I have a confession to make: I was a bit of a geek at school. I was the kid who asked questions all the time. What can I say? I loved learning.
And I still do. Every part of the process is exciting for me – learning new things, meeting new people, and being inspired. So imagine how excited I was when I left school and discovered my employers would actually pay me to learn. ‘Professional Development’ quickly became my two favourite words.
Unfortunately, being paid to attend conferences and stay in nice hotels so I could learn and network ended when I left the corporate world. And who pays for your professional development when you’re a blogger? That’s right – you.
Working for yourself means there’s no training and development are who’ll pay to keep your skills up to date. But because I value it so much, I’ve kept investing in my own professional development since going solo. And in this blog post I’m going to share some of the learning opportunities the ProBlogger team and I recommend.
When I realised my traditional sales and marketing skills were in danger of being superseded in a digital world, I enrolled in a Diploma in Digital Marketing. It wasn’t strictly blogging related, but it covered content marketing, social media, advertising, PR, acquisition/conversion/retention strategies and much more.
Do those skills sound familiar? They should – I use them pretty much every day to manage the ProBlogger and Digital Photography School blogs. I studied online for a year to get my Diploma in Digital Marketing through the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing in the UK. It’s fairly intensive, requires two assessments, and you even need to physically sit two exams despite being an online course. (My writing hand was almost dead after writing with pen and paper for six hours.)
Would I do it again? Yes. Sure, it was expensive. But being taught industry best practice by qualified professionals and getting a formal certification at a Bachelor Degree level was definitely worth it.
When you have to pay for your ticket, airfares, transport, accommodation and room service, you become very picky about the conferences you go to. Which is why ‘looking local’ is your best first option.
I was lucky. One of the first blogging events I went to (a ProBlogger event, where I met Darren for the first time) was right here in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, there have been other great local events, but I’m proud to say I’ve been involved with the ProBlogger Events here in Australia for the past five years. (Here’s where you can read about our most recent event and sign up for alerts about our next one.)
Unfortunately I won’t be attending the next one in Dallas, Texas. But Darren will be there, co-hosting with Digital Collab of the Success Incubator on the 24th of October. It will also feature amazing speakers including Pat Flynn, Kim Garst and Andrea Vahl. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and tickets are still available if you can make it. (It will be Darren’s last international trip for the year.)
If there isn’t much happening in your local area, you may need to look further abroad. My first international blogging conference was BlogHer in New York in 2012. It was quite an experience for me. I got to meet a lot of bloggers, and be exposed to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I also learned about sponsored content trends (which was new to me at the time) that would soon be heading to Australia.
One I wish I could get to more often is Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. I was there in 2015, and appreciated the focus on social media, which was becoming more and more a part of a blogger’s online environment. In recent years the agenda has expanded to include more content marketing and a dedicated stream for ‘creators’ such as bloggers and podcasters. You’ll usually find Darren speaking at this event – it’s one his favourites, too.
There’s another one that isn’t strictly blogging, but can give you insights about the kinds of marketing skills you can consider – Hubspot’s Inbound in Boston. It’s the one where I flew to the other side of the world only to get locked out of Seth Godin’s keynote. (Oops!)
If you’re looking for conferences, Social Media Examiner has a list of events being held around the world. There’s also a comprehensive directory of 400+ worldwide digital marketing events at marketingterms.com.
Blogging Courses and Resources
Of course, a big part of what we do here at ProBlogger is provide access to free and affordable content to help you with your blogging. ProBlogger has more than 8,000 free blog posts and a library of six eBooks. (We’ll also be adding some courses soon, so watch this space.)
One of our most popular books is the best-selling 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. It’s a great resource you can use whenever your blogging needs a bit of focus and revitalisation. There’s also Blogwise – our collection of productivity tips that’s currently being offered as part of the Ultimate Bundles Blogger’s Genius Toolkit.
The Blogger’s Genius Toolkit
One of the reasons we’ve endured with eBooks is they’re so affordable. We’ve contributed to (and been an affiliate for) the Ultimate Bundles Blogger’s Genius Toolkit for the second year in a row because it represents such amazing value.
The team at Ultimate Bundles has put together the best resources on all the topics that matter to bloggers – mastering social media, monetization, creating and selling products, time management and productivity, growing an email list, and so much more.
All-up there are 91 resources in the toolkit. The eBooks, eCourses, templates and workbooks alone are worth more than $5,800. And on top of that you get $1,193 worth of free bonus offers, and ten tools and services to help you run your blog better.
But the best part (and one of the main reasons we take part each year) is that you can get the lot for just $97. That’s about the same as a course or a few eBooks. And a lot less than a flight from Melbourne to Boston.
There’s even a full 30-day happiness guarantee, which means you can try it out without any risk.
Here’s where you can learn more and buy the bundle. But be quick – it’s only available until 11:59pm EST on Monday the 9th of October.
If you’re looking for more free advice and support, Facebook Groups can be a fantastic resource for new and advanced bloggers alike. While many Facebook groups are set up for paid courses (and therefore restricted), there are still plenty of free ones.
ProBlogger Community is our free closed Facebook Group where Darren, Kat Jarman (our Community Manager) and I hang out with nearly 10,000 bloggers. It’s a great place to ask questions, offer valuable tips, and help each other. It costs nothing to join – you just need to answer three simple questions). And we have guidelines on taking part in the conversation that help stop it from becoming spammy and self-promotional.
It’s also a great place to get direct input from Darren. We direct most enquiries we get via our contact form to the group, so you’re more likely to get his attention this way.
Here are some other places we like to hang out.
The Inspired Bloggers Network Facebook Group is a similar group that also has strict guidelines around self-promotion and profiting from the group. It’s there to encourage and educate bloggers.
You’ll find Darren in Rachel Miller’s Facebook Massive Growth Strategies group since he became a student of her course. There’s a free group you can join, and a different group if you buy the course.
For the Aussies in the house, we also love hanging out over at Aussie Bloggers, where we often help out and join the conversation. We love their two straightforward and very Australian rules – 1. Don’t spam the group. 2. Don’t be a dick. Enough said really!
Hopefully you’ll appreciate the spam and sleaze-free communities in these groups as much as we do.
What are some other ways you’ve progressed your professional development since becoming a blogger?