2011 Central Florida Blogger Conference

The convention I attended while in Orlando was the Central Florida Blogger Conference. I went to this convention looking at it with two different perspectives. First, I was there to connect with local Floridian bloggers on behalf of clients and secondly I was there to see what the rest of the world is saying about social media outside of the Mashable sphere.

Someone caught a shot of me deep in thought

The conference was designed to cover to audiences, the n00b blogger who was still debating Blogger vs WordPress to the professional and marketing audience. I didn’t attend any of the introductory sessions seeing as I have been blogging since 2001 and that I do this sort of work for a living.

The speaker selection was done keeping in the central Florida theme as I’m pretty sure each came from the area. Not only did this cut down on costs, it provided the visitors to the conference a more realistic scope of possibility and networking. That being said, I found almost all the topics to be much more elementary and top level than what would be beneficial to me.

Sketch artist captures the conference keynote

More often than not, I was providing asides, alternatives or more efficient/economical solutions to bloggers’ problems. At each table and each session, people gathered around me to ask my opinion, to repeat what I suggested to the speaker during the question and answer period and even to drop me their business card.

I was called a “Social Media Guru” in a bit on National Public Radio last year, a title I lament. Calling yourself an expert, guru, ninja or sansei in a field of marketing that is constantly changing is ridiculous. Never will I call myself any of those things, and if for some reason I do, please refer me to this post.

Pleasantly, only one person was referred to as a “ninja” during the entire conference. That is still one too many but far fewer than I expected.

All that being said, it is clear that there are still people, organizations and companies out there that lack the education on what social media is, what it isn’t and how it will or will not work for them. Luckily for them there are people like me who are more than happy to teach them the right way to do things.

That is the audience this conference was aimed at, those getting into blogging and social media. The amount of information gleaned by n00bs at this conference was pretty immense and invaluable. I just hope they listened carefully and took notes!

Nevertheless, the conference didn’t provide me with too much new education but I did leave with a few memory joggers, friendly reminders and suggestions. I’ll share them with you right here.

  • Don’t just talk about what you want to do, do it
  • Content is king but only when you’re able to match quality with quantity
  • Every blog needs a media page with a digital press kit
  • Fiverr.com is an awesome resource for cheap help
  • SWAG (stuff we all get) is 50% of the time SWAL (stuff we all lament)

The best part of the convention was easily the people I met, especially those that I met in my last session which was aimed at marketing, public relations and advertising professionals. We were given the opportunity to have totally open and honest dialog with not only other professionals but the bloggers we want to work with. Both parties understanding the needs and abilities of the each other is essential in a successful partnership.

Also, hear the food was terrific.

Big Wheel Truck catered the event

I look forward to my next blogger/social media conference now that I have this one under my belt. While I have presented at similar types of venues, I have never been an audience member, as surprising as that is for me.

Would I recommend the Central Florida Blogger Conference to a blogger or someone new to the world of social media? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to someone who has already accomplished quite a bit in this industry? Probably not, unless there are a few more workshops for people like me. Luckily, next year there should be more for people like me and those who went to the conference last year.

From the conversations we had at my last session, which was directed at marketing and PR people, the convention will continue to grow and become more advanced in the future. It will grow with its audience which is great..

Perhaps the follow-up mixer would make everything copacetic. Alcohol and networking go hand in hand you know!

I Want

I want to: graduate from college

I want to think: for myself

I want to learn: French well enough to bring Ryan through France

I want to see: my kids (that don’t yet exist) grow up healthy and happy

I want to try: to be that guy that everyone knows they can rely on

I want to tell: my family just how much I love Ryan

I want to touch: myself

I want to smell: good, even after working out in the 104*F heat

I want to feel: comfortable in my own skin

I want to stop: wasting my time, mind and money

I want to let go of: the past

Zemanta Pixie

I Wanna Be Popular

I began blogging back in 2002 using the site Xanga.  I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and the community behind it was pretty great.  I even paid the $25/yr to get Xanga Premium, and paid for a few friends just to keep them blogging.  It was a pretty sad state, in high school and into college and stuck on Xanga.

It wasn’t long into my college career that I decided to make the move to something a little more powerful.  MoveableType was the answer to my prayers.  For the first time, I was in control of what I wrote, how it was presented and I didn’t even have to pay for it.  I had tried LiveJournal (yuck) and Blogger (not bad but kinda boring) but there was something about another company potentially owning my material, or being able to shut me down, that bothered me.

As I began to grow my blog and needed more flexibility, and when TypePad started to want to charge me for features I used to get for free, I began another search for a great blogging platform.  That is when I was introduced to WordPress, which had only recently changed from b2.

Moving my site over from MoveableType was supposed to be really easy but I was new to the whole MySQL thing and, well I deleted most of my posts, possibly all of them.

Back when my blog first started, I was afraid of people reading it.  Now, my friends and dorm mates all knew the address and read the blog, but anyone outside of that; well that made me quite nervous.  My father had recently gotten a new job in a high position with a boss would was very much against homosexuality and if they found my blog, he could lose his job.  Or so my brother convinced me.

Heck, my family didn’t know I was gay, I wasn’t really out to them; and that’s even a little iffy these days.  But I was terrified that a professor or a family member would find the site and I’d be done with.  So I kept the blog as a subdomain of my main site, Soundwise.  I haven’t updated Soundwise since, oops.

It wasn’t until I moved to California that I felt comfortable with a blog that had its very own domain, and it even had my name in it.  But that was the trick, if someone asked me, “I hear you have a site/blog, what’s the address?”

I would simply respond, “Oh, yes!  The address is really simple, it’s just justin dot com.”

They would go, “awesome, I’ll have to check that out”

Clickity clackity, www.justin.com

Booyah, tricked.  Now, if I wanted them to make it to my site I’d just say, “Oh yeah! just go to www.itsjustjustin.com

Now-a-days I don’t worry so much.  I am more or less completely out to my family and no longer have skeletons in my closet to worry about.  I have made myself public and in many ways that is incredibly freeing.

Not only have I found a way to release stress and tell a story; I’ve found a new way to making friends.  In the past two months I have made so many incredible friends through blogging and through one guy in particular, Jester from Jestertunes.com.

Here’s a quick list of bloggers I have recently befriended or have been inspired by their site…

Winterheart/Sunlight Sucks
ToriBlaine
Jestertunes
UncleMonkeyBoy
Blogography
Down With Pants!
Socially Dead
Snackie’s World
SecondHand Tryptophan
Brainporn

I read these blogs regularly and so do a lot of other people it seems.  Snackiepoo seems to average 20-50+ comments on each of her blog posts, and that’s really nothing compared to some other bloggers who are getting hundreds of comments.

So what I’m here to find out is, how do they do this?  I don’t care about monetizing my blog, that would be awesome but I just like blogging.  I love to write and to post my photography out there and my thoughts on whatever comes to mind.  But it seems that my hiatus a while back where I stopped posting really hurt me, I’m down to 50-300 hits a day.  That’s too big of a range and only a comment or three per post?  How disappointing.

I get the most hits on nerd posts.  If I write about Apple or something totally nerdy, especially if I complain about something nerdy, hits galore.

Something personal, not terrible.

Photography… people love it but rarely comment (sad face)

Political (nothing, zero, zilch)

John Mayer Kissing Adam Levine CRAZINESS!  Tons of hits and comments

So what is the key?  What is it that makes people keep coming back and gets them to post comments?  I’d love some input, especially from the guys on my blogroll.

To me, blogging is like High School all over again, we are all battling to make it to the top and we don’t mind shitting on anyone in order to get there.  Well, I don’t care to be on the top, I just want to maybe make it up the bank of the mountain a bit; and I could use your help!

Much love,

Justin