“Your life will be better if you take action on the things you avoid.”
These were the words I kicked off the 7th annual ProBlogger Training with – by quoting my mum who when I was a kid realised that I have a tendency to procrastinate and watch life pass me by.
I shared them because sometimes as bloggers it’s easy to procrastinate – and to avoid doing those important things that we know will bring life to our blogging.
The two days of the event this year were all about inspiring bloggers to be proactive and giving them the information and support they needed to take action.
This year around 500 bloggers attended PBEVENT at RACV Royal Pines on Australia’s Gold Coast. Our numbers were a little smaller than last year which let us try some things we hadn’t been able to do in previously packed out venues – things like sit our attendees at round tables rather than theatre style.
That change might not sound like a big one but we think it had a big impact as attendees told us many times that they felt the event was warmer, more inclusive, more welcoming and easier to meet people at. I think that they were right.
This year also saw an amazing number of new attendees to our event – over half those who were there were first timers!
Another piece of common feedback this year from returnee attendees was that the content was more actionable than ever before.
While we’ve always tried to create these types of sessions this year we changed things up quite a bit with how we streamed our sessions.
In one room we had a ‘Fundamentals‘ track for those more at the start of their journey – with sessions on ‘creating content’, ‘finding readers’, ‘building community’, monetization and much more.
In the next room was our ‘Ideas and Strategy‘ track which was a little bigger picture and strategic. That track included sessions on creating online products, getting your content sponsored, affiliate marketing, visual story telling and building sales funnels.
Our last main track was called ‘Tools, Tactics and Techniques‘ and this is where we got down to the nitty gritty of techniques on things like SEO, List Building, Copywriting and using Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
In addition to our main tracks were the opportunity to sit in smaller Workshops and dig deeper, ask questions and work together on all manner of topics relevant to bloggers including photography, creating and launching products, auto responders, SEO and much much more.
All in all this year we had 50 sessions over the two main days of the conference – double last year’s event and covering a lot of very actionable stuff.
As always we topped and tailed each day with Keynotes and we were so fortunate to hear inspiring messages from the likes of Brian Fanzo on ‘Digital Storytelling’, Daniel Flynn from Thankyou who gave an inspired talk about turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones, Dan Norris who taught us how to Blog (and Think) more like an Entrepreneur and Emilie Wapnick who tackled a topic relevant to many of us – ‘How to Combine Your Many Passions into One Blog’.
Lastly – this year we ran 7 half day Masterclasses on the days before and after the event. This enabled people to really dig deeply into topics like creating a course, SEO, podcasting, email marketing, productivity and planning etc.
It’s hard to convey just how much ground we covered over the two days except to say that even as an organiser who was only able to sit in a few full sessions and duck in and out of most of the others – my head is exploding with ideas, inspiration and some new tactics to try.
There were also quite a few recurring themes including:
Perfectionism – numerous speakers talked about their struggle with this and how ‘imperfect action’ was the way to approach blogging.
Affiliate Marketing – I have noticed more and more of our attendees monetising with affiliate marketing in addition to working with brands.
Courses – we had a number of speakers and attendees talk about monetising with courses. This is definitely an area of growth in Australia (and internationally) and something we’ll be talking more about here on ProBlogger.
Vulnerability – quite a few speakers spoke very openly about their fears, mistakes and weaknesses and how they overcame them (and didn’t) and also how blogging vulnerably actually made them more relatable to their readers.
SEO – we saw a lot of interest from our attendees on the topic of SEO this year (and as a result we worked our SEO expert – Jim Stewart – very hard. I think there’s a realisation among many of our attendees that while social media is important that there’s a danger in doing it at the expense of SEO.
Niches vs Overarching Themes – Emilie Wapnick finished our conference off by talking about bringing multiple passions/interests into one blog. This resonated with a lot of attendees. I suspect we’ll see quite a few pivots of existing blogs and new multi-passion blogs start in the coming 12 months.
Live Video – I’m amazed how many of our attendees have started doing live video since the event – particularly on Facebook Live.
Podcasting – as with last year I heard quite a few attendees talking about starting a podcast as being their big action item after the event.
What our Attendees Thought
Ultimately while I had a great time at the event it’s only successful if our attendees benefited. We’re currently collecting feedback from the event through a survey to see how we can improve it for next year. So far we’ve had some fantastic responses – for example with a question we asked about the likelihood of recommending the event to a friend 100% of the 162 surveys in so far said that they would.
In our private attendee and virtual ticket holder Facebook group I asked attendees what were their key take home messages, favourite quotes and overarching themes were from the event. Here are just some of the lightbulb moments that they reported.
Rachel Doherty wrote: “I really liked how Brian Fanzo said “Great content is determined by the audience, not the author.” It really confirmed for me that the secret to building a successful business around blogging is about building that audience. It was confirmed by all the keynote speakers too, as I wrote in my article today about developing an entrepreneurial spirit in kids.”
Krystal Abbott said: “”Perfection is a fairy tale” – Brian Fanzo. This simple line is my biggest take away by far and one day later has already helped me put myself ‘out there’ in ways I would have been too scared to before.”
Amelia Lee shared: “Biggest take home was this from Colin Gray: “Think about your content in seasons. Spend some time planning and breaking down your ideas. Then stack your content, so you can create the blog post, the videos, the podcast, the quick quotes, all at the same time. A little planning first can provide huge momentum and leverage.”
Rebel Wylie shared: “Thanks to the incredible Olympus Workshops, I am no longer afraid of my camera. This, from Aaron Harivel really struck a chord with me in relation to getting off the ‘auto’ settings: “You will learn so much more by making mistakes, than you will by getting things right by accident.””
Shannon Meyerkort said: “I came to Problogger with modest goals, but thanks to speakers like Dan Norris and Daniel Flynn, I am aiming higher. Dan Norris said ‘What will you do that is bigger than what you planned to do?’ I still have over 100 small and not-so-small items on my to-do list, but my overall end-point is now much bigger.”
Rachel Stewart wrote: “My head is buzzing with making seasons of content from Colin Gray’s talk. Taking an idea, expanding it into a series of blog posts, creating videos based on those written posts – recording the audio at the same time for instant pod casts. Cutting the videos for quotable clips for social media. I love that an idea can ripple out across mediums.”
Helen King shared: “A comment from Ed Dale – ‘Think about who you’re writing / reaching out to. What problem might be annoying them, what solution are you putting forward which might help. And ‘speak’ to them about that. Don’t focus on selling, focus on education and sharing’ . A real breakthrough for someone who hates feeling pushy.”
Laura Saillard reflected: “A big lessened I learnt was about using imagery in the blog posts. Jim Stewart explained the SEO benefit of reducing the file size & image size and Kelly Exeter then followed up with the importance of keeping the imagery consistent in the post.”
Trish Martin said: “I definitely took away repurposing your old buried content from over the years into pdf format for free ebooks as an opt-in, to get people onto your mailing list so that when you do create your paid product (woo hoo), not only do you have a great list to market your paid product towards, but they know what they’ve had from you before, and trust what you’re now offering and will buy buy buy!!”
Kelly Exeter shared: “I think my favourite thing was from Dan Norris’s keynote where he asked “What will you do that is bigger than you planned to do?”
I love this call to step outside the safety of our comfort zones. Because every time we step outside that comfort zone, it doesn’t matter if we ‘fail’ or succeed – we expand our comfort zone every so slightly and that’s what allows us to play much bigger than we’d ever imagined further down the track.”
Caroline McCullough shared: “I probably can” from Dan Norris inspired me hugely because it helped me come up with an overarching theme for my personal brand blog/website. And Emilie Wapnick! Finally, I feel validated for wearing many hats and I have some ideas on how to make them fit! I’ve been struggling with what to do and now have clarity! Full steam ahead!”
Matthew Kevin shared: “Thanks to many ProBlogger speakers, I came to realise that fear was holding me back on taking my blog to the next level. So now I’m learning to embrace being comfortable with the uncomfortable – as that’s where the magic happens!”
Natasha Ferguson shared: A common theme I took away was to back myself and not let fear get in the way. As a result, I’m going to start including videos in my social media mix. Wish me luck! (PS – loved my first ProBlogger event 👏🏻)
Brian Fanzo shared: “Overarching theme from my view was the importance of being your imperfect self, questioning and challenging the status quo and the unknown while remembering that done is always better than perfect!”
Mel Kettle said: “So many things! Key was Lisa Corduff reminding me that I need to show up consistently and that momentum is the queen of online business.”
Ellen Jackson shared: “You encapsulated my key theme in your final presentation Darren; that one small action on my part could make a big difference to someone else. This theme jumped out at my through numerous presentations during the event and during the movie I watched on the flight up and even the HBO special I watched on the flight home (I must be very open to the message right now). It reminded me to keep going even when it feels hard as maybe one little idea or piece of information I put out there will help someone else to fulfil their potential. So thank you!”
Karly Nimmo wrote: “A theme… consistency. We set the expectations, and then we have to deliver on the expectations WE set. Not what we think is expected (daily, bi-weekly, every Tuesday) but what we decide. Set those expectation and then deliver on that.”
Grab Your Virtual Ticket Today
This year saw the return of our PREVENT Virtual Ticket.
The ticket gives you access to all 50 sessions at the event (excluding masterclasses) PLUS 23 sessions from our 2015 event. This years content will be all uploaded in the coming week but last year’s sessions are all there waiting for you to listen to right now. The cost of the virtual ticket is just $229 which considering there are 73 sessions inside we think is pretty good value!
Pick up your Virtual Ticket today.
I’m So Grateful
I’m amazed by how our event has grown and evolved over the past 7 years. What started out as a hastily arranged event in a dodgy suburban hotel has grown into something that we see changing the lives of hundreds of bloggers every year.
This would never ever have happened without the hard work of our team, partners and speakers.
A massive thank you to Laney and Grove Galligan. Laney directed our event this year and together with Grove’s logistical and leadership we pulled off an amazing few days. They set an amazing culture for our team from the top and deserve a lot of the credit for all the wonderful things our attendees have said to me since the event.
Supporting Laney and Grove this year were a little army of volunteers and team members. We divided them this year into a Communications team, Attendee Experience Team and a Content team and they went above and beyond.
A special thanks to Emma Stirling, Cheryl Lin Rodsted, Caro Ryan, Rachel Corbett, Stacey Roberts, Shayne Tilley, Sarah Moore, Mick Russell, Melissa Smith, Martine Oglethorpe, Karly Nimmo, Jasmin Tragas, Grace Henley, Diana Tencic and Bill Harper. Thanks also Griffith University for their student volunteers and M3 Media for their amazing AV support. All photos in this post by Grace Henley Photography.
Our 43 speakers must have collectively put in many, many hundreds of hours to prepare for and give so generously at our event this year. I lost count of the time I saw speakers making themselves available between sessions and at our networking event to spend time answering questions and get to know our attendees. Their generosity always impacts our event so much – thanks to each of you!
Lastly our partners always add so much value to our event. Olympus Australia again this year added so much as our principle partner. RACV Royal Pines again went above and beyond as our venue partner. A big thanks also to Shoebox, OrangeSky Laundry and The Good Guys for their support – as well as KataLane for their Tipis, The BACH Living, Thankyou, Easil and YomConnect.
If you have written about the ProBlogger Training Event, feel free to leave a link in the comments – we love hearing all your experiences and file away the feedback so we can make every event better than the last.