I recently wrote about the things I learned from attending my first blogging conference, Alt Summit. My reflections were on how to make the most out of the conference. I also learned a few things about content creation and monetization and want to share those with anyone who is just starting out. If you are starting a blog or an online shop this might help you avoid some of the mistakes and ups and downs that I have endured over the past year.
1. Use Google Analytics effectively
Camille from Friday We're in Love pointed out that you must get past the first page to utilize the information from google analytics. Consider what time of day viewers want to read your content and keep in mind that most people want to read something fresh on Mondays.
2. Know your audience
This seems obvious, though, if you are new to blogging, you might not know your audience yet. Who would find your content most useful or be interested in buying your product? Once you have that person in mind, create a fictional character based on this profile. Give him or her a name and determine where they live, eat, and shop. This will not only allow you to create a more natural writing voice, but will also help you determine which sponsors to reach out to for sponsored posts.
3. Video is key, but not as difficult as it seems.
I heard over and over again at Alt Summit that videos will be pushed up to the top of the algorithms and appear in feeds more often. However, if you are like me and don't want to see yourself talking on video, you don't need to. You can create content on your topic in an interesting and fun way. Videos can be simple and done on your iPhone. There is no need to buy expensive equipment when you are just starting out. Begin the video with an interesting shot and possibly the finished product first. An interesting tip I learned is to have five people share your video on Facebook within the first few minutes of posting it. Be ready to collect traffic and email addresses on your site.
The question of monetizing is probably the first thing on everyone's mind. Bruno Bornsztein from Curbly discussed how the rise of sponsored posts came about when ads began to decline. Sponsored posts can be the most profitable way to make money if used efficiently. Other forms of income include sponsored giveaways, sponsored Instagram posts, sponsored tweets, sponsored email, product collaboration, and becoming a brand ambassador.
5. Engagement is more important than audience
If you are just starting out, you probably want to gain a million followers as soon as possible. However, your engagement is more important to sponsors than your audience size. Is your audience loyal, committed and interested in your brand? This will likely drive more sales for a sponsor than a large, disconnected audience. Spend time getting to know your audience and reach out to them. To determine your engagement on Instagram, add your likes and comments on a photo divided by your following to find the percentage of engagement.
While I'm no expert yet, I'll add something that I did not hear at Alt Summit but I feel is very true: get out of your house. I've had far more success getting to know people in-person rather than solely reaching out online. Some of my favorite bloggers and contacts are people whose niche has nothing to do with my own. Yet, I have a personal connection to them and it makes me happy to support them online and I believe they might feel the same way about Written and Bound. Todd Oldham touched on this in his closing keynote, discussing our disconnected relationships from the overuse of technology. I do believe it's possible to run an online business and cultivate quality relationships at the same time. What I took from his talk is that when we lose sight of the reason we are creating in the first place then we are at risk of losing our creativity.
I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have thoughts or ideas.