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evo ’11 takeaway :: defining values, goals, and who i want to be

Through the sun roof

I heard so many great things while at evo ’11.  Like I’ve said, my brain is still swimming from all the info it received.  While I sat in The Business of Blogging, blogging my little heart out, I was struck with a thought and a challenge that I believe was from God.  I love how He guides us, even in the simplest of things like blogging.  As I listened to the speakers talk about working with brands and the actual business side of blogging, the question came, “Is this me?”  I would absolutely love for my blog to bring in some sort of income, but I felt challenged to look again at my values and goals.

I blog, because I love it, and it’s a creative outlet for me to write and showcase my photos.  I never want to lose that.  I also love the community of people that develops as you share and those with like minded interests emerge.  It reminds me of my strong value of relationship, and I want to keep that continually before me and not compromise who I am or my values for the sake of turning this blog into a money maker.

After sitting through the WordPress session, I do have plans to switch eventually (when I discover the perfect domain name).  I will continue to work with brands that complement my values (in fact, look for a giveaway coming next week).  I’ll follow blogs and twitterers (is that a word??) that have similar interests and values as myself.  I’ll be authentic and myself and look forward to seeing new blogging friends emerge from the depths of cyberspace. 

Tips

evo ’11 takeaway :: writing a good headline

In exchange for a conference pass, I did live blogging in some of the sessions at evo ’11.  Let me just say that writing the highlights, taking photos, tweeting, and facebooking during a session and having the post finished and saved in a draft, ready to be published, by the end of a session, left my head spinning.  I’ve had to refer to my posts a few times to remember what I thought were the highlights. 

Growing Your Blog game time! @babycenter #evoconf
we played a “writing a good headline” game and our table won!

I was very excited to attend the Growing Your Blog session led by BabyCenter.  When they reiterated what I heard in the SEO session on writing a good headline, I knew it was important and something I should be practicing.  Here are some pointers they gave for writing a good headline…

  • Be clear, not clever.
  • Keep it short and tight (5-7 words).
  • Use strong keywords and trending terms.
  • Force the click.
  • Use numbers but not too large (not beyond 10).
  • Ask a question.
  • Promise something.

I thought it was interesting that they’ve found that they keyword “review” gets twice as many hits as “reviews.”  They also said that “giveaway” in the headline rather than “free” generates more hits as well. 

They said that sometimes they will spend hours writing a headline.  I don’t have that kind of time to spend, but I have enjoyed practicing creativity in the headline, something I haven’t paid as much attention to in the past.  To read all my notes on the Growing Your Blog session, click here.

Tips

evo ’11 takeaway :: seo

Perhaps the session that most intrigued / educated me at evo ’11 was the one I attended on SEO.  By the way, SEO stands for search engine optimization.  In case anyone is still learning lingo…like me. 🙂  Dennis from The Next Corner did an excellent job of sharing how to improve SEO for your website. 

Love, love, love that we can enjoy reading together at the coffee shop!
this is about how i’ve felt as i’ve tried to absorb all this info!

These were the points that stood out to me…

  • What’s above the fold in newspapers?  Be mindful of this in constructing the layout of your posts. 
  • Editorial links are like gold.  Write excellent content for guest posts, do interviews.  Linking within the content of your post is much more valuable than sidebar linking.
  • The URL structure of your permalink is important.  The URL should include your post name.  Take out common words to make it more user friendly and take out the date.  If a URL has a date to it, the older posts often get pushed to the back of search engine results.
  • Don’t buy or sell links on your site.  This was really helpful for me because right before the conference I received an email regarding paying me to embed a relevant link within a post.  Doing this can cause your site to be flagged as spam thus damaging your optimization.
  • Construct your post title well.  Don’t have too long a title that it will get truncated.  I will be talking more about writing a good title or headline in another post.
  • Solve a problem that people are looking for on the internet.
  • Take advantage of image optimization.  Use the right keywords in your filename.  Avoid putting the actual place in your description because this can be flagged as spam.  Instead just describe the picture.
  • Beware of no follow links.  Although it’s great for a big website to link to your site, if it’s a no follow link, then you won’t get the impression credit for it which helps your optimization.  You have to decide what you’re willing to compromise.

These are a few snippets of a great session.  He mentioned Google Webmaster Tools as a great resource for SEO.  Also, all of his notes are on his website for easy reference.

Fun Tips

Shooting In Black And White

I’ll admit that shooting in black and white is a stretch for me.  My eyes are naturally drawn to color and the dramatic effects color creates.  Taking away the color forces me to look for other ways to take dramatic eye catching photos.  The other day I set my camera to B&W and set out to take non-color photos.  Looking for interesting textures and taking them from different angles brought me the dramatic results I wanted.

swings
fountain
post
weathered wood
casting shadow
leaves
no dumping allowed
made in usa
bread dough
These photos did go through the editing process.  I used Flickr with the Boost and Holga-ish effects.  Now back to color!

Tips

Summer Reading Programs

reading

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a sucker for fun, FREE things.  [Smile]  I came across this post on Today’s Mama, and I was SO excited!  Summer reading programs for kids?  Where kids are rewarded for their reading?  Fantastic!

Joshua just spent 3 weeks at summer school and his reading improved so much!  Not only that, but at this pace, we need new books!  This comes at just the right time to continue to have books for him to read and keep him interested.  We’re participating in 3 of the programs including…

DoubleDogDare
39 clues

feed your brain
Isn’t that fabulous!  But, moms, don’t worry if you don’t fall within the age requirements.  Check out this post I put together for ways to get free books!