Archive for Bloggy Boot Camp

Blog Tips from Bloggy Boot Camp 2011

Last June, I attended Bloggy Boot Camp in Seattle. I meant to recap my experience at the one-day event shortly after I returned, but I was newly pregnant and not feeling well, and then the months slipped by. I’m almost seven months pregnant now and still not feeling well, but I need to clean off my desk, so I’m finally sharing some of my notes.

One of the many things I loved about Bloggy Boot Camp was the assigned seating. Every couple of hours or so we’d get up and move to a new table, which allowed participants to exchange business cards and meet new people. Of course, I failed to bring even one of my several hundred business cards to hand out, but I collected some great ones.

Among the standouts were cards from moms who host live chats, family historians, PartyLite reps, a gal whose business is to give you her two cents “when an honest opinion matters,” a celebration planner, a Stampin’ Up rep, an electronics blogger, beauty consultant, herbal philosophy expert, ceramics maker, social media consultant, retail therapy coach, and a handful of good old-fashioned “mommy blogs.”

One card that made everyone laugh was from “The Worst Mother in the World” with a tag that read “Breaking Promises, Shattering Dreams…It’s What I Do.”

There were some cool prizes given away at the event, including miniature video recorders by Sony (Sony also sponsored the lunch we had in the hotel ballroom). Mirassou Winery sponsored the wine tasting party that evening (which, to my regret, I had to miss due to my surprising developing fetus!).

Each participant also received a generous bag filled with items to take home like ice cream scoops, measuring cups, bags of chips, and several other products which now I can’t remember!

Bloggy Boot Camp presented workshops on various aspects of blogging, including:

  • Growing a Lifestyle Blog by Jenny Ingram
  • Six Essential Things Every Blogger Must Know About Monetizing a Blog, Or How to Write Pitches That Work by Carol Schiller
  • The Writer’s Voice by DeNae Handy
  • Business of Blogging
  • Writer’s Workshop by DeNae Handy and Kathy Bouska
  • Taming Time: Creating Calm from Chaos by Marilynn Schotland

Learning about a variety of topics related to the exciting subject of blogging was interesting, even the topics that didn’t apply to me, like finding sponsors and monetizing your blog. There was such a wide array of bloggers at the event that getting a feel for everyone’s process and goals was intriguing.

The following is a recap from some of the seminars I attended (copied directly from my handwritten notes). As always, if something isn’t clear, leave me a comment and I’ll find the answer.


Growing a Lifestyle Blog by “Jenny on the Spot” Jenny Ingram

Don’t clutter your blog with badge after badge, flashing this and that.

Keep an eye on your blog statistics: What posts get the most traffic? Which get the most comments? Evaluate feed back. What are the search words people use to find you?

Use Google analytics.

Don’t obsess over your stats.

You have thirty seconds to grab someone.

No fuzzy iPhone pictures.

Create a “Like” page for your blog on Facebook.

Use Linked In.

Interact with and engage people on Twitter and Facebook.

Look at your badges and socials every three to six months.

Refresh your bio.

Remember your first love. Your creativity and your voice are most important.

Remember why you started your blog in the first place…sharing, passion.

Jenny’s Blog Peeves:

Auto play music.

Centered text.

Large paragraphs.

Busy sidebars.

Over-posting pictures of your own children.

Text everywhere.

Hard to find social media buttons and info.

Video Blogging (Vlogging) Tips:


Sound (are there kids, birds, dump trucks making noise?).

Background (no portable potties behind you!).

Short clips.

Be you.

Tips from Tiffany Romero

Don’t change your voice monthly.

Be who you are, be it every day.

Be kind.

Put your best foot forward.

Fake it ’til you make it.

Don’t make Twitter all about your own self promotion and your own blog posts.

The Writer’s Voice by DeNae Handy

What is voice?

A family blog is the most enduring (Jen’s note: the word was either enduring or endearing, I wasn’t sure which one.)

Your story is worth telling and worth being heard.

Writer’s voice is evident in the choices of language, tone, mood, cadence, rhythm, range, and structure. It’s what makes your writing uniquely “you.”

Big difference between critique and criticism.

Make sure there are no stumbling blocks between you and your reader.

If it sounds like “writing” then rewrite it.

Make sure your writer’s bio matches your content.

Everyone has a voice.

Everyone has something to say.

Everyone deserves the chance to say it.

No one can do it alone.

Find your voice and let your writing sing.

There are tens of millions of blogs, but only thousands are well written.

You have seven seconds to grab someone’s attention and keep it.

What story are you really telling?

What am I really trying to talk about?

What’s my end game?

No pressure.

Don’t compare yourself.

Be mindful of what people are searching for and what hot topics are.

If you can’t tell your story in 750 words, break it up into multiple posts.

Readers will give eight minutes of their attention to your blog posts. You only have seven seconds to capture their attention to begin with.

Give them a reason to go deeper into the site.

Don’t let your blog become obligatory or arduous.

Writing Encouragement by DeNae Handy via Bloggy Boot Camp

“A family blog is the most enduring. Your story is worth telling and worth being heard. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has something to say. Everyone deserves the chance to say it. No one can do it alone. Find your voice and let your writing sing!”

DeNae Handy, from her writing seminars at Bloggy Boot Camp.

Writing Critiques are SO SUBJECTIVE!

Writing and critiques are so subjective. I think that is the hardest thing about opening your work up to others; you NEVER know what you are going to get back, what the reader is looking for, or what he or she will respond to. To be honest, I hate this part about being a writer.

I have one long project I’ve been picking away at for several years. The feedback on it is always on one end or the other. Love it or hate it. Get it or don’t get it. Comments that are useful, comments that are ridiculous. I’ve experienced that in person, online, and through the mail. Instructors, fellow writers, published writers, unpublished writers, agents, editors. Everyone reads differently and everyone responds differently. It’s hard navigating through the extremes…at least it is for me!

For example. I received two critiques in the mail today. One loved my work and writing, gave me high scores on a variety of topics (scene, summary, characterization, plot, etc…). That person gave me a score of 90 out of 100. Sweet! But then I opened the second critique. That person didn’t care for my work and gave me lukewarm marks. Didn’t like my characters, didn’t care about them (he even wrote that!), said I had no plot, and a few other niceties. He gave me a 54 out of 100.

So what is a writer to do with THAT? Two critiques. Apples and oranges in response. Ugh. I’ve loved writing from the time I learned how, and I feel lucky to have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. But this is the part of the game I just can’t stand!

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…

A few months ago, a bloggy friend of mine (Not Just Another Jen) wrote about her experience at a Bloggy Boot Camp in California and encouraged fellow bloggers to attend a camp if they had the chance. (She also mentioned that the gift bag attendees received at the end of the camp was rather amazing.) Apparently, even after four solid years of blogging, I was living under a rock because I hadn’t heard of Bloggy Boot Camp before. I immediately looked it up and was happy to discover boot camp was coming to a city nearby. Lucky, because they only go to six major cities per year! I signed up right away.

I learned quite a bit and took lots of notes, some of which I’ll share in a separate post. One thing I liked was that seating was assigned, and we changed seats about every hour or so. This gave everyone many opportunities to meet fellow bloggers and exchange business cards. For some reason I left home without even a handful of my own hundreds of business cards from my desk drawer, so I was disappointed about that. What an extraordinary opportunity I missed to network in that way!

Some of the topics covered were Growing a Lifestyle Blog, Things Every Blogger Must Know About Monetizing a Blog, How to Write Pitches that Work, The Writer’s Voice, Business of Blogging, Taming Time: Creating Calm From Chaos, and several others. We wore badges with our name, blog, and Twitter handle displayed, ate a great lunch on the top floor of the hotel, and left with a gift bag that included an ice cream scoop, measuring cup, serving spoon, wine bottle opener, chips, and other little things.

More to come on that. Off now to lick my wounds and wonder how on earth I could receive a 90 from one critic and a 54 from a second, both of whom read the exact same work. Nice!

Bloggy Boot Camp is Finally Here!

I’m excited that the weekend of Bloggy Boot Camp has finally arrived. I registered for the event several months ago after a blogger I admire raved about her experience at the San Francisco boot camp. Bloggy Boot Camp only goes to six major cities per year, so I was pleased to discover it was coming somewhere nearby.

I’ve got my hotel reservations and I just can’t wait to get to the hotel and kick back in the room. Aaaah. No cleaning, no cooking, nobody calling my name. Just me, chillin’ with the television and a book on an overstuffed down bed. Of course, the bliss will last for about ten minutes before I start feeling weird that I don’t have any little ones or dogs with me, and I start pacing and wondering what I should do next.

I have no idea what insights and things about blogging that I’ll learn at the boot camp, but I’m sure looking forward to the experience. On top of it all, the sun is finally supposed arrive in the gloomy Puget Sound, so when I return I hope I’m welcomed by sunshine.

I’ve been glued to the television all week, which is not like me at all. I’ve spent the past eight days closely watching the Casey Anthony trial out of Florida. Like millions of other people, I find the entire case mind-boggling, and it’s incredible to watch now that the trial is finally happening. My Eva was born only four months after the allegedly murdered Caylee Anthony, so the case hit a spot with me. I feel terrible for the entire family, especially the grandparents. In my opinion, Twitter and HLN has had the best coverage of the trial so far, and it’s supposed to last another few weeks.

On a lighter note, here are some fun Plinky prompts I’ve been thinking about.

1. Name your favorite type of cookie. I don’t really care for cookies, actually. If I do eat cookies I like chocolate chip, slightly undercooked and soft. I don’t like crispy chocolate chip cookies.

2. What are you saving up for? Well, I don’t have money coming in so I’m not technically saving for anything, but as a household we are planning for another trip to Hawaii next year, so we are saving our credit card miles and making sure we set aside play money. I think we’re selling one of our trucks and buying an SUV as well, so we’re setting aside money for that.

3. Describe the worst flight you’ve ever taken. The worst (scariest) flight was on a small plane coming home from the Edmonton mall in Canada. It was stormy, the plane was shaking, the turbulence was awful, and we dropped several feet repeatedly throughout the entire flight. The jolting was nerve-wracking and I was terrified.

4. What are you indecisive about? Books. I never know which one, or which topic, to read when I have a moment to sit. Parenting? Memoir? Fiction? Books on writing? Self improvement? Diet? Spirituality?

5. Schools out! Share a graduation story. Last week I watched Eva graduate from preschool. So precious. I walked into the living room of her in-home preschool and almost cried when I saw Eva and all of her little friends sitting in a semi-circle of chairs with homemade graduation caps on their heads. They all looked so sweet and proud and excited. Teacher Sara said a few words about each graduate, presented them with diplomas, and made a notebook of their work for the year which included a personal letter to each child. She said she enjoyed Eva’s funny comments, her interesting questions, and couldn’t wait to see how Eva’s flair for art and color would continue to develop in the future.I was so proud of my first-born baby girl!!

We did it!

Post Grad Cupcakes

Eva and her BFF, Ke'ala

(By the way, does anyone know when the iPhone 5 is coming out? It was supposed to be June. I’ve been waiting and waiting! I can’t wait to upgrade my iPhone’s picture and video quality!)