Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012 Sydney arvo sessions

Just wanted to share how encouraging it was to attend NNB2012…even though I couldn’t make the morning sessions. I did miss out on some really useful sessions, but I also gained a lot of useful info and pointers, as well as having a great time at drinkies afterwards!

So because I landed at the Sofitel late (after lunch), I had to sneak in and find myself a chair pretty quickly. As I looked around, I knew almost no-one (that’s what 18 months out of the blogging scene does for you). The closest table at the back of the room happened to be inhabited by Fashion Hayley & her hubby Henry, as well as two stylish looking girls, so I quickly decided that was the place for me.

Look how packed it was – and that’s only HALF the room!

The first panel of the afternoon was “Finding Your Own Voice & Staying Relevant”. Having gone largely offline recently, and questioning the future direction/niche of my own blog, I was super keen to be inspired by these successful bloggers. How refreshing was it then, when Eden Riley of Edenland candidly admitted she had lost her blogging voice recently. I was actually heartened by that, as we often think it is just us, and forget that it happens to everyone at some point.

I warmed to her the most, and just found her so down-to-earth. Perhaps her humour and self-deprecation reminded me of me, where some of the other speakers of the day were more polished and professional, or strident and almost militant. To the question “what if you outgrow your niche?”, she replied that considered, thoughtful blog posts will always attract readers.

Since I have in the past alternated between almost journalistic pieces about, say Japanese fashion lines, interspersed with travel posts, event/gig reports, DIY projects, outfit of the day etc, it’s true I’m a little between genres. I’m not purely a fashion blogger by any means, and realise that I don’t want to attend every new fashion show or PR event. Since I moved into this house a year ago (yes! July 1st!), just about every mag I’ve bought is an Interior Design one. Clearly my focus has shifted a little, but neither do I want to suddenly change and become an Interiors blog.

 The only way to go to keep the various elements and add more interiors posts is to admit that TFT is largely a personal blog. Perhaps that’s OK. Both Mrs Woog and Eden, I think, said “There are no rules!”. We have to work out for ourselves how to make our blogs work, and not just believe they have to fit recognisably into a given niche – however difficult that is to do.

Anyway, back to the session. Lady Melbourne asked the question “What can you bring that isn’t already there in the blogosphere?” and that’s a tough one. I’ve seen so many blogs where people are just re-posting their fave runway shots from Vogue.com or whatever (and I’ve done this myself in the early days). She continued, “What are YOU knowledgeable about, that you can speak about with authority?”.

This made me reflect on my place in the blogophere, and my most unique characteristic is that I’m a lot older than most – 48 – and yet still travelling quite frequently, still wearing creative, edgy outfits, still going out gigging and clubbing a lot, all the while holding down a full-time job, carrying mortgages, and enjoying a happy homelife with my husband and little dog. I underestimate how inspiring that can be for others who are fearful of aging. I underestimate how much knowledge I have of travelling and of destinations. I sell that knowledge short when I write bland, boring blog posts just to get one out there, or don’t write AT ALL, as has happened frequently of late.

A small break was had before the next session,  ”Utilising Different Platforms to Optimise Your Blog & Blog Traffic”. Let’s have a small break here from all the text!  I looked up while seated in the conference room to see the amazing mirrorored ceiling – here, take a look.

I scribbled SO many notes through this next panel. I am a new convert to Pinterest (Tumblr has always left me cold), and so I was entirely wowed about the many opportunities there are within Pinterest to promote your blog and draw new traffic. I was totally inspired. The speaker was Christina of Hair Romance, so hit her up if you’d like to know more (and other people will no doubt be doing posts with the main points of each session).

Next up was Caz of Y Travel blog opening our eyes to the world of Podcasting. While most of us in the room had listened to podcasts (Gala Darling is huge in this arena), none of us were doing them ourselves. So again, it was inspiring and callenging to look into this avenue. Having done DIY videos for my blog in the past, I know how time consuming they are – you have to get the lighting right, make sure you get different angles, get visuals and sound volumes right when editing – oh, and be gorgeous and well made-up before you start. Phooey! I can look like the Wreck of the Hesperus in my jammies and socks if I want to, and do an effective podcast. 

Since I also travel a fair bit and document this on the blog, I realised I too could share a  lot of info via this medium…and do it from anywhere. Caz showed a photo of herself lounging on a cruise liner looking out on her private balcony, with laptop and microphone doing the biz. Aspirational. Caz did say that having lots of plug ins and podcasts slows your page loading time right down…and having tried to read a single post on the Y Travel blog, I have to agree. It was really painful, perhaps because I’m only running IE on my laptop. Something to be aware of.

Third up was Janice aka Chaigyaru, who spoke about Youtube and how it has helped her explode in popularity. Youtube has been around a while now, and as I have already done videos but find it mostly too time-consuming for me, I didn’t come away thinking I’d do it a lot more. Mind you, what else to do with all that amazing footage taken in India or Asia? Perhaps I need to get quicker at editing ;) Janice looked gorgeous as always, and there’s no doubt this method has worked for her. I did appreciate her reminder to put your social links in your videos, on your Channel page etc, and to ask people to hit the ‘like’ button, for example. Sometimes just asking may get results. Janice is also testimony of what putting in the hard yards can do for you… she must have very little down time some weeks when she is posting multiple videos, but she is beginning to reap the rewards financially now from Youtube.

The final panel on the State of the Aussie Blogosphere, really didn’t engage me much. There was a lot of talk about bloggers being kind to each other and not mean and backstabby – I get the feeling a lot has gone on in the media recently that I’ve totally missed. There was also talk of not giving away promotional opportunities for free, to advertisers who want to be featured on your blog. I haven’t ever worked with brands, and so this again is a bit foreign to me, although an area I should become better versed in.

However, one point I did take away, that Dave Krupp made, was that we should approach the brands we really love. Don’t wait for ones you AREN’T interested in to approach you, hone in on the ones you like, and who your readers will gain something from, and see what can be done to benefit you all. Hmm…

At the end I finally got to meet the other ladies at my table. Looking divinely Dita-like was Michelle of Ravishing Retro, and looking hot in her leather pants was the lovely Kayla from the F tangent. We got a photo together in front of the Blogopolis stand (oh dear, there’s a building sprouting from my head like a crown or somesuch!) In order, here is Michelle, Hayley, Kayla and moi. For details on what Hayley is wearing, see this post Tokyo Mixed Bag.

From there we proceeded to Quay Bar at Customs House. At first I wasn’t going to go because ‘boohoo I don’t know anyone here’. But our table just mosied on down together and had a fantastic time getting to know each other.  I was so pleased that I went, and have come away really invigorated and with fresh new ideas. If you get a chance to go to a Bloggers Conference, do it!

PS: I loved that there were girlies there with brightly coloured hair – yay for colour! My only beef is that they were all pink. Come on ladies, there are MANY other colours out there! Try blue or purple or orange or whatever…don’t just do pink cos everyone else is!  Ahem, end of tiny tirade.