Tips to Make You a Better Blogger

conferences are a great place to pick up blogging tips

I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever blogging conference put on by New Media Manitoba and the Women’s Enterprise Centre in Winnipeg. It was a full-day event with amazing speakers, excellent networking opportunities, great food, and an environment that was conducive to learning and creativity.

Wesley Hall at the University of Winnipeg

Wesley Hall at the University of Winnipeg is a terrific place to hold a conference

I attended the University of Winnipeg back in the 1970’s and being in Convocation Hall was inspiring — because of the words of inspiration being shared by the experienced bloggers who had come to enlighten us and because of the heritage architecture of this institution of higher learning (Wesley Hall in which Convocation Hall is located officially opened in 1896 and resembles the tower of a castle.)

The keynote speaker was Catherine Connors, who is not only a highly regarded “Mommy Blogger” but also editor-in-chief of babble.com, a site owned by the Disney Corporation. The key blogging tips Catherine shared are:

  • Blogging can be a successful business if you write what you love and love what you write. Sincerity in what you say and passion for what you write will give your blog authenticity and help attract an audience.
  • Blogging is a personal platform. Storytelling is what’s key in building your audience. Being interconnected and engaging in dialogue with them will keep them coming back.
  • You need to be unique and establish your own brand. You are that brand and must market yourself 24/7 in order to be successful.
  • Monetizing your blog need not cheapen it. Socrates had patrons. Why can’t you? Think of advertisers and sponsors as your patrons, but never forget your brand. Be sure to match the advertisers and sponsors with your personal brand.
  • Even a small but engaged audience can attract advertisers. They key phrase businesses are thinking about these days when deciding whether to advertise on a site is “PPAT” — i.e. are people talking about this? If they are, through FB comments, sharing the link to your site, or linking back to it, it proves you are engaging with your audience and that your words aren’t just going out into cyberspace unheard.

We even did some exercises to keep our brains sharp and focused.

shaking it up at the blogging conference

an exercise break enabled us to keep sharp at the blogging conference

Other presenters at the conference shared equally valuable tips:

  • Artist and designer, Kal Barteski suggested we put our advertisers or sponsors in a column to the side of the blog so that they don’t clutter up our posts.
  • Photographer and blogger, Elan Morgan told us that people will stay longer on your blog if you include photos in your posts because, “People can feel your photos more than they can feel your words.”
  • Erica Glasier, blogger and PR professional gave us the 15 qualities of a “rockstar blogger.” She said that platforms such as Tumblr are ideal for short-form blogging and that you should insert photos and use the hashtag #longreads if your post is long and full of text.
  • Susan, Hurrell, is an online marketing specialist who helps businesses realize the importance of blogging. She reminded us that those of us in the Boomer Generation have grown up protecting our intellectual property, whereas The GenX and younger individuals have grown up with online sharing and it therefore comes easier for them. You must give your content away in today’s world to reach an audience.
  • Cendrine Marrouat, author of “The Little Big E-Book on Blogging” suggested that guest blogging is a terrific way to extend your reach, but that it’s important to guest blog on sites that have similar content to yours so that the audiences match and the blog’s readers will want to read more of your writing by following your blog.
  • Matthew Shepherd, an SEO specialist was kind enough to use my chocolate travel blog as a case study and recommended some of the changes you now see on that site and behind the scenes in the coding of the blog. I highly recommend the professional services of Matthew or others in that field to help you improve the visibility and searchability of your blog so that it will receive a higher ranking from Google.

There were other great speakers as well, but I’m already breaking the rules of keeping the posts under 500 words, so we’ll have to leave it at that.

Do you have what it takes to be a bloguru?

I hope you find these tips as helpful as I did, and strongly suggest you attend a blogging conference the next time you have the opportunity. If you have other tips you’d like to share, please do. And a special salute to Sandra Altner, CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Centre, who inspired me to become a “bloguru”  by really becoming a guru of the art of blogging. Love that term!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

98 Responses

  1. Big thank you for mentioning me in your article, Doreen! It was great to see you again!

  2. Wendy says:

    Good summary of the conference Doreen! I was also there and agree it the U of W’s convocation hall was inspiring and the perfect venue. I meant to go introduce myself to you but got caught up talking to all the people at my table.

  3. I’m really glad you did! There was so much information!

  4. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wow, that looked like an amazing experience. That must have been really cool having your blog as a case study with some great recommendations to go with it. I will be looking in to his services and some of the others as well. Thank you for sharing this. :)))
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Co di Sasso Cabernet Sauvignon & Sangiovese 2011: WineMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      You’re welcome, Susan. But it’s amazing how much we learn when we gather together for an event such as this. From the great presenters, but also from the folks you sit and network with. It’s an never-ending learning experience.

  5. I just reposted this to Facebook. It’s a good one. Thanks, Doreen.

  6. WizardOfWords
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks, Michelle.

    Yes, I really love conferences and days of learning such as this. Always worth the time and financial investment as you come away focused and full of energy.

  7. Mark Brody says:

    Very interesting post Doreen. I am always looking for tips on how to improve and this post definitely has some good nuggets! Do most of the people making money with their blogs do it full time?

    Thank you for sharing as always!
    Mark Brody recently posted…Thing 1 and Thing 2My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Mark and thanks for your comment and support.

      No, it’s often a mixed bag when it comes to who’s blogging. There are many people who have full-time jobs and try and fit blogging into their schedules. Sometimes, the blogs begin to take on a life of their own and enable to the blogger to quit their job and focus on the blogging. Catherine Connors, whom I mention in my post, actually has a degree in psychology and worked for years as an academic before devoting herself to blogging. She said she now earns more $$ from her blog than she earned as an academic. I find that amazing!

  8. Johnny Jet says:

    Nice job on the recap — I felt like I attended.

  9. Schmutzie says:

    It was such a great pleasure to be there with all of you. Thank you for the mention!
    Schmutzie recently posted…Three Songs by Pure Bathing Culture, Dieter Schaaf, and Boom Bip feat. Nina NastasiaMy Profile

  10. Thanks for the mention! It was a pleasure to connect with you! And we who are “of a certain generation” can certainly learn new tricks! It’s simply helpful to be aware of the larger cultural influences that shape us to greater or lesser extents! Share a little bit – get their attention – sell the rest! See you at next year’s event – if not before!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Susan, and for your presentation. It was lovely meeting you.

      I really enjoyed hearing the perspective of someone from “my generation.” 🙂

      Please stop by again. We have some great conversations here.

  11. Harry Hobbs says:

    Hi Doreen:

    You have a very thorough and interesting post about your experiences. I have taken the liberty of sharing this link with our Writers Guild many of whom are bloggers

  12. Ian Howarth says:

    Doreen,

    Sounds like a great blogfest. And a spiffy site, too, I must say. You see, photos do help.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Ian, and thanks so much for visiting the site. I do hope you’ll become a more frequent contributor to the conversations we have here. It’s a great community!

  13. A.K.Andrew says:

    Sounds like a fantastic conference Doreen. Thanks so much for sharing both the key points as well as links to key people. I must be getting better as I’d heard of at least one person! (Cendrine).
    Congratulations on having your blog cited – that’s quite an honor I have to say.
    Interesting point about Boomers and GenX re: sharing. It’s very true what you said, as online really is about sharing information, which is in part what I love about blogging.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…MuseMedia: Time and Louise ErdrichMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Right on, A.K. We’re definitely getting the hang of it. 🙂

      What I really love about blogging is being the catalyst that creates a conversation.

      I once had a shaman tell me that I am a “connector” — a person who likes to forge and nurture relationships. I see blogging as being the perfect platform for me as I really DO love to introduce people to one another, share thoughts and ideas, and host gatherings. For me, the blog is like a virtual party!

  14. Jay Remer
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for posting this blog Doreen. Very timely for many of us who are wanting to be more successful at blogging. After all, writing a blog that captures attention takes no longer than writing one that doesn’t.

  15. Lubna says:

    Good tips, thanks for sharing. I do agree that the advertisement must match the content of the blog.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Lubna. Yes, I really like the idea of customizing ads and sponsors to match the content of the blog and placing them discreetly in a column to the side of the content. I don’t appreciate those annoying Google ads that some people have spattered all over their blogs. It distracts from the content and cheapens it as well.

  16. Lot’s of good advice here. I made a change to adding more pictures on my blog and saw an immediate uptick in viewers.
    Hola BackGrinder recently posted…Top 5 Black Monday Gifts for GuysMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Great to know, Scott.
      I’ve always included plenty of pics in my chocolate travel blog, but haven’t generally included many in my writer’s blog for 2 reasons:
      1) the template is already a fairly busy design and there isn’t much room for pics
      2) many of the topics I discuss here don’t lend themselves directly to pics.

      But having heard how important pics are to increase audience engagement, I’ll now try and make a point to have one in every post if at all possible.

      • One other thing on adding pictures, if you can title the picture with an invisible tag (as opposed to a visible caption) when you load it instead of using something descriptive to the pic just use 2-3 keywords that are key for your blog and for the article. Search engines don’t see the pic, they just read the text title, it’s a way to add more keywords into your already content rich article and get a little more search engine appeal.
        Hola BackGrinder recently posted…Top 5 Black Monday Gifts for GuysMy Profile

  17. This looks like it was a great day, Doreen, and full of inspiration to do more and better work on blogs.

    These days are so necessary because they get us out of our little offices at home and mingling with other writers and bloggers. Then we go back recharged and recommitted to our work–at least that’s what happens with me.

    Thanks so much for sharing it all with us.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      You’re welcome, Christine.

      What really impressed me about this event is that it had speakers from inside and outside of MB who were highly successful at blogging. The keynote speaker is a Canadian who now lives in the US and heads up a blogging site for Disney, so if you’re good at blogging and have a niche market … chances are the right people will notice!

  18. Very tweetworthy. Which I did (tweet) but for some technologically-obscure reason my tweet does not seem to show up in this stream….sigh. I live to learn! Thanks for the useful info.

  19. Catarina says:

    Seems like you had an interesting weekend. Agree with the information you shared with us. Your chocolate blog has really improved because of what Matthew said.
    Catarina recently posted…What’s the main reason for entrepreneurial success?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Catarina. I’m so fortunate to have had both Matthew and Sherryl Perry of KeepupwiththeWeb (whom you know from the BHB LI group) helping me improve my blogs. It’s really helped with the look, and now with the SEO and expanding my reach.

  20. Leigh says:

    Sounds like a great conference – and one I’d never heard of. I went to a more photo heavy blog after listening to Gary Arndt a few years ago and then took 5 photography courses to up my game. It’s a continual learning process and every tip can make a difference.
    Leigh recently posted…Colombia is Calling – What do You Think of This Itinerary?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Leigh. It is indeed a continual learning process. That’s what I love about these conferences. So much information, condensed and on topic. Priceless! Trust I’ll be seeing you at TBEX in TO in June? That should be a great conference.

  21. Leigh says:

    I’ll be there and will look forward to meeting you.
    Leigh recently posted…Colombia is Calling – What do You Think of This Itinerary?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Super! Looking forward to meeting you in June, Leigh. It’s going to be a busy month for me. June 1-2 = TBEX, June 4-7 = PWAC/Magnet (both in TO), June 12-15 = TMAC in Saskatoon. 3 writers conferences all in one month!

  22. Gail Kesslar says:

    Hi Doreen – thanks so much for posting this info. Some great stuff in there.

    Gail

  23. Kevin Glew says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Doreen. There is a lot of excellent information here that I can use here for my Cooperstowners in Canada blog.
    Kevin Glew recently posted…From small-town Saskatchewan to Yankee Stadium, Dave Pagan defied long odds to pitch in the big leaguesMy Profile

  24. Sherryl Perry
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a wonderful summary of your conference Doreen. Thanks for sharing this with us. I really should go to a blogging conference. Nothing else compares to actually being in the same room and being able to network in person!
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Piquing Interest with Pinterest: Selling your Small BusinessMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Sherryl. Yes, there’s something about being in the room, sharing the energy and ideas that really drives the points home. I learn much better this way than on a screen or from a book.

  25. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    I know I would definitely enjoy attending such a conference! I also can’t agree more about using photos in posts. So often I end up skimming over long posts simply because they lack visual appeal. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Jeri recently posted…Book Review: Ava by Ashley BarronMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jeri. Yes, I’m beginning to learn that even posts that are about theoretical or intellectual subjects can be enhanced by visuals. Cheers!

  26. I’ve never heard of a blogging conference before. Sounds like it was very informative and very worthwhile. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for something like this in my area.
    Angela Joseph recently posted…Gift Ideas For WritersMy Profile

  27. Hi Doreen,
    Thank you for sharing sage words of advice on blogging. Really good stuff. I especially like your input on GenXers ability to share vs. Boomers wanting to keep information. Looking forward to attending a blog conference of my own.
    Linda Della Donna
    Linda Della Donna recently posted…Billie A. Williams – An InterviewMy Profile

  28. Lovely to meet yu IRL. Wonderful recap of the day. So lovely to get together with cyber friends. All the best. Love-that is all.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for dropping by the blog, Kathryne. It was lovely meeting you on Sat. It really is nice to meet in person. Brings the cyber friendship into the real world!

  29. KellyWade says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing all of the tips you learned with us. I think that the very first one from Catherine Connors is so important to remember- sincerity and loving what you write (and writing what you love) is key in successful blogging. Must have been awesome to be in an environment like that!
    KellyWade recently posted…Health Benefits of BeansMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Kelly and thanks for your comment. Yes, being in an environment like a conference where everyone has come together for the same purpose fills the room with energy and you can’t help but bring some of it home with you. 🙂

  30. Marijke says:

    Great post Doreen. I wrote a piece on blogging for a US professional association on the topic of blogging. The piece of advice I gave that garnered the most feedback was on thinking outside the box.

    It’s easy to get bogged down with your topic or to run out of ideas, so in May, I participated in a blogathon. I had to post something every day for the month. It was hard! But, I have to admit, it rekindled my desire to continue blogging. The other thing is that until I participated in the process, I didn’t realize that my blog was five years old. Interesting.

    I’ve not had the opportunity to attend any blogging conferences. One day maybe..
    Marijke recently posted…Worldwide, Women Still Lacking Access to ContraceptionMy Profile

  31. WizardOfWords
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for the awesome comment, Marijke. And congrats on being a blogger for 5 years! You truly are a bloguru!

    You might like to approach an organization similar to “New Media Manitoba” in your own province of Quebec and offer to be a speaker at a blogging conference in Montreal. It sounds like you have many valuable tips that you could share with bloggers to up their game.

  32. Wow, you hit a nerve, Doreen, with this blog, it’s received so many comments. Excellent tips for bloggers. We now have Blog World on both the east and west coasts of the U.S. It’s a big get-together and I always visit the exhibitors. I’ve learned a lot and actually one exhibitor set up the mobile view of my blog while I was there. The following year I did a video interview of a speaker that formed the basis of a blog post for my site. So these conferences are very worthwhile to attend.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…How to Network, Build Relationships & Find a Job on LinkedInMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jeannette. It’s always great to hear from you.

      Blog World founds fantastic. I am looking forward to the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) event in Toronto next June as we will undoubtedly learn more about marketing our blogs there as well. It’s an unending journey!

  33. Susan Oakes says:

    Thanks for sharing the this Doreen. I was interested in the point about advertising and audience, although not for my blog. I had read that you needed a certain level of traffic, which makes sense to attract advertisers. This is same as TV shows need certain audience numbers to get advertisers to pay a good amount.

    The question for you Doreen is did she give any case studies or examples that showed what smaller websites need in traffic terms or reader engagement?
    Susan Oakes recently posted…2 Ways To Simplify Marketing For Business GrowthMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Susan, and thanks for your comment.

      Catherine Connors actually said that quantity of readers doesn’t necessarily trump quality of readers. i.e. if you have a small, but highly loyal and engaged audience, that is sometimes just as important to certain advertisers as massive numbers of anonymous subscribers/visitors who don’t at all engage in the subject matter of the blog. And no, we didn’t talk specific numbers.

      It was definitely a fascinating discussion.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…tips to make you a better bloggerMy Profile

  34. Thanks for the summary, I recently attended a travel bloggers conference in Genoa, Italy and here is a summary of one of the storytelling classes that I loved: http://www.pointsandtravel.com/theres-something-about-mary/

  35. So true about giving content away to reach people. Lots of great tips on your post I thought it was excellent.
    Lisa Cash Hanson recently posted…How To Be Successful And ONE Thing That Kills SuccessMy Profile

  36. Suzanne
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi, Doreen,

    Thanks for sharing these tips from the blogging conference. Sounds like it was a super event!

    Happy blogging!
    Suzanne recently posted…Writing for Magazines – Learn How in This Free Teleclass!My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Suzanne: Yes, it was indeed a great conference. which proves that an event can be well organized and have awesome presenters in any locale. I think sometimes people think that you have to travel to large cities in order to find true expertise. This conference proved that’s definitely not the case.

  37. Becc says:

    I hope I can be a blog guru. Great tips. Thank you for sharing them on!
    Becc recently posted…Children’s bedroom ideasMy Profile

  38. Lynette says:

    Thanks for your tips! I’m always googling ways to improve my blog so these suggestions are great.

  39. Well, Doreen, can always count on you to offer some truly valuable insight into writing. Your tips validate some of my instincts and impetus for blogging – storytelling is what drives most of us writers, isn’t it? And it just has to come from the heart. Thanks so much for sharing these with us!
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…Why CD Baby needs to be in the car bizMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much, Krystyna! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Are you subscribed?

      Yes, good storytelling is definitely the key to good blogging. Stay tuned for the next post. We’re going to discuss how we prime our passions.

  40. Kristine says:

    It’s the best to learn through experience. Attending seminars can also add value to your blogging tasks. Cheers to happy and relevant blogging!
    Kristine recently posted…New Years Eve Cruise in Sydney 2012 Harbour Fireworks Cruise!My Profile

  41. Stacey says:

    This is a good idea! I will definitely consider those tips that you gave and will absolutely make time to attend to conferences that would make my blogging experience headway! Thanks a lot, Doreen!

  42. Kelly says:

    Just when a blogger thought she was already doing good, your post will make her realize that there are still more ways to make blogging better. This blog is awesome! Thanks a lot!! 🙂

  43. Sandra says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips with us! I’m definitely looking forward to ‘better blogging’. Kudos on this piece.
    Sandra recently posted…Network Letter BinMy Profile

  44. Aayna says:

    This post is loaded with words of wisdom. Blogging is indeed a never ending job, every day the blogger has to add a new element to enhance the blog and make it unique. The points you have made through this post, makes one ponder on what actually blogging is. A big thanks, for sharing such valuable tips.

  45. Thanks for taking the time to give us this Doreen.
    Carolyn Taylor

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      You’re most welcome, Carolyn! Thx for talking the time to explore the archives of my blog. I’m glad you’re finding some posts to be of interest. I hope you’ll stick around. Next week, they’ll be a new post on independent publishing.

  46. Mark
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Doreen!

    This is my very first visit to your excellent and highly engaged blog!I found you while leaving a comment on Jeannette Paladino’s excellent blog!

    Thank you for sharing some awesome and extremely practical blogging tips. And for sharing some many expert resources as well!

    I don’t where to begin in terms of further educating myself!LOL!And judging from all of your comments, your conference seems like there were experts from practically any field and or niche you can think of!

    That’s pretty awesome!
    Mark recently posted…Three Ways Technology Has Actually Taken Your Small Business Hostage!My Profile

  47. Doreen,
    You’ve inspired me to become a blogger and have been an enthusiastic supporter. I always appreciate your comments.
    Thank you for these tips. I’ll be getting back into blogging next week so this information is certainly timely.
    Christine Peets recently posted…“Sisters” who travel–and blogMy Profile

  48. Mike
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for the post, Doreen. I’ve been blogging at my site for over a year now and I’m always looking for new ways to engage readership. I’d like to attend the next blog conference in the city.
    Mike recently posted…‘Eddie’ Drives Ahead To Reach The Final Round On ‘Short Film Face Off’My Profile

    • How lively to have you join us here on my site, Mike! I didn’t know you are now blogging. Good for you! I will check out your site pronto! As a film buff, you should be coming out to Gimli tonite for a feee viewing of the Ken Leishman story, “The Flying Bandit.” We’ll be taking it in as part of Nuit Blanche. Festivities begin at the A-Spire Theatre at 7: 30 pm. It’s all free!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Velas Vallarta: a great place to stay in PVMy Profile

      • Mike
        Twitter:
        says:

        Thanks, Doreen. It’s a new venture for me that I really like. I’m watching the third installment CBC’s Short Film Face Off’ for my next blog post, so can’t make it to Gimli tonight. If I get up there in the next while, I will be sure to let you know. It would be great to touch base again! 🙂

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