A week or so ago, I flew to Berlin for The Hive Conference for European bloggers. Wayyyyyy back in 2012, I attended the first one, but I wasn’t able to go for the last two years because of family commitments in Maine. But this year I was so excited to return – I write their monthly newsletter and helped research speakers, so I was really interested to see it all play out! I was also really excited to see my friends Anne and Ashley, whom I met at the very first Hive Conference. It’s so funny to think we didn’t know each other back then – and even funnier to think we had no idea how close we would become years later. Thank goodness for the internet!
First things first, there’s exciting news for Dublin bloggers that was announced in Berlin. The Hive is coming to Dublin next spring! We’re not sure the date or venue yet, but we should know in the next few months. As soon as the details have been finalized, I’ll keep you posted!
Next, I wanted to share a few things I learned at this conference. I’ve been blogging for six years, so sometimes blogging conferences can feel too geared toward beginners. But The Hive has a pretty good mix of talks for established and new bloggers, and I picked up a few shareable pieces of inspiration and information in Berlin that I really wanted to pass along to you. If you’re not a blogger, this may not be for you. You can go eat some chocolate and come back tomorrow!
1. The key to a great blogging conference: Be open, friendly, warm and welcoming
I left Berlin feeling refreshed – the people I met in person for the first time after knowing or following them online for ages, were nicer and more friendly in person than I even expected. If I’m being 1000% honest, I think I tend to be more reserved in person than I mean to be. I like to size up a situation before diving in head first. But after spending the weekend with such warm and open people reminded me that it’s absolutely okay to be gushingly friendly from the get go. There’s really nothing to lose.
2. Search Engine Optimization Tricks
It’s always good to be reminded that the nuts and bolts and behind the scenes of a blog are important. SEO usually feels like a different language, but somehow this workshop by SEO consultant Malte Landwehr made (almost) perfect sense! Here are a few practical ah-ha tricks:
- The ‘Alt tags’ for images should be descriptions of the image and not identical for each image, they’re also what pop up when someone pins your image to Pinterest.
- If you have old content on your blog that isn’t useful anymore, delete it. Ack, what a scary idea! But I see the point, if it’s just taking up space, there’s no point in it!
- There’s perfect SEO and then there’s writing for the reader’s experience – and you should be creating a balance between the two. I loved this tidbit because it seems so hard to do SEO perfectly without sacrificing reader enjoyment. I like the idea of balance, although I think I could work harder on making everything more searchable and findable.
3. Sustainable fashion is about doing something, not everything
Jana, who writes the sustainable fashion blog Plique, gave the most thought-provoking and intellectual talk of the weekend. I usually find the idea of sustainable fashion intimidating, a mountain too big to even begin to scale. But Jana’s presentation was great encouragement that becoming more sustainably-focused in what we wear doesn’t have to be a quest for absolute perfection, but rather that doing something is better than doing nothing. Making a change is better than continuing to pretend that fast fashion is the only option.
Sidenote: I’ve referenced this article by Erin Boyle on growing a minimalist wardrobe about twenty times in the last week. Another great reminder of why higher quality pieces will stay in your wardrobe for much longer than mediocre pieces. It’s really worth a read.
4. On Online Hatred: “It’s better to be on this side.”
Natalie Holbrook, of the blog and book Hey Natalie Jean, gave the introductory keynote and spoke about online hate. While thankfully I’ve never had to deal with meanies harrassing me online, it’s something I’m seeing more and more of, especially on Instagram. It’s so easy to set up a fake or duplicate account just to harrass people.
She said that one of the things she reminds herself when people say hateful things to her on Twitter or Instagram or on her blog, is that it’s better to be on the receiving end than the dishing out end. It’s a far worse situation to be filled with hate than to be hated, which is a reminder that extends beyond the online world.
5. On Blog Longevity: “Make your blog reflective of your core journey and your readers will follow.”
Chelsea Fuss, of the blog Frolic, gave the closing keynote and spoke about why blogs are still relevant. Chelsea has been blogging for almost ten years, parlaying her blogging career into a career as a (famous!) prop stylist. But last year, she decided she needed to make a change, and that creating beautiful scenes for photos wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as living those beautiful (or sometimes not-so-beautiful) scenes. She sold everything she owned and headed off to Europe to live and work her way around the continent. She’s been blogging and freelancing, but more importantly living and exploring.
One line especially stuck with me. “Make your blog reflective of your core journey and your readers will follow.” Yes. And I hope so. Michael and I are planning some rather big changes in the next few months (I’ve alluded a few times, and I can’t wait to share more in the next few weeks) and this was a wonderful reminder that readers come here to share in the journey, whatever that journey may be.
If you’re considering attending next year when The Hive comes to Dublin, let me know. I’d love to chat more about it with you!