Friday saw the second Tots100 BlogCamp, this time in Manchester. In case you haven’t heard about BlogCamp before, it’s a free workshop and networking event for bloggers, organised by the Tots100. You can see some fab pictures of the day over on our Facebook page.
Friday’s event was attended by 50 bloggers and made possible by our lovely partners at TalkTalk, with refreshments sponsored by Creative Tourist. A big thanks to our sponsors and to everyone who came along on the day.
So, what did we learn?
First up, Jen from A Little Bird Told Me talked about how you can make your blog stand out when there may be 50 other blogs writing about the same topics and products as you. Her top tips included:
- When a PR offers you a product to review, don’t be afraid to go back to them with a counter-proposal showing how you could do something that fits in with your blog’s aims and tone
- Take your own photos. Someone might imitate your content or tone, but you’re the only person who can take THOSE pictures. Even better, put YOU into your pictures – make your blog all about YOU and it will immediately be unique
- Write your blog as you talk – when you chat to people there will be little phrases and words that you use more than others – let your writing reflect that
- Understand your value. If a brand offers you a £5 product in return for lots of work or content, don’t be afraid to say, “there’s not enough in this for me. Can we talk about…” and suggest what would make it worth your while. It’s a cliché, but if you don’t value you, then nobody else will.
Next up, Muireann from Bangs and a Bun talked about how she developed her blog into a brand, and how she makes a living from blogging. Her advice included:
- If you don’t want people to know you write a blog, write a journal and hide it under your bed. Otherwise, let everyone know – at school, at dinner parties – if they don’t know what a blog is, just say you write a ‘lifestyle website’ and let them discover it for themselves
- Never miss an opportunity to get a new reader. Muireann leaves business cards with her blog address everywhere she goes – buses, hotels, meeting rooms. As she says, “fight for every page impression and every single reader”.
- Don’t let negative comments knock you off track. If you’re at all interesting, some people will hate your guts – you don’t need to know why. Don’t moderate negative comments “crazy people have a right to their say, too” – but don’t respond to them or waste energy worrying about them
Our third expert speaker of the day was Daffyd Prichard from Cite – a design agency, who talked about principles of good web design and also offered some tips on delegates’ own blogs and how they might be improved. Daffyd’s advice included:
- If you have sidebars, then always ensure your main column is at least 60% of the total page width
- Try not to use black text on a white background – dark grey is much easier on the eye
- Most people read websites in a predictable way – looking across the top of the page first, then down the left hand side, occasionally flitting across to look at fragments and keywords. This means the easiest design for people to understand has clear navigation at the top of the page, and a sidebar on the left.
- Different people understand information differently so it’s good for your home page to offer different ways to access content – perhaps using category tags, or drop down menus and a navigation bar.
- Your home page should entice people to discover your site further so avoid having a long list of full posts – having short teasers and a ‘read more’ button will increase the likelihood of people staying on your site, and it’s also useful for SEO.
BlogCamp workshops are FREE for qualifying bloggers and we’re already planning events in Bristol, Brighton and an event in London for later in the year. These events are very popular so if you’d like to attend, we’d suggest signing up to our mailing list to be first to hear when tickets become available for your chosen event.
If you’ve written a post about BlogCamp Manchester, then do add a link to it below!