What I learnt at the 2014 Problogger Conference

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Over the weekend I was up at the Gold Coast at the annual Problogger conference. This is the 5th conference they have held (I have been to the last 3) and it’s a chance to learn from experienced international and local speakers, sit in on sessions to learn from beginners, right through to advanced bloggers who are making cash from their blog. It’s big, keeps getting bigger every year with about 500 people. You know there were people there who hadn’t even started their blogs yet? 10% in fact. Huh.

I enjoy these events – I can catch up with some of my old blogging friends, many of who are just actually really good friends now but who live all over the country so the chance to all be in the same room is rare and special. I love to meet and touch (in a non weird way) and laugh with the people whose blogs I read, and the people that read mine. I can’t tell you what a kick I get out of someone completely unknown to me coming up and saying hello and telling me that they love my blog – even getting a photo together – it’s SO cool. You know what I even got called? A FANCY FEAST! I am their FANCY FEAST. May be the best compliment a gal like me could hope for. Apparently I am also much taller than everyone though. Huh.

So what did I learn?

I reckon you get just about everything you need in the first 2 hours of the conference. The welcome from Darren and then the opening keynote are ALWAYS the best bits. There was a loose theme (well what I took from it all at least)ย about human connection. In a way, that’s what blogging is all about right? Making a connection…just over the air from one computer to another. For businesses that are selling something, a blog can be the personal insight that lets a customer know a little about who YOU are. For a personal blogger like myself, it’s about opening up a little of yourself, in the hope that someone else might learn something, or start a discussion…making a connection. Because really, that’s what we do as humans, what we want and need. Here are some nuggets that I took down from the few days:

  • If you define people’s problems better than they can express it, they will assume you know the solution.
  • If you are a business blogger, or blog about a certain thing only take the occasional risk and open up about yourself in some way completely different…people love to know about people.
  • Change someone’s day.
  • Do a behind the scenes of your blog – like a factory tour. People LOVE to see how things work. This might be a where you work, how long a post takes, what the reality actually looks like.
  • Create events that people can look forward to.
  • Highlight members of your community that take action and highlight them/reward them.
  • Create memorable moments by surprise – things out of the norm to when they are least expected have the most impact.
  • Compete for meaning.
  • Take readers on a journey.
  • Compete for meaning.
  • What can YOU teach?
  • Connection. Connection. Connection.

This all won’t mean much for the non bloggers out there, but it’s a good wrap up for me to look back on when I start to implement some stuff.

Boy have I seen the Australian blogging community change over the past 8 years. Fancy forking out all your cash for something like this before you even started?! Some bloggers have 50 plus posts ready to go, ready to publish, they are just lining up everything before they hit go. Blows my mind! And good for them! I guess the difference between now and then was how simple things used to be – the bloggers that were kicking around then (and still are now) were just having a crack. Putting some words into a computer and having a crack. There were dodgy free blogger templates, the occasional comment if you were lucky, and a place to connect. So many new blogs have that spanking new stylish WordPress template. They have done the courses. They have invested their cash to come along to events like this, work their elevator pitch, fine tune their media kits and automated emails. They look the business! They are the business! And some can’t work out WHY they haven’t had the success that they expected. Hmpff! I get the odd email from bloggers wanting to know what they can do to build their audience. “I only have 400 likes on Facebook after 4 months!” Hmpff! I think it took me well over 12 months to get anywhere NEAR that. Why does everyone want that instant success? Are our lives SO busy now that we don’t have the patience? Like a good red, or slow cooked piece of lamb, things slow and low can be just as effective, if not better in the long run.

I am no expert at this stuff. Shit, most of the stuff that you learn at a conference like that doesn’t really fit in with people like me who just write about their lives. Personal bloggers. Mummy bloggers. It’s really hard to SEO “I feel like shit about myself because I know I am better than this and have more to offer than just this”. I have been lucky enough to grow my audience 160% in the past 12 months. That’s a LOT right? I’m really proud of that and I have worked bloody hard to do it. I have some stuff that I know, and I have been slowly trying to get that stuff out to people who might want to know it too. I switched to WordPress. I started using an SEO plugin and started creating content that was useful. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, took a few wrong turns, and really don’t make any plans along the way. But each and EVERY time I write on here I can say that I am honest. I am myself. I am putting a little bit of myself out there and I have received it back ten fold from all you fab people out there that read. Sure I might have a fancier template now, I might take a better photo, I might have an agent, I might even have the odd occasional sponsored post (if I am lucky) which can help me pay the bills that come with running a blog. But the words? The content? It’s still just me, having a crack. Hoping for a connection. Along the way someone might learn how to fold a fitted sheet, or make a shit hot chocolate cake. They might have a laugh with me as I rap into the video camera on my phone. They might get inspired to mop their floors. I’m not changing the world, but I AM connecting with people the whole world over and I can’t tell you what a privilege and utter joy that is.

So, if you are starting out, thinking of starting a blog, or have been blogging for some time and wonder what, why, how I reckon focus on the connection. If you are business, do your thing, sell your stuff but CONNECT with the people who will be buying your things. If you are a Mummy blogger, or personal blogger, don’t worry about what NICHE you are. That might come later. Just have a crack. Write your words. Share your story. Take your photos. Let go of expectations. And connect. Just connect. I think it just might be what this whole blogging business is about.

So what’s next?
  • I might try and get more organised. Plan out content rather than sitting down in the morning waiting and praying for inspiration. Do what the Design Files do and have whiteboards, with sticky notes with your month there ready to be filled with content. GET ORGANISED .
  • Work on creating events – I want to MEET you guys. I want you to meet each other. Let’s MEET!
  • Have a crack at something completely different and see how it goes. Take a risk.
  • Try and surprise you guys with GOOD stuff
  • Reward you for being YOU and being so kind as to come and read my blog
  • Get personal
  • Keep having a crack

So that’s my round up and my thoughts on it. It was a great weekend which the Problogger team should be REALLY proud of. The fact that I can go and spend time with like minded people is a real kick.

Did you go to the conference? What did YOU learn?
As a blog reader what’s the most important thing YOU want from a blog?

Comments

  1. Hi Beth. Thanks so much for this. I didn’t get there this time, really hoping to next year. It’s great to hear what people got out of it. I am just a personal blogger – I seem to attract a lot of weird shit so that’s what I write about at the moment. 50 blog posts ready to go- I feel pumped if I have one ready to go!
    Yes, events would be great. I know just the venue – Burrawang pub ( seeing that I just live down the road from you in Moss Vegas!).
    Cheers
    Lisa x

  2. Yes, lets meet – again!! Please have an event – it was so lovely to meet you at Nikki’s launch (as my daughter who is 7 would say, that’s Nikki Parkinson’s launch!). We should do a croatian/macedonian food tour of Rockdale, you would love it!! Keep having a crack!

  3. Yes – I need to be more organised I have huge trouble with procrastinating for too long.

    Yes – I would love to meet you and fellow bloggers.

    I did not make the conference but so wish I could have

  4. How inspiring was The Design Files whiteboard and post it note situation?! I’m organised, but not when it comes to posting ahead of time, so that’s definitely on my blogging to-do list!

  5. As you know, I didn’t go to the conference. I just liked seeing the pics as I solo parented at home amidst a big sandstorm. Kinda wishing I was there to see some of those faces again in the flesh, and to meet some for the first time. I heard you saw Kirsty Rice, she’s one I really need to sit down with a wine. Kinda glad I wasn’t there too as I get a bit overwhelmed by all the people and all the blogginess, if you know what I mean.

    I pulled back from blogging about two or so years ago. Then I really pulled back about 18 months ago. Slowly been dipping my toe in again. I think it’s time to really get back into I miss it. Not in a big way, but in my way. Writing and connecting.

    I love what you do! And you’ve done so well and are so good at it. xxx

  6. Haha, I was one of those randoms that came up and said hello and YES I even bagged a pic with you. It was a highlight for me and I loved meeting you! Keep doing what you do, lady, it’s working!

  7. Please Please PHLEASE do a bloggers meet up! Melbourne based.. hell! Why don’t you make it a national tour?!?!

  8. I learned that sometimes you kinda know what you want to do and where you want to go and, probably, know the general way to get there already. It’s so nice to be encouraged, inspired, and gathered with like-minded people, but if we think a conference is about making *that* connection or learning *the best* trick then we’ll be disappointed. It’s a journey and we may be surprised at some stops and scenery along the way because we can’t completely plan our route, even us organizers. I think we’re more likely to hear “re-calculating…..” as they say.

  9. We’d love a Brissie meet up!

  10. it’s not possible for me to go to the interstate conferences but sheesh I miss going when I see you all together.
    yup.
    CONNECTION. it really is what it’s all about.

    • I know…it all looks SO good and it is, and sometimes it just looks that way. The best bit for me was sitting right next to Eden and laughing till me cried. BEST.

  11. So much good stuff but I have to agree that the keynotes blew my mind! I’m going to try and be a bit more organised with what I write about, make a wee plan, but also be better at saying thanks to those that support me. I had a blogger who has been going for 5 months come up to me and say she loved my blog and really wanted to me – I was blown away, and kind of thought she must have thought that I was someone else but then she said she thought I was funny, bless. I’m going to thank her with a post because it really made my bloody day! Thanks for letting me go nuts with selfies with you, a generous soul you are ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I think I was one of those stalker that just HAD to come and meet you and say “OH MY GOD I”M A FAN!!” – yep that was me!! Took me several wines to get the courage, mind you.

    This is my second Pro Blogger and I loved it just as much as the first. Being a personal blogger is hard sometimes, but I took home much the same as you – to be myself and to reach out to my readers and give them something to make them smile.

    Good luck for this next year – I love your blog xx

  13. Unfortunately we didn’t get to the conference, so thank you for the summary. We’ve been blogging consistently for 3 years and are slowly (very slowly) making some headway. It can be very hard and a little disconcerting when you feel no one is reading, but we keep plodding along because we love it. x

  14. Hi Beth,
    I’m not a blogger but a blog reader, a silent one at that. Just a note of appreciation for your blog. I love reading it. It’s insightful and entertaining and always a good laugh. I also appreciate how up to date you always are with blogging, facebook and instagram. Keep doing what you are doing,don’t change a thing.

  15. I reeeeaaalllyy wanted to go to PB this year, but thought I might be pushing my luck with a 10 week old bambino – turns out I totally could’ve done it. I think. Always next year! (I said that last year when I didn’t go and kicked myself then too). Thanks for this round-up post though, I am SEVERELY lacking in the inspiration/motivation/blogging mojo department since little miss has come along. You’re right – I just need to keep having a crack, being real, making a connection, stop overthinking!

    P.S. I totally read ‘shit hot chocolate cake’ in another way – you made a hot chocolate into a cake? And it was shit? LOL!

    • There were even littler bebes there! Was just at lunch with my Mum who was saying how much she loves you…and Eleanor! She said she was a BUTTON.

  16. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Beth keep “having a crack” I like reading what you write!

  17. You’ve summed it up so well Beth! It was a great weekend. I agree about the first sessions – gold! And I was stoked to get to chat with you – you really encouraged me. You have done that online, and you did it again while I stammered a bit and cried in very close proximity to you. Phew!
    Thank you so much for being the SAME in both realms – URL & IRL. The clash of worlds is weird isn’t it? Great, but odd – with the tall lady comments and the knowing looks from virtual stranger/friends.
    Thank you for being who you are, someone who makes great cakes, has a busy life, and who brightens up the world with straight talk and some damn straight shooting with your camera – somebody finding joy in the everyday.
    Someone I aspire to follow behind, in my own way.

    Bloody annoyed I was so busy being overwhelmed that I didn’t #selfie up with you.

    • Next time we will get a shot together! It was SO lovely to meet you Annette, it was a joy to see you in the flesh and help you with your tears….it is SO overwhelming. You are doing a great job online (and I’m sure offline too) you are generous and kind and a really valuable member of the blogging community x

  18. Like you, I only set up my blog as an online journal for my sisters. Lately I have been thinking more about what I want to do with it, which is why I went to Problogger in the first place. Now I have loads of ideas, and a big to do list!
    I spent Saturday evening writing all my ideas down. It took 3 hours. First up is getting more organised with an editorial calendar. Maxabella talked about it, and it is something I have been meaning to do, but just never got there. I’m also going to (finally) get on the WordPress band wagon, and migrate 600+ posts over there etc.

  19. Excellent stuff Beth…so interesting. I am going to come back to this post again for further blogging ideas and organisational stuff! I totally agree with your thoughts on patience and instant success too…so true. The real rewards are in waiting for things to unfold and develop and eventually the right people and connections come along. Thank you.

  20. Thank-you Beth for a wonderful post. Like Jane, I am going to refer back to this post for inspiration. I am very new to blogging (17 days!) and shit myself every time I click publish! It was always my intention to take things slowly and enjoy the process but every now and then I think, โ€œI’m not ‘big’ enough and I don’t have a niche,โ€ But your post reminded me about WHY I started blogging โ€“ to connect with people โ€“ so Iโ€™m happy to keep going as I am for now, learning along the way and maybe I will get to a problogger conference myself one day. Iโ€™m enjoying learning from and being inspired by bloggers I love to read and yes yes yes I would love to MEET you.

  21. I didn’t see you nearly enough at the conference. You’re one of my oldest bloggy buddies and you still make me smile from ear to ear. You’re Beth, just Beth and a bloody fine Beth at that. x

  22. oh i saw all the gorgeous photos of the conference on IG and just lived vivaciously through it allโ€ฆlooked amazing and I bet it was a wealth of blogging knowledgeโ€ฆ.great tips and advice too Beth! x

  23. As usual Babymac, you captured the essence of the thing perfectly.
    Thanks for making this blog such a friendly space, and thanks for Anne and Chorizo meals and How to boil eggs perfectly.
    xx

  24. Beth I love this post and I LOVE your blog!! Your photos and your content are just gorgeous…. I love reading about your life and one day I will make a Anne cake. I found your blog through Nikki at Styling You….I’ve just started my own little blog and I want to get to ProBlogger next year. I have no idea if my blog will go anywhere but I’m enjoying it and more importantly I have a couple of really sweet readers who I’ve connected with.

  25. Awesome post, you’re so bang on.

    And I’m so, so sorry about my Anne ๐Ÿ™

    xxx

  26. I really really really wanted to go, Mr Barbie was in Singapore on a business trip, so no one to look after the little “Barbies”. Maybe next year for me!! I loved reading all the tweets and FB posts though. And of course I’m loving reading all the wrap up posts!! Sounds like it was awesome!

  27. Yes, meet people, please meet people! We would love to meet you!

  28. Post its!
    I want to redo my guest room/home office to be a blogging command centre with a white board and post its and generally fab decor!

    And PS, I made an Anne on Sunday. I Thermomixed her and she was delicious.
    Thank you!

  29. Glad you had a top time:)

  30. For me this says it all. I could never read a blog that was that constructed. The best thing about your blog is the honesty and randomness…

    I’ll let Billy say it, with thanks to elyrics.com.

    Don’t go changing to try and please me
    You never let me down before, mmm
    And don’t imagine you’re too familiar
    And I don’t see you any more

    I would not leave you in times of trouble
    We never could have come this far, mmm
    I took the good times, Iโ€™ll take the bad times
    Iโ€™ll take you just the way you are

    Don’t go trying some new fashion
    Don’t change the color of your hair, mmm
    You always have my unspoken passion
    Although I might not seem to care

    I don’t want clever conversation
    I never want to work that hard, mmm
    I just want someone that I can talk to
    I want you just the way you are

    I need to know that you will always be
    The same old someone that I knew
    Oh what will it take til you believe in me
    The way that I believe in you

    I said I love you and that’s forever
    And itโ€™s a promise from the heart
    I couldnโ€™t love you any better
    I love you just the way you are

    I don’t want clever conversation, no, no
    I never want to work that hard, mmm
    I just want someone that I can talk to
    I want you just the way you are

  31. I’m loving reading everyone’s wrap up’s. You have all walked away with great stuff to share.

    As a long time reader I have to say community is what I want from a blog. Having the blogger genuinely interact with the readers is so great. Getting a glimpse into someone’s life is always nice to. People who share their thoughts feelings, experiences are my favourite ๐Ÿ™‚

    And Beth on the road would be awesome! Perth would love to have you.

  32. Yes, events! That would make me happy! Everyone took away such great lessons from the event this year, thanks for your wrap-up!

  33. I agree authentic connection is the key . Thanks for sharing all your take aways from the conference .
    Look forward to an event and meet in person .

  34. At the risk of sounding like a lick arse, I know exactly why you’ve been successful: you make your own luck.
    You’re reaping the rewards of hard work and persistence (and being generous with the knowledge you’ve gained along the way). Thank you.

  35. I love that you interact with your readers in your comments.

    At the moment life seems a bit busy for me to blog with the twins, and work, and life. I miss it. But feel guilty if I don’t comment on others posts. But I might aim for a Blogtober – even if it’s just a single photo and a few words…
    I got a bit miffed recently when I got an anonymous comment saying they missed my dogs and garden photos! Hell I miss them too!!

  36. Loved reading this post. I’ve been blogging less than a year but really in the last few weeks have I really decided to make a go of it and put myself out there (even with the immense fear of rejection). You are so spot on when you say people want to know people. When I started I never did personal posts about my life. Then one day I thought, why the hell not, I will write a personal post. You know what? It was the most read post I’d ever done, so now I try and do one every week or every fortnight while still posting my pretty pictures about clothes, home porn and food.

  37. Ha. You connect you connect. Because you’re good at what you do. I loved all of the “don’t let anyone else define your success” talk but 160% is killer babe. Go you!

    #yesIfangirledyoutoo ;)x

    Amber at Adventures of a Rainbow Mama

  38. Although blogging for over 5 years {started as Scissors Paper Rock, changed to Claire Ever After and now Mum’s Closet – shit I’ve gotta STOP with all the changes huh!} it was my first time attending the PBEvent, and loved it. I blogged about it here: http://www.mumscloset.com.au/home/2014/9/3/what-i-learned-at-problogger
    I hope you do organise some events around the traps, coz I’d love to meet you again and get a chance to chat – properly chat. Your blog has always been on of my faves – you’re just a natural at this gig and I applaud you.
    I also loved seeing Lucy from Design Files put the photo of her whiteboard/sticky note planning up. Very cool idea.
    Cx

  39. I wish I’d spoken to you at the conference. I always mean to walk right up to people and just say, “Hi I’m Jo and I know you Beth (for instance) because I’ve come across your blog and love it.” But then I’d have to admit that perhaps I haven’t yet commented, rather just admired from afar, and then feel a bit creepy as a result ๐Ÿ˜‰ So then I turn away from the real person in real life not quite knowing what to say. I love Problogger Events but seriously have to man up to be more interesting, and as capable of holding conversations in real life as I am on the net!

    • I wish you had…I never know how has commented or not…everyone is just a BabyMac reader and for that I am eternally grateful! And as for convo’s I don’t stop talking so don’t worry. Next time x

  40. I clicked over from Pinterest because I wanted to steal this image, and hey presto it’s Beth, the mega babe. So I scrolled down for a million years because shit, there can’t be a Baby Mac ProBlogger update without me sticking my nose it. Derrr.

    Glad to have had the chance to catch up, and you should be proud of all the things you’ve achieved. Growing a readership like that takes work and only someone who had made/or is making an attempt at it would ever know that.

    I look forward to what is next. And if you get to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast, I NEED to know. Seriously. No excuses. I’m there.

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