It was a strange way to attend a blogging conference. But then, everything about this time is strange. I’ve enjoyed blogging conferences from New York to Scottsdale. But this was first that I’ve attended in my living room.
The sixth annual Thrive conference for bloggers and influencers was originally scheduled for this month in Houston. But then the world shut down.
And the nice people at Thrive decided to take the conference online and make it complementary. I appreciated the class gesture, so I printed out the workbook they provided and settled into my comfy chair, with plenty of coffee and pencils, and opened up my Mac for some fabulous sessions. There was even a chat room, so I was able to engage with the roughly 300 others also watching the speakers at any given time.
Early on, Helene Sula shook things up by blasting
4 myths about blogging:
1. You need a niche.
Focus on your passions, instead of trying to niche down, she suggests.
2. You need thousands of page views.
Focus on the people who are already your readers, instead of chasing after others.
3. You have to wait for the right time.
Focus on your goals, instead of waiting for something to happen.
4. You’ll be consumed with work.
Focus on living your life, instead of working on your blog every waking hour.
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This doesn’t mean that successful blogging doesn’t require a lot of work. It does. You have to be strategic about it. Helene Sula identified
3 elements for blogging success:
1. Great Content
Great content provides value to your readers, educating and/or inspiring them in some way.
Your content also needs to be easy to find via search engines and easy to read. Heather Tullos gave some helpful tips for
how to optimize your blog posts:
a. Lengthen your posts to at least 300-500 words. Answer questions people have; a great source for these is the “People also ask” section of a Google results page. Recommend products you use. Include stories from your own background.
b. Add more images. Use stock photographs if you need. Images should be in varied formats–portrait, landscape, and square.
c. Add internal links, throughout your main text and not just in a list at the end of your post.
d. Make sure your text is easy to read on the small screens of mobile phones. Keep your font size big–at least 16px–and your paragraphs short–one to three sentences.
e. Use your post’s key word or phrase in its:
- first sentence
- main text
- anchor text
- meta description
You also need to make sure to optimize your site as a whole for speed. Raya Stoilova gave some good tips for
how to make your blog faster:
a. Compress your images.
b. Store your videos on an external host, like YouTube.
c. Minimize JS and CSS code.
d. Enable caching.
e. Reduce the number of posts on your indices.
f. Make sure your theme is mobile-responsive.
g. Delete plug-ins that you’re not using.
2. Social Media
Helene Sula has been very successful with Instagram. Lots of bloggers are also active on facebook and twitter. But for most bloggers, especially lifestyle bloggers, the most reliable source of traffic is
I’m sure that by now you’ve heard over and over, “Pinterest is not a social-media platform; it’s a search engine.” In fact, Pinterest has elements of both. As with social-media sites, people follow each other, and the content you post appears in one another’s feeds. You can save and reshare others’ posts. You can also comment on other people’s Pins, though most people don’t seem to do so. And as with search engines, you can type in what you’re looking for, and immediately receive a page of curated results. And as with both social-media platforms and search engines, Pinterest is always changing its algorithm.
Melissa Megginson from Tailwind pointed out that Pinterest is favoring new images more and more. She advised bloggers to create lots of different Pins for every post and to Pin consistently.
You’ve probably also heard over and over that you should start building your email list as soon as you start your blog. But what do you email them about? Abby Lawson suggested some
things you can email your list about:
- short personal tidbits from your week or your background
- recent and/or relevant posts from your blog
- any current deals that would benefit them
Okay, so, you’ve got your great content; you’ve posted it on social media, and you’ve emailed your list about it. How does this earn you a living? Helene Sula described
4 ways bloggers earn money:
1. Display Ads
These are ads posted on your blog via small code. They can be individual ads or from a network, like Google Adsense. The income tends to be low for small-medium bloggers, but it is passive income: Once you install the code, you don’t have to do anything else.
2. Affiliate Programs
These are relationships where you recommend someone else’s product and receive a commission when one of your readers purchases it. Amazon is of course the behemoth in this arena, but Ultimate Bundles offers big opportunities to small bloggers.
3. Sponsored Posts
This is when a brand asks you to write a post about their product or service. You can work directly with brands, especially if you’re a big blogger. There are also networks that will connect you with brands; Helene Sula recommended Heartbeat for small-medium bloggers.
4. Your Products
You can also create and market your own products. Abby Lawson has several, and I find her Blogging Binder handy for keeping track of all the little things that successful blogging requires.
I know there’s a lot of information here. It was a valuable conference. And I remember several people in the chat space commenting about feeling lost. My biggest piece of advice to them, and to you, is: Don’t be overwhelmed. Blogging is a long game. So focus on the advice that works for you right now, wherever you are in your blogging journey, and don’t worry about the rest for now. It will be there for you when you’re ready.