The event was held on the 16th floor of the Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The venue was perfect: it was in a great location and offered nice views of the city. I signed up as soon as I heard about the event to get early bird pricing. That also meant that I received a bit of swag that not everyone appeared to get: a notebook, pen, stickers, portable charger and a thumb drive. I used the notebook to take notes and jot down my ideas throughout the day.
SoFabU on the Road is a full day of learning. You check in for breakfast at 9 a.m. and the sessions don't end until 5 p.m., when the reception begins.
Our first session was about building a newsletter. It was taught by Kirsten Thompson of Sweat Tea LLC. We analyzed fellow bloggers' blogs and gave feedback on the placement of their newsletter sign-up forms. I used the time and advice to add a sign-up form for my own newsletter onto Facebook, which was easier than I thought. We also learned about opt-ins and content upgrades and I came up with various ideas to use soon!
Newsletter takeaways:An opt-in offer is a free gift everyone receives. A content upgrade is a freebie associated with a specific blog post. #SoFabUOTR Use both!— Marette Flora (@maretteflora) July 9, 2016
- Your blog should have a minimum of three sign-up forms.
- Set up separate opt-ins based on post topics. (One for travel, fitness, etc.)
- Put a sign-up form on your most visited page.
During lunch, we were given the opportunity to ask questions to the Social Fabric team about applying for Shoppertunities.
They gave us tips for how to be selected and stand out:
- Don't use their conversation starter topics in the application; many people do and you won't stand out.
- Include a link to sponsored work and non-sponsored work so they can see what your sponsored work is like.
The next session was on Pinterest. It was taught by Becca Ludlum. We learned strategies for success on Pinterest that I was not implementing, including writing longer descriptions with more keywords for my pins. We spent time adjusting our most popular pins, and by the next day I noticed those pins were seeing more action on Pinterest. Becca even told us how many times she pins a day -- 70 -- which gave me an idea of what I need to be doing.
- It is OK to repin your own stuff many times. I had previously heard that you shouldn't do this, but Becca seemed to think you can make your own rules, and that has worked for her.
- We can't really rely on group boards all the time. Make your own boards.
- Use interests in the Analytics tab to create new boards on similar topics.
The final session was on crafting the perfect post, and it was led by Megan Tenney. She gave us a check list ahead of time for everything we need to do before, during and after publishing our blog posts. It reminded me I need to be updating the meta descriptions every time, something I don't always do. Her session also inspired me to look at the topics I write about and analyze which of them I can let go.
What I loved about SoFabU On the Road:
- We got time to actually work on our blogs and fix the issues we were talking about, like SEO-friendliness, descriptions, newsletter sign-ups and more.
- There was no shortage of food. We received a filling breakfast and lunch, along with cookies as a snack. The reception had plenty of beverages to unwind after a long day.
- The instructors walked around to ask if you needed help.
- I met some awesome bloggers!
I included some footage of the conference in my most recent Youtube video. Subscribe to my channel for more videos such as this.
Have you attended a blogging conference? What did you learn and how did you implement it?