Bob Jones and Problogger Darren Rowse

ProBlogger Event Review for those who couldn’t attend

Bob Jones and Problogger Darren RowseBig day today for me. The Darren Rowse road-show (ProBlogger) hit Perth and I managed to get a ticket to the event. This might sound silly for someone who has been working online for the last ten years, but this is the very first event I’ve attended. Not sure why – this stuff is awesome and I got to have some great face time with Darren himself who was kind enough to answer a few questions I had. I’ve learned a lot at the #pbevent

I’ve compiled a bunch on notes on Evernote and have reorganised them for you in this blog post.

Great crowd, awesome speaker line-up, great vibe – loads of information shared here today. Also met a load of new people who all love this industry and I’m sure I’ll be bumping in to them more on events and I’ll be sure to follow them on social media or on their blogs.

The speaker line-up was impressive with Kelly Exeter on blog design, Nicole Avery on blog scheduling and workflows, Christie Burnett on social media management and Stacey Roberts on monetising a blog.

Some fun facts of the ProBlogger event:

  • The ladies love Darren! There were 87 confirmed attendees here today and I kid you not, I was one of four guys, including Darren
  • On the way in I was listening to Pat Flynn’s SPI podcast and once I was here, during the presentation the website was used as a prime example of great blog design (which it really is!)
  • Nicole Avery did a 30K run at 3:45 the morning of the event. That’s THIRTY. Before SIX o’clock in the morning!
  • The event was sponsored by Olympus but their spokesperson was in hospital with his wife, having a baby
  • I’ve written a complete recap of the ProBlogger in Perth event

The event kicked off at 9:30 with Darren doing his keynote and a little bit about how he started both and (which is his bigger blog), very inspiring stuff and it just shows that with some thought and determination, you can be successful online with a blog.

Session one, Darren gets the show started

Darren spoke about how he got started a little since 2003, with a time line explaining some of the evolutions in money earning capacity that his sites went through. He also explained that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of readers to have a successful blog in terms of making money with it. Some examples that were given:

  1. Small concrete bench niche blog which averages 20 visits per day, makes over $100K per year by upselling his services.
  2. Photography blog with 500 visits a day makes $140K per year mainly selling a beginners ebook.
  3. Product review blog owned by a work at home mum blogger earns over $90K a year through affiliate sales, reviews and ads.
  4. Get fit blog which helps people to get started makes over $4,000 per month with an online course and coaching.

As you can see, there is money to be made as long as you find and target the right reader. If you can turn a visitor into a subscriber, they instantly become a lot more valuable to your blog. The right reader adds value to your blog community, turns into an advocate, responds well to brands you affiliate with and is more likely to buy your product.

Session two, Kelly Exeter about blog design

To attract the right reader, make sure your blog feels like home to them. Your design needs to help you complete a goal and that means you really need to put some thought into it. Your blog design should support and enhance your brand.

What is your brand? The answer to the following question: “What do other people say about you when you’re not in the room?”

Useful points to consider when designing or picking a theme for your WordPress blog:

  • Don’t get cute with your navigation – people expect certain things to be in certain areas with certain names. Don’t have a link to your blog on your navigation bar that says “stuff I say” for example. It just confuses people.
  • Try to make your blog personable by adding at least one good photo of yourself in a prominent position as readers like to connect deeper with a blogger. It helps strengthening your brand and relationship.
  • Less is more in your sidebar. The primary objective of a sidebar is to cut off your main copy so that doesn’t get too wide to read. Really focus on what you believe is nessecary to achieve the goals you’ve set for your blog.
  • Make use of high quality images – if you need your blog to stand out, invest in beautiful imegary.
  • Declutter everything! Make sure your blog is easy to read and digest. This means your font should be 16px and line spacing should be 1.5 times the your font size.

Session three, Nicole and Darren on content

This session opened my eyes in terms of where to look for ideas that can be used to write great content.

If you have a readership already, tap into it. Send out a newsletter or survey to them with several open ended questions. Nicole mentioned she’s had great success with this because it helps her to really write the specific content her readers want from her (remember the right reader stuff I mentioned above!)

To find good blogging content ideas in the wild, here’s a set of items that can help you to find it.

  • Figure out what challenges your readers face.
  • Be on the lookout for seasonal and current events
  • If you have a large topic, break it down in a big and small post. The small post is a “sneeze page” as Darren calls it, to move people deeper into your website, linking to the bigger post.
  • Do a full series of posts. ProBlogger had a “31 days to build a better blog” for example, which boosted traffic and readership.

Session four, Christie Burnett on social media

I think Christie was a little nervous getting started but once she got going and shared with us that she has 218,000 Facebook fans and 172,000 followers on Pinterest, there was no stopping her. What a social power house!

A very enjoyable slide deck with loads of animals showed us what to look for and what to do to grow a following on social media.

  1. Once you’ve set your blog’s goals, find the right reader and seek them out on their social media platform of choice.
  2. Make sure once you’ve picked your playground, you make it easy for people to see where you hang out (think sidebar!)
  3. Be consistent in posting and sharing, set a pattern people expect.
  4. Be relevant and community focussed by engaging your readers.
  5. Be ethical, don’t spam or steal other peoples stuff for a few shares.
  6. Find a tribe of like minded bloggers and help each other share content. Also see what’s working for other bloggers and reuse that content to get shares for yourself.
  7. Don’t be afraid to repost some of your stuff – a lot of people won’t have seen it yet.

Some of the scheduling tools Christie touched on were:

  • Tailwind for Pinterest content management
  • to help deliver and share social content
  • Buffer also is a great tool to schedule social posting
  • Schedulegram for Instagram scheduling

And finally the secret four steps to social media success that have helped Christie get to where she is now: Plan, Schedule, Track, Repeat

Session five, Nicole Avery on planning a successful blog

This was my personal favourite session as it punched all the problems I have as a blogger in the face  Nicole’s Twitter handle PlanningQueen couldn’t be more accurate. As Darren mentioned during the event, she’s a machine!

Nicole shared her insights on the 80/20 Pareto principle (just like Tim Ferriss in the four hour work week)and showed us how she used the productivity data she got from ResucueTime and cut out activities that didn’t add to the bottom line.

The main points that I took away from this session all revolve around planning and scheduling:

Why Schedule and Plan your blog content?

  • It allows for more thinking time and will help the post quality
  • It gives you more time to prepare any images, videos or other media you want to add to your posts
  • This helps you meet deadlines and have posts done on time.
  • Also helps you to get in the zone and run through several posts in one go; batch writing.
  • Increases speed of the post writing as you already know exactly what your post will be about.

When putting a schedule together, make sure you know what you’re currently using your time on, be realistic of how many hours you really have available to write, figure out what time of the day works best for your creative mind to be switched on, schedule around existing boundaries such picking up or dropping off the kids at school.

Tools (gmail based) that can help you get to a better planned and more productive day:

  • Setup labels, tags and rules in your email system.
  • Set time limits for your work (Pomodoro works really well for me)
  • Use canned responses in Gmail to quickly respond to FAQ
  • Use the Calendar to help you with recurring reminders

Finally, how do you stay focused and make the most of your time?

  • Stop multi-tasking, stat mono-tasking (Finally someone who agrees with me!)
  • Block out distractions on the computer
  • Don’t start work unless you have plan to stick to
  • Manage your information with services such as Feedly, Buffer and Evernote (which is what I used to take notes the whole day).

Session six, Stacey Roberts on making money with a blog

Stacey tried to answer one of the biggest questions of the day, how to make money with a blog. She mentioned that even on the way to Perth, in the plane someone rolled his eyes at her when she told him she’d be speaking at an event about just that. A lot of people still don’t seem to take blogging very serious (which is fine, more for the rest of us, right?)

After going through the basics, the main list of monetisation options (that I wrote down) is as follows:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Banner Advertising
  • Google AdSense
  • Sponsored Posts

A big one for me was to collaborate with a brand and leverage that relationship with sponsored content, giveaways and reviews. If you want to find a brand, there’s agencies that can help you blog to connect. A few mentioned were NuffNang, The Remarkables Group, Ministry of Talent and Agents of Influence. All of these have different entry levels and you’ll have to take a look to see if you can work with one of them.

Important things to remember when making money with a blog:

  • Make sure you’re passionate about what you blog about.
  • Figure out what talents you have and use them
  • Every one started small, don’t give up
  • Experiment with everything!

Whew! What a day and what a post! I hope this was useful for those of you who wanted to go but couldn’t make it. I’d appreciate it if you could share this post on your favourite social media network by the way =)

I think everyone there had a blast and I’ve heard several people opting in for the ProBlogger event in QLD later in the year. Anyone here going? Leave a comment

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