So, here we are. The first session from Cybermummy. I have eaten cake. I have had a massage. I have sobered up … for now.
Good to go!
The panel are going to talk about letting people know you’re there.
First up on the panel is:
“My mother knows a lot about everything … but not when it comes to technology!”
Fred is a little over-awed at talking in front of so many women, but he has a French accent so I think he’ll do well.
Fred asked: Why do people read blogs?
He made the following, relevant points: “The success of blogging is that people share what they know. We are looking for conversation, authority and opinion and a blog is the ideal way to connect.
Blogging is all about content – what you publish and for who.
Try to answer the real question.
Think sustainable topic. If you do, you will generate traffic for years.
Make readers stick to your blog. Present the personality behind the blog. Publish often. Create conversation.
Monetise. Your blog is worth something to brands. The best motivation not to give up!”
Thanks Fred … your accent is to die for. There, I said it.
Next up …
Debbie O’Connor – Motivating Mum UK
Debbie explained how this time last year, she didn’t have a blog or a website but she now has over 8,000 Twitter followers and is here today to champion the cause for people who are wondering whether to make a go of it. “If I can do it, anyone can.” Well said Debbie!
How did she start?
She answered an ad online for someone to take over Motivating Mum but admits to not really knowing what she was doing at the beginning. Over the past year she’s developed more of a system by looking at Google Analytics to see who’s visiting the blog. On Twitter she started following people … and they followed back. She started conversations … and people talked back. It starts small, it’s very scary and there are no rules, Debbie explained. “Listen to what people are saying and it will happen for you.”
Great motto Debbie!
Next up …
Karen Cannard – ‘Rubbish Diet’ blog
After a slight technical issue (well done Jen for coming to the rescue!) Karen explained how she began three years ago. In 2008 she took a challenge to try a ‘zero waste’ week and set up a second, “rather geeky” blog about zero waste.
Karen is a regular radio contributor, especially in Suffolk, and when that started Karen admits to being very scared – especially as she was an anonymous blogger to start with. The ‘zero waste’ challenge got her publicity – and the anonymity went!
Karen didn’t think the zero waste challenge would be of any interest to anyone! (How wrong she was!)
Karen explained: “If you’re a blogger but feel you have other things to offer, your blog is a great platform for that. Whether you’re becoming an expert on something (maybe blogging) and you’re creative and want to share your talent – a blog is an ideal way to share this with people. You must define your goals beforehand – although defining a strategy isn’t easy when you began.”
Karen became a columnist for a local publication (anonymously again!) but then she was ‘outed’ by the local press.
Karen’s message is – get on the radio! Whether that’s becoming a regular contributor or just getting your blog name on air.
Karen admits to being shy, especially in the beginning, but suggested going on Facebook and interacting with your local radio presenters because they’re always looking for content.
If you get a radio gig, get in the studio (as opposed to doing the interview on the phone) as you can engage better with the presenter which will mean the interview will come across better.
Prepare 3 key points you want to get across, but don’t feel pressure to fill the silence – that’s the presenter’s job.
Once you’ve been on air – keep in touch. Like Karen, you may well be asked back.
Karen appeared in The Independent’s article about Cybermummy at the weekend. They called her Kate – as brilliant a name as that is … it’s KAREN!
Karen told us: “If you get the opportunity to talk to a new audience, maybe something like the WI or industry conferences, try and get on these circuits. Attend Awards nights (people are ‘relaxed’) . Wear an interesting accessory – always a good talking point.”
Remember networking. Karen said she was taught a very good lesson by Deborah Meaden. She asked Deborah about clients Deborah might have and asked how she could help. Deborah took her to the side and said, ‘You’re the first person who’s asked me what you can do for me – everyone else has asked what I can do for them.”
And that’s from a real life Dragon!
“If you’re very passionate about a topic, help promote a campaign. Check out 1000bins.com for something Karen is very passionate about. Worth going to if only for pictures of Shedwyn in a wig. Check out the site – you’ll see what I mean!
Jen asked the panel about networking with other bloggers:
Karen said if you start commenting on other people’s blogs but has noticed that blogging isn’t the only way to connect any more. Twitter is becoming a big part of connecting. Leaving comments on blogs you love, however, is still so important.
Deborah said it’s a good idea to tell bloggers why you love their blog. Make them feel like they will want to respond to you and then they’ll want to come and see what you’re all about.
Fred said that if you can find one person to discuss a topic with you (even if it’s your partner), you will have more and more interaction with other people. It will snowball. Get your husband to leave a comment if you’re struggling! Fred admits to talking to his brother online as that was enough to start a conversation.
OK, Question Time:
Amy Taylor asked a question about traffic. Do you put key words into your blog? How do you drive traffic?
Fred: “It’s all about trying to imagine what the people who are interested in your content are looking for. What would someone ask? What key words would they use? What question would they want to ask? Make sure you put that in your post.”
Jen: “Plainly written titles do so much better than quirky titles. Focus on the theme, because when people find your blog they’re less likely to leave.”
Fred: “Look at your statistics. When you see what key words people use, try and do related blog posts.”
A question was raised about building followers:
Karen: “I’ve only built my following manually by visiting people direct. Do Goole search to see who’s talking about zero waste and find them.”
Deborah: “Manual too. If I have a good discussion with someone, see who they’re talking to. The whole ‘friends of friends’ concept.”
Jen: “If I see something on Twitter, I’ll re-tweet it. Don’t be shy about contacting that person and saying that you liked it. Reach out … Twitter is less scary.”
Someone raised a question about whether there was a best time in the day to publish a blog post. Time management:
Karen: “The best time for me to be online is the evening which conflicts with everything else I’m trying to do – from 8pm. During the day, people seem too occupied with work etc. But it does depend on who your audience is.”
Deborah: “Best time for my site is when the kids come back from school! Then between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. I write blogs and tweets during the day then post at night.”
Fred: “Analyse when people visit – its a great tool to use. It’s an analytical approach but very useful.”
Not a Notting Hill Mum asked: “How can you promote a blog when you’re anonymous?”
Karen: “I’ve never done radio anonymously as I came out of the closet by then! I didn’t want people to have to guess who this ‘rubbish mum’ was from Suffolk. I sustained another blog ’21st Century Mummy’ for a long time anonymously. At the school gates, there was still gossip about who this blogger was but had a moment of glee when people realised it was me! I think it’s sustainable, especially in a column. As for radio, perhaps its down to your personality as to whether you can keep it anonymous.”
Deborah: “I have an online persona, so I’m known mostly as ‘Motivating Mum’ rather than Deborah. Not really called myself Debbie online as I wanted an online persona. Is it sustainable? Yes. But I do have a photo of myself on Twitter. I haven’t deliberately tried to be anonymouse, but it is do-able.”
Fred: “It depends on what the topic is.”
Jen: “There are fairly high profile mums in the Brit Mums community. It is sustainable but you have to stay in that persona, be careful where your picture is and agree that that’s ‘your’ name.”
How much time do you think is the minimum time to spend on marketing your blog (in a day)?
Karen: “I wish it was an hour! But I’ve found it should be 7 hours a day, but first and foremost I’m a mother and a housewife. Personally, I’d like to dedicate 1/2 day, Monday-Friday on my blog, and the related topics. Realistically, I don’t have that amount of time.”
Deborah: “It’s important material is going out every day. People need to see regular content from my various channels.”
Fred: “2 hours a day – but mobiles are really handy for this.”
How important is SEO? Is it becoming more and more important?
Fred: “If you produce good content, someone will find it. You will position well in Google if your content is good.”
Deborah: “I spend no time on SEO. Blog is written completely for my readers. Not writing for computers, but I’d rather go out and talk to people and ask them to come and see my blog.”
Karen: “I’ve not engaged with SEO because I’m not that technical, but people still manage to find my blog.”
OK, that’s it! I have to dash to the next session, so excuse any typos that might be in this post. Hope some of you found it useful and big thanks to the panel!