I spent the past weekend volunteering at TECHmunch, a conference for food bloggers held here in Austin. The whole experience was terrific; I had a chance to catch up with a lot of my Austin food blogger brethren, I heard lots of expert perspectives on technology and blogging, and I networked my way towards some new friendships and professional connections. Here are 10 things I learned from the panelists and bloggers at Techmunch Austin:
- Successful bloggers build communities of like-minded people online and in person. This network is comprised of readers, the press, companies, other bloggers and PR professionals.
- Bloggers can engage that community via blog comments, twitter, emails, events, livechats, video, and myriad other channels. Whether you choose to communicate with your real name or an online persona, authenticity and kindness are key to the success of community engagement at every level.
- Monetization opportunities are scarce for small publishers, according to Ben Huh. Other panelists were more encouraging, and recommended building relationships with specific brands as a strategy for small blogs to monetize. Banner ads are another source of income, with iSocket, OpenX, and BlogAds available as tools to bloggers who do not want to do their own coding.
- I learned from several fellow bloggers that not everyone wants to monetize their blog or partner with big brands. A lot of us are in this as a hobby for fun, as a way to meet new people, and in the hopes that our blogs will lead to other revenue streams, like a full time office job or a book deal.
- Twitter was mentioned by nine separate panelists as their favorite way to interact with bloggers
- As you’re getting started, find a blogging mentor. Emulate her. But don’t copy her exactly, since it’s important to have your own point of view. Several panelists mentioned emulating a mentor as a strategy for writing your bio, identifying valuable press contacts, targeting potential brands, and getting inspiration for content.
- Video, mobile apps, tablet computing and social interaction were mentioned as up-and-coming technologies. Very few of the bloggers attending Techmunch were actively engaged in these technologies, indicating that implementing new technologies can be a good way to for new bloggers to get noticed.
- Editorial Calendars won out as the most-mentioned technique for organizing content. Editorial Calendars are used by PR professionals, press, and successful bloggers to manage time and plan effective content.During a conference break, I found a useful free WordPress Plugin called “Editorial Calendar” that simplifies long-range planning and calendar management on the WordPress platform.
- Along those same lines, consistent content creation was identified by several panelists as a key to blogging hapiness. Ben Huh put it best when he said, “The secret to success is creating quality content day in and day out.”
- Finally, the biggest theme I took away from the weekend is to treat others the way you want to be treated. That means using kind words, creating inclusive local communities, leaving comments on other people’s blogs, proofreading your pitches, building relationships with sponsors BEFORE asking for favors, and following through on promises to readers.
I’ve seen some other great TECHmunch wrap-up posts by Rene Lynch, Gemma Matherne, Jessica Elizarraras, Megan Warncke and Natanya Anderson. If you’re a blogger I met this weekend and you’ve written a wrap-up post, please let me know in the comments so that I can add you to this list of recappers.