One of the most popular sessions on the first day of BritMums Live! was the Crossing the Chasm session featuring Nickie O’Hara, Michelle Pannell, Melinda Fargo, Maggy Woodley and Jane Blackmore. Mummy Barrow, Tanya, gives her report on the session…
When I saw the agenda for Britmums Live this was the discussion I really wanted to attend. Just how do you cross that chasm in blogging? How do we get our blog to the next level and out of a rut that we might be in.
And I certainly wasn’t alone! It was very well attended, with a lot of note taking being done by virtually everybody in the room. People frantically scribbling down valuable information from five people we were all viewing as “blog gurus”.
The session started with each of the bloggers introducing themselves and all of us being assured that if we wanted to ask a question, to do so. No question was a stupid one. Phew.
Jane Blackmore who blogs at Northern Mum kicked off the discussion by telling us that one of her best pieces of advice is to make your readers laugh. They will come back for more. Alternatively, make them cry and they will tell their friends. And Jane certainly made us laugh with the titles of some of her posts that involved dangling boobs and plaiting pubes. None of which are terribly useful in terms of SEO or tags but Jane wasn’t too bothered about that and that was so refreshing to hear.
For Jane the next level of blogging is to go back to basics. An approach that had many of us nodding in agreement and feeling a sense of relief. Stripping it back and being honest with ourselves. Something many of us agreed we had lost.
Melinda Fargo or “Her Melness” as most of us know her blogs at HerMelness Speaks and spoke next and said that generally speaking the next level for most bloggers is either monetising your blog or making it a superior blog.
For people that didn’t know her blog (which in all honesty was not many) Mel explained that she started blogging almost a year ago when overcome with grief following the death of her husband. So Mel’s blog is very personal and she doesn’t have any desire to do reviews for money but she does want it to be a superior blog. And for Mel that comes down to these basics:
- There has to be a compelling reason to blog. Mel explained hers and left us thinking about what ours had been. Had we lost that direction?
- Boring content = a crap blog. Simple really!
- Check grammar and spelling. Nothing is a bigger turn off for most people than reading something and stumbling over mistakes, it stops us in our tracks and detracts from the post content.
- Be authentic
- Be consistent.
- Have confidence
- Don’t care about others
- Think about your design
- Be generous, encourage other bloggers
During the question session afterwards Mel explained why she had turned off commenting on her blog. Many people feel that a blog post is judged on the number of comments left. You know the “kick arse post” you write that gets no comments? Do you then think the post is rubbish?
We were all captivated by Mel and vowed to take on board her tips.
Michelle Parnell, Mummy from the Heart, was up next and said that actually she had nothing to say as Mel had said it all already! Echoing those sentiments Michelle added that she had no desire to be published, it was about being her and about showing that “Christians are normal too”. Michelle hadn’t started her blog “to be the best” but suggested we humble with our blogging. Michelle suggested using Linkys to drive traffic and create that community feel that blogging sometimes loses. She created “Reasons to be cheerful” for just that reasons.
One of the great things that Michelle did say was that us bloggers should try and be a bit more Marmite. Don’t be bland!
Nickie O’Hara, I am Typecast, began by saying that we have a reader we ARE at the next level. It shouldn’t be about trailblazing but about thinking about your voice, your message. It shouldn’t be a “thought forum”. Write for yourself, she said. And that really was something we should all get back to doing as it is the reason most of us started blogging but may have veered off track.
The best piece of advice Nickie could give us she said, was to widen our platforms. Look at Twitter, Stumble Upon, social media. That then widens your audience. It snowballs. It gains its own momentum so to speak.
“Climb the mountain, not to plant a flag but to admire the view” is a quote from Nickie that I wrote down, circled and underlined five times. Not just blogging advice, I don’t think but advice we should hold true in our everyday lives.
Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art was last to speak and blew us all away but telling us that she gets around 10,000 hits A DAY! The room erupted with simultaneous “oohs”, “whats” and “how manys”. Maggy reminded us that the next level is different for everyone. It should be about good content with great presentation and a really clear photo. A big photo grabs people’s attention. And if you then pin this on Pintrest it can really drive traffic to your blog. Maggy also reiterated the use of Google+ to optimise searches and SEO.
We all took so much away from this session. All speakers gave great advice but it also raised lots of questions that only we could answer about our own blogs. And that taking them to the next level is purely a personal decision but walking out of the room we knew we had the tools to make that decision.
Tanya blogs at www.MummyBarrow.com, her space on the web where she just gets things out of her head. When not blogging Tanya is chasing round after three children with better social lives than her and dabbling in all things property.