Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bloggy Boot Camp St. Louis

I've been absent from this blog for the past couple of weeks as I helped my daughter move out to Los Angeles. If you are curious about what it is like to move your baby 1,900 miles away, you can check out my personal blog here. Being a true empty nester now should provide me with plenty of time to blog, right?

Bloggy Boot Camp St. Louis
Over the weekend I attended Bloggy Boot Camp St. Louis. Other than the fantastic Show Me the Blog conferences put on by the, we do not usually see blogging conferences in St. Louis. So I was excited when I noticed on Twitter that the SITS Girls were headed our way. Even though I began my first blog on researching house history back in 2008 while I was writing my book, there is still so much that I don't know about search engine optimization, marketing blogs and using all the great plugins available.

The conference began on Friday night with a social mixer, and I have found that attending the pre-events always makes me feel more comfortable going to the conference the next day. Held at the Millennium Hotel downtown, Charmin was the sponsor for the evening. I always think about Mr. Whipple when I hear the word Charmin, and I suppose that shows my age. Patrick Rich of MSL New York was on the go at the event, making sure that all of us were aware of the phone app Sit or Squat. With the app on your phone you can view and review bathrooms that you visit. It pulls up a map of the area where you are located, and identifies bathrooms in the vicinity. A green roll of toilet paper tells you that the bathroom is safe to sit in, a red one lets you know that you might want to find a new stop. I wish I would have had the app on my phone for the 1,900 mile drive to LA. At certain points even a red roll of toilet paper would have been welcomed!

On Saturday morning the meeting room was packed with approximately 140 bloggers. I appreciated the fact the conference organizers assigned us to tables in the morning and for lunch. It really forced everyone to mix it up and meet new people. The opening remarks by Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci were loaded with gems. I particularly liked the comments about embracing other bloggers successes instead of being critical out of jealousy. It follows my life motto about surrounding yourself with positive people. Glass half full folks will only bring you down with them. They will never rise to your level.

Laurie Turk was up first. She suggested that we have one main purpose for our blogs. While hers is a craft blog, her purpose is to promote successful crafting women. I love this quote from Laurie, "A blog is just a resume to make your dreams come true." Up next was Cynthia Wheeler who shared some great insight on how to make your blog inviting enough that readers not only come to your site but also stay to look around. She was followed by Dali Burgado who spoke about SEO and ways to help readers find your blog. Dali did a great job and for once I did not feel as though I was listening to someone speak in tongues about the topic. I'll be checking out for sure.

After lunch there was a choice of two breakout sessions. I chose the writers workshop, discussing turning your blog into a book. I didn't approach my book this way, instead writing the book first and using my blog as a way to build my platform as an author, but I do know a few authors who have turned the content of their blogs into a book. Meagan Francis shared her experiences of the blog to book road. In this age of e-books I suspect that many bloggers have a real opportunity here.

Annie Schultz then offered up some insights into utilizing StumbleUpon and Pinterest to build up traffic to our blogs. While I have posted a little bit on Pinterest (and love that you can direct the photos back to your blog posts), I have never even looked at StumbleUpon. Okay, that is about to change. The day wrapped up with Danielle Smith advising us on how to use video to tell our stories. I know that I need to create some videos. House history research lends itself easily to how-to videos. I even knew that Youtube is the second largest search engine. I have a tripod and a video camera, so what is the problem? I am going to take Danielle's 7 day challenge, where she suggested that we shoot a 1 1/2 to 2 minute video of ourselves every day for a week. We are not to look at the videos until the end of the challenge. She says we will be surprised at how much we improve by the end of the week. The challenge is on!

And just when I thought the day could not get any better, Mirassou Wineries hosted a wine tasting event for us. I was excited to hear that local grocery stores here carry these great California wines, but ecstatic to find a new favorite wine in their Moscato. Often referred to as a wussie wine drinker by my friends and family, I think I have finally located a wine that will satisfy my tastes and not be deemed "too sweet" by others. Thanks Mirassou!

Mirassou Moscato Wine
To say that the day was a great learning experience is an understatement. It is hard not to be energized when you are surrounded by so many bright, enthusiastic and diverse women (and a couple of men) with so much to share. I encourage any blogger to try to attend blogging conferences. The information you walk away with is worth the price of admission. But the new friends you will meet there? Priceless!


Mrs. Wryly said...

You have more fun than anyone I know!

I discovered Moscato years ago! It is the best!

Erin Sipes said...

I love your recap! It's so refreshing to be able to connect and be inspired by other bloggers!

Kim Wolterman said...

Thanks Erin. You are so right!

@TiffanyRom said...

Yay! So glad you came- I had such an amazing time in St Louis- what a lovely group we had.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post your thought!


Kim Wolterman said...

It was a great conference Tiffany. You guys should be proud!