Last week I had the privilege of attending my first ever BlogPaws Conference. It took me 3 different planes and a shuttle to get there over a span of 16 hours, but it was all worth it. It was held at the gorgeous Westin Lake Las Vegas Hotel. There were about 300 bloggers, brands, and animal advocates in attendance and many of them brought their pets along for the trip. The purpose? To help strengthen our voice as a community of pet lovers so that we can help more people and their pets around the world. For me, that means improving my blogging skills. I learned a lot of valuable lessons.
1. Build Relationships
Blogging is a lot of hard work. It is important to make friends with other bloggers. Blogging buddies are great for ideas, resources, sharing your content, emotional support, and honest opinions. Of course, the relationship must be mutual. Who knows? Maybe there are causes that you can band together on. I plan to work with my other Detroit cat blogger friends, Caren Gittleman and Sue Doute, to see what we can do to help kitties in our area.
Building relationships with brands can be helpful too. Brands like to know the people behind the blog they are considering for advertising, sponsored posts, reviews, etc. In some ways, your personality can get you further than your talents can.
2. Expect Success
In blogging, the person who determines your level of success is you (the blogger). Create a business plan – decide what you have to offer, what your goals are, and who you want to reach. Be really honest with yourself. As you build relationships with others, business will come your way. Don’t forget to reach out to people/brands that fit into your business model. Make sure you are ready to accept the business you want (time to do the work, proper technology, contracts ready to fill out, etc).
I learn as I go just like everyone else. Right now, I am in the process of figuring out how to monetizing Playful Kitty and get my business plan laid out. I believe that my biggest strengths are in writing and creativity so I am trying to work with that. Success is on its way.
3. Helpful Blogging Freebies Are Out There
Need a few ideas, photos, or technical helps? Believe it or not, there are some free sources out there. Check these blogging goodies out:
- Yoast – This is a free WordPress plugin that will help you to improve the SEO on your website and each of your posts. More traffic to your site! I just learned about this at BlogPaws and it is really awesome.
- FreeImages, Pixabay , Flickr Creative Commons, All-Free-Download – These sites have a lot of images that you can use for free. Be sure to check out the guidelines for using the images on each site. Some images can only be used in certain type of projects or require a particular form of attribution.
- Piktochart, Infogr.am – These websites will allow you to make your own infographics for free.
- PicMonkey – This is a free online photo editing tool. All of the basics are covered with this program – including the ability to add text.
- PetMD, The Winn Feline Health Organization – Both of these are great (free to use) resources for posts about pet health and nutrition.
4. Remember the Goal
You decided to become a pet blogger for a reason – remember that reason. I chose blogging as a way to potentially make a few dollars from home, but I chose to blog about my cats in particular because I am passionate about them. The end goal of all the work that I do on Playful Kitty is to help myself and other cat owners to understand and care for their cats better. I want cats to have the best lives they can.
All of that being said, there is no room in my vision for petty competition. It is more important in my eyes to work together with other cat bloggers than to be “better than” them. I can get tons of advertising on my site and make loads of money, but if the cat’s lives aren’t improving as a result of my work, then I am just another commercial. If the cats win, I win. Happy dance
5. A Few Great Technical Tips
There are some rather specific, technical sorts of blogging tips that I learned with I was at the BlogPaws conference too.
- Google Analytics automatically places anyone who only visits one page of you website into the 1-10 second category regarding audience engagement. It doesn’t matter how long that person stays on that one page.
- Using “https” at the beginning of a URL instead of “http” blocks the owner of the website from seeing the key words you used to find their site.
- When taking a photo, the light source should always be behind you and shining on the subject of the photo.
- If you moved your website from a host like wordpress.com to a self-hosted site, you need to have the old site forwarded to your new site to avoid being penalized by Google for duplicate material.
- Images on Pinterest get better results if they are taller than they are wide.
- If you are being compensated to promote a product on twitter, you are supposed to use #ad at the front of the tweet. You do not have to use #ad if you are promoting a post (that just so happens to be about the product).