The best thing about attending the iFabbo Social Media Conference was being in a room of smart women, who have made their blogs their business. I’m in awe.
As promised in the initial recap I wrote yesterday, here’s a look at some of the specific things I learned at the conference in each panel. These are general blogging tips, which can help anyone interested in blogging work better and smarter. And once again, thanks to the folks at iFabbo for inviting me to attend for free.
Topic: How to Create an Impressive Press Kit/Media Kit and How to Develop Better Agency/Brand Relationships.
Rebecca Silliman of ModCloth
PR people and bloggers can work together to help brands get exposure. Bloggers who are interested in working with particular brands should reach out to the PR agencies representing those brands and let them know they would like to work together. Bloggers should always be nice, professional and upfront about what they want out of a relationship.
As far as what should go in a media kit for a blogger?
Most of the panelists agreed that a one-page downloadable PDF should include the following elements: Top benefits of working with you; metrics detailing your blog’s following on all your social media accounts; testimonials from brands who have worked with you in the past; and any clips your blog has received. While this may be hard for a new blogger to compile, a simple page on your blog with lists of your social media accounts and contact information should be sufficient.
This panel showed me that as a blogger, you can be very proactive when engaging with PR people, especially if you are willing to be easy to work with and you have a voice that aligns with the mission of a brand you love.
Social Media Panel
Topic: Increasing Reach and Followers: “How to” For All the Social Media Platforms.
Sinead Norenius of iFabbo
The panelists agreed that bloggers need to post on a consistent basis so your readers know when to expect a post. I’ve been guilty of irregular posting myself, sometimes once a week, sometimes twice a week. I promise to get better. Whether you are using Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or Google +, be authentic and use the same voice throughout your social media channels. Don’t try to be too professional, if that’s not your tone.
Also, in order to increase your searchability, it’s best to fill out your Google + page and apply for authorship, which is a pretty new thing available to bloggers. One of the panelists said she had great success with buying very inexpensive Facebook Ads to increase her reach.
The Google + representative was adamant that engaging in Google + Communities and linking back to your blog is the way to go.
Topic: Tips and Tricks of the Trade for Better Images and More Effective and Engaging Videos.
I was looking forward to this panel the most, because I have a lot to learn when it comes to taking great photos. However, this panel was more about the services that bloggers can use to share good video and images, rather than taking pictures.
While there was a great demonstration from the Adobe representative on how Photoshop can completely transform images and fix flaws (things as big as having an extra person in a picture you want removed or sharpening shots that are blurry), I was hoping for more tips on positioning and shooting images.
One of the panelists said, “The best camera to use is the one you have right now.” Honest, but true. He encouraged taking photos during the golden hour before sunset, but that doesn’t really help when you can’t time your shots.
As far as what you should do with videos? “Put a little weird in your videos,” said Susan Yara. Another great sound-byte from the day.
This panel wasn’t super helpful in my opinion, in fact, it was one of the more disappointing ones.
Topic: The Legal Zone: FTC Rules, Updates, Trademarks and Copyright.
Mona Bajwa of Trymbl
This was a meaty panel discussion. I wish this one would have lasted longer. The audience had tons of questions, and it seemed like everyone wanted to know more. Basically, the FTC recently updated its guidelines to include blogs and bloggers. If you are a blogger and you write a review or testimonial about a product or brand, that is considered an endorsement and you have to be clear if you have been given anything in exchange for your words. When writing about a company, brand or product, you need to clearly state at the beginning of the post the nature of your relationship with the company, brand or product. If the post is lengthy, you should say it again in the middle and also at the end. A blanket statement on a blog mentioning that you review products is not enough, you have to note it every single time you write about something that was given to you for free. The FTC says it must be clear and conspicuous that you have been compensated or given free product in exchange for an endorsement.
When working with a company, always create a contract of agreements. If you have been emailing back and forth with someone, put all the content into a document that can serve as an official contract. Also, be sure to add a disclosure statement on your blog, which can feature plain language, saying your ideas, pictures and thoughts are your own. And of course, you can’t use a brand’s pictures or images unless they give you clear permission. Otherwise, it’s copyright infringement. Getty Images makes a ton of money each day by scrolling the Internet looking for misuse. Be smart and protect yourself.
The panelists also suggested doing serious research on your blog name before securing the URL to make sure there is no one else with your name. Once you’ve done that, you can file for a trademark of your name and use it everywhere. I wonder if anyone else has a company called A Lady Goes West? Guess I better get on researching that one.
Overall, this was a great panel. I would have stood up to ask a bunch of questions myself if time would have allowed.
Topic: Monetizing Your Blog: Work Smarter Not Harder.
Tonia Korakis of iFabbo
Content is first. Monetization is second. Once you are regularly creating good content that keeps your readers coming back, you can begin to take steps to monetize your blog. Most of the panelists agreed Google Ads is a good place to begin, then joining a network to assist with affiliate linking.
The Viglink representative said the company helps bloggers get the best rates for all of their affiliate links by doing the legwork for them. That means, if a blogger recommends a link to a product and someone clicks on it and buys it, the blogger gets a small percentage of the sale. While bloggers can do this manually if they work with companies, services like Viglink make it a lot easier.
Disqus helps you monetize your recommendations in your comments section. And The Mad Video Inc. lets you get credit for linking to things in videos. I’ve noticed a lot of healthy living bloggers have little sections that say, “You may also like:” and feature of ton of links to their own content and other sites. This is part of an affiliate program, in which they get a share of revenue from clicks. Pretty genius.
While I don’t think I’m quite there with affiliate service needs on my blog, maybe one day. My biggest a-ha from this panel was the fact that there are services that help you make money, and these service companies do it for free because they get a slice of the pie.
There was also a panel on the future of fashion, and while I enjoyed hearing from the brands there, I didn’t have any major takeaways.
Since this was my first blog conference as a blogger (I attended a couple of blog conferences back in Orlando as a public relations representative several years ago), I took away information on services that could help me grow my blog. The networking at the conference wasn’t that beneficial for me, since I don’t actually write about fashion or beauty, but it’s always uplifting to be around people who are making their way by sharing their ideas and passions online. Who doesn’t love that?
To end the discussion around the iFabbo Social Media Conference (which, as a reminder, I attended for free) and get back to our regularly scheduled programming, please enjoy the following photo. Here I am trying on Glass Sports, a fashionable version of Google Glass. It was so cool to see the video in the top-right corner of your eye … it really didn’t mess up your regular line of vision. I’m a little scared to see these become the norm, but I bet it’s coming.
That’s a lot of information for one day. So, any questions out there?