MN BlogCon 2015 Recap and Blogging Trends on the Rise

It was 7:30am on a Saturday, and my alarm was going off.  This might be normal for some, but I generally try to grab another 2-3 hours at the start of my weekend.

This Saturday, however, was special.  It was the day of the Minnesota Blogger Conference.

Or just BlogCon, as many have come to call it.

cropped-mnbloggerconf-logo-sm1After pressing snooze a few times, I was up, and out the door to join hundreds of other writers, marketers, PR specialists, and personal bloggers at St. Catherine’s University in Saint Paul, MN the 6th year of this event.  It was surprisingly beautiful for mid-November.

Having missed last year’s event, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much it had grown in just two years.  Over 300 attendees were there to hear from industry professionals about trends, advice, and general guidance in the world of blogging.

While I, being one human being, wasn’t able to attend the multitude of sessions of they offered, I was able to get some great takeaways that I’d like to share.

Advice on Creating Social Communities

Digital marketer and proud dog owner Adam Dince shared some tips on how to build online social media communities, specifically on Twitter.  These can ultimately can drive traffic to your blog and increase your digital authority.

Twitter chats are regularly scheduled events that take place openly a Twitter.  Using a pre-specified hashtag, people are able to engage in a back-and-forth discussion with others across the world.  This is a great way to build community and connect with others.

Adam also gave some simple pro-tips for Twitter:

– When sharing a post on Twitter, attach a picture to it.  Pictures get more attention, and you can tag other people in them without affecting your character limit.

– Pin your best tweets to the top of your Twitter profile.  This is an underused feature that can increase the relevancy of your profile page and increase your chances of being followed.

From Keywords to Content

Another session I attended was led by James Svoboda.  In this, he showed us his process of selecting your initial keyword and then through a variety of tools, finding what variant of that keyword is most relevant.

Starting with something broad like “dessert” you can use a variety of tools to discover more specific keywords that will be easier to rank for.

Sometimes, the best way to start is by typing a word or phrase into Google’s search and seeing what similar searches it suggests to you.

A pro-tip from James:

– Sometimes, Google’s tools will favor a keyword that they want people to pay to run ads with over a keyword that’s actually better for you.  This is one of a few reasons why we use multiple keyword tools for our marketing clients.

Trends That Every Blogger Needs to Know

The session that I found to be the most interesting was led by the co-creator of BlogCon, Arik Hanson.  It was a session so packed, half of us in the room (myself included) sat on the floor.

Here are the main takeaways from that:

Avoiding Content Shock

In an age of Buzzfeed, the internet has become obsessed with listicles and click-bait titles.  While listicles can be a great thing, there’s such a huge saturation of them that it’s hard to stand out or compete.

And worse, we’ve reached a point where people are purposely making generic, broad lists and advice posts in an attempt to reach the broadest audiences possible.  This results in mediocre content that lacks personality.

Count-Sesame-Street

The Count still loves listicles

The rising trend now is to add more of yourself and your viewpoint into your blog, going back to the roots of blogging itself.  People should be over looking for the biggest audience, and instead, look for the right audience.

RSS is Dead – The Newsletter is Alive

When I got into blogging, one of the first things I was told to setup was an RSS feed.  That way, people could subscribe to my blog and read it regularly and everything will be wonderful.

This has changed drastically.  RSS feeds aren’t a popular thing anymore.  Many of the popular RSS aggregators (like Google’s) have been shut down.

Instead, the focus is on Newsletters and creating an email database.  This is why we design newsletter subscriptions into most of our website builds and stress the importance of email marketing to our clients.

This gives you a direct channel to customers and visitors that cared enough about your business to subscribe to you.

DIY Designs are Popular and Accessible…but Not Necessarily Good Looking

In a time when large images on your website are a must, many have turned to the variety of Do-It-Yourself graphic design tools out there to create graphics for their site.

In theory, this isn’t bad, and if you have a bit of an eye for design, you might be able to whip up something that looks decent.

However, the consensus in the room was that even at their best, these DIY designs pale in comparison to a custom made graphic put together in Photoshop or Illustrator.

Also, there was concern that once everyone starts using them, the same stock images and background patterns will be noticeably repeating across everyone’s website.

Branding – The Importance Of

Looks used to matter little in blogs.  People were just going there for the content which was overflowing from the each page.

Now, however, many blogs look less like blogs and more like bold, beautiful websites with pictures and proper spacing.

Social Sharing is Not What it Used to Be

Social traffic from Facebook and to a lesser degree, Twitter has long been the dominant force of driving traffic to many people’s blogs.  That isn’t the case anymore as we’ve seen the rise of something called “Dark Social”.

Don’t worry, it’s not as ominous as it sounds.

It is, however, a large topic that we’ll be covering in depth in a future post.  So please, check back later for more on that.  Just know that having a Twitter and Facebook link on your blog isn’t enough anymore.

Other Trends

There were a few more items discussed such as content syndication and the direction that comment sections are going.  Regarding content syndication, while it can work for certain types of blogs and sites, for those trying to develop a strong SEO presence, content syndication boils down to duplicate content, which is a very, very bad thing.

As for comment sections, like social sharing, they aren’t what they used to be.  But at Radiate Digital, we still think they have a place on the internet.  Expect to see a post regarding that in the very near future.

A Great Time for Blogging

Despite how much the environment is changing, blogging is bigger than ever and remains a great way to stay relevant in your industry while providing value to your audience.  If you’re wanting to take your blogging game to the next level, contact us today.

And to the people responsible for the Minnesota Blogger Conference, thanks for putting on a great event.  We will see you next year!

Were you at BlogCon?  Share your thoughts below! Have a question for us?  Feel free to ask it.

Written by Timothy Snyder
on November 17, 2015