Last weekend I slept in field full of tents with lots of other bloggers at an event called BlogStock, the world’s first blogging festival. Bloggers from all different genres gathered in Aldenham Country Park, which is north of London, England. Travel bloggers, mommy and daddy-bloggers, fashion bloggers and lifestyle bloggers were all in attendance. In fact, you would be amazed at how well a group of fashion bloggers can dress for camping and still be functional in rain! There is always plenty of rain in the UK, and we had our share of showers at the festival, but the sun came out on Saturday for us, so most of the sessions were in open air tents.
My family stopped at the festival on our way home from a road trip around Europe because I had agreed to do a morning session on Saturday in a tipi. Full disclosure: Only three people attended my session and two of them were my children. Still, it was a wonderful learning opportunity for me and a chance to run my material on a few guinea pigs who were happy to give me feedback for the next go around, which will be at AWBU in just a few short weeks!
I always come away from events like these with an overwhelming amount of new knowledge, so I thought it might be helpful + fun to share a few of my biggest takeaways from the festival! That way you can benefit from my willingness to camp out in the rain!
1. “Be funny and honest, but never mean.” Niamh Shields from Eat Like A Girl
I went to Niamh’s session on Food Blogging, but this little gem of advice applies to everything we write about on our blogs. She reminded us that it takes more time and creativity to craft an honest, but playful review (be it of a restaurant, a product or an experience) than it does to just be mean. And since I really agree that there is no place for meanness in blogging, I loved her advice.
She also ended her talk with the reminder that envy is destructive but joy is infectious. Both. So. True.
2. Aperture Priority is My Friend Jeanne Horak-Druiff from Cook Sister
I have had a new camera for over six months now that I have trouble working. For the first time, someone explained Aperture, ISO and White Balance in a way that did not make me want to run screaming from the room. Jeanne used pictures to explain taking pictures and I was so relieved to come away with a basic understanding of how to use my camera. This is probably old news for those of you with nice cameras but it is a new takeaway for me that setting my camera to aperture priority is a step between shooting in automatic mode and the overwhelming + daunting RAW option.
3. Motivate the Elephant not the Rider Karen Sargent from Global Help Swap
Karen used this simple, yet wonderful analogy of an elephant and its rider to describe why we get stuck in our writing (and in life). The rider represents our brain and all our knowledge about blogging. Things like learning methods or how to do SEO, new techniques, and even reading blog posts like this one fill our minds with all kinds of knowledge about things we could/should do to make our blogs better. But the elephant is our emotional energy. And it doesn’t matter how much knowledge we have, if our heart isn’t motivated, we are not going anywhere. I loved this analogy, because I often think I need to learn to do something new in order to make my blog better, but actually, I just need to be motivated to put into practice the things I’ve already learned. Karen’s suggestion was to dig for the reason we wanted to write a blog in the first place. To connect with why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s the why not the what that makes the elephant move forward.
4. Set Your Rates High Julie Falconer from A Lady in London
Whatever the service is that you’re offering, set your rates at what you think your time is worth and not at what you think “they will give you.” I’ve heard it a million times before, but for some reason, I can’t get it into my head that it’s better to have a few high paying clients and less work than tons of small, low paying jobs. As a freelancer, I have a long way to go to get to a “sustainable living” but if I would be brave enough to heed this advice, I think I would get there sooner.
5. Be a Part of a Blog Collective from The Future of Blogging Panel
This one made me smile A LOT because I am already a part of an AMAZING Blog Collective! Arkansas Women Bloggers!!
I listened to a panel of different industry experts talk and answer questions on the future of blogging, and this came up a lot. Companies don’t want to have to hunt down individual bloggers themselves, but they want to find the right bloggers for the jobs. Enter blog collectives, which do the work of finding the right blogger among them for the task. Also, they can combine to have a larger voice among multiple communities. Being an active member of a blog community is a great way to be on the forefront of whatever innovations are coming in blogging.
That is just one more reason I’m super excited about Arkansas Women Bloggers University! I can’t wait to see my Arkansas friends and meet new ones, and to get new ideas from each other! I hope to see you there!
Are you coming? What are you hoping to learn? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter!