In my last post I mentioned that I'd just returned from the Problogger Training Event. It was two days of fabulous sessions on all kinds of things - from the nitty gritty of Google Analytics to ways to engage your community and tips on becoming a freelance writer. I also met some really ace people in the flesh for the first time (*waves hello to Cheryl, Jess and Elle*) and got to spend more time with some other bloggy friends (Hello Dannielle!). So much food for thought! Now that the dust has settled a little, here are some of the key things I picked up...
1. ProBlogger isn't all about making money from your blog.
Sometimes it is, but sometimes it's not. During the opening session, Trey Ratcliff told a story about Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy - about how his real passion is Shakespeare, but he made his money by acting in a sci fi TV show. The money making bit is related to the passion bit, but it's not where he generated his income. Later, I attended a very informative session on freelance writing with Valerie Khoo and Kelly Exeter. One of the things they talked about was writing copy for corporate newsletters and company websites. They talked about writing that feeds your soul and writing that pays the bills.
This sort of stuff is music to the ears of bloggers like me who feel a little uneasy about sponsored posts (and, let's be honest, who don't quite have the blogging dedication required to build an appropriate audience to garner sponsorships). Yes, ProBlogger is about making a profession out of a hobby, but there are so many forms that this can take.
Across a range of speakers it became clear that blog monetisation isn't just about sponsored posts and advertising. It's about partnerships and collaborations. It's about ebooks and opportunities; finding those areas on the outskirts of your passion, the things you love that overlap with the things people need.
2. You don't have to be the expert.
This was a theme that came up again and again. One of the things Darren Rowse talked about in his opening keynote was that you need to deal with the fact that you'll never know it all. Put aside time to learn, figure out how to build your knowledge, but realise that there will always be more to know.
This was something I definitely needed to hear. I always put off doing things because 'I don't know how'. I don't call myself a blogger or a writer or a photographer because I feel like an impostor when I do, because there's so much I don't know yet. But maybe it's time to acknowledge the skills that I have, to be be proactive about the things I want to learn, and to just start doing stuff.
Somewhat related was another common theme - these days bloggers and brands alike are focussed on 'engagement', on 'making the reader the hero'. This means that you don't need to be the expert, you and the reader can learn together. Want to blog about veganism but you're not a nutritionist? That's okay - admit the gaps in your knowledge and take your community on a journey with you.
3. I don't want to change the world.
In that room of 450 or so bloggers dreaming big, I'm pretty sure I was in the minority on this one. But it's true, I don't. What I do want is to be good at what I do. I want to be proud of the things I write and the photos I take. I want to learn a lot more about the technical stuff, and build on the skills I have. And I want to be a nice person.
Sounds kind of lame, right? But it's true. I want to be a great wife, a great step-mum; to enjoy time with my mum and sister and nephews and family. I want to create good things; to contribute to my little community, my little corner of the earth. But I don't want to change the world.
4. I still suck at small talk. But that's okay.
Thanks to my previous experience as a trainer and facilitator in the corporate world, and that whole moving overseas thing, I am much better at chit chat than I ever used to be. But there are still times when I am incredibly awkward or just say really dumb stuff. I'm pretty sure this lady now thinks I am a total freak / airhead, which kind of sucks because she's a blogger I admire. But that's okay, we all mess up sometimes. And next time it will be better.
5. No matter who you meet (or don't meet) at the event, your network will grow.
At the last minute I drew up a list of people I wanted to connect with. I tracked most of them down (although I missed Lisa Tilse which I'm quite sad about because her blog is a thing of beauty). But here's the thing - in the week or so since ProBlogger I've got a ton of new active Twitter followers and a handful of new Facebook friends. They are people that I noticed using the #pbevent tag (and they noticed me), or who I saw interacting with some of my favourite tweeters (and vice versa). So don't fret too much if you don't make all the connections you wanted to at the event (it's a pretty hectic few days) - you'll find your network will continue to grow afterwards anyway.
So, that's what I learnt at ProBlogger. Well, to be honest it's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll be back in the next week or so with another post about some of my favourite speakers and a bit more about what they actually said. So, stay tuned!
Oh! And a bonus thing I learnt - 6. I do not like the Gold Coast. It is all the bad things about Australia crammed along an (admittedly gorgeous) coastline. I really, really do not like it. But more on that at a later date...