Blogging has been a great outlet and endeavour, but can also feel lonely and isolating at times. Getting out to network and learn more about the industry is not only rewarding from a growth perspective, but to get out of the blogger bubble once in a while and interact with some incredible people in the digital realm.
Attending Blog Podium in Toronto this past weekend wasn’t easy – our family life was full of commitments and managing it all to be able to attend was quite a juggle, but it was entirely worth it. A night in the City sans kiddos with Andrew afterward thanks to Nana was pretty sweet too 😉
Here are some takeaways from what I found was a very well-organized event for digital creators & influencers:
1) “It’s better to be relatable than aspirational” – Lauren, This Renegade Love
We hear a lot about being authentic in this realm, but it’s not always easy to figure out how to achieve that. I know my intentions when I post are not to project a picture-perfect family life and lifestyle, and I try my best to be genuine with my writing and social media captions. Some things will always be sacred to our family, but sharing the challenges of parenthood in a relatable way is always important to me and the kind of content I want to put out. Lauren hit home with her points on being relatable, blogging how you speak and adding the human element to social shares. We all have a unique story, and there’s a way to communicate it in visually appealing ways, without projecting the façade that life is glamourous and neat all the time. The challenge will be finding how to do that, while maintaining a level of professionalism. “Authenticity: to be true to one’s own personality, spirit or character” It’s easy to get influenced by fellow influencers. What I took away was staying true to your own character will attract the right followers. You don’t need a huge following, and it’s better to have a loyal one. Being who you are will attract the audience you actually want to create content for
2) Engagement is where it’s at!
It’s very easy to get caught up in the numbers game and think you need thousands of followers to have impact or be successful. I didn’t start blogging to be insta-famous or prove my worth with a big following, and buying followers was just never my thing. So, it’s refreshing to learn it’s actually not so much about how big a following you have, but how engaged they are with the material you put out. It’s better to have a tight community that interacts with your work, then tons of people who don’t give it the time of day. And brands look for this too.
Growth is important, yes, but organic growth is what brands and businesses are looking for, and we learned they can easily turn to tools like socialblade.com to see how social media influencers have grown their following. Growth should follow a gradual line of increase, not a huge surge and peak, where it becomes obvious to partners that you may have bought your followers. So, if you’re tempted to invest in growth apps to quickly increase your following, DON’T or at least reconsider. It’s easily identifiable and lacking in that authenticity we all keep hearing about. Our following may still be small, but I love the community we’ve built and appreciate each one of you so much.
3) Define your values
Seeing how many projects other bloggers/influencers are taking on can make even the most level-headed of us green with envy. But ask yourself – are those products/brands/events you would actually want to align with if you weren’t being paid to represent them? If your audience’s loyalty and trustworthiness is important to you (and it totally is to me), it’s important to get clear on what your values are, and then pursue or accept partnerships that align with that value system. Don’t underestimate how perceptive your audience is. I’d rather have less jobs and retain my integrity than have plenty and be insincere. Personally, I find myself being very selective of the partnerships I agree too. Not to be arrogant, but to be true to the content I put out and what are readers want to know. I’m a consumer too. I want to be persuaded in an honest way, and think that you do as well. Analyze your readers’ behaviours and learn about their interests. Our readers, for instance, want to know ways to simplify family life management, and look for products that add value to their life. They also love learning about businesses that keep family needs and efficiencies at the heart of their product development. The products we stand behind are one’s we genuinely believe in and use or would use ourselves.
4) Learn, share the love, lend a hand
One of my favourite sessions of the conference was the keynote address by Christine Martin of Amidst the Chaos. In just over 2 years, she’s gone from micro blogger to having a full time, lucrative career as a digital influencer. I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Christine through social media, and the honour of meeting her twice in person. She is a beautiful soul, who reminds us that you get what you put into this gig, and the way you conduct yourself can be karmatic. Her tenacity and fearlessness to put herself and her incredible work out there, has no doubt been a force driving her success, but it’s not all of it. Christine is also generous with her time to mentor others, chose to be inspired not threatened by those above her, and genuinely encourages and roots for fellow influencers in her circle. Blogging is very much a solo endeavour, but Christine is a shining example that we don’t grow by keeping to ourselves, but by putting ourselves out there, learning from and giving credit to those who are paving the way, sharing the love with your tribe, and lending a hand to those just starting.
She so eloquently encouraged us to: “Learn from those above you, link arms with those around you and reach out a helping hand to those below you.” I love what she stands for and am proud to now call her a friend
5) Find your tribe, love them hard
There is a beautiful community in this blogging world. Sadly, like any workplace/business, there is also jealousy, backstabbing, and toxic energy. You aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and you’ll quickly learn who’s got your back, and who may be rubbing shoulders with you for their own self interest. Vibes don’t lie. Trust that energy. But you’ll also find that once you figure out where you want to go, and who you want to be in this space, like-minded souls with similar values and spirits will start showing up and you’ll feel pulled to them like magnets. Those are your people. And really beautiful things start to happen when you find them, like rooting for each other when you have a win, genuine care and concern when you are struggling, open exchange of ideas, and sincere offers to help one another. We all have strengths in certain areas of digital content creation. Be open to learning, but also be open to sharing. It’s about give and take, take and give. It makes progress and growth so much sweeter, and a gig that can feel lonely, so much more like a community. I was super excited to learn about my pals’ Kate from Emmett’s ABCs & Andrea from Harlow & Thistle are launching www.CollectiveInfluenceCo.com – a hub for Canadian content creators to regularly exchange insights and best practices to stay on top of this ever-changing industry. It’s created by women and creators who share a common belief among so many of us – community over competition
There were so many more inspiring moments from the day, like the incredible story of Shea and Syd McGee – a married design duo and powerhouses who, after taking some risks, and a few leaps of faith, have turned Shea’s interior design hobby into a multi-million dollar design firm Studio McGee.
Conferences aren’t cheap to attend, but after my 3rd one this year, I can certainly say, this one was worth the investment. Phenomenal networking opps, progressive brands in attendance, and inspirational key note speakers with proven strategies to step up your blog game make it a must-attend event. What are your favourite conferences so far? I totally have my eye on Mom 2.0 in Cali for next Spring…
Love & light,