Did you know that us bloggers have our own “Boot Camp“? Yep. Consider it a little excuse to get away from the daily grind and immerse oneself into all things blogging for a weekend.
photo by @angryjulie
In April I decided to baptize myself by fire into this blogging world by attending one of SITS Bloggy Boot Camps. I wrote about the getting there that was hysterical thanks to Southwest Airlines in Part I. The real meat and potatoes happened Saturday and I heard the icing on the cake was actually Saturday night right after my shuttle picked me up for my flight home. Note to self: book a late flight – you don’t want to miss the after party.
Together that have created a community of bloggers with over 5500 members who support one another by commenting on featured blogs. If you haven’t joined yet just stop right now and click here or visit their BlogFrog Community its a never ending source of information and support and hopefully one day my blog will be one of the featured sites.
I signed up for the newbie track at boot camp which covered everything from branding to social media. Looking over my notes I will share some of the highlights that made my notebook:
- Track stats on your site. Take it one step further than Google Analytics with sites like comScore.com and Quantcast.com – one you KNOW who your audience is you will have the tools you need to fine tune your niche. This is something that really interests me as I continue to establish my readership – I have to wonder who are you? I would love to get to know you better.
- Set up an accounting system for your blog/small business. You don’t have to incorporate but it is a good idea to have your books set up and be ready to accept your first paid sponsorship. QuickBooks is easy, anyone can follow the questionnaire and be up and running in a day. You can also add a PayPal account for your blog to accept online payments. My advice get yourself a SEPARATE checking account for your business and one credit card to keep your accounting clean (in my previous life I had extensive experience in QuickBooks so feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions about setting it up.)
- Amy B. Hole spoke about branding how you can build your readership by consistent branding through creation of your logo, website/blog design, social media (eg: twitter, facebook and linkedin) as well as active involvement in blog communities (eg: BlogFrog).
- Social Media Counts – you are missing the bus if you aren’t on board with this yet. With potential to reach millions you aren’t doing yourself any favors by not tweeting or posting on FaceBook. FaceBook has a great feature called Networked Blogs (see image below) that allow you to link your own blog and then set it up to automatically post to your facebook page the minute you add a new blog entry. Make sure your blog has it’s own FaceBook Fan Page.
- When you are tweeting make sure you are managing your Twitter account with programs like http://friendorfollow.com/ <–find out who you are following that’s not following back. http://birdbrainapp.com/ tracks changes in your friends and your lists. Tiffany shared a great screen shot of her shout out from Teresa Giudice from RHONJ — “adore you too honey” I always tweet to the celebs, you know they have to be catching some of them, and who knows maybe they will reply back AND if they do make sure to CAPTURE A SCREENSHOT so you can share.
- SEO Optimization trick – When you upload your photos make sure you title them – that helps the web crawlers understand what’s on your page. Don’t leave it IMG_1543-1. Type over the title and create your own. Same goes for your headers too, keep in mind web crawlers or bots as they are sometimes called are gathering information about your post that could affect your search ranking so a little fore thought can go a long way in the land of indexing.
Now these were a few tidbits learned in just the first few hours of the boot camp. I also learned about Vlogging from @SugarJones and @DigitalKadi and shared a few sites like vokle and ustream where you can host your own web show (in your spare-time).
I met so many great women that day (some I knew from the blogosphere but never have met IRL) .., including @MamaMaryShow (wink wink), @RockOnMommies, @angryjulie, @aspiringmama, @childhood, @designmama, @looneytunes, @mommyisdating,@amybhole, @shuggilippo, @banteringblonde, @supersavingsara, @MommyMentor, @TedRubin, @craftycmc, @theblogfrog, @TheDeeView, @peasandbananas, @HipMamaB, @ooph, @7clowncircus, @BloggyBootCamp, @mamakatslosinit and @TipJunkie — I would add more but Twitter is down again... argh I will come back to add more peeps you SHOULD follow.
Twitter.com: “Twitter is stressing out a bit right now, so this feature is temporarily disabled.”
I have to share this Katy Perry look alike with you — on a little “shopping break” (who knew I’d need a sweater in Arizona?) I ran into the ULTA store in Scottsdale and I just had to snap her picture.
she was so nice, so tall and so pretty and soooo KATY-like!
Another reason to attend a Bloggy Boot Camp is the Marketplace! I picked up a GREAT cookbook that features WHOLE GRAIN BAKED GOODIES — by Kim Boyce Good to the Grain the book itself is gorgeous!
I also met Kim of TomKat Studio – I have been a huge fan of TomKat Studio and her party designs are absolutely gorgeous! Look at her cupcakes!
I also met Marlynn of UrbanBliss. Loved her modern notecards. She is also the brains behind some great branding products like Pauline Campos (Aspiringmama) new business cards… love em! You can read more about Marlynn on her BlissOff blog.
Got my signed copy of Outside with lil Boo by author Cameron of PeasandBananas
** GIVEAWAY ALERT **
I also had the good fortune of meeting the people at iGo. Remember the post about being stranded at the DMV with a dead cell phone? Lord knows I could have used this. Its a portable charger that has interchangeable tips – so you an use it for just about ANY electrical device. We share ours around here with a Palm Pre, a Droid Incredible and the iTouch. I leave my iGo Anywhere plugged in 24/7 and grab it as I head out the door. When my cell phone dies I connect it to the iGo using my own USB wire for the Pre and within 30 min I get about a 90% charge.
and….. I brought one home to give to one lucky reader!
All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered to win the iGo green charger.
Contest is only open to US & Canada residents only. Canadian winners are responsible for any additional fees associated with duties. Contest is open from June 15th to June 30th 12pm PST. None of the the vendors mentioned in this post sponsored this giveaway. iGo gave away chargers to attendees and I am giving mine away.
I highly recommend the trip for newbies and even “oldbies” inthe blog world. The networking alone is worth the trip – plus its FUN! and you meet the greatest people while building your readership and following! For more information on upcoming Boot Camps click here. See y’all in San Francisco (August) boot campers!
and finally more photos..
You can see all my photos on my Flickr Collection Bloggy Boot Camp AZ.