that the worst they can say is “no,” and as terrifying as that word is, you will survive hearing it.

So if you’re looking to monetize your blog through sponsored posts, go ahead and reach out to a brand you truly love. If you’re chomping at the bit to get your byline on a certain online publication, go ahead and start networking with the editors on Twitter. And if you want your readers to share your posts, ASK THEM TO DO JUST THAT!

3. Spread the word about what you’re working on.

Anna Sandler and Nicole Leigh Shaw led an awesome class on making money from your writing outside of your blog. One of my main takeaways? Don’t be shy about sharing the fact that you’re a writer!

Many of us, especially women, tend to worry that sharing our aspirations will make us seem egotistical or self-aggrandizing. “Look at me, I’m a WRITER!” But it’s just not true.

The bottom line is that if no one knows you’re a writer, then no one can help you along the way.

4. It’s OK to step away.

The lovely Kim Bongiorno made this life-changing statement in her panel session on Going from Blog to Book:

The Internet won’t shut down if you shut down the Internet.

She was referring to the fact that when she was writing her book, she made a point of retreating from all emails and social media accounts so that she could truly focus on the task at hand.

Did consciously stepping away lose her readers? No way.

Did it allow her to finish a book that is now being shopped around to publishers? Heck yes.

If being “connected” 24/7 is wearing you out, don’t be afraid of what will happen to your blog if you power down for a bit. The mental space might allow you to pursue your dreams even more aggressively.

5. Pick Any Two!

Yes, the title and concept behind this here blog was a heavy emphasis at the conference. Believe it or not, the top bloggers aren’t trying to “do it all”; they’re figuring out where they excel in the virtual world and then putting their maximum energy there.

For example, Anna Luther is the queen of Pinterest, so she doesn’t waste hours of her day on Instagram.

On the other hand, Ilana Wiles knows that for her, Instagram and sponsored posts are where it’s at, so that’s where she focuses.

Karen Alpert has found gold through Facebook, while Jen Mann connects best through her email subscriptions.

These ladies aren’t spreading themselves so thin that they’re no longer effective; instead, they’re intentionally picking one or two areas and prioritizing them without apology or guilt. In blogging and in life!

A huge thank you to all the faculty and sponsors for making the conference worth every penny. And bravo to Stephanie Giese (who’s practically my neighbor!) for putting the whole event together.

If I’m the one doing the grading, you’re all walking away with a 4.0 GPA.

Have you ever been to a blogging or career conference? Do you find them worthwhile?