I Got Schooled: 5 Blogging Lessons from the BlogU Conference

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? 

35 Comments

  1. Layne
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 05:51:35

    A+ all the time! U rock!

    Reply

  2. Tara Newman
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 08:20:10

    Great takeaways Katie! I had similar ones especially 4 and 5! It was overwhelming to process all the information but in the end I feel more focused on my path.

    Reply

  3. Stephanie {Binkies and Briefcases}
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 09:15:20

    These are great take-aways! Aren’t you glad to know you are already doing it right? Your tagline, “Because moms can do anything, but not everything.” is just so perfect.

    Reply

  4. Kerry
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 12:17:07

    I’ve only been to one conference and I did find value in attending. I think whenever you have a chance to pick up some new tips and meet people face-to-face, it’s a good thing. I like tip No. 4. I’m actually working on a book project but finding it really hard to write for the blog and get out book chapters. Good to know I can maybe ease up on the blog, but I only publish 2x a week as is. Hmmmm ….

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 13:28:34

      It’s so hard to step away from blogging, even for a short time, but I do think there’s value in it if/when it allows you to work on other projects that are also fulfilling.

      Reply

  5. Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 14:16:25

    Thanks for sharing what you learned, Katie! I think working with your strengths — just one or two social media outlets, etc — makes a lot of sense. Trying to do it all will just make you crazy! And stepping away from the blog when other projects (or life in general) requires it is hard to do, but so worthwhile.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:40:06

      So very true! Tough to do but often worth it.

      Reply

  6. Marnie @ SuperSmartMama
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 15:18:38

    I’ve never been to a blogging conference but I do appreciate you sharing your tips from your conference! Much of what you’ve shared underscores what I’ve learned since I started seriously blogging at the beginning of this year: that collaboration is important; it’s Ok to step away from the Internet; and there’s no harming in asking for things. The most important thing I’ve learned for myself is exactly WHY I blog. It’s a personal reason that took me several months to figure out, but once I did, my blogging anxieties melted away, and now I can just be happy when I blog.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:39:27

      That’s wonderful! You’re so right that figuring out our own personal motivation is key.

      Reply

  7. tamaralikecamera
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 15:39:07

    You might have missed out on late night chat, but it was one of the worst nights of sleep in my life! It was that bad. I’m still recovering, it feels like!
    Anyway, I loved, loved, loved the wisdom. The class we took together was my favorite, and it was so natural and normal just sitting next to you and taking a class on Pinterest and Instagram, as if we have always gone to school together!
    I guess in a way, we have.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:38:49

      Indeed we have, Tamara! I loved soaking up the knowledge with you by my side.

      Reply

  8. lisacng @ expandng.com
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 16:04:29

    I’ve been following Mommyshorts for a while so I know exactly what she and the other bloggers mean by focusing on certain social media or blog elements. I don’t find her on Twitter alot but she is definitely a presence on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to do everything!!!!!! I feel guilty going to conferences because blogging is just a hobby of mine. I don’t make any money on it so don’t want to spend money on it. But maybe if I invested, I’d see more from it….

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:38:07

      I totally get that; I too was hesitant to buy a ticket since blogging isn’t a source of income for me. But it did give me lots of ideas for how I can start to monetize it, so in that sense it was worth it financially, I think!

      Reply

  9. Abigail McDonald
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 16:33:10

    Love these tips, Katie! Thanks so much for sharing what you learned and I’m definitely going to refer back to these. I’m attending She Speaks in July, which is for speakers and/ or writers. I’m on the writer’s track, of course, as I have little to no speaking ability. 😉 But I’m working on that. I’m super excited to share what I learn there later in the summer.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:26:36

      Can’t wait to hear about She Speaks!

      Reply

  10. Nina
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 18:59:30

    I’ve never been to a blog conference but this was a really interesting read, Katie! I too would probably only go to a conference if it was in my city. In fact I looked some up in LA but haven’t found anything that would apply to me. If anything, I’d love to meet fellow bloggers face to face!

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:26:18

      It’s so fun meeting people you already feel like you know from the virtual world. A sign of our times!

      Reply

  11. Dana
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 19:38:10

    Well said. Katie! I came away with many of the same lessons. And more pens, but I’ll share with you.

    Reply

  12. Sarah
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 21:05:43

    Great recap! I really wanted to go this year, but we couldn’t swing it financially. (sniffle.)

    I love the advice about picking two things and just concentrating on those. I always have guilt because I don’t really do pinterest and instagram, but this is helping me realize that that’s okay.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:25:29

      It really is OK! I hope you’re able to attend next year; it’s a great experience.

      Reply

  13. Tarana
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 08:33:49

    Thanks for sharing these wise words! Since I stay halfway across the world, I have only the remotest chance of attending such conferences, so this was useful.

    Reply

  14. anotherjennifer
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 09:05:05

    These are great takeaways, Katie. Thanks for sharing them. #4 is especially resonating with me right now. I need to shut down the internet distractions more so I can just write. I’ve done it before and the world didn’t end! Wish I could have been at BlogU. Sounds like it was great!

    Reply

  15. Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 13:12:27

    Thank you so much for including me here in your lessons. I think there’s so much pressure to DO IT ALL AND DO IT ALWAYS that we forget that we shouldn’t. I’d really rather be great at the things that are important to me, than OK at a whole bunch of things that aren’t all that important to me.
    I’m so glad you came and shared in this amazing experience, as well as your takeaways. Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 14:55:55

      Thank YOU, Kim, for sharing your time, experience, and fun-loving attitude with all of us. It’s obvious that everyone had a great time and learned a bunch!

      Reply

  16. Wendy @ New Moms Talk
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 18:11:44

    I’ve yet to attend a blogging conference, and my last work (teaching) one was eegads-years ago.

    The points all shared relate well to life in all aspects, and I’d add another…

    Understand why you’re blogging. It makes connecting, stepping away, asking about potential partnerships, etc. far more meaningful which (hopefully) is conveyed through communications which ultimately bridge people and entities.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 13, 2014 @ 13:23:35

      Thank you for adding this important point! Our motivation and passion play a big role in our success, I think. (For one, they help us define what success means to us in the first place!)

      Reply

  17. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life
    Jun 13, 2014 @ 07:27:59

    Those are great take-aways. I have been to three blog conferences and I have learned stuff at each one. Collaboration is so important though…none of us can do this without anyone else. But these are all great and I would have to say I have similar ones!

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 13, 2014 @ 13:22:03

      Glad we came away with similar lessons learned!

      Reply

  18. Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom
    Jun 16, 2014 @ 10:41:11

    I feel energized just reading this! I loved the one about not spreading yourself thin on social media. I get the opposite advice, I feel, from groups who encourage jumping on every social media outlet.

    I do love Twitter, but alas, it’s probably the worst for driving traffic to my blog. But it’s been great for building connections with people and I’ve hosted at least 2 giveaways that started because I tweeted someone.

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 12:34:57

      I think every social media outlet offers different advantages; while some might lead to more traffic, others are better for general networking, which is also important!

      Reply

  19. Angela Gilmore
    Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:10:36

    This is great advice! I’ve taken breaks from my blog quite a few times and it has always been a positive thing for me. And it’s absolutely true that you can just pick right up and start again. The pick any two part is still a struggle for me. I still want to do everything and I am VERY slowly learning that I can’t manage it all.

    Reply

  20. McCall Humes
    Jun 24, 2014 @ 01:14:31

    So many of you bloggers that I follow and love were at BlogU. I can’t wait to go next year! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 24, 2014 @ 08:48:13

      Hope to see you there in 2015!

      Reply

  21. Nicole Leigh Shaw
    Jun 30, 2014 @ 16:24:24

    I’m so, so late to read this. Thanks for the great shout outs and the fantastic post.

    More important? I’m so glad you got so much out of the conference. Really!

    Reply

    • Katie
      Jun 30, 2014 @ 18:30:51

      Thank you so, so much, Nicole—both for this comment and for all of the wisdom you shared at the conference!

      Reply

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