My Blogtacular experience + four tips for better, happier blogging

blogtacular for pinterestThis year I decided to throw myself into sewing and blogging activities, which had included among other things booking a pattern cutting evening class at Central St Martins, and buying a ticket for Blogtacular. The annual conference gathers together bloggers from all niches and even all countries to share ideas and inspirations. I always like hanging out with fellow bloggers; there is nothing quite like finding a group of people who will happily spend hours discussing SEO, social media strategy or web design, but nothing prepared me for just how much I would get out of an entire day of talks, Q&As and networking. I have pages and pages of notes, ideas and advice that I am working on right now to make Song of the Stitch better. Here are the top three things that I took away from this year’s Blogtacular.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (6)

Pimp my Pinterest

I’m a bad Pinner. While for some people Pinterest is a reflex, I have to force myself to hit the round red button. When I put in the effort with Pinterest I see the benefits in terms of traffic, but I just don’t know what I’m doing right! Zoe Pearson, Community Manager for Pinterest UK, gave an excellent talk about how to get the most out of the “anti social network”, and inspired me to up my pinning game. The main tips I took away from Zoe’s presentation were:

  • Include longer, more thoughtful descriptions for each pin. These perform better in search results and are more engaging than a string of keywords!
  • Most content is consumed from the search page, so unlike other networks number of followers isn’t the main measure of success.
  • What is interesting to you today may be interesting to someone else next month, so Pinterest isn’t time sensitive like other networks. So if you have the time and inclination there is a benefit to updating your old pins.

With all that buzzing around in my brain you can find the new and improved Song of the Stitch Pinterest boards here.

West Elm Blogtacular Photowalk 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald - Thanks Mollie Makes (16)

Set up a proper blog backup

I had a lovely chat with Elaine Malone of XOMISSE over lunch, who was leading an afternoon session on DIY Blog Design. I sadly had to miss her talk so I could catch a train, but I’m hoping to catch up on it once the conference videos are released! We discussed everything from how we got into website coding to how much we like fonts to the new HP Sprout computer, which is a machine of incredible beauty and if I had a spare £2000 I would already own one, and eventually we got onto the importance of regular blog backups. She pointed me towards a great little plugin for WordPress (which powers Song of the Stitch) that backs up your blog – text, images, code, everything – to your Dropbox account. I’ve now set up a regular monthly backup, which will hopefully stop the tummy jitters when my hosting company goes dark every now and again!

Make a plan for my social media

Ok, so this example of Grace Bonney’s social media plan for Design*Sponge is very far out of my league, but there are still good lessons here for a small-time scribbler like myself.DSC_0019(1)_edit

  • Different channels warrant different content. I’m the worst for posting the same things across Facebook, Twitter and sometimes Instagram, but having heard from Grace and others on a very interesting Instagram panel discussion, I think I need to come up with distinct approaches for each channel.
  • What do I want to get from each channel? While a large part of the social media motivation is to drive traffic, there are plenty of other benefits to be had from engaging with readers to getting into interesting discussions. Each channel has its own strengths and merits, and it’s worth taking some time to work out what works best.
  • Think about the timing of posts – when are your audience going to be online and therefore ready to react to your content.

Relax, the internet has room for everyone

Blogtacular-2015-Official-Photos-by-Piers-MacDonald.-Thanks-Mollie-Makes-229

“The best thing about working on the internet, aside from it being fun, easy and free, is that there is room for everyone at the table.”

So said Gracey Bonney during her opening keynote, and this one quote really stuck with me for the entire day. A simple reminder that writing a blog is about sharing a unique voice and a unique perspective, and there is always room for that online. We so often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others and measuring our ‘failure’ against their success. But if, as Grace suggested, we flip that perspective on it’s head and approach online life as a team, one that nurtures and supports and advises, suddenly our online workplaces feel like much happier, less stressful places to be.

Did you go to Blogtacular? What was the most useful thing that you learned? Or if you have any more Pinterest advice for me then I am all ears!

 

 

Official Blogtacular photographs by Piers MacDonald, courtesy of Molly Makes

What do you think?

    • I think navel-gazing is par for the course with bloggers – we spend so much time working alone! That’s why I found this weekend so helpful, it was a great reminder that we are actually a huge, supportive community with a lot to offer each other. I think I need Grace Bonney’s quote painted in 6ft letters across my wall!

  • Oh man, I wish I had a better schedule, I am so unorganised but I have three littles to think about haha. my brain is fizzed half the time so i think im fortunate what i do already! jokes aside, I loved it too! x

    • Oh I’m terrible at being organised as well, and I only have a day job to contend with! But I think one of the big things I took away from the conference was that there are about 4 million ways of doing everything, so if one doesn’t work for you there will be another that does!

  • I loved Grace’s opening keynote, so inspiring and encouraging! Thank you for including a photo of her schedule, I didn’t capture that! I do need to be better at customizing content to each channel!

    • Oh me too! I’m the worst for re-using the same stuff across multiple channels and not really thinking about what people will like. But I am having a lot of fun getting my Pinterest boards up to scratch!

  • I enjoyed this post. I didnt know abou Blogtacular but from you I have already picked up on backing up my blog (opps!) and scheduling social media. I might sign up for the online version of the event as it looks so good. As for Pinterest I am seriously not using it properly

    • I’m glad you got something useful out of this post! I can’t wait for the videos to come out so I can catch up on the sessions I couldn’t make it to. This was my first year going to Blogtacular, but I think I might have to make it a regular thing now – I got such a lot out of this one.

  • Such a great post, thank you. I have just started blogging (aliceandarlo.com) and was desperate to go to Blogtacular, but couldn’t get any childcare, so I watched on from my phone instead. But, it’s so useful to have some achievable advice – I’ll definitely be starting to plan my blog posts and any social media activity. Thank you again, and I love your blog. x

    • Aw, thank you! I find planning absolutely essential for keeping on top of my blogging and my day job, but I know that other bloggers have found too much planning can be stressful and stifle their inspiration – I think the key is to be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have, and don’t be afraid to ditch the plan if it isn’t making you happy!

  • Thanks again for sharing these tips! It was so hard to choose which sessions to attend, it’s been fab reading about the ones I missed as people are blogging about them 🙂

    • Yes! I’ve been getting even more ideas and inspiration from other people’s posts. I’m also saving my pennies for the digital conference videos so that I can catch up on the sessions I missed.