– Blog Camp UK –
Cake, SEO, Friends, Wine & Cornish Pasties…….
The alarm clock went off at some ungodly hour, (0530 as it happens) and as I groped for the offending object I realised with a surge of excitement that today was Blog Camp day. I knew there had to be a VERY good reason why I was rising before the milkman had arrived. I was lucky enough to have secured a ticket for the first Blog Camp of 2012 in Birmingham; and, I was really pleased that I had a travelling companion for my journey there and back, as Nelly from Nelly’s Cupcakes was travelling from Newcastle and we had arranged to sit next to each other on the train……well, that’s if we could wrangle it, as we had seats reserved in different carriages! I was going to bake for the journey – scones and cakes for breakfast and en-route treats, but, time ran away with me and I only just managed to buy some goodies at the local bakery Thomas the Baker, in Malton the day before…..some Cheese Scones and Fat Scamps, Thomas’s version of Betty’s Fat Rascals, but much cheaper!
Nelly and managed to sit together, mainly due to my “winning smile” at one of the Sheffield United football fans, whose seat it was that I was sitting in, he gallantly allowed me to stay where I was, and Nelly and I chatted and ate our way to Birmingham……it was the beginning of a great day, meeting Nelly, we have been chatting on-line with for nearly a year now…..she’s ace, believe me! We had arranged to meet some LOVELY ladies, Charlotte, Jayne and Made with Pink and Lindsay at Birmingham station……the day was starting to shape up nicely, and off we all trotted, the WRONG way as it happens to The Studio and Blog Camp! To cut a LONG story short, we finally made it, having walked miles out of our way……but, rain and uphill trudges were forgotten as we finally checked in to BLOG CAMP 2012!
The schedule for the day was jam-packed with activity and CAKE! In actual fact the schedule was titled Schedule of Blogging Goodness, so I was excited to see what was on offer for us. But before I share the schedule with you, which was full of goodness, let me tell you that FIRST on the list was the suggestion that we “First, grab a coffee, and something to eat”…….what a great idea and a wonderful way to meet and greet, coffee with croissants and pain aux raisins…..and hot chocolate, tea, fruit juices etc……..
Schedule of Blogging Goodness
10.30 am Session 1: Get Inspired with Muireann from Bangs and a Bun.
11.15 am Morning Coffee Break
11.45 am Session 2: Choose between our workshop on How to be a Snark, or learn about making video blogs the easy way, or get a Step-by-Step demo of setting up a self-hosted blog.
12.45 am Lunch
1.45 am Session 3: SEO tips for humans (not geeks) with Lee Smallwood, or, Photography workshop by John Taylor, or Susannah’s session about creating e-courses.
2.30 pm Mini Coffee Break
2.45 pm Session 4: Google’s latest changes is covered with follow versus no follow and sponsored content, or photo editing using free online tools.
3.30 pm Afternoon coffee and CAKE break
4 pm: Session 5: PR Q and A panel with opportunities to tackle the tricky blogger/PR relationship.
So, which lectures did I attend? Well, we all had the privilege of listening to Muireann from Bangs and a Bun tell us to us how to sell ourselves and promote our image as bloggers. She talked a lot about taking your blog to the next level and developing your voice/brand, which I found extremely interesting. I feel I already have my own voice, but, it was reassuring to hear that it was okay to be “yourself” and that your followers followed you mainly due to this fact……you are your own editor as a blogger, and it’s okay to post strong opinions that may open up heated debate…….
I decided to stay for Stuart Heritage’s talk on “How to be a snark and get away with it“. I am a big fan of Stuart’s work on the Guardian, and his blog Luv and Hat is also a scream…..Stuart advised us to be edgy and have a “snarky” voice, but NOT to be a Dick! Okay, I think I know what he meant! His talk was quirky and made me look at my writing from a different angle……again, like Muireann, he was saying that it’s okay to be “left field” sometimes, as long as you aren’t over the top……a fun and different way of looking at writing blog content.
Next was lunch, and what a wonderful spread we had on offer; there were a variety of sandwiches, such as smoked salmon, cucumber, chicken, marinated aubergine and pesto, cheese and salad and ham – then there was hot potato wedges, and fresh fruit too. We sat outside on the terrace, but it was a tad cold, but again, there was unlimited tea, coffee and hot chocolate on offer, as well as water and juice. I was REALLY looking forward to next session after lunch, SEO tips for humans and not geeks! I have heard so much about SEO, it is bandied about by some old-time bloggers like a talisman, and yet it seemed to be something that was out of reach to us new or inexperienced bloggers….and the talk that Lee Smallwood gave was PHENOMENAL! At last, here was someone who told me what I needed to know, what I had been trying to learn for at least year, explained in SIMPLE terms and BINGO, it all fell into place and made sense! Lee was a FABULOUS speaker and I learned so much from his session, Lee, if you read this……thank you, thank you, thank you! I am still compiling notes from his talk, but basically for now, here is a synopsis of the main points:
Make your blog posts at least 500 words
Links are good, so link to other blogs in your posts
Images and Videos are good in your blog posts
Include at least 12 keywords in your post (There are Key word plugins you can get to help)
Photos of CAKE by Nelly!
After another coffee break, with biscuits, I decided to attend the BIG NO FOLLOW debate; I still can’t say that all my queries were answered, and there is definitely an air of ambiguity that surrounds the issue, but, I am MUCH clearer about what I must no-follow now; Tots100 has a wonderfully informative article here, that pretty much covers all that was covered on the day: A Simple Guide to Follow and No-Follow for Bloggers. Again, Lee was there to make it all seem so much easier! Next was the CAKE break, and to say that there was an almighty exodus would be an understatement…….and cake there was, all sorts of cake, and nearly all gone by the time I got there……that’ll teach me for staying behind after the session to ask the experts more questions!
The last session of the day, was the opportunity to ask a panel of PR representatives questions……and was a VERY useful session insofar that I actually got to meet them in person, the people behind the emails that arrive in my in-box! A REALLY big thank you to Stephen Waddington, Emily Leary, Rochelle and Edel from Frank PR and Andrew Burton from 3 Monkeys, who gave us tips and transparency in answer to our rapid fire questions! And so it was time to go……and after cake, coffee, sandwiches, cake and coffee, where did some of us go? To a wine bar of course! Wine to while away an hour before we had trains to catch…….we all discussed the day and ALL of us said how useful it had been, as well as informative, it had been great to meet so many other like-minded bloggers, and put names to @ tags! The whole day had been an amazing and fascinating insight into the nuts and bolts that hold the blogging world, and indeed my blog, together; I learnt so much and my head is JUST buzzing with all the ideas that I picked up……with HUGE thanks to Sally from Tots100 and Amy from Foodies100 for organising the whole event, and thanks to ALL the lovely bloggers I met who made me feel so welcome. So, where do pasties come into the day then? Well, having made our way back to Birmingham New Street Station, not the nicest place to be at night, Nelly treated us both to a pasty!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my day at Blog Camp……..if you get a chance to attend the next one, and I hear that Scotland maybe the next location, DO sign up to go along……..See you later with recipes as usual! Karen.