Sunday, June 12, 2011

Top five blogging boot camp pointers

Last weekend, I attended a Bloggy Boot Camp put on by the SITS Girls. The camps are ostensibly aimed at teaching women how to blog and better-use social media.

Having passed my five year blog-iversary last fall, I'm clear on the mechanics. But as evidenced by the dearth of entries over the last year compared to previous years, I could use some inspiration and ideas on keeping the ideas flowing, finding creating time between work, home and volunteer duties, and making the content worth the effort, for me and readers.

So this event offered some great tips to either get started blogging or blog more effectively, and how to leverage  social media, branding, and other tools, especially for those interested in monetizing their online efforts.

Best of all, the small number of participants (about 100-125) made it really intimate. Intimate as in small, not as in those team building events that begin with an ice breaker like, "Think of your deepest, darkest secret...Now whisper it to your neighbor..."

So herewith, some of the great tips I gleaned during the time I was able to spend at the event.
  1. The first is more relevant to my own experience of not being able to be fully present this year: spend the time to revel in the event. The organizers Tiffany Romero (hilarious) and Francesca Banducci (lovely and uber-organized) do a great job of making the whole experience very inclusive and low-impact. For example, seating is assigned during most of the day, so you don't have to worry about reliving some mean girl scenario from middle school/high school/college/professional career where the cool kids are staring at you from their table and you think it would just be easier to go sit by your locker and study until the next period. What? Just me? Okay. Moving on. Nothing to see here.
  2. Because you rotate to new groups of cool women (and the occasional man) all day, trading names, Twitter handles, business cards, and knowing nods at particularly resonant bits of advice from the speakers, bring cards. Even if you don't have a business, you'll want to be able to look up the other folks there afterwards or make it easy for others to connect with you. I arrived and realized I only had out-of-date business cards with my pre-promotion title and out-of-date personal cards that lacked my Twitter handle (@NatashaJ), web address and LinkedIn address. If you're not sure what you're going to do yet online, you can still just get 50-75 basic, inexpensive cards at Fedex Office (formerly Fedex Kinkos), Costco, or any number of local retailers, many of whom can do it in an hour or two in a pinch.
  3. Share: your story, your advice, your questions, your enjoyment. If something resonates with you, say so. If the speakers say something that raises a question in your mind, say so. It's a very inclusive event and there are clearly folks attending who have learned a thing or twenty about this online stuff, even if they're not presenting. Even you. By sharing, you help others advance from wherever they are at the moment and encourage those who may have the same question or comment but not be as comfortable speaking in a group as you.
  4. You don't have to be the next online super star, unless you want to. Social media is about community. If you just want to write and maybe build relationships with others who like vintage cameras, automotive repair, crafts, or whatever floats your particular boat.
  5. Give encouragement. Nearly every speaker that I heard during my short stint there confessed to being nervous speaking to the group. Smart, creative, business-running, job-rockin', household managin', got their stuff in one bag with a label on it and a hashtag social media gurus, and they were nervous. So when you go (you've gotta get to one if you can), give encouragement and kudos to the speakers, the organizers, the other folks you meet for being there and sharing their time and knowledge.
There were lots of interesting folks there and many have also written lovely lists, compilations,r eviews and fyi's about the event, including Northwest Mommy, And Then She SnappedThrough the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, MeAndMine, Heligirl, and others. Read them, blog-stalk them, enjoy and revel in their talent with words, pictures and video. They rock and you're welcome. ;-)

Interested in attending a Bloggy Boot Camp yourself? Check them out:


  1. What a great list Natasha! I love your list. I think having those amazing together ladies feeling a little nervous in front of us made for a more inclusive group. It was magical realizing how many of us were all in the same boat. Didn't you just wish it was two days so we could all get to know each other even more?

  2. I was wondering what actually happened at Bloggy Boot Camp! They're offering one in Denver, so I'm thinking about going. Great advice about having business cards - I never would have thought of that.

    How did people dress for this event?

  3. Heligirl: Two days would be great! Or a dinner or happy hour event. I don't drink so the post-event wine tasting wasn't on my to-do list, but I would have loved to nosh and have other beverage options over which to chat and hang out with folks. It was hard to power-network on the breaks or at the tables because the speakers were so good you didn't want to talk amongst yourselves and miss something great.

  4. Camden: Lucky you that there's one in Denver! I think the info, speakers, contacts and swag were totally worth the price. Most folks were dressed in what I'd characterize as "Snappy Casual," which may have more to do with this being the Pacific Northwest than the requirements of the event.

    I think I read a comment by an attendee in another city leading up to the event that there are lots of pictures taken with other attendees and at the meals and activities, so wear something you won't be embarrased to A) meet people you like in, B) be photographed in or C) have posted on your or other websites afterwards.

    I also saw advice to layer, which was helpful because hotel meeting rooms are notoriously unpredictable temperature-wise. It was 75 degrees here that day, so I had on a stretch cotton skirt, thin t-shirt, argyle cardigan and dressy sandals and felt very appropriately attired.

    Check out pictures from past BBCs to get an idea, like these on Flickr: bootcamp seattle or

    I hope you go and enjoy it. I found it very useful and met several fun, interesting people, even though I couldn't immerse myself the way I would have liked.

  5. Natasha,
    Thanks for the feedback on how to dress for Bloggy Boot Camp (am I the only one who gets so stressed over these things?)

    Never thought about wearing something I wouldn't mind being photographed in...and great idea to dress in layers.

    Thanks for your help!

    I'm glad you found it worth the money - that was a huge question I had!