On Saturday I joined 100 plus parenting bloggers in Birmingham at my first blogging conference of the year, Blog Camp, run by the parenting bloggers network Tots100.
I’ve been to the event in the past and really enjoyed it. It’s a chance for online friends to come together and meet in real life, a chance to catch up with friends and a chance to dedicate a whole day to learning more about blogging taking inspiration and ideas from fellow bloggers.
The schedule for the day wasn’t released until late so I didn’t see what sessions were planned until the day of the conference. One of the best things about the conference is the broad mix of topics. This year there was a mix of travel blogging, pro blogging, photography insights, fashion blogging, and working with brands. There’s always something for everyone and it’s not just about blogging about the kids!
The day kicked off with a welcome from Sally Whittle, the founder of Tots100 and then it was time for the first session of the day.
PRO BLOGGING – THE PROS AND CONS
The session was run by Penny Alexander and Becky Goddard-Hill, both full time pro bloggers who have many strings to their blogging bows. I love listening to them both speak as they’re both from ‘ordinary’ backgrounds who have made a success of their blogs and lives online so their experience is relatable and inspiring. They were able to tell us all about the pros and cons of being pro bloggers. It’s not always trips away in the sunshine and free appliances, there’s a lot of hard graft behind the scenes too!
Tips from the session
- Know how to hustle, be friendly and market yourself
- Think of your family’s privacy – you need to keep something back
- Admin – there’s lots of admin to keep on top of so keep spreadsheets for tax and invoicing purposes
- If seriously considering pro blogging, you may need to separate your personal blog content and blog this elsewhere
- Time management – plan when you can do something before you accept to take the work on
- Having more than one niche can be handy
- Write down your goals and realistic targets
- Don’t get caught up in what others have and you don’t, it’s a big ocean out there with plenty of opportunities for all bloggers in one way or another
I was particularly interested in this session as for the first time in Life According to MrsShilts history, my blog has been ranked in the Top 100 with Tots100 for March 2015. I’ve always been pretty consistent residing anywhere in the Top 500 but to break the Top 100 is fantastic. Of course, it’s only a number and this is something that Sally was particularly keen to reiterate.
- Link up ALL your social media accounts to your Tots100 profile including Instagram
- Recent inbound links are particularly influential
- If the rankings upset you, don’t look at them
Blog like you love it
The most important message from the session is that the Tots100 ranking is just a number, it’s not going to change your life, make you thin or make you a better person. It’s just a number, remember why you started blogging and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for the Tots100 ranking!
MAKING MONEY FROM FOOD BLOGGING
I sat in this session with an open mind as I’m not a food blogger by any description. I like food and I often blog about it but with my diet in mind I wondered if this session could help diversify my niche. Mel from Le Coin De Mel started the session with Pinterest tips and Elizabeth from Rosalilium offering hints and tips from how to make money from it.
Tips from the session
- Take good quality photographs that are pin worthy
- Look at Pinterest for examples of food styling (if it draws you in, it will draw in others too!)
- Sign up to affiliate schemes or host banners and badges in your sidebar
- Create evergreen content (suitable all year, not just seasonal content)
- Network yourself and your blog
- Be generous and shout out about other blogs that you love
- Start before you’re ready, you can learn as you go
- Have a basic media kit available with 5 examples of your work
- Keep a note of stats each month for reference
- Follow your favourite brands online to keep up to date with the latest campaigns
- Always leave room for negotiation
EAT YOURSELF HAPPY
I saw this session on the plan and was intrigued as to what it would involve. Ideally, I hoped I could eat a calorie free donut but we all know this the sad illusion that got me where I am now!
Ruth Walters from Let Her Eat Clean started with an introduction that we are what we eat and there’s lots of things that we can eat that help to keep us happy and a lot of foods that make us feel poorly and sad. This session was really useful to me as someone who has recently changed her lifestyle to lose weight.
Did you know?
- Serotonin is a happy hormone and eating plenty of fish with Omega 3 can help top this up
- Between October and May, many people in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D
- Selenium is good for the mood so eating brazil nuts, poultry and cod help give us back vitamins we wouldn’t usually get from our daily diets
- Alcohol depresses your nervous system
- Coffee does hydrate you after the first cup
- Sugar numbs the pain and makes you distracted
I found Ruth’s knowledge hugely motivating and has made me think about the foods I eat (even on my SW diet!) I need to cut down on the artificial sweeteners I consume especially in Diet Coke and Mullerlight Yoghurts.
Ruth was keen to remind us that we need to eat food first then add supplements. A body full of supplements on a rubbish diet isn’t going to help us live long and be happy!
Ruth also mentioned how importance it is to get some sleep. I know many bloggers who work around their blogs who burn the candle at both ends catching up late into the evenings, as I often do, and we never seem to catch up; lack of sleep messes with your hormones and makes you think you’re hungry. Some food for thought there!
WORKING WITH BRANDS
The final session of the day bought together PR professionals from Frank PR and freelance PR Ruth Walters with Vicki Psarias-Broadbent, a hugely successful pro blogger who writes at Honest Mum.
It was interesting to hear the ladies from Frank PR talk about how they like to approach bloggers for work and I love how passionate Vicki was as she was talking about her work with brands.
Top tips from the session
- Knowledge is power and know your worth
- Your blog and social media presence is your shop window
- If you commit to campaigns, follow them through to the end
- Build good relationships, don’t let people down
I’ve picked up some fantastic ideas for my blog from the event, there’s lots I want to achieve and new things that I want to try. As a blogger I would definitely recommend going to BlogCamp and soaking in all the inspiration, knowledge and insight. For more tips, check out the Tots100 summary and search for #BlogCampUK on Twitter to see what other tips fellow bloggers picked up.
I was particularly excited this year as I was able to spend some time with my good friend, Lucy of Mrs Bishops Bakes and Banter. Due to distance, we don’t spend as much time together as we would like so we took advantage of the day and enjoyed a really good catch up and dinner at Jamie’s Italian in the Bull Ring. Perfect end to a fabulous day.
Thanks to Sally and the Tots100 team and Cow and Gate for sponsoring the event.