So what did I learn at Problogger? No, it wasn’t to try and capture a photo of me with Problogger, Darren Rowse. Okay, maybe it was (see below for my learning goals).
So what is Problogger I hear you ask?
It’s Australia’s biggest and longest running blogging conference and this year, I decided to bite the bullet and go as it was an opportunity too good to have missed. I made sure I signed up to the newsletter and when the early bird tickets were announced, I pounced! It wasn’t exactly a spur of the decision thing to go along but it was something that was mulling in my mind for the last year – namely….
….how can I improve my blog to make it work for me and my readers?
(If you would like to know more, purchase the 50 sessions of the conference for $US299 here’s an affiliate link ).
I really didn’t know what to expect when I turned up to this conference. A part of me wanted some confirmation that I was on the right track with what I was doing with this blog; another part of me wanted some ideas to find the “missing piece” of my blog (I always feel as if I could be a lot smarter and business savvy about it without losing the “real me” and my voice); while another part simply wanted to meet new people in different networks that I would never have otherwise met.
I pondered if there were going to be anyone like me – people who blog about topics such as business or corporate learning and development.
I also assumed also to be the only one who didn’t actively use Instagram in a sea of travel, food, lifestyle, home and interiors, fashion and health bloggers. Let’s face it, taking photos of people deep in thought and putting a pretty filter on them is not exactly an inspiring Instagram feed – but I digress.
My Learning Goals
If you were following my reflections on Snapchat over the period, you would have heard me ramble my goals for what I was there for. (See my YouTube Videos for Reflections below).
However, I took some time and wrote these down in my journal.
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) September 8, 2016
My main aim for attending the conference was to get smart about this blog – by that, I mean business smart.
Rather than only using this as my sense making space, a place where I work out loud and share my learning, I wanted it to also be a resource for my readers. It meant I had to get smarter with how I was using this blog to engage with my readers as well as generate an income from it without losing my current readers, finding new readers plus always showing value. I also had to get smarter with analytics.
We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.
Now this has been a sense of turmoil in my head for the last couple of years after leaving the corporate world and making a living consulting. How do you balance the need to express yourself, work out loud through your ideas and projects AND then charge for products and services? How much do you give away for free? Lots? Some? None?
It was easier when I was in full-time employment where these weren’t questions in my mind. The moment you’re on your own, these questions start arising and it’s all about your value.
Some Snippets of Ideas I Took Away
Even though my main aim was to come away with 3 things I can do, truth is, I came away with a lot more. My biggest realisation was that I wasn’t behind. (For some reason I was feeling that I was behind the 8-ball when it came to blogging).
Too often, we can compare ourselves to others and wonder if we’re on the right track. I had HUGE moments of self-doubt and anxieties the last couple of years away from salaried employment because the onus was on me alone to bring in business. I was responsible for my own success and my failure. Also, the idea of having “the perfect blog” comparing mine to others was not going to get me anywhere. If anything, the biggest lesson I learned at Problogger was to continue doing what I was doing and not pay attention to others nor compare myself to others.
So these are the things I learned:
- Explore what have I been avoiding to do and why? (I know exactly what this is)
- Focus on getting traffic through Google search and not social media posts (after all people are likely to find you on Google searches while searching for their problem to solve).
- Keep yourself accountable. Ask yourself, “when are you going to do it by?”
- Control is an illusion
- People crave access to other People; Places; Products and Experiences.
- If you’re not telling your story, someone else is
- There’s a difference between “I Don’t Know” and “I Don’t Care” – make sure your words and actions relate to the former
- Observe who influences the influencer and see where they’re playing (this is a big one for me as it’s one way I also observe organisational business teams)
- Get to know your audience and their problems and help them solve them
- Give away your best stuff for free because it builds trust (I still have an issue with this admittedly and hope that by my actions of role modelling, of connecting people and helping people find answers to their problems is instead building that trust).
- Affiliate marketing is something I will need to explore a lot more and get smarter about (I have already offered my readers a couple of different programs and links which refer a commission to me. At all times, I’ll put disclaimers that this is the case. Don’t think it’s making me into a millionaire but it does help with buying me a cup of coffee here and there).
- Am I building daily reminders of my ‘why?’ (I need to get better at this because frankly, I like shiny objects)…
- Chasing shiny objects is okay (YAY! Thank you to Dan Norris who mentioned this in his fantastic presentation). Chasing objects is akin to expressing a childlike curiosity. There’s nothing wrong with chasing your passions (hallelujah!)
- Are you a Creator or a Hater? A hater is someone who has negative self-talk, doesn’t listen to what others says, fosters negative feelings and little empathy for others. Be someone who has obsessive self-awareness and go with the flow after all, those synchronous moments in your life is life telling you that you’re on the right path.
- What will I do that is bigger than I planned to do? (I’ve got an idea mulling in my head for this).
- I discovered that I’m a MULTIPOTENTIALITE (ie Neo-Generalist) – I have multiple passions and there is NOTHING WRONG with sharing these passions in these in your blog (you already have heard me rant on about my knitting and links to social learning so that will continue, you have been warned).
I also learned a whole heap of much more detailed information such as new apps and tools to improve my blogging of which I will share in my Activate My Learning newsletter. (If you subscribe, you receive an email at the start of every month with 4 tips, tools and techniques to activate the way you learn).
A Bit of Fun
It wasn’t all serious work at the conference.
There was a fantastic Friday Night Networking Night themed, “You’re a Star” where I decided to wear Joe Wilson’s tee-shirt, “We Are All Famous to a Few People” (You can read his story of how he created this crowd funding campaign to support breast cancer research after his wife was diagnosed with it).
They also had a “Selfie Lift” (#selfielift) had decked out a couple of the Goods lifts in theme. One was a Hawaiian theme and another, Halloween. We were encouraged to enter the lift and take photos and hashtag them with #selfielift for prizes. It was HILARIOUS travelling up and down the RACV Royal Pines hotel decked out with masks and props and having a laugh.
Did I win the competition? No, but boy, did we have a lot of fun. Check out the winning entry…
— Problogger Event (@ProbloggerEvent) September 10, 2016
Frozen Snap Friday
This concept is going to have a blog post of its own very soon but as you can see on my Learning Goals sheet, I had put down that I wanted to do a Frozen Snap Friday with Darren Rowse and social media marketer, Brian Fanzo for a bit of a laugh.
What’s a frozen snap?
That’s a snap (ie on Snapchat) where you freeze for 10 seconds while the background is buzzing with activity behind you. Some people last for 10 seconds without moving. Others find it difficult – even for 10 seconds. Let’s just say there was a lot of laughter and it’s well on the way to being a viral concept every Friday on Snapchat for #FrozenSnapFriday – or at least I hope it will be thanks again to Joe Wilson who inspired the idea on Snapchat – and also to Brian Fanzo of iSocialFanz who was a good sport about it after I explained it to him.
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) September 9, 2016
A Word About the Food
I only have one thing to write here. If you see a flock of food bloggers madly taking photos of the food stands at morning and afternoon tea and lunch, you know that the food was fabulous. I think the food was Instagramed BEFORE it was touched. The polite etiquette was to stand back and have the food bloggers take photos first before you even dared pick up the tongs and put anything on your plate.
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) September 9, 2016
Reflections on Snapchat
Getting to Problogger Thursday 8 September
Day 1 Friday 9 September 2016
While I was there, I had an opportunity to interview a few people in the field of Learning and Development who are also bloggers and share their story. If you register for LearningNowTV, you’ll be able to see this segment when it airs later this year.