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?

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

45 Comments

  1. 22nd April 2012 / 8:19 pm

    Sounds amazing! Am gutted I couldn’t come but looking forward to reading about it all on Tots100..

    Oh, and if you get a t-shirt saying “don’t be a dick” I would definately hug you 😉

    Well done on what sounds like another amazing event

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:30 pm

      I am TOTALLY getting the t-shirt. I need something special for CybHer.

  2. 22nd April 2012 / 8:31 pm

    It was a fantastic day yesterday and I learnt sooooo much (and met some rather nice people too). I know I’m based very close to London, but I have to say that it was a pleasure to go north rather than south – and I’m also guessing it’s somewhat cheaper to put events like this on outside London.

    Thanks Sally!
    Mrs C recently posted..Little Men – Louise M AlcottMy Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks Mrs C, it was great to finally meet you too. It is significantly cheaper to do this kind of thing out of the capital – hence the ridiculously lush venue!

  3. 22nd April 2012 / 8:35 pm

    Was a great great day thank you Sally. I will try to forget that Sonia and me totally saw your shoelace fail! And that we can read lips and it made us giggle. It was a bit like when my deputy headteacher fell down the stage stairs after doing his assembly!
    Emma recently posted..Know your animals!My Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:31 pm

      Which bit of ‘never speak of it again’ was it you struggled to understand? 😉

  4. 22nd April 2012 / 9:05 pm

    Sounds like it was a great BlogCamp, loving the SEO tips and need to try and put some of those into practice asap! Thanks
    Ramblings Of A Suburban Mummy recently posted..Village FetaMy Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:32 pm

      Thanks Monika, it was great to see you, bump too, and I’m sure you understand about the cake.

  5. 23rd April 2012 / 7:18 am

    One day I will make it to a Blogcamp. Thanks for all the information above. I will only accept non-follow links in the future but what do you do about links on archived posts that already have already been paid for and are not non-follow? what’s your advice?
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..#SilentSundayMy Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:32 pm

      I really hope so! Or perhaps we’ll do one near you?

      • 23rd April 2012 / 6:32 pm

        Sorry my advice – hit enter too soon – go back and change them.

        • 23rd April 2012 / 7:22 pm

          Thanks – that easy? Could you do a post about how to do this? I wonder what the companies would say if they knew? If I were ever confonted about it, would my claim that the Google regulations changed be sufficient to justify my actions? Should I inform them? And… if I can just go and change them myself, I could also accept follow links and make them into non-follow links later. I wouldn’t do this as it would be dishonest – but what’s to stop bloggers with fewer scruples from doing it? – maybe I should just write the post myself and ask for opinions, although a post from you would be more informative probably.
          Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Holiday Letting Your Home – Tips And ObservationsMy Profile

  6. 23rd April 2012 / 8:20 am

    I enjoyed myself immensely and am so pleased I managed to swipe one of the final places to attend! Wonderfully friendly day, very well paced with clear information in the sessions. And great to meet you properly at last! Thanks for organising!
    Sarah, Maison Cupcake recently posted..Forever Nigella: Chocolate Cake from FeastMy Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:33 pm

      Thanks Sarah, I’m glad you had fun and enjoyed the day!

  7. 23rd April 2012 / 9:56 am

    It was a really informative day and I learned lots of bloggy related information that I am now implementing. Thank you Sally for organising such a great day. So many of us agreed that it was great to have such a worthwhile event held outside of London. x
    Inside the Wendy House recently posted..What I Learned At Blogcamp 2012My Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:33 pm

      Aw, thanks – it’s always nice to prove there is LIFE outside London, isn’t it?

  8. Vegemitevix
    23rd April 2012 / 11:02 am

    Bugger I couldn’t come. Ironically being a wee way from London had a bit to do with it, but I also had unexpected guests. Next time I’d love to lend a hand if you need someone to speak, or tidy or boss people about. Especially the bossy bit, I’m really good at that. Vix x

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:44 pm

      Thanks Vix x

  9. 23rd April 2012 / 10:17 am

    I really enjoyed the day, and the cake, though the really nice chocolate number had gone by the time I escaped from one of the sessions, but I won’t let that colour my impression of the day, at all, not even a bit.

    It’s always great to see people and interact with them without a screen and keyboard, but there never seems to be enough time to catch up with everyone. I think the Evil Overlord needs to work harder on altering the time space continuum to make it so.

    Seriously job well done, it was a great day, very informative, and not too huge, just the right number of people. I have to say that the venue was bloody brilliant, absolute genius of a place to meet up!
    Kylie Hodges (@kykaree) recently posted..Return from Blog CampMy Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:33 pm

      Thanks Kylie – yes, I think we had just the right number of people, so you could see most people you wanted to meet – it’s hard when it’s even bigger to find the time, isn’t it?

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:34 pm

      There was more cake. I ate it.

  10. Kelly Wiffin
    23rd April 2012 / 2:59 pm

    Sounds fantastic! Wish I could of been there.

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:34 pm

      It was lovely – maybe next time!

      • Kelly Wiffin
        24th April 2012 / 4:19 am

        Hopefully!

  11. farfromhomemama
    23rd April 2012 / 7:01 pm

    Hoping I will be in the country for the next one. I’ve never been to a blogging event but it sounds really inspiring. It’d also be nice to put real names to real faces. The coverage post conference has been great. Thank you to all who went and posted afterwards.

    • 23rd April 2012 / 9:02 pm

      Hope you can make a BlogCamp event soon!

  12. 23rd April 2012 / 6:40 pm

    I had the best day! It was my first blogging event and I came away full of ideas, with a much greater understanding and full of inspiration. Thank you so much for organising it, it was brilliant!
    Nikki Thomas recently posted..366 Project – Week 16My Profile

    • 23rd April 2012 / 6:44 pm

      That’s really lovely to hear, thanks!

    • 23rd April 2012 / 9:02 pm

      I cried all day because you weren’t there. Next time, TT.

  13. 23rd April 2012 / 10:10 pm

    I had a fantastic day; informative without being overwhelming. Small enough to be fun and sociable. I’m gonna blog about it all tomorrow. As for the T-shirt; remember ‘Frankie Says Relax’ T-shirts? I think we could start ‘Blog Camp Says Don’t Be a Dick!’ What do you think? It could work.
    Narrowboat Wife recently posted..How to make a Yellow SubmarineMy Profile

  14. 25th April 2012 / 6:21 am

    It was a great day, thank you so much for organising it. All the sessions I attended were useful, and I feel like my blogging mojo is well and truly recharged (just need to find enough hours in the day to actually write now!). As an added bonus, despite being late out of my session there was still cake left – bonus!
    geekmummy recently posted..A revelation at BlogCampMy Profile

  15. susie@newdaynewlesson
    25th April 2012 / 3:38 pm

    I’m a wee bit jealous….okay a lot bit.

    So, should all links be no follows or only paid ones?

  16. 25th April 2012 / 9:12 pm

    Gutted that I could not make it but looking forward to the annoucement of the others you have mentioned. Really hoping they will be someone I can travel to.

    Fab write up, I love that there is no cageyness (is that a word?) and all info is shared so freely.

    Cheers Sally, Mich x
    Michelle Twin Mum recently posted..Do you enjoy Kids Party Planning?My Profile

  17. 26th April 2012 / 11:50 am

    It sounded like an interesting day, and I’m sorry I missed the shoelaces incident!

    Interestingly, very similar debates are going on over here in the travel blogging sector. But one of the key takeaways which you didn’t mention is that bloggers *must* produce media packs with information about their traffic, reach, audience profile, etc, if they are to persuade PR companies to part with budget.

    Thanks for the post
    Mark Hodson recently posted..Winter weddingsMy Profile

  18. 26th April 2012 / 8:59 pm

    I so wish i could of come along.. but have loved reading the round ups, love that tip by Phil! Shame about your bank card tho… not a good end to an otherwise fab day
    sarahmumof3 recently posted..April ShowersMy Profile

  19. The Young Mum Chronicles
    27th April 2012 / 7:33 am

    Sounds like a fun and productive day; can’t wait for the next London one! And thanks for summarising the main tips on here, great for those still stumbling around in the blogosphere!

  20. 27th April 2012 / 11:44 am

    It was a fantastic day Sally! Absolutely loved it! Thank you so much! It was lovely to see you and to meet new bloggers plus to see the ones i knew already. I am in London but it was good to see Birmingham even it was raining 🙂
    We need another Blogcamp soon 🙂
    Thank you for organising the event!
    Romanianmum recently posted..Words of Wisdom 24/4 at BlogcampMy Profile

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