Conferences are great places to network and pick up tips that can make the difference between being good and great at blogging (or any other kind of content creation), especially when the speaker is someone who has it mastered like Lou Mongello and the conference is with TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange).
Who is Lou Mongello? For starters, he’s a widely recognized Walt Disney World author, expert, host, speaker, and podcaster. His background, like many entrepreneurs you find on the Web, isn’t what you’d expect since he left a career in law and IT consulting company to pursue his passion.
And luckily for us, Lou is also adept at giving master training sessions to help others identify their passions and explore ways to grow them into successful businesses.
In fact, Lou started out with something we could all relate to as bloggers and Web writers, a feeling he’d experienced in the beginning of his Web career: “This is frustrating; I feel like quitting.” And then he took us along on his personal journey to success, inspiring and teaching with anecdotes.
In Lou’s words, these are three of the most important things you need to know as a Web content provider:
“There is no formula.”
“There is no blueprint.”
“You can’t fake it.”
I couldn’t agree more with Lou, so I settled in to find out what he did recommend.
People Want to Belong
No matter what purpose your blog or webpage might have, you hope people will want to belong and become part of your regular traffic. Even if you’re a business rather than a content provider, you’re hoping for a “buy in” that says people like what you’ve got to sell, whether you’re selling paintings or smartphone apps or t-shirts.
Lou phrased this as a need to nurture your audience. In fact, he said, “treat your fans like your friends and those loyal people become your most loyal evangelists.”
Loyalty, especially brand loyalty, is a phrase that’s tossed about all the time on the Web. While we all recognize the definition as being a behavior, it’s not always easy to measure how loyal your readers are when you’re a blogger–or as Lou is–a podcaster.
One very useful thing that Lou shared was how he uses surveys to gather this kind of data from his regular visitors. Then, he incorporates the information into his media kit, stressing again and again that a successful Web presence is less about the numbers than it is about the relationships.
We agreed completely that one question at a time is best–after all, our readers and listeners are busy people too. The tool? Surveymonkey.
Something I’ve never done, but that Lou found successful, was arranging meet-ups in cities around the U.S. so his fans could join him for coffee and talk about his podcasts. It’s certainly something I’ll have to take under consideration!
Networking on the Web
All of us in the master session agreed completely that other bloggers, content providers, and podcasters aren’t competition. Far from it! Instead, building up a supportive community can help everyone achieve those dreams.
Relying on your “tribe” to share their ideas and expertise on your platform can work great, whether that’s a guest post or two or a regular speaker like some Lou invites monthly to his podcasts.
When you think about the stat Lou shared, that there are 500 million blogs online with a new blog “born” every second, that’s a lot of potential communities or tribes of bloggers. I personally use Triberr to find my supportive community.
I’ve installed the Triberr WordPress plugin on my blogs, so each time I publish an article it has the potential to be tweeted out by my 140 tribemates to their one million Twitter followers! Now, that’s a lot of help from my community.
Beyond the Blog
Blogging is great and for some of us, the best way to deliver our content. Well, until you think about those 500 million other blogs that is! That’s why Lou recommended we all consider a podcast where the competition is lower, in fact, there are around just 250,000 English podcasts available.
Since bloggers are predominately female, Lou also pointed out that there’s a 7800 : 1 ratio of female bloggers to female podcasters. Now that’s a nice statistic to think about if you’re female and trying to establish your brand.
Lou also noted that books–a topic I totally love and am familiar with since I teach Publish and Sell Your E-Books–are another awesome way to make contact with more readers and fans. In fact, he said, “his books are his new business cards.” That makes a lot of sense for writers, podcasters, and businesses of every sort.
And this, of course, is just a very small sample of things we talked about at our master session! If you ever have a chance, I do recommend you find your own inspiration in a session with Lou Mongello.