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The Most Important Take-Home Advice from BlogWorld Expo LA [#BWELA]

Yesterday I returned from a trip to the US to attend Blog World Expo. This year was my fourth BWE and as usual it was a great event—well worth the 14-hour commute each way!

Of course when I return home, everyone always asks, “What was the best thing” or “What did you learn this year?”

Here’s what I learned

The thing that I always learn when I go to Blog World (or almost any other conference, for that matter) is simple: DO IT!

This year I decided to take a different approach to taking notes at BWE. Whereas in the past I’ve tried to capture much more of the words and ideas of presenters, this year I decided only to write things down when I heard something I needed to implement.

So instead of page after page of notes to wade through, I ended up with a rather concise list of action items—things I knew would not only be nice ideas but which would help lift my blogs up a notch.

As I sat in LAX waiting to board my flight back to Melbourne, I gazed over the list of action items and realized that much of what I’d written were things that I already knew I should do, but were things that I’d either put off, been distracted from doing or had not yet done well.

Here’s the thing: blogging isn’t rocket science

While when you just start out, there’s certainly a learning curve and it can take a while to get your head around some of the more technical aspects of blogging, a lot of what it takes to build a blog is pretty much common sense (note: common sense doesn’t equate to it being easy … it’s also a lot of work).

However the problem with “common sense” is that things that are common sense are often the things we take for granted—they’re things that we get comfortable with, and don’t always actually do.

Not only that, but the common sense things are often overlooked in the pursuit of “secrets” or “advanced tips and techniques.”

I spoke with one blogger at BWE who told me that they were dissatisfied with the event because it was all too basic. They commented that they “knew it all” already and wanted speakers to reveal their “real secrets.”

When I unpacked this with him a little and we looked over his blog together, it became apparent that while he may have known a lot of what he’d heard at BWE already, he’d not done much of it. For example, he told me he was sick of people talking about setting up an email newsletter. However, when pressed, he admitted that doing it was still on his to-do list.

He knew he should do it, but he was so busy looking for the next new secret technique that he’d failed to implement one that was tested and proven.

What have you been putting off?

Of course, most of us have been overlooking or putting off something.

For me, there was a list of 20 or so things. For example, I sat in one session with Amy Porterfield who talked about Facebook, and I realized that while I’m using Facebook much more effectively than in the past, there are still five or six things that I need to do to take my Facebook strategies to the next level.

I also realized that I need to rework some key pages on my blogs, rethink some aspects of my blogs’ designs, and so on.

What about you? Most ProBlogger readers didn’t get to BWE this year, but that doesn’t stop you implementing what I learned. Take ten minutes to consider the action items do you have that perhaps you’ve been putting off, but which you really need to take action on.

If you’d like to share them in comments below to help make you a little more accountable to them, please do!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Moving into persistent action makes all the difference in the world Darren. Successful bloggers do not put things off for a bit. They act, getting done what needs to get done quickly. Thanks for sharing!

    RB

  2. BT Stream says:

    Just got PR3 to my blog.. willing to be a professional blogger like you guys.

    Thanks for sharing your exp with Us..

  3. tushar says:

    i agree that blogging is not rocket science. it is a very simple stuff and a basic step but people consider it too hi fi. thanks for the post

  4. Darren- Sounds like you had the Nike epiphany – “Just do it.” I”d love to see a follow up confessional that goes along with this post. What were the 20 things on your list that you need to do?

  5. Darren, thanks for the reminder. In my circle I often find that bloggers like myself tend to put things off not because of laziness / procrastination but rather because of the other low hanging fruit which you somewhat alluded to. However the low hanging fruit that I am talking about refers to identifying profitable and untapped niches and then creating niche adsense sites within that are profitable, passive and residual in nature. I have grown a portfolio of these, and the ROI is way too high to ignore, perhaps putting some of the blog related TO DOs in the back burner.

  6. I’ve been putting off working harder, but I’ll get around to it, I swear.

  7. Andrea_R says:

    “he was so busy looking for the next new secret technique that he’d failed to implement one that was tested and proven.”

    That’s the part that should be in bold. :) There’s no big magic secret. Just DO IT.

    Tattooing this on my forehead now…

  8. Hi Darren -

    First, thanks for a great session at BWE. I have learned a lot from you over the years. I too become frustrated with the beginner level of many of the sessions, but the truth is there are many things we could improve on and BWE inspires me to write more, connect more and think about how to make our blog and client work better.

    I am doing a short “Good Reads” post this Friday of posts related to BWE and would love to include your post in the list if that is alright.

    Thanks – Indra

  9. Tom Treanor says:

    Darren, thanks for the post!

    Yes, I’ve talked to potential clients before who said, “I know all that stuff”, what else can you do for me? And then I show them on their site where they’re not even doing the basics. I think for some people “knowing” generally about a topic gets confused with having done it. Not only that, but having done something at a basic level usually doesn’t cut it. Having an average call to action or average blog post is not enough. I notice that the people leading in our field don’t accept average and that’s why they win.

    I was at Blog World for a day and a half. For my personal use, I follow your “only actionable” notes strategy. Yes, what is the point in having reams of notebooks that never get looked at again?

    However, for 2 or 3 presentations that I think are going to be great (or that start out really well), I document everything like a reporter for use as a blog post. I did that last week for Peter Shankman’s keynote (HARO founder) and for Guy Kawasaki/Chris Brogan’s Google Plus presentation. That way I learn a lot, but more importantly I can also pass it on to my readers in the form of a thorough (and hopefully entertaining) blog post. For this year’s Blog World I added in photos/video to make it more engaging.

  10. Jon says:

    Yeah, seems like I always have the same take-aways when I go to conferences like Blog World as well. You just need to get off your butt and DO something. Even if you fail, at least you found one way NOT to do something, right? Wish I could have gone to Blog World this year, but thanks for filling us in.

  11. Darren,

    Unfortunately, I went to Blogher this year so I met my conference quota (to my husband) for the year. It was my first conference and I took a TON of notes…I never looked at again. I met the Pinesol Lady and the family from Michael Angelos frozen food, both great people. Met a few friends from online. And ran myself to the ground. My take away is just like yours: JUST GO!

    I found out conferences are mostly for networking. But learning is at the top of the list also. I love the style you took to taking notes.

    BTW, saw your pic with Pat Flynn, you both are lookin good! And did you meet Cheech too? LOL

    ~Allie

  12. Cecli says:

    Darren thanks for your awesome information rich resource! Currently implementing new actions into my routine based on your tips and strategies!

  13. Colby says:

    One thing that I seem to always push back is working on my autoresponder. I need to make a conscious effort to put together a solid series of emails for my email subscribers. I think I’ll also put together a list of things I should be doing that I have not yet done and work on prioritizing the list.

  14. I feel like I’ve been in a rut lately-so I’m busy working on a new goals list and revamping a few ideas. Plenty of action items ahead!

  15. Jo Castro says:

    Thanks, Darren. You always cut to the chase in a helpful, no-nonsense kind of way. And yes it’s quite true that it’s all to easy to keep searching for the Holy Grail and the definitive secrets that will step- up-the-ante on a blog (often to be struck down with analysis paraylsis in the process) when all you need to do is follow the basic common sense rules. My hand is up, as in guilty.

  16. TV Rockstars says:

    Blogging isn’t rocket science but more really hard work. Just wish it was easier.

  17. Your so right! We all look for that magic answer but consistency and sticking to the basics with compelling content and results will come.

  18. Clarabela says:

    My Blog To Do List
    1, Set up an email newsletter
    2. Create Landing Pages
    3. Re-write my About Page
    4. Write an e-book
    5. Write more often, post 2x per week
    6. Do better keyword research
    7. Create a profitable product
    8. Write 2 guest posts per month
    — Ultimate Goal: Write guest post for Problogger and Copyblogger
    9. Optimize Catagories and tags for SEO
    10. Attend a big conference like Blog World or SXSW

  19. Peter Palme says:

    Hi Darren,

    thanks so much for sharing your inspiring insights form LA. It just made me wonder if you
    have also come up with a list of what you will stop doing ?
    I have not seen a list showing what is not working, what is a time waster.
    I am just trying to find this out in practice.
    Thank you.

    Peter

  20. Josh Sarz says:

    I’ve been putting off a lot of things for my blog like video blogging and contests. But I’m focusing on doing some guest posts for now.

  21. Guy Hogan says:

    Yes, you are so right. There are things I have been putting off. I had better sit myself down and start implementing my to-do list.

  22. Allison says:

    Thanks for writing about BlogWorld and for always being such a great supporter, Darren. I also talked to someone who said he wasn’t going to sessions because he “already knew that stuff,” but when I saw you at Jared’s session, I thought, if Darren Rowse, who wrote the book on blogging (literally!) can go to sessions and learn something, anyone can! I think something that people don’t realize is that there are no big secrets to being successful. Like you said, it’s just a matter of actually DOING what you learn. Anyway, thanks again for being there. So glad Mrs. Problogger said yes to you traveling!

  23. Buck Inspire says:

    Nice meeting you at BWELA! I would have bought you a beer, but that would have been silly since they were already on the house. :) You hit it on the head. We just need to do it. I think it is human nature to bypass simple, basic tasks and go straight for the more advanced killer move. It strokes the ego. In this space, perhaps we are victims of showing off to gain a bigger following. Awesome reminder to master all the basics. This could be the most advanced, killer move, yet!

  24. I too agree that most of the stuff the speakers discussed were a bit Blogology101, and that there were a few sessions that were just things I knew already. However, this served two purposes for me:
    1. It make me realize that since most of this stuff I already knew, I should be going up there and speaking next year…and I plan to propose.
    2. It acts as a kick in the pants for me: If this is basic crap now, I need to get off my butt and START DOING IT.

    And again, very glad to actually meet you. Took a lot to sum up the strength to go up to you and hopefully I didn’t look very awkward.

  25. James Greg says:

    I think blogging is an art. It comes naturally, you try to think hard and harder enough to have the brains explode but no great idea comes to mind and sometimes while relaxed, there comes the flow of great ideas and topics that are sufficient to go viral. Blogging is no rocket science just implementation of ideas and techniques. Using correct language and avoiding grammar mistakes is also essential. I’ve read some great articles but the language made it less effective.

  26. Tram Tran says:

    I would love to go next year;) sounds so awesome. You have taught me alot, thank you

  27. Kurt Novak says:

    I attended Blogworld 2 years ago in Las Vegas. I was really excited. I learned a lot about blogging and successfully started a few blogs in the real estate field to generate leads for my business.

    This Blogworld in LA was disappointing. Some of the speakers did not provide any useful content and had lousy presentations. I did not have any idea who will present when I booked the hotel and registered for the event. It seems it was just thrown together in the last minute.

    Having said this, I was very impressed by most keynote presentations. I also enjoyed meeting successful Internet entrepreneurs who prove that you can make a lot of money by blogging.

  28. Darren what a fresh and great idea, now wish you had told me this tidbit BEFORE blogworld.

    It was a pleasure to finally meet face to face after tweeting and chatting for a few years. Now I see why Chris Garrett likes you, you both are so humble and easy to talk with-SIGH.

    To those who felt blogworld did not fill their needs here is what it is like from the speakers perspective…we prepare for hours, we created content to share with a lot of unknowns for us too. We do not know who will come into our sessions, what is their level of expertise or their challenges. What I would advise a “never published a book author” and “one who is published but needs to freshen their approach” is totally different. With so many authors learning blogging and coming to blogworld, my session was addressing their needs in how to be able to craft that big hit and where many are missing the mark. They do not get this advice from publishers and are left to their own devices in how to use blogging, social media and online marketing to build their online presence.

    Blogworld did put a lot of effort in offering a wide variety of sessions to meet more needs. They care that beginners as well as intermediate bloggers find value. What is a more helpful way to get your needs met is to suggest specific sessions you want to attend directly to blogworld. I can tell you Deb Ng their conference director is very open to your input. Tweet her @DebNg

  29. Great point, Darren!
    “Knowing” something is not nearly as effective as “doing” it.
    Good to see you again in Los Angeles.
    Thanks for participating in my video roundup of bloggers and their favorite blog recommendations.
    Hope you had a good flight home!

  30. Darren! I love this post because I tend to come home with way too many notes about “ideas” and not enough solid action items. I’m going to try your strategy next time I am at an event for sure.

    And it was so great seeing you at my session – having you there was pleasant surprise :-)

  31. I’ve read a lot of feedback and articles about what bloggers learn from BWE but this is the most challenging and simplest way to take us all to the next level.. We need to get things done. Just like Nike says “Just Do It”.

  32. Rick Calvert says:

    Thank you for pointing out something that we all overlook Darren. The reason most of us need to continually read blogs, articles, books etc, or attend events is to remind ourselves of the things we know we should do but don’t. We are all guilty of it. I certainly am. Nearly every event I attend I come back inspired and motivated to do a better job.

    This obviously applies to life or any type of job not just blogging. It is important we all remind ourselves from time to time why we do what we do, and what we should be doing that we don’t.

    I would love to hear who that blogger was 8).