BlogCamp. Lots of blogging. Not much camping.

Like most of my ideas, BlogCamp came about from some idle whinging on Facebook. In this case, I was moaning about why all the good blogging events seem to be a) expensive and b) in London. And wouldn’t it be a good idea if someone made one that was cheap and not in London?

So it was that I found myself in Birmingham at 8am yesterday, waiting for 140 bloggers, and a dozen or so speakers and sponsors to pitch up, and spend the day at a free conference, chatting about all things blogging. Honestly? It was a very surreal feeling.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had a really fun day. I picked up LOADS of tips about everything from using SEO, to why I need a Google Plus page, to how to come up with ideas for e-courses and what the funny buttons on my camera are for.

What’s nice about BlogCamp, though, is we always try and have LOADS of time for chatting – and it was great to catch up with so many bloggers from all sorts of niches, and get their take on the big blogging issues of the moment. And following the great cake debacle of Manchester in 2011, there was an abundance of cake at BlogCamp.

In a really busy, hectic day, so I’m sorry in advance for anyone I didn’t get to say hello to, or who I said hello to, and then ran away in another direction. With the exception of one or two people who looked as though they were thinking of hugging me, it was nothing personal. Also, to those people who laughed when they saw me trip over my own shoelaces and inadvertently say F*CK quite loudly as I was escorting a speaker into the main room – I think we should agree never to speak of it again.

So, what did I learn? Well, I’ll be poring over the session write-ups when they are published on Tots100, but in the meantime, there were a few golden nuggets that I took away from BlogCampUK:

  • On the whole paid links issue, it’s really simple. If you get paid, a link should be no-follow. Doesn’t matter if the link’s in a review, a competition, a post, a page or an ad. Paid links need to be no-follow. If they aren’t, you risk losing your page rank, which means being less visible in Google, which means less traffic to your site. It’s not a law, so think about it carefully, and make the decision that seems right to you.
  • If you want to use simple SEO to boost your traffic, write longer posts (500 words plus) as this will help increase your visibility in searches for longer keyword phrases. Use lots of links to other, relevant sites as this will boost your own visibility. Make keywords bold, use them in titles, image titles and categories, and always in your URL. If you can edit permalinks in your posts, remove stop words like ‘and’ and ‘the’ from the address.
  • It’s perfectly okay for bloggers to approach brands they want to work with. But rather than asking for free stuff, explain what you’re interested in and ask to be on the distribution list for information and future review opportunities. It’s a lot more professional.
  • Attend blogging events but be strategic if you want to be a pro blogger. Make PRs feel like it’s a bit special that you’re going to THEIR event. Don’t be the person that will turn up to anything.
  • You’ll get more traffic and comments expressing a strong opinion about something and inviting people to disagree than you will if you cover both sides of an argument. This is especially successful if it’s something people are already talking about – a news story, current TV programme etc
  • And then there’s the slide at the top of this post, which came from Stu Heritage of Luv and Hat. I think actually, it might be the best blogging tip I’ve ever seen. Am considering having it printed on a t-shirt.

As ever, thanks to everyone who helped with organizing the event, especially Kat and Phil, who remember the small things I invariably forget (alas, I’m not allowed to take them home, therefore they didn’t remind me to take my card out of the PIN machine at the petrol station, which is why my bank card is still AT the petrol station, and has now been cancelled. Natch).

How about you? Did you do anything good at BlogCamp?

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