Things I Learned @BloggyCon14
This past weekend I went to Bloggy Con 2014 at the Hotel Breakers in Sandusky, OH. Hotel Breakers happens to be the resort hotel at CedarPoint, one of the largest amusement parks I have ever been to (outside of Disney World, that is)! So of course, the family came along.
This was my first blogging conference and to say I learned a lot is an understatement. I am all fired up, but also feel like I am spinning my wheels because I don’t know which direction to head in first.
So let’s take a look at the things I learned:
I fit in with bloggers! Well, duh, I am a blogger and they are bloggers, so you know we have some things in common. But I didn’t know how much.
First, and most surprising to me – many of these people also have large families. I was no longer the crazy freak in the room with more than 3 kids. Of course there were people with small families, but as a whole, many more people had 4, 5, even 8 kids. It began to make sense when I thought about it. These are people, like me, who are trying to juggle a large family and work. Working from home writing makes a lot more sense than wasting time commuting to work.
Second, their work patterns are similar to mine. Since I left the lab, I feel like I have culled together a job. I blog for myself and for a company, I edit a website, I write material for a couple of science companies, and I am even writing an ebook for a client. Many other people at the conference are in similar situations – they have their own blogs and do freelance writing work for other people. It was great to talk to other people about juggling work and dealing with clients.
I am a day late and a dollar short (literally). Professional bloggers, whoa! These people know what they are doing. My little journal-style blog has a looooong way to go. I went to talks on using social media to maximize your presence, how to monetize your blog (and why you should), publishing, affiliate marketing, speaking and video blogging.
I learned that bloggers have a huge sway in marketing and companies are realizing this. Something like 30% of purchases are influenced by written reviews and online recommendations. I learned about different ways to increase your audience and the importance of knowing your message and sticking with it.
I have some decisions to make. As I vacillated between a sense of belonging and being overwhelmed (often in the same 5 minutes) I realized I have some big decisions to make. I can continue with my current journal-style blog and its very faithful, though small, readership or I can try and reach out to more people.
For me, part of it is a very personal problem. I can continue to believe that only my close friends and family are interested in what I have to say or I can realize that I have something valuable to contribute to a larger community. That maybe others might be able to learn from me and >yikes< actually like what I write. It’s about putting myself out there.
I also have to decide if I am going to try and make money with my blog. Most bloggers at the conference would say, why aren’t you doing it already? There are definitely advantages: It would be nice to recoup the costs of domains and hosting sites, blogging conferences (ahem), memberships, etc. In a sense it would validate what I am doing. Maybe eventually I could focus more on my own writing rather than working for clients. But when I do something, I want to do it right. And this will be a lot of work. Right now it feels like a monumental task. Just the learning curve looks never-ending.
There may be some big changes on the horizon, guess you will just have to wait and see.