Last Tuesday, I was at the Connecting Bloggers and Brands Conference. I hate navigating Vancouver by myself, so my husband dropped me off at the Vancity Theatre and went to the zoo with Sunshine and Lily, then came back to meet me when the conference ended.
I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years, but that was my first blogging conference and I was really nervous. I was also taking Jade along with me, and bringing a baby to a conference adds an extra layer of planning. I debated what to take (for me and for Jade) and what to wear (how to look professional while still being able to nurse), but in the end, it was a lot of fun.
The day began with the chance to meet the sponsoring brands: Telus, Canadian Beef, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Microsoft, and MapleLeaf. We also had the chance to network with other bloggers (over a hundred local bloggers were in attendance) over breakfast. I had Jade with me, along with her stroller and diaper bag, which made it hard to move around much, but I still managed to exchange business cards with over a dozen others. It was super cool to meet bloggers in person and to find so many local bloggers.
From there, we were ushered into the theatre for the presentations. Jill Schnarr, VP Community Investment at Telus, talked about “Lessons Learned in Corporate Social Responsibility: Creative social and business value for Telus and our local communities.” I liked Telus’ “give where we live” philosophy, as that was what my dad said about choosing charities. It was also fascinating to hear how Telus is using social media in their customer service—including responding to bomb threats via Facebook!
The next presentation was the one I’d been waiting for. Janice Croze from 5 Minutes for Mom (which sponsors the annual Ultimate Blog Party) talked about monetizing blogs. It was fascinating to hear how Janice and her sister got their start in blogging (back when it was a new thing) and how they’ve grown their blog.
Like Telus, Janice also talked about being positive forces in the community and helping others. She also said that now blogging is more about content (write good stuff and it will get shared!) than “who is who” in the blogging world. She stressed that you must build your product (your blog) before selling it; she and Susan spent two years planning their blog before launching it. I was super glad she made her presentation available via email, because I was trying to hold Jade, eat my bag lunch, and type notes on my Netbook.
Following that (without a break!!!) was a panel with the brand representatives about what they look for in bloggers. Heather Travis of Canadian Beef said that they do their research when a blogger pitches them; they love bloggers who love them. Katie Drexell of Telus agreed that they monitor people who are talking about them and the things Telus is passionate about.
All of them pointed out that brands have different budgets, so be willing to negotiate when working with them and put your best effort into it. They want results too and by working with them, you get insider access to information or services that may go beyond what they are able to pay for your help.
Finally, the day ended with a panel of five bloggers sharing their tips and advice:
- Michelle Sutter of Powered by Mom said she spends four to five hours a day on blogging to make a good income. She’s active in Facebook communities and has noticed that her readers like personal stuff.
- Eschelle of Mumfection got her break when she made a connection with Blogelina; she now runs Facebook groups to support bloggers and contributes to other blogs as well.
- Kerry of Crunchy Carpets started writing as a way to meet moms (and it was cheaper than therapy). She says a good handle on Twitter helps (people remember her blog name), but she also did a lot of networking.
- Finally, Julie Nowell of 3 Chickens and a Boat is a relatively new blogger but came into the blogosphere with lots of digital experience and good writing skills. She is creative and unique and constantly puts herself out there. Her advice was to write authentically.
For more about the conference, check out “Bloggers and Brands—My First Conference” or follow #BloggersBrandsYVR on Twitter. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and came away with so many new ideas to implement with my blogging and social media. I felt inspired and refreshed and I’m looking forward to the next conference.