What I Learned from BlogWorld Expo 2012 in NYC

Get in on BlogWorldExpo!It’s now been a week since I came back from attending the BlogWorld Expo in New York, and I’ve finally found a few minutes to write up what I learned. There’s a ton of information in my notes, so I’m going to share the highlights from a few of the sessions I attended. You could call it a Cliff’s Notes of BlogWorld!

There were many sessions that I would have liked to attend but couldn’t. Luckily, I have the virtual ticket so I can go back and listen to those. Some of the ones I missed were on podcasting and mobile marketing, both hot topics. Some of the main ones that I did manage to get into were on the following:

  • The 7 Deadly Social Media Sins
  • Broke, burnt out and busted
  • Affiliate marketing the smart way
  • Blog monetization methods
  • Podcasting for bloggers
  • Getting traffic through social triggers
  • Why everyone needs a membership site
  • How to create epic s**t

Since this is just a blog post and not an epic novel, I’m just going to share the key points I gleaned from each session.

The 7 Deadly Social Media Sins

Scott Stratten of Unmarketing kicked off the first session I was in, and he happened to be one of the funniest speakers of all. There’s some language I can’t share publicly, but suffice it to say that he likes to state things just like they are.  Here’s what he listed as the top social media sins that people commit (there were actually 8, but I think math is not his strongest suit):

  1. Automation.  Automated tweets on places like LinkedIn are like telling people you’re there, but that you won’t be answering them. Scott pointed out that tweets have a 5 minute lifespan, but they have the power of conversation so you can’t just automate them. He also described LinkedIn as the rolodex that wants to be a social site. I’m not sure that LinkedIn would be too happy with that.
  2. Apathy.  Scott said that apathy is social media’s biggest enemy since every great social site is driven by passion. As an example, he talked about how Whole Foods is using people passion for cooking and health to get discussions going on Pinterest. They pin images of kitchens and other things that their community is interest in.
  3. Pride. Honestly, I must have been distracted a little at this point since the only note I have about pride is that “in social, response is measured in minutes”. I’m not really sure how that relates to pride as a sin, but you can use your imagination.
  4. Sloth. The main point here is that you shouldn’t try to have a presence in social media without being present. If you don’t monitor your social account regularly, you should just delete it. There were two good reasons Scott gave for not using social media – you hate people, or you just don’t have the time.
  5. Greed. Scott gave the example of Fiverr as a symbol of greed, such as people paying to get thousands of followers. He said that there’s no short cut to being social and that it’s the engagement that matters. If you want to be great, create great content that will reach the third circle of contacts. Those are the people that are finding out about your content from people that are friends of your friends.
  6. Lust. There were a few great examples here from public figures who tweeted pictures that should never have seen the light of day. Scott suggested that someone create an app for twitter that says “You are highly intoxicated. Are you sure you want to send this?” I’m not sure how it’s going to test your blood alcohol, but the other solution is “friends don’t let friends tweet drunk”.
  7. Envy. One of the worst things you can do is RT yourself when someone compliments you. As Scott said, “that’s not social, that’s selfish”.
  8. Wrath. With this sin, he told a story about Papa John’s pizza and the viral outrage that happened when something rude was written about a customer on a receipt. It was a Saturday, so there was no one working who saw it or handled it. The point? “Outrage does not take the weekend off.”

 Broke, burnt out and busted

Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt ran a session that focused on what you can do to build a sustainable income when you’re at the end of your rope. Here are the key points I got out of that one:

  • A business is a solution to a specific, emotional problem that generates a profit
  • Your sweet spot is convergence of:
    • what you’re good at
    • what you’re passionate about
    • what people will pay for

In order to make the business successful, you need to figure out which medium will most help your customers solve their problems, which is not necessarily a blog. You also need to identify the medium that you are most talented or comfortable producing. But the most important part is to find your sweet spot and make it clear to all.

Affiliate Marketing the SMART Way

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income gave a great presentation on the right way to do affiliate marketing.  As the main part of the session, he discussed his Soft Pitch Pipeline that great affiliate marketers use:

  1. Relationships. The most important part is to build relationships. This takes time, but does happen if you focus on being personable, telling stories, and committing R.A.O.K.s (random actions of kindness).
  2. Products. Choose the products you promote carefully. Pick the wrong one and your whole relationship can be destroyed.
  3. Experience. It’s important to experience the product yourself not only for your own protection, but so that you can become the go-to resource and expert on the product and to get rid of any mystery surrounding the product itself. You can walk them through it.
  4. Proof. Show tangible proof of your experience with the product and results, such as a case study.
  5. The Sell. You still need to give a call to action and tell people what to do, but if you’ve done the previous steps then this won’t be a big decision.

Blog Monetization Overview

David Risley discussed the importance of providing a VFP (valuable final product) on your blog, whether it’s tangible or something like your readership. He went on to give an overview of 11 blog monetization methods:

  1. Ad networks (like Adsense and Chitika)
  2. Direct ad sales
  3. Affiliate marketing
  4. Infoproducts
  5. Membership programs
  6. Freelancing/coaching
  7. Speaking gigs
  8. Ecommerce (product sales)
  9. Paid posts (review.me is one source)
  10. Job boards
  11. Build and sell sites (Flippa.com)

Podcasting: Why Every Blogger Needs a Podcast

Pat Flynn, Derek Halpern and Katie Davis had a terrific panel discussion about podcasting for bloggers. This is a topic I’m completely new to and the only one I was able to attend at the conference. Here’s the key message I came away with, courtesy of Pat Flynn:
As writers, we like to write , but not everyone likes to read. With your voice, you can connect with those people in a powerful, emotional and impactful way.

You’ll also interact with more customers, become well known in your niche, improve your communication skills, get great emails, get more traffic, and gain greater confidence overall.

Generating Traffic Through Social Triggers

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers explained that most people don’t get enough traffic because they spend more time creating than promoting. He went on to share his favorite way of generating traffic – creating a controversy. Here’s what he does:

  1. Target a specific demographic, preferably people who haven’t heard your message before
  2. Put forth a controversial statement or some controversial research in front of them that is sure to have proponents on both sides and will create a debate.
  3. Get that information in front of them and let the debate begin.

Controversial topics are guaranteed to be shared, especially if they relate to a specific group of people. You can contact writers or other people in that group to tell them about the research you found and invite them to read your post. They’re going to share it with others, whether they agree or not.

8 Proven Membership Models

If you didn’t consider ever creating a membership site before, Stu McLaren of WishList Member did a session that would convince you. He stressed the benefits of having a recurring income each month that doesn’t rely on constantly chasing new customers, and also pointed out that there’s a membership model for everyone. Here are the 8 ones he covered.

  1. Publisher – providing new information each month, such as a magazine.
  2. UPS model – provide a package of content or product each month.
  3. Modular course – you can drip-feed a course one piece at a time, such as one module per week.
  4. Protected downloads – create a membership in which people have to pay to access different levels of content downloads
  5. Protected forums – these are forums which don’t contain content, but that you need to pay a monthly fee to access
  6. Private members area – another discussion site which you have to pay to join, but which also contains different resources that can help you
  7. Coaching site – these are designed for private coaching, with a private area for each member and general access to resources. It’s idea for 10 to 20 clients.
  8. Combo model – as the name suggests, it’s a combination of different models in which different levels of payment get you access to different areas on the site.

The Art of Writing Epic S**t

I saved this one for last since it’s so important to all of us. Corbett Barr of ThinkTraffic shared his strategies and thoughts on how to create epic content that blows people away and attracts crowds of readers. A few of his key points were:

  • Social media and SEO are useless without great content
  • The quality of your content will make or break your business
  • There are 3 steps to creating epic content:

1. Cultivate your creativity.  Work on closing the gap between what your content is and what you want it to be. Talent isn’t bestowed upon us, it’s earned.

2. Deliberate practice. Challenge yourself every day and get out of your comfort zone. Creativity comes from crazy experiments.

3. Remix popular content. Creativity doesn’t mean doing something completely new that hasn’t been done before. It’s the ability to tap into combined wisdom and recombine them into new ideas

Corbett’s parting message was that creating epic content isn’t a heroic effort. It requires deliberate practice and the willingness to experiment wildly and fail. But it’s worth the effort since SEO and social media fads come and go but great content is always in style.

And that’s a wrap! There’s a lot more that I learned, but these should give you a good taste. I particularly wish I’d been able to listen to more about podcasting and mobile marketing, but that’s what the virtual ticket was for.  Otherwise, the next Blogworld will be in Las Vegas next January.

My next stop will by NAMS8 in Atlanta, which is more of a working conference where I’ll get hand-on learning and networking opportunities. You can read about it by clicking on the link below:

NAMS8 Workshop – Atlanta