Central Florida Blogger Conference 2012 (the morning)

17 09 2012

Are there tweets and widgets and media guides and pitch letters and SEOs and Facebook pages coming out of my ears?

No? That’s weird, because on Saturday, I felt like my brain was overflowing with all of the information I learned at the Central Florida Blogger Conference. I had an absolute blast at CFLBlogCon 2012 meeting and networking with other bloggers as well as learning a ridiculous amount of useful information that I can apply to blogging. I’m still processing a lot of it, but I’ll do my best to share some of the most salient points.

The Orlando Science Center hosted the event, and it was such a cool venue! The opening session was held in the IMAX theater, which was a really great idea.  Katy Widrick, one of the fantastic planners, got the conference rolling.

She is 37 weeks pregnant, and absolutely stunning!

Her opening spiel was interrupted by a surprise flash mob!

The dancers were from YowDance, and they did such an incredible job. I was definitely awake and ready to get my conference on after that performance!

The Keynote speaker was Lou Mongello, a “recovering lawyer” from Jersey who has turned his passion for Disney into a full time job. He is an author, host and producer of the WDW Radio show, blogger, speaker, and father. His talk, “Quit Your Job, and Do What You Love Full Time” was super inspiring.

I took away a lot from his talk, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Pursue your passion and find your audience.
  • Think big, dream big, go big.
  • Treat this as your profession.
  • Be committed and passionate.
  • Go pro from Day 1. You never know who is listening/reading.
  • Do more, be everywhere.
  • Create content in a way that most people are comfortable using it/consuming.
  • Engage your audience. Fans=friends=loyalty=evangelists
  • Believe in yourself and BE yourself.
  • Stop taking freebies. This is your business too, and they need to understand that
  • Take a leap of faith but bring a parachute.
  • Want to quit your job? It can be done, but it takes time, commitment, patience, confidence, faith, a supportive spouse.
  • The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.
  • The 5 Ps: Passionate, Prepared, Patient, Persistent, Positive

I’m not taking that plunge anytime soon, but he certainly gave me a lot to think about.

Next, I went to Callie’s session, “Marketing Yourself: How to Build Your Media Kit.”

She did a great job and spoke to a packed room!  A Media kit aka my blog’s resume doesn’t exist- yet. After this session, I started a “To Do” list. 😉

Next on my jam-packed agenda was “Fitting Blogging into Your Life,” presented by MomJovi, Crazy Running Legs, and Cook the Story.

They also did an excellent job, and one of the key takeaways from this one was to make the social media tools that are out there work for you! Jackie (MomJovi) talked about TweetDeck and HootSuite, both of which I had heard of, but I only used their phone app when the regular Twitter app wasn’t working. What I didn’t realize was how different and USEFUL the computer versions of these apps are! I added “Try TweetDeck and HootSuite on my computer” to my to do list. Christine (Cook the Story) talked a lot about how she makes Pinterest work for her. I got a lot of great tips from her- use Pinvolve on my Facebook page, contribute to group boards, get a “Pin it” plug in. But most of all, I realized that I need to use Pinterest more than I currently do! I have an account, but if you ask me how often I pin something, or look at boards, I’d give you a blank stare because I don’t remember the last time I did.

Next up: “Foundation, Trust & Content: 3 Core SEO Principles Your Blogging Strategy Needs to Pay Attention To ” presented by Tom Jelneck of On Target Web Solutions. Now SEO is not an acronym that I think about all that often. I know what it means (Search Engine Optimization) but I don’t REALLY know what it means.  Tom did a good job of speaking in layman’s terms, but I think I need a really basic crash course on what SEOs really are, how they work, and why I need to know about them. I was able to deduce some of that information from this session, but SEO is still a question mark in my head. However, this session did get me thinking about how Google “thinks” and finds my site. Sure, when I blog I intentionally choose tags and categories to make the blog more searchable, but I never really thought about the criteria that Google uses to index my site. (“Index” was a term that was thrown around a lot in this session. From what I understand, if your site is “indexed” it will show up in a Google search. The goal is to be indexed on one of the first few pages, because those are most likely to be seen by internet searchers.)

A few tips I picked up:

  • True SEO is all about your ability to write. It’s all about the audience. Knowing what your audience is looking for.
  • The more you blog with rich relevant content, the more Google wants it.
  • Keep the site clean (in terms of the coding); you don’t need a lot of plugins becuase they make it run slower, and harder for Google to find.
  • Don’t try to outsmart the search engine. They will win.
  • You don’t want id=? in the permalink! That’s bad and makes it unsearchable!
  • Google wants words not graphics. Use every opportunity to use text not graphics.
  • Google wants to trust your website. You build trust by consistently posting good content.
  • Are you helping to build/improve the web? If you write amazing content you will be rewarded!

By this point, my tummy was growling. I knew that Bahama Breeze was catering the event, so I couldn’t wait to get downstairs to eat!

I know this post is getting kind of long, so I’ll give you a sneak peek of lunch, and will return with Part II of my post on the Central Florida Blogger Conference.

Question of the day: Have you ever been to a blogging conference? What was the most useful thing you learned?