blogging conference in Houston teaches bloggers how to turn their blogs into a source of income

The Blog Elevated conference in Houston last week was a complete brain buster. I attended nine sessions over two days, furiously scribbled notes, joked around with my fellow San Antonio bloggers and had an all-around, spectacular experience. Thanks to conference organizers Bobbi Byrd and Lisa Stauber (and their team of volunteers) for creating a high-caliber, business-oriented conference for bloggers. I’ll definitely be back next year.

A small but merry band of San Antonio bloggers road-tripped it to Houston for Blog Elevated.

San Antonio bloggers attend Blog Elevated 2013

Stacy’s got crazy enthusiastic eyes and mine are closed but this is the only photo I could find that has all of us together (except for Lisa P. who hadn’t arrived yet!).

We divided and conquered when it came to which sessions to attend so we wouldn’t miss a thing. Here are some of the key takeaways I left with on how we can all take our blogs to the next level:

Blog Elevated panel discusses working with brands

Working with brands and becoming a better brand ambassador:

  1. John Pacini, XY Media and Dad 2.0 Summit: If you feel insulted by a pitch, use it as an opportunity to engage that person.
  2. Kim O’Quinn, Storyteller Communications: I may say no now, but no is not forever. Don’t give up because you weren’t selected for one campaign.
  3. Kristal Howard, Kroger: Prepare for your introduction to a brand as if you were preparing for a job interview: include your media kit with relevant facts and stats. Keep email outreach simple and quick.
  4. Kami Huyse, Zoetica Media: Really good pitches describe what the blogger can offer to the brand.,
  5. Katie Laird, It takes a blogger massive amounts of work and preparation, not luck, when it comes to finding brand ambassador relationships. Make your own luck! Do your homework. Understand and follow the brand.

San Antonio blogger Stacy Teet talks about how to use Pinterest

Making Pinterest work for you, (San Antonio blogger!) Stacy Teet with Kids Stuff World:

  • Consider the images you put into your posts. Are they optimized for Pinterest? Pinterest responds best to VERTICAL photos/images. Use 700×900 if the image is closely cropped. 700×1200 for photos that have text at the bottom, top, or in between.
  • About that text…it’s OK to use text on photos but mix it up with some pics that don’t have any text and only use text that enhances the photo (don’t use text to tell us what the photo already tells us!).
  • ALWAYS use Alt tags on the images in your posts. This is what Pinterest pulls from to get the description for your photo.
  • LESS is more. Average pinners pin 5 times/day; active pinners: 10/day; aggressive: 15-25/day. Let your pins “breathe.” Don’t pin more than five at a time. Otherwise, you’re burying your own pins!
  • People only see the top three rows of your boards (These are your most important boards. You can move them around seasonally, but be aware of which boards you’re displaying in the top three rows. And remember, clever names for boards are great, but keep it short: you get 100 characters to name each board but only 26 of those characters show up.

Karen Walrond with Chookooloonks speaks about building community at Blog Elevated

On building community, Karen Walrond with Chookooloonks

  • Take time to step away from your blog and investigate: Why are you blogging? What do you want your blog to stand for?
  • Consider writing (and posting) your blog’s mission statement: It keeps you from going off topic (and PR people can tell, quickly, what you’re all about).
  • Incorporate your passions into your blog.
  • Hone your craft. Always get better, keep learning, never stop trying.
  • Attend conferences often and attend ones that aren’t about blogging at all (this helps you reconnect with your passions AND helps you hone your craft!).

San Antonio bloggers at Blog Elevated

Thinking like an entrepreneur, John Saddington with PressGram

  • What differentiates you as a blogger? “The future lies with those who see an opportunity and execute on it. In a sea of competitors, think outside the box.”
  • Change your perspective. John used a chair as an example. What is a chair? You sit on it. OK, sure. But what else could it be? A ladder, a lock when you prop it under a door handle, a desk when you sit on the floor. Always be looking at things differently and ask yourself, “Where is the opportunity?”
  • Find the things you do to have fun or to relax and figure out how you can leverage them in your blog or other projects.
  • Experiment! “Random ideas about your blog or another, new blog might be awesome and fill a niche no one else is filling.”
  • “Scratch your own itch.” AKA: “Solve your own problems first.” Chances are, someone else needs that problem solved too. Be a problem solver, on your blog and in life.

I attended four other sessions that also filled my brain to the brim. And I know my fellow San Antonio bloggers who attended have insider tips from the Blog Elevated sessions I didn’t get to see. Let’s share!

Join me, Sara, Stacy, Lisa P., Lisa B., and Amanda for a Google Hangout where we’ll share our tips from Blog Elevated this Tuesday, October 1, at 9:30 a.m. CDT. I’ll use my notes from the powerful Google+ session Holly Homer delivered at Blog Elevated to figure out how to start a Hangout (stay tuned here for details). Cross your fingers that I can figure it out and join us!