Blog Camp UK – the good, the bad and the cake.

Today I went to Blog Camp Uk having been one of the lucky bloggers to obtain a ticket to this fantastic, free event. I was very excited to attend for a number of reasons
1. To meet some of the bloggers who have entertained, supported, and inspired me since I started blogging eight months ago.
2. To learn, be inspired, and improve.
3.To spend a whole day with people who don’t glaze over when I mention the word blog.
Blog Camp UK was all of these things and more. I will run you through the workshops I attended and the things that stood out to me in each one.
First up was Bangs and a Bun with an inspirational talk about her blogging journey. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this talk with my previous experience of ‘Bangs’ being mostly her crazy hair publicity shots and hatred of Ugg boots. Since I love my Uggs (sorry but comfort over ugliness in this case) I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like Bangs.
I did, and not only that, her talk inspired and helped me to understand what my blog is to me and where I want to take it. Here is what I took from her talk
1. Figure out what you are blogging about.
She talked about her blogging journey and how she had spent two years trying lots of different things. She then met someone who helped her to understand that her blog is about her. She is the subject matter and brand.
2.Have opinions.
Not something I generally have a problem with. However I have been censoring myself more than I do in real life out of fear of offending. The general consensus in the room was that some of the most interesting reads are the blogs who have opinions.
3.Build your brand.
She has publicity shots taken each year that she uses throughout the year whenever she is asked for a shot. This gives a consistency to her images. She has built a readership who know her for the things she talks about, this has become her brand.
After a brief coffee break I decided to attend the “how to be a snark and get away with it” talk by Stuart Heritage.  I will be honest with you I didn’t really take a huge amount from this talk. It was a funny discussion and I laughed a lot but I don’t really have anything to share with you about being a friendly snark, sorry. I would however recommend you check out his blog for a funny post about jeggins amongst other things.
Then we broke for lunch.  I managed to reign in my usual’ pig at a trough ‘lunch fest and chat to some other lovely bloggers during this break. After lunch I chose to attend the SEO talk by the lovely (if a little head hurty) Lee Smallwood. I made lots of notes and will be trying to implement his tips on my blog (in between child wrangling and pixie spotting).
1. Write  blog posts that are 500 words or more. Google is looking for good content and apparently likes posts of 500 words or more.
2. Link related content within your site. For example if I link up all my posts about pixies google would like that. Especially the google crawler pixie department I would imagine.
3.Build posts around keywords. This way you are writing the content that people are looking for. Ergo more people will read it.
4. Use those keywords well, 10-15 times in a 500 word post. Then in your title tag and meta description.  Also make your keyword italic or bold once in the post.
There was absolutely loads more info in the talk but frankly these are the bits that I managed to understand.
Then after a quick break the talk on the topic that has been hotly discussed in the blogosphere of late. You guessed it, follow and nofollow links. The bottom line is this;
Any paid (or paid in kind) link on your site must be no follow to comply with google’s regulations. If you don’t follow google’s regulations you risk being stripped of your page rank and de-indexed for at least 90 days until you change those links.  Decide for yourself whether this is an issue for you.
Then there was discussion around the PR companies who have been asking bloggers to not disclose the paid for aspect to these links. As well as being unethical this violates the Advertising Standards Agency’s laws regarding disclosing sponsored content. If you don’t disclose you could be fined.
Personally I will be sticking to google’s guidelines and only using nofollow where necessary from here on in.
Finally a discussion with a panel of PR companies about the famously complicated relationship between PR’s and bloggers. As a new blogger I have not had a huge amount of experience of working with PR’s, here is what I took from the discussion.
1.PR’s are open to discussion with bloggers about improving blogger approaches. Equally they are open to discussion about the type of work you do together to find a good match for your blog.
2.PR’s are open to being approached by bloggers. After the blogger/blagger debate I have been uncertain about approaching PR’s. It seems that the best way to approach in the first instance is to show an interest in working together rather than charging in asking for product. Open the channels and go from there.
3.There is room for enterprising bloggers to create work for themselves as experts in social media and blogger relations. Training PR companies in these areas.
So there you have it. I went, I listened, I chatted, I enjoyed. Thanks to Sally Whittle, The Tots 100 team, The sponsors, and all the speakers for a fabulous day.
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