I know what you’re probably thinking. Wasn’t Reviewer’s Retreat a couple of months ago? Why yes it was, but we’ve been really busy. There was that trip to Los Angeles for the Brave Premiere and visit to Cars Land, our mini vacation in Atlanta and visit to the Georgia Aquarium, sick kids and sick dogs, and then there was life. Life just happens and we sometimes fall behind. But we’re still kickin’ and excited to share our Reviewer’s Retreat recap with you.
Laura (Mom) and I attended Reviewer’s Retreat, which was held at the fabulous Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte. Being able to take the kids and make a vacation out of it was one of the many reasons we chose this conference. Most blogging conferences are not this family friendly and we really liked being able to blend the two aspects of the trip. Reviewer’s Retreat is hosted by the fabulous Double Duty Divas, who did an amazing job of bringing brands and an expert panel of bloggers to the event. The conference title sponsor was Pampers, but there were a lot of great sponsors there such as Kia, Playskool, Gutzy Gear, MomPact and many more.
This conference wasn’t all about the swag, although we did leave with some awesome stuff. There was a lot of learning, connecting, and making friends at Reviewer’s Retreat. We had the chance to catch up with some of our great blogging buddies and meet some fabulous new peeps. For me this conference was mostly about the sessions and very good sessions they were. Laura and I learned so much valuable information, but I will share with you just a few of the things that really hit home for us.
On the first day we took the Kia Optima out for a test drive. That’s Laura behind the wheel.
One of the workshops that I enjoyed the most was Creating Pinnable Pics by three of my favorite and very successful bloggers: Stacie from The Divine Miss Mommy, Piera from Jolly Mom, and Felicia from Go Graham Go. We all know the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”, but it’s so true. Large, quality images are so important to the success of a blog. With the growing popularity of Pinterest, this couldn’t be more true. About A Mom gets a fair amount of traffic from Pinterest and we want to see that number grow. Of course we need to invest in a better quality camera, but until that happens there are some things we can still do to create more pinnable pics. Turn off the flash – whenever possible turn off your flash. If taking pictures outside isn’t possible, find a spot in your house that get good natural light. This might entail pushing your coffee table up to a window, but whatever works. We also learned to take lots of pictures. Don’t go for the obvious shot and focus on the details. Try different angles and settings. If your subject is a person, go for a natural shot that is not posed. A good picture doesn’t have to be straight on. You might have to take 50 pictures of something to get the one you want. Also, use photo editing tools such as PicMonkey.com, which happens to be free. You can edit things like the color and exposure of the picture, and add text. Images like this one with text, of our Blueberry Cupcakes with Goat Cheese Frosting, seem to do very well on Pinterest.
Gina from mom-blog did an amazing session on Advanced SEO, although I quickly realized that I need more of a beginner’s class. She covered many thinks such as setting up permalinks, using internal links, keyword research, and effectively using tags. I was able to jot down a lot of things that will require some further research on my part, and Gina was so nice to send us a pdf of her presentation and offered to answer any questions we might have. She is truly a wealth of knowledge with it comes to SEO! Be sure to check out her site.
CanCan from Mom Most Travelled presented a very insightful workshop on travel blogging, something we hope to do a lot more of. Here are some of the highlights from her Study Abroad session.
What do travel pr look for when selecting bloggers for press trips?
1. High traffic
2. Great photography
3. Your location and location of readers
4. Niche or focus of blog
5. Content – good writing & pictures – professional looking content
6. Travel still sees a lot of value in traditional media – the basics
It’s important that you have analytics to back up your claims of traffic. Have good interaction on Facebook and Twitter. CanCan gets a lot of opportunities by being visible on Twitter.
How to establish yourself as a traveler.
1. Write about travel – even if you don’t travel much you can write about “5 Great Things for Families to do in (Your Town)” or “Best Places for Celiacs to Dine Out in (Your Town)”.
2. Write about your experience on your own travel.
3. Write for your audience.
4. Be creative.
Fake it till you make it. (my personal favorite)
1. Tag posts with travel key words.
2. Go to travel blogging meet ups or events.
3. Comment on travel blogs and travel blog forums.
4. Tweet about travel. On Twitter use hashtag #TT for Travel Tuesdays.
Can you tell that I took much better notes during this session?
The session I was probably most eager about was on Ambassadorship and Paid Gigs. The panel included Amy from Mom Spark, Stacie from The Divine Miss Mommy, and Niri from Mommy Niri. One of the most important things we learned is the importance of a good About Me page. Ours is still a work in process, but it has been revamped since the conference. Be sure to talk about some of the projects you have done, feature some of your best posts, have visible contact information, and include a great picture. Also, don’t try to work with everyone. Instead focus on only working with brands you are most interested in. I remember in the beginning we were accepting every review opportunity that came our way. We are learning to focus only on brands and products that we are really interested in. It’s okay to say NO! It’s also important to communicate with companies and brands you want to work with. Tweet to them and engage with them on Facebook. We recently added this picture taken of us at Reviewer’s Retreat to our About Us page.
There were many other great sessions to attend at Reviewer’s Retreat. The advanced and beginner sessions were held simultaneously, so there were a few that we missed out on. Our great blogging buddy Meagan from Sunshine and Sippy Cups offered a workshop on Growing Your Audience. We unfortunately missed it, but heard it was really great.
Reviewer’s Retreat wasn’t all about the sessions, there was a Sponsor Speedway when we had a chance to speak with all of the awesome sponsors, we enjoyed a fun tailgate party and ran ourselves ragged doing a fun scavenger hunt through out the hotel, in our pajamas of course. If you are at all interested in review blogging, definnitely check into attending Reviewer’s Retreat 2013 .