Happy Friday! My goodness I love me a Friday. Who doesn’t love a Friday?!
K, so I’m finally getting around to pulling together some of my key takeaways from the rewardStyle conference which took place in Dallas about a month ago. I’ve also shared some behind the scenes pics from the conference! I’m going to divide the ‘takeaways’ into two parts to that it’s more digestible. Part 2 comin’ atchya next week! Here’s part 1. Let me know if you have any questions! But first some pics…
^ Ummmm, blurry much? Cleavage much? This is what I wore to the Stuart Weitzman ‘pool party’ on the first night of the conference. Please note the very, very empty pool behind me. The dress code was ‘cruise wear’ – can we talk about how I had no idea what that meant and I literally had a swimsuit on underneath this dress (hence the hint of cleavage – ooops)? Not that I had any intentions of swimming myself, but I was literally picturing that some people would be, so it seemed like I should at least have one ON, right? Wrong. Praise the Lord that I didn’t show up in just a little coverup and some flip flops. ^
^ Yeah, I don’t pack light. Couldn’t even if my life depended on it probs. ^
(Shoes pictured that are available: Michael Kors gold wedges, White Steve Madden pumps, Blue Joe’s Jeans strappy sandals, Dolce Vita strappy sandals, American Rag lace up wedges, Black Halogen studded t-strap flats, T-strap bow flip flops, Sparkly Dune London sandals)
^ What I wore for Day 2 of the conference, which was a day of classes and meetings with brands. ^
^ Lunch, hosted by Boohoo. ^
^ Cliche feet pic with Merrick. ^
(Merrick’s beautiful blush heels)
^ Lunch hosted by Matches Fashion. ^
^ With a couple of my favorite blogging babes, Merrick and Amanda. Merrick was my roommate for the conference and Amanda became a new-found soul mate. That’s definitely the best part about blogging I think – the friendships you make. Love these ladies. ^
^ Remember how they posted this pic from the Liketoknow.it feed on Instagram, and like 50 people commented and said I look just like Jenna Marbles in this pic? Ummmm… do you guys know who Jenna Marbles is? Yeah I didn’t either. And then I looked her up. Aaaaaaaand… well God bless her but let’s just say that I wasn’t suuuuuper happy about the comparison (mostly just cuz she’s half naked in 90% of the pics I found of her online. But again – God bless her.). ^
On my way to the airport. Sad to go but sooooo excited to see that hubby and baby of mine! Traveling as a wife and a mom – definitely a different experience than doing it when you’re single.
^ Apparently this is a thing in Dallas. So we did the dang thang. ^
^ More awkward cleavage. Sorry. But how bout that cutie I’m with, Ms. Allegra? Her blog and her style kick trash. Adore her. ^
^ K I had to post this one, just because of how delightfully gross I look. This was me fresh (or not so fresh) off what felt like a real, real long flight into Dallas in which I immediately took an Uber to the nearest Ross to buy more luggage because the suitcases I brought were so awwwwwwful I couldn’t bear the thought of traveling one more day with them. Best and also worst decision I’ve ever made to buy new luggage in the middle of a trip. This was no makeup, no shower, no sleep times. Pretty (or yikes more accurately).^
^ More blogging besties: Merrick, Amanda, and lovely Mara. One of the things I genuinely felt so impressed with was how sweet and down to earth everyone was. I really didn’t encounter practically any egos – just super nice, normal, cool girls. Pleasant surprise. ^
^ That time when for the last night of the conference, they threw a party on a bridge in Dallas. As in they closed down the bridge for our party. And there were fireworks. It was epic. ^
^ They gave us selfie sticks, so we obvi had to try it out. Y’all know how I feel about selfies – of myself and secretly usually of others (loathe, haha) – but I don’t mind a groupie one bit! ^
^ Really, really loved this girl so much. Finding a friend in this blogging game who you can serrrrrrriously relate to in your outlook and approach – it helps so much! Thankful to have found Ms. Amanda.
^ Best part of the trip was coming home from it, to this snuggly bear. ^
Biggest Personal Takeaways:
- Have a strategy. We all have constraints and demands on our time, and that’s exactly why the time we DO spend on our blogs needs to be strategic and meaningful. Right? I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve spent way too much time spinning my wheels without seeing a lot of movement. And I think the biggest reason for that feeling of stagnance is the absence of a plan or a strategy. I’m in the process right now of identifying what that is for my blog – and I’m trying to be very realistic about what I can commit myself to given my current bandwidth (new mom with a full time job + also trying to keep a blog afloat. Yikes.). Whatever that plan ends up being, it will for sure incorporate lots of the things I’m sharing with you below.
- Better photos. Better photos, better photos, better photos. It matters, and it’s time for me to step it up. I’m on the hunt for a professional photographer that I can work with consistently, and I’m ready to bite the bullet and invest a little more time and effort (and I guess $ within reason) to get better pics for the blog. Wish me luck on that front!
- A posting schedule. This is a huge part of the whole ‘having a strategy’ thing. But I’ve learned over and over (including having it reiterated at this conference) that a predictable posting schedule, where you’re posting on the same days at the same times, is important. Yeah, clearly I’m not doing this one yet, but I hope to be soon!
- Determine your Why and remember your Why. Why did you start blogging? Why are you blogging now? What’s your real reason for doing this? I am working on this one you guys – trying to dig deep and find real, emotionally connected answers to those questions for myself and my blog. One of the aspects of blogging that I don’t love, if I can be totally honest, is the ‘rat race’ aspect of it. I don’t know if you’ve ever struggled with this, but I find that it can be so easy to become completely sucked in and overly focused on the numbers and the progress and the growth (or lack thereof). And usually, the gauge on how you’re doing with all of that ends up being determined by the worst thing possible – comparing yourself. The propensity for comparisons and subsequent discouragement and frustration and demoralization is so high in this biz – amiright? Can anyone relate? And it’s so dangerous because when you’re comparing yourself, you always lose. There will always be someone above you, someone ahead, someone who grew faster or passed you up or has the inside connections you wish you had or knows the peeps you wish you knew, or just got real lucky where you didn’t… whatever. When I feel myself drifting into that dark, completely pointless abyss, it becomes absolutely necessary to take a step back and remind yourself why the H you’re doing this in the first place. My husband is teaching me more about how to determine your why. He says that it has to be something deep, that effects you on an emotional level. It has to be something that gets you up in the morning, that pulls you through the slow and challenging times, that puts a fire in your belly. Or at least something that grounds you when you’re off on a ‘I suck compared to everyone else’ tangent. Cuz the numbers were never what really mattered to us, right? That’s not why any of us starts their blog – amiright? And numbers and money – those aren’t the things that get us up in the morning. It’s something deeper than that. So figure out what that thing is, write it down, hang it on the wall, and remind yourself that that’s the reason you’re blogging. (Another things that helps when you’re a Discouraged Diana about your blog: tune out for a little bit. Take a break from looking at other people’s blogs or Instagram, and just focus on what you do and what brings you joy in what you do on your blog. Sometimes based on how I’m feeling, I know I’m just not in an emotionally safe place to go looking at what everyone else is doing in the blogosphere. So don’t! Tuning out when you need to is a super healthy thing to do, I think.)
- BIGGEST TAKEAWAY OF ALL: We can do this, you guys. Seriously though – there was something about being at that conference and seeing all of the different bloggers in attendance. Sure there were plenty of similarities, but there were so many differences too and such a wide range of representation there. It made me realize that the common denominators contributing to blog success are much less about the things we have little control over (how pretty I am (woof), how expensive my stuff is (woof), whether my style fits some cookie cutter ‘mold’ (woof)) and so much more about things that we can actually influence (how strategic you are with your blog, quality of your content and images, how hard you work, etc). Huzzah! It was a major eye-opener for me and so, so motivating. Whatever your blog goals may be, I am here to tell you that you can do it! I can do it! We can do this guys! (ok Shanaynay – chill out with the cheesiness maybe? Oh yeah – and maybe don’t make your readers feel weird by referring to yourself in the third person as ‘Shanaynay’. It’s just uncomfortable for everyone.)
Ok, so now on to the good stuff. None of this will be new – you’ve probably heard all of it before – and please forgive how randomly and haphazardly this is listed (no particular order at all). BUT, it’s nice to be reminded once in awhile of what matters and what activities will actually move the needle. Here’s a good case in point – 99% of this stuff was info I’d already read or heard before from somewhere, but there are several things from these lists that I am not currently doing. So what you know doesn’t always translate to what you’re doing, and that’s what I’m trying to actively change.
- Know what your goals are! That way, you can know that you’re doing the right things to get there.
- Track your stats. I’m talking blog traffic, visitor behavior, email list subscribers, affiliate event traffic, blog comments, feedback, conversion rates (to whatever it is you’re wanting to track conversion of), etc.
- Content is king! Define your niche/target audience and produce original, amazing content for that audience.
- Make sure you have a ‘related posts’ feature at the bottom of each post.
- Link within your post to other posts of yours. Try for a minimum of one link from each post.
- Link to evergreen content (meaning content that is always relevant). Linking to your own posts that you KNOW are the best because people have engaged the most there is a must-do.
- Make sure you have a profile pic in your side bar.
- On your ABOUT PAGE: Talk about what VALUE you’re going to provide the reader. The FIRST thing you’re going to want to write is what you’re going to do for the reader. (yeah I need to apply this one)
- Consider creating a VIDEO for your About Page (example here). Talk about what people will find on your blog and what value you’ll add. Also give them a tour of your site.
- Create a pop-up to have people subscribe to your site that appears when someone either lands on the site or is leaving the site. (yeah I need to do this one too).
- Truncate your posts with ‘Read More’ button. It increases your blog traffic AND it actually tells you what your readers are wanting to read (via your stats). (my site designer is working on this one as we speak. Eeek! So many things…)
- Check your blog’s page speed. It matters! Use http://tools.pingdom.com/FPT/. Goal is to have it be in the low seconds.
- To improve your page speed:
- Use a cache plugin (Example: Quick Cash Pro on WordPress… caches your site automatically)
- Use a CDN (MAX CDN). This serves your website up from the closest server to your reader and speeds everything up.
- Instagram gets 58 times higher engagement than Facebook. So focus on Instagram peeps! (You can follow me on Instagram HERE. Shameless plug, haha. I’m annoying.)
- Use Iconosquare. Go to the Optimization tab. This tab will show you lots of things, but most importantly when the best times are for you to post based on when your engagement is the highest. Aim to post at these times!
- Most important thing: Quality of your pics. Make them good. And focus on quality over quantity peeps. This is something I’ve had to strong arm myself into believing. Seriously though – if it ain’t great, don’t post it. That’s what I try to tell myself. And the goal obvi is to get to where you’re able to do both – quality and quantity.
- Regarding quantity though, for the record I’d never post more often than within two hours of each other. Overdoing it IS a thing. Don’t be that guy. You’ll know if you are because you’ll start to see those ‘Unfollows’ on Iconosquare sky rocket up. Not a good feeling.
- Use the Afterlight app to edit your Insta pics. I use Afterlight and then add the same filter (at different strengths depending on the picture) every time to try to brand my Instagram pics as much as possible. I use the Vsco Cam app for my filters and I use the HB1 filter… I think it’s one you have to purchase but it’s cheap. But find what works for you and try to brand your images, so that for the most part, they all have a certain look. I’m still working on this one but I think my pics have come a long way since using those two apps.
- Captions that receive @ mentions in the caption receive WAY more engagement.
- Adding location results in 79% more engagement (Weird right? This one surprised me. Be careful with this though! Creepers be creepin’.)
- To monetize, use liketoknow.it. (If you want more info on the liketoknow.it app you guys – email me. Happy to explain further).
- Top performers post an average of 39 LTK posts per month, and make about 89% of their posts LTK posts.
- Tell the price of the things you’re wearing
- Include instructional verbiage regarding how to use the Liketoknow.It app.
Ok you guys – tell me your thoughts! Did anyone actually read this monster of a post? Was it too hairy/long and not formatted in an easily digestible way? Was this helpful to anyone? Give me some honest feedback so that I can make Part 2 more helpful for you. Part 2 will be on site design (major) and a handful of other gems I learned or was reminded of during the conference. Mmmmmk?!
Have a Fab Friday!
Thanks so much for reading. xo