Koala Bear, Taronga Zoo, Sydney by Jo Castro
Blogging 2012. If you snooze, you lose!

Recently I was lucky enough to travel from Western Australia to News South Wales for a Blog Conference and I attended the Nuffnang Blogopolis in Sydney. It was a conference about the nuts and bolts of blogging, but also identified a lifestyle – a way of earning a living and being location free.

“Travel and Lifestyle. It’s what Zigazag is all about.”

Nuffnang Blogopolis at The Sofitel, Sydney by Jo Castro

If you are interested in travel, here are some tips about What to Do in Sydney, but if you’re at all interested in blogging as a lifestyle, both the present and the future, then READ ON!

I met lots of new bloggers – thank you for all being so friendly and encouraging. The blogosphere is certainly full of generous souls so willing to share what they’ve learned. But more than that, they are passionate and engaged in what they do, whether it be for love or for money, and at the end of this post I’ve listed some wonderful bloggers whom I met in Sydney during the course of the very lovely Nuffnang day.

Nuffnang Blogoposlis by Jo Castro
Imogen Landport from Inside Out Style

The first session featured Imogen Landport from Inside Out Style

Sourcing content and creation

Imogen said it’s important to “work out who you are and it will be easier to produce content. You need to be passionate about what you are creating.”

Imogen gave heaps of hips and tips during the session, and included some key sources for finding content, such as:-

How to find content for blog posts

  1. Look at other people’s comments and questions (on other similar niche blogs) Find out what’s important to them – could you write about it?
  2. Ask yourself … What do people ask me? What do friends and family ask me? In order to find out what you really know a lot about, and can write about to be helpful to your audience.
  3. What keywords are people searching for when they arrive at your site?
  4. Look at the media – what headlines are magazines using and can you twist a magazine headline into a pertinent blog post for use on your own site?
  5. The Calendar –  don’t discount what’s happening in the rest of the world.
  6. Social media – what are people asking, can you ask people for ideas, what content is being used in cartoons and jokes.

Different Types of Posts

Imogen suggested :-

  1. Link Posts such as ‘My top 10 ..’ and link to useful resources about a particular subject.
  2. Problem solvers – particularly ‘How to’
  3. List Posts – 10 Ways to …
  4. Opinion Posts – people love to comment with their own opinion about something – they like to feel they’re being heard
  5. Case Studies – People want to feel that they’re not the only ones with that issue. The want their problems solved.

Want to monetize your blog? Then Imogen suggested that we write an eBook . “Consider using your past blog posts to create the content. Do blog posts over multiple days and weeks, then put your book together.”

Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012 Jeff Tan spoke about SEO by Jo Castro
Jeff Tan spoke about SEO

SEO with Jeff Tan

Jeff is Digital Strategy Director, Initiative Melbourne

Zigazag was one of the four blogs that Jeff used for review purposes. It was a little scary because I didn’t know what he would find out that would highly embarrass me – like my SEO sucks, or he might exclaim, ‘Jeepers, you should know better by now!’

But I needn’t have worried, because Jeff was constructively helpful and picked out things we were all doing right and wrong, leading us along the path to better SEO.

He offered lots of tips, including:-

  1. Own your own domain right from the start (It only costs around $12) a year – Got that one right, phew!
  2. Host the site yourself (and that one, tick!)
  3. Aim for keywords in the domain name (umm, not doing so well here unless I can get Zigazag listed as meaning ‘travel’ in the Oxford English Dictionary)
  4. Create clear and compelling headlines – write headlines as though you’re a wire service provider (he means like Reuters).
  5. Use key words in your titles (use the Google “Keyword Tool” to help you here) and search “Insights for Search” to discover trends and find out what searches are gaining popularity.
  6. Make sure you use a keyword in your paragraph opener and dispersed throughout the remainder of your post (not too much to look spammy though)
  7. Align categories with highly searched industry related keywords.
  8. Upload the “All in one SEO Pack” Plugin – this will help you do an SEO check for each post you write.
SEO, Nuffnang Blogopolis, by Jeff Tan
Summary of SEO session by Jeff Tan

“We like to think that people come to our site for our flair. But to get other customers to your site, the titles  of your posts need to be very descriptive – unexciting – even boring. Write them like a news journalist. You have 66 characters to bring a person to your blog. Remember that people search for answers and information.” Jeff Tan

Nuffnang Blogopolis, Nicole Avery by Jo Castro
Nicole Avery spoke about branding

Branding your Blog

by Nicole Avery, Planning With Kids

Nicole has only been blogging for about 4 years, but in that time she’s become one of the Blogging Queens – let alone ‘Planning’ Queen (her blog is Planning with Kids – or maybe that has helped?!)

She told us that branding is not just about what other people think about you but that is should be a really clear way to let yourself be found. “You need to define who you are and what you have to offer your readers. It’s not about being the biggest and best,” she said. “Brands that work have a vision, a personality and a brand message. Think Virgin, Disney, Apple, Ikea, and more.”

Nicole said that we should decide what we want to be known for, and aim to turn ‘followers’ into ‘fans.’ This means creating our own selling point and having a unique offering. “You also need to know who your target audience is, and why they come to your blog, and how you can communicate your unique offering in your web design too.”

“What’s making a reader choose my blog? What messages am I communicating? What is the content I’m putting out?” are all questions Nicole said we should be asking ourselves to get to the essence of what we offer and do.

However, Nicole emphasised that we shouldn’t try to be all things to all people, and quoting Simon Manchipp she told us. “A  brand trying to be all things to all people = blanding.” www.someoneinlondon.com

Blog Photography that doesn’t suck

by Rachel Devine from Sesame Ellis

Photography helped Rachel out of post natal depression. She’s now become a sought after photographer and has a successful website, blog (Sesame Ellis) and photography school around which she’s developed a business.

She said it was important to tell your readers a story in simple frames created with the tools you already have. “Creating images that are worthy to illustrate the blog you work so hard on. And most importantly, creating images that hook readers in.”

Surprisingly Rachel said, “I never watermark my images.”

Rachel showed us lighting techniques such as draping a shawl over a lamp to create soft lighting, and using side lighting from a window to get a good shot inside.

Rachel emphasized that, “Chance favours the prepared mind,” and said that people are likely to ‘read’ our photos before they read our blog posts.

It’s difficult here to go into her photography tips because even though they were aimed at beginner photographers, they were quite technical. Pop over to her blog at Sesame Ellis.

Snapshots from Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy panels and hearing what others have to say about various topics and issues.  In no particular order, here are some of the quotes that I found inspiring, and hope you do too.

Lady Melbourne aka Phoebe Montague started her fashion blog 5 years ago, and is another of the blogging industry’s Queen Bees. She said that having a distinct ‘voice’ is important and she uses hers as a ‘Platform to talk about what’s going on in the fashion world. “You need to consider what’s different about you or your voice before you dip your toe into a very crowded market. Think about what you can talk about with authority and bring that to the table.”

While Eden Riley from Edenland said “If you consistently put considered and thoughtful blog posts on your blog, then people will come to it. It’s also important to be true to yourself and your blog.”

On finding your voice, Eden added: “ When I was a kid, I didn’t have a voice. I was meek and mild and it’s taken me my life to find it. We all see things differently. When you nurture and develop your blog it’s amazing what you find out … it’s made me into a richer person and that has nothing to do with money.”

Zoey Martin from Good Googs said that “I wrote myself into my voice,” while others said that it’s important to stay true to yourself, and grow with your blog.

“I don’t think mystery will earn you longevity,” said Lady Melbourne when anonymous blogging was mentioned. “I take a long time crafting my articles and each post is very considered. I don’t engage in comments. My blog is not a battleground.”

Eden: “I think I’ll outgrow my niche the day I die. We are like the renegades of the internet.”

Penny Cai  who blogs about food on said that she is looking to feature interstate bloggers so maybe contact her if you know a thing or two about food.

Using Different Platforms

“Pinterest has been great for me,” said Christina Butcher from Hair Romance, “even though  Pinterest has been labeled as a place where women plan imaginary weddings!”

In reality, Pinterest is a way of bookmarking images from websites and it’s becoming popular across the full spectrum of bloggers.  “Don’t forget to use a title on your images,” says Christina, “because pins are well indexed on Google. So label them with good search words.”  She further encouraged us to use Pinterest as a visual archive of our blog posts, to share knowledge and information, to run a competition, to bookmark blogs and daily reads and even to create a book reading list around our niche.

Christina said that a good way to analyse our most popular pins and pinners is to go to www.pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com or www.pinreach.com

A good way to avoid pinning spam images – look out for those with a ‘bitly’ tag.

Always pin from the original image source and from a unique URL rather than a homepage and give due credits. If in doubt, check with the site owner before re-pinning an image.

Nuffnang Blogopolis, Caz Makepeace and Tim Mullaly by Jo Castro
Caz Makepeace from YTravelBlog and Tim Mullaly from Nuffnang

Podcasting – Caz Makepeace from YTravelBlog

Caz is part of the successful YTravelBlog Team and gave a presentation about podcasting.

Why Podcast? “Because it adds a new dimension to connect to your community and it can spotlight your personality showing people who you are.”

“Do interviews with other people and show how they can help your own community.  You could do this by re-purposing your blog posts, or your newsletters, guest posts and eBooks. Perhaps have a Question and Answer session with you community or share advice and tips. If you have a travel blog then perhaps share news with what’s happening in the industry.”

“Podcasting builds an audience rather than traffic and requires less mind involvement from the listener so that they can be listening to your podcast when they’re driving or cooking or cleaning.”

Caz said that podcasting in the United States is big and “will increase by 251% in 2012.” Source www.emarketer.com

She was pragmatic when it came to podcasting vanity. “It’s important to embrace your own voice and be yourself. Many of us hear our own voices and don’t like them, and can’t believe that we really sound like we do! Well we do – so get over it!”

Nuffnang Blogopolis. Waiting for the conference to begin by Jo Castro
Waiting for the conference to begin

Why use UTube?

Janice Wong  has gained over 19,000 subscribers since 2008 and relies heavily on UTube for her popularity. She said that UTube videos:-

  1. Bring more search results
  2. Means you can have more interaction with your followers
  3. Are easy to inbed into your blog
  4. Can monetize videos on both platforms (UTube and blog)
David Krupp, Nuffnang and Sarah from A Beach Cottage by Jo Castro
David from Nuffnang and Sarah from A Beach Cottage ponder the future of Blogging in Australia

The Australian Blogosphere

David Krupp, Country Manager from Nuffnang:- “In 2011 blogs began to realize their influence but in 2012 they are maturing to be bigger and better than ever.”

Mrs Woog from Woogsworld – “As a community we need to unite. We are a mystery to a lot of people.”

Sponsorship and Advertising

David -“Advertisers come to us now. Agencies are asking for blogs to be part of marketing plans.”

“Mrs Woog – “I am very protective of my readers – so that any opportunities that arise for me because of my blog must also be good for my readers eyes.  And (with regards to brands and sponsorship) I won’t do anything for free.”

Trevor Young, PR Warrior at Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012 by Jo Castro
Trevor Young, PR Warrior at Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012

Trevor Young from PR Warrior – “There are so many different ways that brands can deal with bloggers now. The future is that the potential has gone beyond just blogging and you can be a content curator across a lot of platforms. Overseas, bloggers are building mini business empires around their brands using blogs, UTubes and Podcasts. This means they can be used as content curators and are being leveraged via their community. Yes, we have sponsored posts and everything going on in the blogosphere, but now there’s a deeper engagement with brands.”

Will blogging take over from newspapers and magazines?

“The economics about producing them are becoming excessive compared to online media.. I think we’ll see bloggers work more with media organizations and journos start their own online platforms.” Trevor Young, PRwarrior.

Sarah from A Beach Cottage. “Trust is important. The people reading my blog trust me.”

Blogging in Australia in 2012 and beyond

Mrs Woog – “I think organizations are desperate for content and I think that bloggers will work more for organizations using their specialties and also by writing columns.”

David Krupp, Nuffnang by Jo Castro
David Krupp, Country Manager, Nuffnang Australia

David – “I think we’re going to see huge growth in 2011. We have seen 147% growth in Nuffnang’s top bloggers’ traffic, and I think that as people find other blogs, traffic will explode.”

Trevor – “As bloggers get bigger and attract more media attention, we’re going to get a lot of competition and noise. So if you are going to be blogging you need to write great, epic content . Being a content creator will be more and more important as the blogosphere gets more crowded.

Are we breeding Super Bloggers? Is there a push towards the ‘Personalities’?

Mrs Woog – “I see some bloggers like that but what’s surprised me is that a lot of people are asking bloggers to go on TV all of a sudden. I hate it.”

5 Words (or less) about Australian Blogging next year.

David – “We’re going to see an even greater interest from the main stream. My five words: It’s not going to stop!”

Mrs Woog – “Have Fun or it doesn’t count!”

Sarah – “Go Aussie Bloggers!”

Trevor – “Exciting Times!”

David Krupp on advertising with Nuffnang

If you want to become a Nuffnang blogger and have advertisements placed on your site.Here are some tips from David

Comments on your blog have an impact on sales. For advertisers wanting to pay to advertise on your site they need to see engagement and community so it’s important that a blog looks as if it has an engaged community.

In regard to ad campaigns – We look for blogs that have over 5,000 page views per month.

Keep us up to date with how your blog is going – do you have great testimonials and comments that would convince an advertiser to spend on you?

Branching out into multiple streams of income from blogging

Afterwards I spoke to the ever helpful Trevor Young about the need for bloggers to diversify. He said it’s not practical to assume that we can make a living from blogging alone, but that there is a need to branch out into multiple streams of income and be aware, and take opportunities that arise from blogging. This could involve speaking engagements, teaching, writing eBooks and definitely should involve new media – podcasting and videos. “If you don’t know how to make videos and podcastst then get on the web and find out how. There are plenty of tutorials,” he said.

He also has a lot to say about blogging, marketing and new media on his blog and offers an interesting free download called the Micro Maven Manifesto. If you’re a blogger, you’ll find it interesting and affirming – go get.

My own quote and overall take-away from Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012

“You will be rewarded for faith and persistence. Keep on blogging.” Jo Castro

Some particularly Lovely Bloggers that I connected with during the course of the day

Jenny from www.atasteoftravel.com

Caz from www.ytravelblog.com

Trevor from www.prwarrior.typepad.com

Sarah from www.abeachcottage.com

Catherine from www.foodwatch.com.au

Rebecca from www.weebirdy.com

Freddy at www.adventourists.com.au (please sponsor them in the Mongol Rally)

Natalie from www.eatreadloveaustralia.blogspot.com

Kristin from www.bootsandabackpack.com

Katerina from www.newcitymagazine.com

Hsin from www.chinosandchopsticks.com

Jaclyn from www.littlepapertrees.blogspot.com

Emily from www.fussfreecooking.com

Catherine from www.thespringblog.com

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  1. AWESOME post Jo! Wow you were very thorough with your note taking and all you learned. This is a brilliant post for those who missed it as you’ve summed up all they really needed to learn.
    So great to see you again! Next stop.. Problogger

  2. Thanks for your comments Caz! I’m glad you feel it’s a good round-up for people who didn’t go. There was so much to learn, and the presenters were all so instructive. So too your podcasting session 🙂 Yep, roll on Problogger!

  3. jenny@atasteoftravel

    Great post Jo. I’m throwing away my scribbles and keeping this bookmarked instead. There were some fabulous sessions on the day, all full of great information and ideas. Now for implementing some changes! Thanks for the shoutout…Great to see you again and meet Emma.

  4. Great round-up of Blogopolis, thanks for the helpful summaries. It was lovely to meet you, too. xx

  5. Thanks, Jenny. Glad wrap-up was helpful 🙂 Yes, the sessions were great weren’t they?

  6. what a great round-up!

    thanks for including me too, so nice to meet you 🙂


  7. Pleasure Sarah! Great to meet you too. Here’s to the next time 🙂

  8. Great summary Jo! Nearly as good as being there. Give me another year or so until Mr2 can deal with Mum disappearing for a few days and I will finally get to join you at one of these!

  9. Look forward to it Amanda – perhaps we could be roomies 🙂 Thanks for your kind words.

  10. thanks for the great info, summary and tips from the blogging conference Jo. This is a post for me to come back to time and time again. I am definitely going to check out the sites you have bookmarked for us. And it is obvious that you have come back refreshed and revitalized. Go Jo! I know your work will be rewarded.

  11. Thanks Jill. I hope the sites will be useful to you too 🙂 Back refreshed and revitalised but with so much to do! Did anyone ever say blogging was easy?

  12. Annaleis

    Hi Jo,
    Was lovely to meet you at he bar! Look forward to reading more of your blog posts and hopefully us WA bloggers can all catch up soon! Annaleis from teapots and tractors

  13. Likewise Annaleis! Thanks for popping by and I’ll be keeping up with your blog posts too 🙂

  14. Thanks for the information provided in this post. I am very new to blogging, so really have no clue what these conferences are about and what is discussed – obviously some very worthwhile points were raised, and makes me realise how much further I have to go! Will use the weekend to digest all the things I SHOULD be doing, and think about how to get there!!

  15. This is an informative piece. I’ll definitely be checking out many of the links that you’ve provided. I’m walking away with plenty of ideas for my own blog. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Conferences are very worthwhile Annie, both from meeting other bloggers and listening to how others are making a success of it. Good luck with your blogging journey, keep at it, and make lots of connections – the blogging community is a very welcoming one 🙂

  17. Carolyn @ Holidays to Europe

    Great post, Jo. The blogosphere is a big, wide world and it’s hard to keep up with what’s relevant in our fast-changing world. You’ve passed on lots of great advice which I’ll now incorporate in to my own blog. I’m already doing some of the things mentioned but definitely not all! Thanks again.

  18. Hello Carolyn, thanks for your compliments and so glad that you’re going to incorporate some of the tips on your own blog. It was a great conference 🙂

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