The Central Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference was, hands down, the most educational blogging conference I’ve attended to date.
Naturally I love meeting other bloggers, reconnecting with blogging friends and chatting it up at blogging conferences, but a conference that combines social time with educational sessions that really deliver is the JAM in my book.
When I go to a blogging conference, I want to learn and take away techniques that will help me become a better blogger and improve your reading experience when you stop by PBF. I attended so many valuable sessions yesterday that offered some great insight into the blogging world and cannot wait to attend the conference again next year.
I’ll try to highlight some of my biggest takeaways in this post for my fellow bloggers out there who might be interested. I know that whenever I read blog conference recaps, I often wish bloggers would go into more detail about the sessions they attended, so I’m going to try to share a lot of the tips I jotted down at the conference. Since my recap will likely be crazy long, I plan to break it up into two posts. Buckle up!
Before diving in, I must also say that I am incredibly impressed with Bess Auer and the planning team behind the conference. They put together an awesome event and this was only their second year planning the conference. They sold out and had 200 attendees!
The conference took place at the Orlando Science Center and as I walked to the check in table, I had a little too much fun reading the fun facts that hung above my head in the walkway leading to the Science Center from the parking garage.
Another fun fact? Pet hamsters can run up to eight miles every night on a wheel. Athletic little buggers, huh?
After checking in and picking up my swag bag, I randomly bumped into Carissa who I met for the first time at the exact same conference last year.
It was nice to see a familiar face right off the bat and we walked to see the keynote speaker together. I ended up hanging out with Carissa for a lot of the conference. She is so much fun and pretty darn hilarious. I want her to move to Ocala and make me laugh all day long.
The keynote speaker at the event was Lou Mongello, a notable Walt Disney World author, expert, host, speaker and historian. He is the host/producer of the WDW Radio show and used to be a lawyer until he started a website that took off that was all about Disney World.
Lou’s speech was upbeat and informational. Some of the advice that he share with conference attendees included:
- If you want to blog for a living, you have to treat blogging like a job and put in the time. It takes a lot of time. Don’t expect overnight success.
- If you want to be a professional blogger, don’t accept freebies. Coca-Cola doesn’t pay Good Morning America in Coke. Accepting freebies won’t feed your kids or pay your bills. Don’t be afraid to ask for more.
- Treat your blog readers like friends.
- Think outside of your platform. If you’re a blogger, you should be creating videos, too. If you’re a podcaster, you should be blogging, too. Some people want to watch you. Some want to listen to you. Others want to read what you have to say. Give people “you” in the way that they prefer.
- BElieve in YOUrself.
- Consider offering products on your site and creating an app for your blog.
After Lou’s speech, attendees consulted the conference schedule and chose their first session of the day from a list of three different sessions that covered a variety of topics. Every 45 minutes or so new sessions would begin that attendees could elect to attend. I loved all the options but hated missing out on some sessions that really interested me because I was in a different session that simply interested me a little bit more. I guess that’s probably a good problem to have at a conference, huh?
During the first session I attended, I broke into a bag of harvest cheddar SunChips that came in my swag bag.
I was hungry and downed the bag in no time. I forgot just how delicious SunChips taste and remember being so jealous of my friend Kristen’s lunches in elementary school because she had them all the time!
During the session entitled Make Money from Your Blog, the presenter, Matt Sokoloff, discussed different ways to monetize your blog, including ad networks (like Google AdSense), vertical ad networks (like BlogHer and Federated Media <—my ad network) and selling your own ads. Some takeaways from Matt’s presentation:
- Ad networks like Google AdSense are a great starting point.
- You can earn more from vertical ad networks which are a great option if you blog within a certain niche. However, earnings likely won’t be significant unless you have a large audience and, even then, payment can be minimal if you factor in the amount of money a blogger must pay out of pocket to host a site that requires more bandwidth, etc. Never agree to “exclusively” work with an ad network that doesn’t guarantee you payment.
- Selling your own ads typically leads to the highest earnings, but requires a lot of work and personal sales.
- If you do wish to sell your own ads, DFP Small Business and OpenX are two free ad servers you can utilize.
See ya in a bit with the second half of my CFLBlogCon recap!