Blogging Tips and Tools from Texas bloggers at SeaWorld's AdventureCon

Last weekend, as a guest of SeaWorld and as part of their Wildside Blog Ambassador Program, I attended AdventureCon, an annual conference for Texas parenting and lifestyle bloggers hosted by SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica. An intimate group of bloggers from all over Texas attend to learn more about blogging, to improve their storytelling skills, and to share tips and tools with each other.

We also come to AdventureCon to have a blast with our families in the parks. AdventureCon is a family-friendly conference so while the bloggers are in sessions, listening to national speakers on topics including how to be a great media source, better storytelling for your community, and Pinterest (among many other things), families get to go behind the scenes to meet some of the animals SeaWorld has rescued and to learn how SeaWorld cares for them. In between sessions, bloggers and families meet up for fun in the sun.

Each year AdventureCon is packed full of focused educational sessions for bloggers presented by nationally recognized speakers. The size of the conference is limited so bloggers are able to get to know each other and form lasting bonds. I’ve become friends with so many talented Texas bloggers over the years by attending AdventureCon at SeaWorld. And one of my favorite sessions at the conference is a round-table of sorts where the bloggers take the mic and share their favorite tools and tips with each other. These gems are just too good to keep to myself so I’m sharing them, and the bloggers behind them, here with you!


Julie at Using My Words recommends using the free sumall to see how Twitter (and other social networks) is working for you.

Jennifer and Anthony with Texas Weekends Count use Twitter Cards (adds rich media to your tweets) and Twitter analytics to improve their Twitter experience.


Rachel at The Link Fairy told us that you can now select (on the fly) where you want to cross post your Instagram pics on Facebook. Click on Settings and then Share Settings to select your personal Timeline or any of your pages to share an Instagram pic (you do need to change this with every post).


Leanne with Genie in a Blog reminds bloggers to tag photos of themselves that they share on their Facebook pages – your page’s followers will see the photo but that way your friends will too, making the photo more visible.

Stacy with Kids Stuff World participates in groups on Facebook that select one member as the “member of the day.” Each member then commits to commenting on that person’s posts and tagging each other there, as well as liking and sharing the posts when appropriate, to give them a Facebook boost.


Jamie who blogs at C.R.A.F.T. (Creating Really Awesome Free Things) gave us these tips when sharing on Google+: when you share a picture, the link is nofollow, but the picture is dofollow. When you share just a link, the link is dofollow. But, photos get more interaction on Google+. Jamie posts pictures over links 90% of the time.


Stacy with Kids Stuff World told us about two cool Pinterest tools:

  • Sharing Visually shows you your true Pinterest reach (by calculating what followers your followers have).
  • PinGroupie helps you find group boards you identify with that you want to join.


Lisa with Crazy Adventures in Parenting uses Evernote (the paid version) to scan business cards at conferences and events. This makes the text searchable and editable and it synchs across multiple platforms.


Courtney with My Crazy Savings uses folders in Gmail so she can email blog post ideas to herself that are automatically filed away for her to review later. She also creates a generic canned email response to send to brands who propose she work with them for free that says something like, “I’d love to work with you but this is what I normally charge. If it’s in your budget, I’d love to work with you.”

Kami with Zoetica Media recommends using Active Inbox, which sits over your Gmail to optimize your email experience.

Jennifer with Real Posh Mom also adds a tip for email responses to brands: if you’re not interested in the opportunity a brand sends your way, consider blogging friends who might be and include a note to the brand with the name, contact info, and URL for that blogger.

Working with Brands:

Marina with Mommy Snippets says we shouldn’t be afraid to cold-pitch brands: contact brands professionally and ask for what you want while also telling them what you can provide to them in return. She also warns bloggers about sharing dirty laundry in public – brands don’t want to be a part of negativity and, if it’s online, they will see it.

Julie with Using My Words suggests letting PR people know, up front and on your blog (on your contact or media page), what you will and won’t do when working with them and with brands.

Blogger Jen at Hatton Family Adventures reminds bloggers to be sure to make their contact information easy to find on their site so PR people can reach out for opportunities.

Fran, who blogs at Step In Communication, recommends always responding to PR professionals, even if your answer is no – it’s polite and may lead to other opportunities.

Building Community:

Kristin at In Deep H2O says the best way to grow a community is to know what people are doing and support them in their efforts. Brands watch this too and may find you for opportunities when you’re sharing content, tweets, and posts about them by other bloggers.

And Traci, who blogs at A Star in My Own Universe, gives sage advice: when you help others, it comes back to you.

More Tips and Tools for Bloggers:

Arena, with The Nerd’s Wife, shares how to create photo collages where each individual photo in the group is mapped to a different URL using Image Maps. She places these photo collages with links to old, related posts at the bottom of her posts to help lower her bounce rate and keep readers clicking around on her site.

Debra with A Frugal Friend uses Snapseed, a free mobile photo editing app, to edit photos from her phone.
* snapseed app for editing pics on mobile

Julie with Using My Words likes Watermark It for adding quick watermarks to photos from her mobile phone.

And what was my tip from San Antonio Mom Blogs? I suggested bloggers review their analytics frequently to stay informed about which topics bring them the most traffic. That’s a great way to determine what your readers want to see so you can write more of it. And, you may even find topics that, when combined together in a new post, bring you blockbuster traffic.

Blogging tips, tools, and recommendations from Texas bloggers at AdventureCon at SeaWorld Texas