When the speakers for Central Florida Blogger Conference (CFLBlogCon) set out to create their unique presentations, each speaker was asked to provide a list of “take-aways,” or what we expected each attendee would take away from our sessions.
Last Saturday, I arrived at the Orlando Science Center with a combination of a caffeine high and butterflies in my stomach, as I anticipated speaking at my “Blogging for a Cause” session. To be honest, given my anxiety level at the time, I didn’t have remarkably high expectations for what I thought I would get out of CFLBlogCon.
I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised!
Aside from my own session, which (*AHEM*) was pretty darn awesome , I was able to take advantage of many other great seminars and workshops. Among my favorites were:
- Joscelyn Ramos Campbell’s “Playground Rules: How Brands and Bloggers Can Work Together”
- Julie Deily’s “Working with Brands”
- Matt Sokoloff’s Make Money from Your Blog
Noticing a pattern? While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed blogging to raise the public’s awareness of spina bifida, there are other platforms out there that I can earn money with, and as long as I love blogging and want to continue to do this, I have to figure out a business plan!
These were just a few of the sessions I enjoyed. Equally valuable to me were the networking opportunities between sessions, the amazing keynote speech by Lou Mongello, and the chance to branch out and learn about topics I wouldn’t normally consider.
So, here are just a few things I was able to “take away” myself from the conference; lessons I hope will stick and allow me to grow as a professional and as a person:
- It’s okay to make money as a blogger. It may sound silly, or even arbitrary, but I can’t stress enough the confusion and internal conflict that this one issue has evoked in me. I’ve been conflicted as to how to go about it and still maintain my authenticity in your eyes– my readers’ eyes. But I learned there are many different ways to skin this cat, and what works for one blogger may not work for another.
- There are no natural-born “experts.” No, this wasn’t stated per se during the conference, but it dawned on me after several hours of hearing different speakers talk about how they worked hard to acquire their skills and “expertise.” We can all be experts at one thing or another. It just takes time, commitment to the craft, and lots of patience.
- Most bloggers are eager to connect with other bloggers and help each other out. While yes, I have noticed a little bit of a “cutthroat” trend in this business, for the most part I’ve found that my fellow bloggers are more than eager to have you contact them with questions and pleas for help. There seems to be an unspoken “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” code of mutual loyalty in the blogosphere. So, while your favors might not always be paid in money, they will eventually be paid in an action, such as a promotional plug or by helping you with a technical aspect of blogging you might not understand.
- Cultivating a “following” for your blog or social media outlets is more often than not a “hit-or-miss” strategy, as evidenced by the variety of advice– sometimes conflicting– from the different presenters. I also caught on to this during the Blogger Breakout session, during which bloggers were encouraged to hang out with other bloggers in their niche. I chose the non-profit writers, and met some pretty fantastic people. But one of the main concerns brought up was how to engage their community beyond just reading their posts. I found it to be a very thought-provoking conversation that challenged me to think of creative solutions to the everyday struggles of being a cause or non-profit blogger.
Blogger conferences attract many incredibly talented photographers! It’s hardly a secret that blogging and photography often seem to be inextricably intertwined. My photography abilities are definitely lacking finesse and practice, but I’m so glad two amazing photographers were on hand on Saturday to make us all look professional and poised! A special thank-you goes out to Jim Hobart of Macbeth Photography, who took complimentary professional headshots (see mine!) of all the attendees! It was definitely a great opportunity to update my professional persona. I have to add that Jim was also my professor at UCF for Introduction to Advertising! It really is incredible to see that what goes around, comes around. For my final advertising project, the assignment was to design an ad about yourself, and think about how you would like to see yourself advertised. One of the last slides of my presentation on Saturday happened to be that ad! I continue to use it because it really gets to the heart of who I am, and what I fight for. Thanks, Jim, once again, for inspiring me a few years ago!
Another photographer who is equally worthy of mention is my friend Josh Murdock, a Valencia College professor, a digital media guru, and fellow spina bifida cause activist. Thank you so much, Josh for taking beautiful photos capturing the day’s events! Here are a few he took during my session. Again, I’m so grateful that you took such great-quality photos of a special moment for me!
So, there you have it! Five things I loved about CFLBlogCon and that I learned from. Also, without further ado, here’s a direct link to the PDF of my presentation for anyone who might be interested.
And here’s…the video! It’s not the best quality because I literally set my laptop on the table to “look up” at me. But alas, here it is.
I’m now so excited to feel more connected to the Central Florida blogger community. While it’s important to put your name out there and try to be a success, it’s all the more important to build each other up and encourage each other as professionals, as valuable assets to the constantly-growing industry, and– as friends.
I have absolute confidence that next year will be even more EPIC.
And maybe just a little more prehistoric!
© 2012, Laurita. All rights reserved.