Monday, September 12, 2011

What I Learned at the Utah Bloggers Summit

This post has been a long time in getting written.  On June 28th, I was able to attend the 2011 Utah Bloggers Summit. It was held at Le Chateau in Provo and the dinner was provided by Utah Celebrations Catering.

 Being a blogger who is mostly focused on online selling definitely sets me apart from most of the other bloggers I meet up with.  I seem to be stuck between a crafts blogger and a business blogger and don't always fit in terribly well.  Because I write for four different blogs (this one, my personal one, one for my employer, and one for the Women's Business Network), I try to absorb what information I can and relate it to each of those blogs.

Male bloggers - yes, they even exist in Utah
The topics for the Bloggers Summit were Social Media, PR & Media Kits, SEO, Being Media Ready, and Working with Brands.  I found all of the topics incredibly helpful to me as a blogger, but I wanted to mention a few things I feel will help my fellow online sellers.  

If you don't have a blog for your online business, you're missing out on some opportunities.  Linking to your shop from your blog can improve how you show up in searches - improve your SEO.

SEO is search engine optimization and it's the big thing people are talking about lately. It used to confuse me, but I've learned that everyone has their own opinion on it.  SEO is your strategy for appearing higher in those crucial Internet searches.  What I've learned at the most basic level is
  • Decide which keywords you want to rank higher for and make sure they're not too vague.  If I go for terms like "tatting" or "Native American jewelry," there will be thousands of other sites to compete with and it's unlikely a searcher will find me.  Instead, I should try things like "modern tatted jewelry" or "modern unique Native American jewelry" that include some more specific terms.
  • Use those important keywords wherever you can. Incorporate those terms into what you name your photos. Don't leave your photos with the image number the camera gave it. Rename your photos with descriptive terms that can be picked up by the search engines. Blogging is another place where using your keywords will pay off.  Including them in the title of a blog post will help even more. Instead of "My latest creation," try "New tatted necklace with beads has a modern twist."  
  • If you don't have a blog, make sure you're including your best keywords in your product descriptions.  Etsy has been working to get Google to recognize individual Etsy shops rather than lumping them together like they used to.  I've seen shops that put a little paragraph at the bottom of each listing that essentially promotes their business.  
In the discussions about public relations and working with the media, I learned a few important "commandments."
  • Know thy self - be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and work with/around them as you connect with others
  • Know thy stuff - be able to succinctly describe your product offerings and what differentiates you from the competition
  • Awesome food by Utah Celebrations Catering
  • Be prepared - have information about you, your products, how people can purchase from you, how to contact you, etc. on hand and make sure you're able to handle the increased business any attention might bring

Round table discussion with the Creative Bloggers
What I enjoy about events like these is the opportunity to socialize and get to know others. The Utah Bloggers Summit is especially helpful since I can meet locals.  Even though the round table discussion didn't help me much with this blog, the basic advice given by more veteran bloggers applies to everyone - Be Yourself.  People really do feel your sincerity and want to connect with the real you.

Enough with the advice - we had tons of fun, too.  Le Chateau is absolutely beautiful and the perfect little spot for special events. It's a treasure I didn't know we had in Provo.
Hairdos by Metropolitan Salon

Fun photos with help from 'stache IN A BOX
Metropolitan Salon did some fun hairdos and then 'stache IN A BOX provided silly accessories (especially mustaches) so we could have a zany photo session.

Even though we had already eaten plenty of awesome food, the adorable cupcakes by Cupcake Chic were irresistible.  They were almost too cute to eat, but I managed to overcome that pretty fast. Yummy!
Yummy desserts by Cupcake Chic

I was excited to find one of the other bloggers wearing these beautiful beaded moccasins.  They were a family gift and very precious to her. The best part was that she's worn them so much that the seams are coming apart at the sides.  We see that at powwows a lot and duct tape is the repair method of choice most of the time.  Hard to say what was cooler - meeting another blogger with cool moccasins or the fact that she'd wear them with her regular clothes.

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