This past weekend I attended my first ever Minnesota Blogger Conference. It’s a fantastic annual event that is geared toward both professional and amateur bloggers. There were keynote speakers, breakout sessions to choose, networking opportunities and there were many giveaways as well.
It was so great to see so many familiar faces and meet some new ones. The day was kicked off with announcements and a really nice welcome video from Senator Al Franken (though he asked in the video we not say that he wasn’t physically there). He spoke about the importance of free speech on the Internet and that we need to protect it and he thanked us for what we do.
After that we were set free for the first set of Breakout sessions. I chose a presentation by Arik Hanson on Seven Topics Affecting All Bloggers. It was extremely informative and everything he said I found myself saying “yes! I’ve seen this” For example – we talked about how the comment is dead. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else, not taking the time to leave comments any longer. It doesn’t mean your post isn’t getting read or shared, but in many cases you might find you’re connecting with your readers in other platforms – such as Twitter or Facebook. One thing Arik said is you could consider removing the comment section. I don’t know that I’m going to go that far, but I certainly get why this is happening and I’ve seen it. He also talked about the how the way we share our posts are changing, that the look of blogs are changing and he shared some great examples and tips to adapt to the changing landscape.
The second session I went to was on creating an Editorial Calendar. This is something I’ve been actually trying to do with my blog, especially on my lesser posting schedule. Amanda Nagy, blogger for Anytime Fitness, was the leader for this talk and she talked about how you can set your calendar to maybe focus on a month’s worth of themes. She cautioned against getting too narrow with the themes you choose as well. I find that having a schedule and some set days are really helping me keep my blog going and I hope to incorporate some of what she talked about into my own “editorial calendar.”
The next breakout sessions weren’t quite as appealing to me, so I will admit to sneaking away for a quick coffee break and to take a stroll around the campus – the event was held at my alma mater, St. Catherine University and it was a beautiful day, so I appreciated a little time to get outside and enjoy my “home” a bit.
After that we had lunch and then heard from the keynote speaker Keane Amdah from the blog “Foodstoned.” He gave a great talk on how one opportunity can lead to another and things might happen that you could never expect or predict. In other words, don’t give up!
The next session I went to was a ton of fun and I’m not just saying that because I won a prize. Alice of Dining With Alice led a session on food photography. Now those of you who know me and read the blog on a regular basis are going “now Beth, you’re not a cook and you’re not a food blogger” – but you know what? My husband is a fantastic cook. I like to take pictures of his food. Maybe I’ll blog them more! So, this sounded fun. Alice gave some fantastic tips and then had a little contest, we took beef sandwiches she’d made, photographed them and then submitted them to her and the MN Beef Council for a prize. They chose mine! I won a beef cookbook. That was so fun.
The last session of the day was crazy awesome and I have a new girl crush. Erica Hanna (who has a website called Puke Rainbows – can I love her more?) gave a talk on Camera Confidence and now I want to start making video blogs because she was that inspiring. She gave a great talk on how to be more confident (on camera, but I think a lot of what she said applied to life in general!), why we fear either being on camera or taking photographs and things like that. She’s witty, humorous and overall an awesome human being and I plan on taking a lot of what she said to heart – believe it or not I’m already looking ahead to my word/mantra for 2016 and much of what she talked about really reinforced my goals/ideas. Much more to come at the end of the year, stay tuned.
The day seriously FLEW by. I took so many notes, talked with so many people and took SO MANY SELFIES. They were running a selfie contest to win a tablet, so we were encouraged to get selfies with as many other bloggers as we could. My fellow TBT poster Laura was the one who won, big congrats to her!
The Conference really gave me some energy, fire and passion for what I do and what I want to continue to do, I’m so glad I attended. I am already looking forward to next year! They’ve already announced the date and venue, sounds like we’re moving to a bigger space next year. Concordia University, hope you’re ready for all the Minnesota Bloggers!