My offering is going to be bullet points. Nuggets of information gleaned from the lips of experts during the day.
But first, I want to say that as a veteran of 4 blogging conferences now, this one was good, very good. The panel format seemed to work better than I’ve seen at other conferences, the speakers were all excellent, the experts were genuinely helpful and not at all patronising and the ‘blog clinic’ sessions were inspired. People were friendly, interested in what other people were blogging about and there was plenty of good stuff to eat and drink.
Anyhow, this is what I learnt on Saturday:
- Millbank Tower is NOT on the South Bank. It is, in fact, on the other side of the river and in the opposite direction to the South Bank but it is a great place to hold a blogging conference for 300 people and has very fast elevators and wonderful view out over London.
- From The Bloggess who was present virtually, as a huge head hovering over her fellow panelists, like something out of Wizard of Oz : The BEST way to deal with Trolls and nasty comments ever. Change the mean stuff to nice stuff. As a blog owner you have the ability to edit comments to your posts, so if someone replies saying ‘You can’t write for shit and your child is even uglier than you are’, just change the comment to something like ‘ I wish I had your life. You have an amazing talent for writing and an absolutely gorgeous baby to boot’. If they bother replying again, just repeat the process. They will soon leave you alone. I am now looking forward to dealing with my first troll.
- Beverley Hills Bakery brownies are lush. I’ve sent these as a present before but never had to opportunity to taste them myself. Next year I’m going to ask for a basket full for my own birthday.
- I love going to photography sessions at blogging conferences as they are always different and I always learn something new. This time I learnt that my smart phone has in inbuilt rule-of-thirds grid, and how to switch it on.
- I learnt the term ‘photographic vomit’. This is when there is crap in the background of the photo you are using for your blog and is best avoided. Take another photo without the vomit, or crop the vomit-affected photo if possible.
- Don’t use instagram photos in your blogs.The quality isn’t good enough and the filters and frames distract from the photo. Take a photo with your camera and instagram it by all means , but use the original one on your blog.
- Make your blog photos as big as possible. They should ideally be as wide as your blog is.
- Label your photos so google can find them. Make sure you also fill in the box labelled alternate text, as this is the one that is read out to blind or visually impaired people when they are using the internet. If there is no text in it, then the blind person is just told ‘no description available’. This is a simple way of making sure your blog is more accessible.
- I learnt the best way to post your blog posts in Google+ which I tend to ignore, but shouldn’t as it’s really very important for your web visibility. Write a little summary of what your blogpost is about, add a link to it but don’t use a preview. Add a photo instead. Your post is more likely to be +1ed if you present it this way.
- How to write about things, thanks to Caitlin Moran: First, everyone has the same subject matter; think of it like a pool table. You’ve got to walk around it a few times before you find your angle. Don’t use the first angle you see, everyone will have used that one. Don’t use the second , as quite a few people will have ignored the first and gone for the second . Instead, walk a bit further and look for a third, hopefully unique angle. If you have writers block, then pretend you are writing for someone you want to get off with. And finally, if you are stuck for an ending for a piece, then have a look at your second paragraph. Many times this can simply be cut and pasted for your final paragraph!
So there you go, 10 things I learnt at Mumsnet Blogfest 2012. I paid £50 for my ticket which was amazing value, considering the calibre of the speakers, the venue, the food and the goodie bag.
Well done Mumsnet. You’ve set the bar high!