Wednesday, July 15, 2015

why blogging conferences are still a good idea

There is no definitive guidebook for blogging, so the best way I have found to navigate the blog world is by connecting with other bloggers. At first this was very one-sided: me ogling other people's blogs. Then I got brave enough to reach out to my fellow bloggers via email. THEN I started meeting bloggers in person! Game. Changer.

3 years ago I attended the 1st Southern Blog Society meeting - at that time 15 of us sitting down for brunch. The following year, I joined a larger group of ladies for the Southern Blog Society Conference in Atlanta. And this year, I met up with 73 fellow blogging ladies + 1 gentleman blogger in Charleston for the 3rd annual Southern Blog Society Conference. 

So why have I kept attending blogging conferences? Because the networking, building brand relationships, learning from both peers & experts that you get in these weekend experiences is the most distilled form of support I have ever found for my blog.

From seeing how other bloggers up their Instagram game (Shelby is all over it!) to even basics like learning how to best take photos with your iPhone (thanks Whit!) or even use Snapchat (Emily is the bomb!) - learning directly from your peers is way better than slogging through Google searches!

Below are 7 of the juicy tips I learned at the Southern Blog Society conference, but if you are a Southern blogger I highly recommend signing up for the SBS yourself (just make sure to tell them I sent ya!). AND if you are not a Southern blogger, stay tuned for when the SBS takes their member networks NATION-wide in the year ahead (this is going to be major)! 

7 Blogging Tips that you can start doing right now:
1. Align your font to the left. Center aligned font is cute & all, but it is actually hard to read. For more blog design tips, make sure you are subscribed to the Blog Better by Leap newsletter!

2. Include lots of juicy links in each post (to your own older content) to keep your readers on your blog & engaged. A bounce rate under 30% is the goal! (not sure what a "bounce rate" is… sign up for Google Analytics so you can get scientific about your blog traffic!)

3. When putting together each post & your blog as a whole, think about what goal your blog serves. Is it to earn commission, establish brand collaborations, or to get your message out to more subscribers? Keep your design & content cohesive, focusing on your goal. 

4. Thinking about starting a blog for the first time? Ask yourself the following questions: What void are you filling? What problem are you solving? Why must your audience come to you specifically?

5. When you start making money off of your blog, start keeping a spreadsheet to document your income and expenses. Still confused about blogger taxes? Reach out to a certified accountant that specializes in working with creatives, like Amy Northard.

6. Write "buzzy" content - meaning that the majority of your content should be of the moment, not evergreen (I'm not sure how I feel about this tip, still trying to find how this is relevant to my blog as I want it to be a reflection of my style transformation, not necessarily just trends… but I thought it could be helpful for you!)

7. Name your pictures with descriptive titles! And then use the extra tagging tools describe below (only for those of you on Blogger, but I'm sure there is a similar tool on Wordpress too!)

Ever wondered how people got the "hover text" to come up when you scan over the picture? This is a sign that they have made their images searchable in the Google-machine by adding in "titles" for each image.
How to add hover text in blogger
When drafting your post, click on a picture to bring up the tool bar below:
Adding alt and title text to images
Then click on "Properties" to bring up the following "Image Properties" dialog box. This is where the magic happens. In the "Title Text" this is where you want to enter in what should appear when your mouse hovers over the image.

In the "Alt Text" space, put in keywords that you want associated with your image - your blog name, a description of what is happening in the picture, the brand you worked with. Search engines can't "see" your beautiful pictures, so this is your time to think of what people might be searching to get to your gorgeous pictures & follow your blog for life! It is my understanding that this can also be beneficial to your blog's SEO, as people often use Google Image Search to find what they are looking for, and your super descriptive (but not overly done or awkward) alt text will lead them to your site*. 

*Disclaimer: I am by NO means an SEO master, take this advice with a grain of salt!
Why adding alt text to your images is important
Something to keep in mind, what you put in the "Title Text" box will also be the default caption text if someone tries to pin your image. So this is a great opportunity to put in your blog name, any brands that you are working with, &/or a catchy name for the post.
Why adding alt text is important

Have questions about how a conference might be useful to you? Let 'em fly in the comments, I would love to chat more!

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