29/06/2016

Annual Blogger Training And Why You Need It

I love a blog post that does exactly what it says on the tin – I’m going to break it down and tell you exactly why all bloggers need annual blogger training. No matter how long you’ve been blogging for it’s vital that we keep ourselves up-to-date. A few weeks ago I attended Blogtacular – an annual creative blogging conference to sharpen up my skills. With blogging, as well as on-the-blog training, I use this event as an annual skills fresher and here’s why.

Realising that your time & energy are your most valuable resources 

We blog, we attend press days, we research, we review products and we swot up on the next big thing in social media. All these things take time, and DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON EMAILS. I can’t even fathom how much time I’ve lost from answering a bottomless pit of emails in the past. During Blogtcaular, Pinterest’s Community Manager Enid Hwang (and the sixth employee at Pinterest – yup, number six) reminded us that our time and energy are indeed our most valuable resources and if we are not utilising those to the best of our ability then, is ‘that thing that we’re pursuing with no return’ really it worth it?

For instance, there are a plethora of social media channels out there with new platforms consistently being introduced. With Snapchat being the latest one, everyone has asked me whether it’s worth doing and to that I say…. bearing in mind the above, assess your social media strategy. You can’t be all things to all people and you can’t do it all, all of the time. Pick three key social media platforms that work for you and do them well. Snapchat is a great tool for documenting your day, press days and for promoting yourself. Pinterest is key for me and one I consistently use and hope to improve since visiting the Genius Bar during Blogtacular. Instagram again is one of my favourites for visual communication & content and something I enjoy investing my time in. Remembering that your time & energy are your most valuable resources allows you to make those difficult decisions less of pain and much easier to sollow.

Remembering that – If in doubt, go back to your mission

Both Enid Hwang and Author, Illustrator and Designer Lisa Congdon enforced the need for ‘the mission’. What the hell is the mission??  – Your mission statement. Even though your blog may just be a hobby (for now) it’s vital to have a mission statement. Not only does it help you stay focused but down-the-line when opportunities come-a-knockin’ and everything sounds too good to be true – It’s important to think “Is this the right fit for me? Is this the right fit for my blog?”. It’s also refreshing to get a reminder of this, which annual blogger training helps to accomplish.

An example of this and how making tough decisions in line with your values can be tricky is one given by Enid. The Pin-it button was a key component to Pinterest’s ethos. For years we’d all been pinning our pictures to our boards. However, Pinterest’s mission has always been to communicate and unify people across the globe. Enid explained that as the term ‘to pin’ did not translate or communicate as effectively as they would have liked they had to make a tough decision as to whether they should keep the term or change it to be inclusive to all. Going back to their mission, it was clear that changing the term from ‘Pin-it’ to ‘Save’ was universally beneficial and worked towards their main aims. It’s not a decision taken lightly but it is a true example of how you can make tough decisions work for you.


Acknowledging that “If it ain’t a ‘Hell Yes’, say no” – Lisa Congdon

This is one of my favourite reasons as to why we all need annual blogger training and indeed one of my favourite quotes. During Blogtacular, Keynote speaker Lisa Congdon reminded us (and me) that opportunities will come to us, sometimes consistently however if your initial answer is not ‘Hell Yes’! right of that bat, if it doesn’t thrill you then say no. Confession time, I must admit I find it increasingly hard to say no to things. I find this especially difficult when many of the people I know work in PR and sometimes confuse support with opportunity. I guess it’s a matter of when business and pleasure (in my mind) merge I sometimes feel compelled to say yes in order to support those that I know. Meanwhile, I know that I can’t feasibly say yes because my own work will suffer.

Lisa also reminded me that whilst you say yes to something, that next brilliant opportunity that comes along might end up subsequently being a no. As a result, something else will suffer, so it’s imperative that we carefully consider what we say yes to. This is a phrase and Ideology I’m going to exercise a lot more from now on. In order to progress and stay focused on where we want to go, sometimes you just gotta say no.

Focusing on approaching everything as a beginner whilst being strategic

When you’ve been blogging for five years it’s oh-so-easy to get into such a routine & rhythm that you loose that buzz for blogging. By year two/three into my blogging life, I began to lose that spark for writing.  Although interest in my blog was coming in thick-&-fast the pressure to constantly write at set times and produce content in high volumes (plus spreading myself too thinly which links back to the ‘say no’ statement) made me feel low. This prompted me to change and change then change & tweak my blog ( you can read all about it here). By taking a fresh approach and by thinking of new ways to develop, this can assist in allowing me to view blogging, or certain aspects of blogging, like a newbie.

For instance (and this will kill-two-birds-with-one-stone) I bought a new DSLR to assist me in taking better pictures. With the increase in lawsuits being made against bloggers due to image usage, I really want to take more of my own pictures. Since then I’ve increasingly been intrigued about photography and how I can take better pictures to promote my work, my blog and to keep myself out of hot water. By being strategic and in the process developing new skills, this helps me to stay motivated & focused.

During Kristabel’s talk, she spoke of building a network, being adaptable when the shit-hits-the-fan (just look at the latest Instagram algorithms saga) as well as breaking down goals. Some the key points which gave me food-for-thought were;

  • How do I know when to say no?
  • What will I offer if a brand has no budget?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • How will I work with brands?

All key things to think about when developing your blog and moving it forward. This show clearly shows that there are many key elements that need to be assessed year-on-year in order for us to develop as bloggers and reach our goals. Without annual blogger training, you’re missing the opportunity to develop & grow your blog, expand your network and effectively assess your goals.

Feel Free to Pin the above image over on Pinterest
All images credited: Mollie Makes – Photographer: Will Ireland

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