Blogging Tips and Resources I Learned at Haven 2018
With Haven Conference 2019 just days away, on the plane ride to Atlanta, I went back through my notes from last year to review the most important blogging tips and resources that I learned at Haven 2018. After last year’s conference I shared those blogging tips and resources.
When you go to a conference, you listen intently to the speakers and furiously take notes. You ask questions, hoping that not every single other person in the room already knows the answer. During meals and breaks, you talk with other attendees and ask questions and get a little one~on~one help. You are so excited to implement all the new knowledge you’ve gained.
I thought now was a good time to look back what I learned last year at Haven.
You know what? These blogging tips and resources are still important today.
When you return home, reality sets in ~ so much information, so much to process, it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s the situation I face every year that I go to Haven. I have to figure out what are the most important blogging tips and resources that I learned and need to apply. I betcha you want to know, too. O.K. As wonderful as it is to receive, we’re friends so I have to give you some of what I learned at Haven 2018.
Blogging Tips and Resources I Learned at Haven 2018
Before I even returned home from Haven last year, blogger friends on Facebook who had not attended Haven started asking, “What did you learn?” And I’m happy to share. 2018 was my 4th Haven and each year I have gone through my notes (usually on the plane ride home), highlighted the most important blogging tips and resources and made a list of the things I most need to implement. I found that it’s impossible to tackle everything at once ~ you’ll go crazy, get stressed out and frustrated.
Just so you know if you’ve never been to Haven, there are 2 days of classes and the same classes are repeated so you have amble opportunity to attend the classes that you need. 3 class sessions are offered each day so you can attend 6 classes total. Additional time is open for visiting all the brand booths, sessions with your mentor group, lunch and snack time (very important). Each year the class topics change a little. This year the classes covered:
- Working with brands
- Instagram Stories
- Time Management
- Blog Content
- Facebook Live
- Full~Time Blogging
- Hands~on DIY Projects with Brands
Classes I Attended
Obviously, you have to select that classes that you need the most in this stage of your blogging business. I selected these 6 classes and why:
- Organizing your Blog Business ~ blogging requires so many facets if the different tasks can be overwhelming; I wanted to learn how to be more efficient.
- Working with Brands ~ as bloggers, most of us want to have some amount of monetary return on the time and money we spend creating valuable content for our readers. Working with brands (companies) is one way to generate income. Need to learn form the experts.
- Hands~On Photo Styling ~ we all want to improve our photography skills.
- Power of Instagram ~ I love sharing content with others on Instagram, but I had not tried Instagram Stories; now was the time.
- Build Traffic with Pinterest ~ We all love searching, posting, researching on Pinterest. So let’s learn how to do it better.
- Facebook Live ~ Why is being on Facebook so beneficial to growing a blog following? I needed to find out the nitty~gritty from an expert.
Just a note before I get into the specifics of the most important blogging tips and resources I learned at Haven. This is my list ~ my highlights. I guarantee that other bloggers attending the same class might have a different list. And in fairness to Haven Conference, the speakers and the attendees who paid good money to attend, I didn’t share all my notes (actually, we are asked not to.) But I have a few great bits of information I know you can benefit from.
NOTE: Last year I attended a fabulous SEO class and wrote about 10 SEO Fixes to use right now.
Organizing Your Blogging Business
During Haven someone said that blogging is like creating a magazine, not monthly or quarterly, but several times a week. You don’t have a staff. You are the content creator, editor, proofreader, photographer, stylist, Social Media department, advertising department, promotion department and publisher, all in one. I thought this was the perfect analogy. How to keep track of all the tasks and facets?
- start with a blank slate
- categorize your tasks
- prioritize your tasks
- document processes ~ I loved this one because after I figure out how to do something and then I get frustrated when I can’t readily repeat it.
- make a plan ~ be realistic about how much time you have
- Use your Bookmark Bar to have easy access to the documents and sites you use the most (for instance, your Social Media accounts) I started doing this and it has helped tremendously.
- Use Google Docs or other document creating programs, create folders to organize information that you need to easily access. I actually don’t use Google Docs much. But I do use lots of folders to categorize topics. That really works for me.
- Airtable ~ this is one of the most important resources I learned about and 1 that I plan to implement ASAP. Airtable.com is a program to totally integrate all aspects of your business, from content to Social Media, to brand relationships, affiliate tracking. It’s totally customizable to your needs. Everyone was excited about learning about this valuable resource. I have a feeling that it will take time to set up, but then will make all aspects of your blogging business more efficient.
O.K. confession. I still have not checked out AirTable in depth, although I did sign up for their newsletter. Maybe this year. I find that a good day timer and a wall calendar for blog content works really well for me.
- Mileiq is an app for tracking mileage. How many miles do you travel to Joann, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Ikea, Office Depot for supplies for your business? Have you kept track of the mileage? I haven’t because it’s just too complicated. This app does it all. It’s on my phone now.
Follow~Up: I tried this app for a hot minute and didn’t find it that helpful.
Working with Brands
Super important information ~ A brand is a company that works with blogs, providing products for review, payment for sponsored posts, advertising, and relationships to grow your blog. Almost every blogger, regardless of the size of your blog, wants to work with brands. Here’s 5 top suggestions to develop a relationship with a brand.
- Elevator Pitch ~ articulate your value, what you do and who you do it for. (30 seconds)
- It’s not all about huge page views; it’s about engagement. Brands are looking for blogs with loyal followers and bloggers who engage with their audience.
- Brands are on Instagram ~ use Instagram to Direct Message Brands; follow the brands that you want to work with.
- In an Initial Pitch, don’t be too specific. If a Pitch is seasonal, send it 3 ~ 4 months in advance
- Authenticity ~ be true to yourself; if a brand doesn’t fit your niche or your audience, pass.
We all want to take fabulous photos for our blogs. Before you take your photos or edit them, you have to style them. In this class, groups actually styled a vignette using the same items. It was so interesting to see the different concepts. This was very helpful and I have really followed these concepts all year.
- Tell a story through photos
- Work from out to in.
- Don’t overwhelm your subject matter; less is more; take away an item if it doesn’t contribute to the story.
- Use textures ~ rough and smooth for visual interest.
- Use a pop of color to bring the eye in to the photo and give dimension.
I know that Instagram Stories are huge. Everyone (well, not everyone) is using them. IG Stories are 15 second clips that expire in 24 hours. Before I left Charleston I posted 3 IG stories and I was so proud of myself. Since I’ve been home, I’ve added a few more. Learning how to actually create IG Stories is for another day, but here are some reasons why and some ideas for what to do.
Why IG Stories
- They are vital to growing your Instagram account.
- Brands want to work with influencers who are posting IG Stories
- More and more, people are looking at IG Stories and not your feed (Oh, no!)
- The world is becoming more visual
What to Do on IG Stories
- Show your face
- Talk like you’re talking to your friends
- Be silly, light and funny
- Share the messy
- Be authentic
What to Post
- Real life ~ your IG feed should be pretty, but IG stories is the place to show behind the scenes, real life, unedited content.
- Miniature blog content ~ step~by~step
- Fun stories
- Free guides
- Helpful DIY tips
Since coming home, I’ve discovered several helpful apps and other resources to help you create IG Stories. After I do more research and gain a better grasp of the process, I’ll share them.
I was really good about posting IG Stories for a few months, but I’ll hang my head in shame and confess that I’ve really dropped the ball on this one. It’s back on my to~do list.
Building Your Traffic Through Pinterest
Let’s first get this straight. Pinterest is not social media, it’s a search engine. In fact, next to Google, it’s the biggest search engine. And it’s so much more visual and prettier. When someone searches Google, any type of content could come up. But when someone searches Pinterest, most of the content results are from someone’s blog ~ 97% percent. Which means the opportunity for attracting a reader to our blog is tremendous. The very good news is that Pinterest wants bloggers to share our content. That makes sense since most of the content on Pinterest is from blogs.
And, yes, I love Pinterest.
Here is what my Pinterest home page looked like before I went to Haven in 2018. I’m happy to say that today my impressions have hit 1 million at times and my followers have tripled.
- The most popular topics on Pinterest: home and garden, home design, DIY and crafts ~ great news for lifestyle bloggers.
- 97% of searches on Pinterest are unbranded ~ good news for bloggers.
- People use Pinterest: when they are planning an event and trying to find things to create.
- 70% of moms use Pinterest.
- Most users search Pinterest while on mobile.
- Followers matter for engagement ~ it’s not about the numbers.
- Board Sections are not helpful for search, but good for SEO.
- Pinterest favors “active creators” ~ those who pin their own content! (that would be bloggers)
- Pinterest wants blog posts to grow the reach of your content ~ more good news.
There was so much information in the Pinterest class that I even felt knowledgeable enough to write this post about Pinterest after Haven 2018.
Fortunately, thanks to Tailwind (affiliate link) and Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media, my Pinterest efforts have really paid off. Pinterest is the highest traffic driver to my blog and I plan to attend more Pinterest classes at Haven 2019.
Creating Facebook Live
Like Instagram Stories, Facebook Live is becoming more popular among readers and brands. Although I’ve placed videos on Facebook, I’ve never done a Facebook Live. Like IG Stories, FB Live is a glimpse into reality. It’s another way of reaching a large audience (hopefully) and growing a following, sending viewers to your blog and creating income. There was so much information, but here are the 10 most important blogging tips for FB Live from our expert:
- FB Live should provide valuable content: DIY, craft, recipe.
- Time your FB Live when you can go live consistently (same time, same day of the week).
- Be bossy: tell people what to do ~ CTA.
- Ask questions of viewers during your FB Live.
- Use notes as prompts, but don’t read a script.
- The longer the FB Live, the better ~ 30 minutes at least.
- Save your FB Live and add it to your newsletter or edit to share on Instagram or your blog.
- Your location and background should make sense to the viewer.
- Plan ahead for contingencies (dropped recipe, equipment failure)
- Practice, practice, practice ~ save your FB Live and critique it.
According to our instructor, there’s good news for those of us like me whose schedule doesn’t allow for the same time every week scenario: film and edit your FB video and schedule it ahead. You won’t have the live engagement with a live audience, but the effect can be just as impactful.
So that’s my list of important blogging tips and resources from Haven 2018. I’ll be sharing more ideas after I attend Haven 2019.
There is just so information to to take in, absorb and put into action. Anything you can use and implement today is a step ahead of where you were yesterday. I hope so much that this information is helpful to you in your blogging business and that you implement it quickly and easily. It can’t be done overnight, but each day is better than yesterday.
NOTE: As suggested in the class on blog organization, I’ve already made my list of what I need to do, I’ve categorized it and I’ve prioritized it.
Did these blogging tips and resources help you? I hope so. Let me know in the comments what you liked and learned.
Thank you Carol, for all the awesome information! I was suppose to attend Haven this year, but had a family issue that came up. But, I can’t wait for next year. I have printed out all of this great information, and now, I am so excited to attend next year! 🙂
Christina, I wish you could have come to Haven. It was amazing, maybe the best one. I’ll be sharing my thoughts and tips learned as soon as I can’t go through all my notes.
I will be there next year and I look forward to meeting you! 🙂
Such a helpful post thank you! It looks like it was a great conference. I don’t really have a huge budget for conferences at the moment so it’s really helpful to get a bit of what you learned over the sessions.
Nicole, haven is an amazing conference, not just for the information you learn in classes, but for the other bloggers and connections you make. Blogging can be a lonely business some times and meeting your peers is a wonderful experience. I hope that you get to go sometime.
Thanks for sharing all of these tips.One day I really hope to get to Haven. I am going to TBEX in Finger Lakes this Fall, The travel conference. Always great advice and awesome connections at conferences. I find its a way of also checking in with yourself.
Linda, I’m sure you will learn some great things at your conference and then you can share. Glad this was helpful.
This is such great information, Carol. Thank you for taking the time to make it concise and yet so informative. There is so much to learn. I have been blogging for several years but have not gotten into the branding side, but you have given me something to think about. I look forward to future editions.
Elizabeth, I’m happy that you found the post helpful. You are right; there is so much to learn and I think you just have to take what you implement a little at a time. Good luck with your blog journey. It takes consistency and dedication for sure.
Thanks for all the tips. I really want to try and invest in Tailwind as soon as I can to hopefully help with my Pinterest numbers, since I KNOW that’s a really good way to get people visiting your blog. I’ve never done an IG story – probably because I don’t watch them – but I guess I should look into it!
Lauren, I’ll be sharing more about tailwind and why I love it so much. When you cost it out over a year, it’s one of the least costly things you can buy to promote your blog. And that doesn’t factor in the amount of time you save. I’ll be sharing more soon. Thanks so much for visiting and reading the post.
Thank you so much for sharing some of what you learned. I was planning to attend Haven, but at the last minute it did not work out. Next year I am attending!!! I shared the pin on some of my group blogger boards. Happy Summer, Kippi
Ps. I subscribed to your blog too.
Kippi, I hope you can attend haven next year. Hope the tips are helpful. Thank you so much for sharing and subscribing.
Thanks so much for sharing this information with us. I still haven’t figured out how to put my blog posts on Pinterest so will follow to read your future post on that. Best! Cheryl
Cheryl, I hope it helped. Do you have Rich Pins on your blog? Go to Pinterest and ask for help. I’m sharing the Pinterest tips next week.
Thanks, Carol. Loads of info and all very interesting. Thank you for sharing with us.
Carol, this is great info! My personal struggle from day 2 of blogging has been organization. (Day 1 was building the blog! Hahaha). I love the analogy of creating a magazine and being the editor, publisher, photographer, as well as all the other departments. That’s perfect. I must attend Haven next year. Thanks for this post. It’s encouraging to know that other bloggers struggle in this area as well AND that there’s help out there.
Thanks for the great information. Stay cool! I can’t believe how hot it has been there!
Great list. Thanks for sharing. Haven sounds like so much fun and very helpful as well.
Thank you for this post. So much good information. I really appreciate All your suggestions. Looking forward to your next post and how your IG account progresses with stories. I can never think of what to story about.
This is great stuff Carol! Thanks so much for sharing. We need to chat soon!