“Don’t make the mistake of thinking the quality of your blog/writing is enough” – Mike Pinnington
I’ve never had the opinion that the quality of my writing or photography would automatically draw people to my blog, but I’ve never really known how to get the audience that I wanted. So I have to say that I found @LOVEYOURBLOG’s third workshop unbelievably helpful! At first I thought that the techy side of reaching audiences might have been a bit over my head but the speakers Dan and Rachael made it so simple!
Its a lot easier to network with people in todays world thanks to social medias like twitter. You get more instant results and have the ability to connect with people you might never have had the opportunity to meet via traditional networking methods. And as much as I like social media (now that I’m getting the hang of it) I struggle with engaging with people. Re-tweeting or Liking a status, fine. I can cope with that. But I’ve always been too nervous to actually comment on someone else’s post. So for me there’s only ever been so far that I could take networking. Which isn’t really great when trying to build up an audience or meet people to collaborate with, so I think this workshop was perfect for me!
Mike spoke about your online persona and that in order to gain the following that you want, and keep that following, you need to make sure that what you’re talking about confirms what is said in your bio. If people follow you because your bio says one thing but then you always end up talking about something else then you are going to lose that following fast. I’d never given that much thought until Mike spoke about it. My bio talks about my passion, my photography, my job. It mentions nothing about me nattering on about my day-to-day life, or my slight obsession with my ‘nephew’ (aka Cozmo the cutest Dalmatian puppy ever!!). So re-gigging my online bio is defiantly getting added to my to-do list.
“Writing for an audience that just doesn’t exist is not that fun” – Rachael Jones
Rachael, the first guest speaker, began by talking about proactivity. No matter how much people say they’re blogging for the love of it not the readers, sooner or later everyone gets bored writing for an audience that isn’t there. So, you have to be proactive. People won’t know that your there unless you tell them. And as important as letting people know that you’re there is, you still have to make sure that your content is there. Write well, write often. There’s no point in getting your audience if you’ve got nothing that will keep them there!
Social media is obviously one of the best ways to get people’s attention, so it was of course a big part of the workshop. There are so many social medias these days, I didn’t understand how anyone could keep up with all of them, and I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want a presence on them all. One point that Rachael stressed was not to spread yourself too thin on social media. For me, Facebook and Twitter were the obvious choices, and I knew that I wanted a blog, so I knew from the beginning that WordPress was a tool I would be using. That to begin with was more than enough for me. But one thing I did realise was that the ones I’d chose are all pretty text based, which considering I’m a photographer didn’t make a whole lot of sense. So I tried a few different photo based social medias out till I finally settled on Instagram and Pinterest. One I mainly use to share my photos and the other I use to keep up to date with what the wedding industry are drawing on for inspiration. So, although I’m using quite a few different social medias I think at the minute it’s just the right amount for me.
“Guest blogging is dead brilliant” – Rachael Jones
I’d always thought that I couldn’t guest blog, or ask people to write for my blog. I’d tell myself that I wasn’t established enough, or my work and writing wasn’t good enough, or I’d convince myself that no one would ever want to write something for my blog. Which I now realise are all ridiculous thoughts to have. Rachael talked about the massive benefits from guest blogging. Not only can you piggyback off someone else’s audience but you can return the favour to them, it’s a really good way to build up traffic to your website/blog. She stressed how building up your social media skills beforehand can be a real help to your chances of guest blogging. The more you interact with people, the more they get to know you so hopefully, the more they will want to work with you. Listening to someone talk about guest blogging really got me excited to try it!
“Its about striking a balance between what they want and what you want” – Rachael Jones
Its important to let your followers know that you value their support and that you are interested in what they are interested in. Looking at which of your posts your audience are engaging with the most gives you a good idea of what sorts of things you should be writing more of, but you don’t want to limit yourself solely to what your audience want to see. It’s your blog, so you should still be writing for yourself, so if there is something you want to write about then do it. You just need to find the right balance between what you want to write and what they want to read.
“There isn’t one magic thing you can do…” – Dan Lynch
Dan was the second guest speaker and he knows so much about techy stuff its ridiculous! Like Rachael his advice was amazing! I love this quote off Dan, “there isn’t one magic thing you can do”. He’s so right. I always had a thought in the back of my mind that I was missing something; there was something everybody else knew that I didn’t which was helping them gain a following. But there isn’t. There isn’t one thing I can do that will make my blog popular. Dan’s advice was to be yourself, be genuine and write as if you are talking to friends. Which I am going to try to do. I think, especially in my industry, that style of writing will work really well. When you’re working with someone on their wedding day its not just a business transaction. There is so much emotion involved, and often clients are looking for someone who they are comfortable with and get on with. So writing as if I’m talking to a friend means that by the time I meet a couple face to face, they might feel like they already know me, making the whole process of working together more enjoyable for them as well as me.
“No one wants to be ignored unless they’re like a ninja or something” – Dan Lynch (my favourite quote from the day!!)
Dan also spoke about using all the analytics tools that are built in to things like wordpress to help see what people are engaging with, as well as using scheduling tools to help with keeping blog posts regular. He also talked about how important it is to engage with people. Your audience don’t want to feel like you don’t appreciate them so taking the time to reply is important, even if you’re not sure of how to help them being honest about it is better than not answering them at all.
So this time I really have taken on board a lot of the advice from the workshop. Instead of just watching networking hours happen and RT-ing etc., I’ve started actively participating in them and its been really good! I’ve started asking more questions to get people engaged and started to use polls to gather info for writing my posts (I have a poll running at the moment if you fancy it… http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KQFM5F7), plus I’m going to be a regular contributor to a wedding blog who are looking to expand their audience, and I’m getting people involved in writing for my blog too! I’ve also started using twitter more seriously to network with people in my area and as a result I have a few possible collaborations lined up! So what can I say @LOVEYOURBLOG the workshop really was the confidence booster and was filled with the advice I needed to get my feet off the ground!
Rachael Jones, Freelance copywriter and online community manager, former chief film clubber/tweeter for From the Red Carpet, @theresabluebird
Dan Lynch, broadcaster, writer, award winning podcaster, @MethodDan