As I've said before, this blog is a lab and a learning experience for me. The topic of the blog also happens to be, pretty much, my learning experiences. Last night I got to learn, learn, learn during an online class on the Alt Channel from Alt Summit - "Growing Readership", taught by Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely. I wanted to do a little review and a shout-out to the other bloggers who took the class. I've listed their blog links below. (If any of you classmates want what I was able to copy from the chat transcript, get in touch with me by email, comment, or on Twitter @lisabakerheaton to let me know.) I'm sorry this might be bo-ring to those of you who aren't interested in blogging, but maybe you'll find a fun new blog to love!
First, a little background. Alt Summit, or Altitude Design Summit, is a yearly blogging conference held right in my hometown of Salt Lake City, UT. I've been reading about it for a couple years on quite a few of the bigger, fancier design blogs. It's held at the Grand America, looks swanky, and costs a pretty penny - though everyone says it's totally worth it for the classes, panels, and networking/socializing.
Alt decided to bring some of their magic to the masses by offering hour-long online classes at a reasonable rate of $15 per class. Or better yet FREE, which was the cost of my class due to Alt's partnership with the search engine Bing this month. I tweeted once and Facebooked once about the classes and Bing in order to earn four free classes. Thanks, Alt and Bing! (By the way, is anyone using Bing's "social search"? I'm afraid to admit this, but I'm a little confused by how to use it, what it is, and what it does.)
Signing In: Oopsy Daisy
A reminder email about the class arrived in my email inbox one hour before the appointed start time. However, since I was the only one on duty with the kids I didn't get to sign in on time. When I did get a chance to sign in I had to make several attempts. I don't know what was going on, but the system wouldn't accept my username and password. I was beginning to worry that I couldn't sign in after the start time, but then I got in. I'm going to chalk this up to user error. I only made it to the last half hour of the class! :(
The Format: Raise Your Hand If You're Confused
The format of the class was actually great, but signing in late and having it be my first time, I was kind of thrown off because I didn't receive any instructions or have a chance to orient myself. Right when I got in the class Nicole was asking for a show of hands about something. I was confused but then saw a little person icon in the top bar and clicked it. I think I did it right?? It was neat to see the ways the class could be interactive even though it was a virtual classroom. The classroom screen consists of a premade presentation on the left (like a PowerPoint slideshow), the live instructor presenting in the top middle with a chat window for the class participants below that, and a list of participants and blogroll on the right.
The Meat: Content is Queen
Again, I missed the first half of the class, but the presentation was provided in full as a PDF download, so I got to catch up on what I missed. I don't intend to give away much of the material from the class, but I will say Nicole knew what she was talking about and she gave good been-there-done-that advice about things like blog design and content development. She gave her opinion on a lot of traffic-growth strategies like giveaways, link parties, guest posting/contributing, seeking press mentions, etc. This is where the live chat was really neat, because a lot of participants chimed in with their experiences (for instance several said that the traffic they have gotten during giveaways doesn't stick around), and also shared resources like blog posts they had written about points that were being discussed, or recommendations for designers. I would say one of Nicole's main points was to focus heavily on creating fully original content - your own photos, your own ideas, your own projects.
The class finished with a quick Q & A session. One person asked how many pageviews is "good". Nicole said 10,000 a month is "good", and 100,000 is "there". By "there" I'm assuming she meant you could consider yourself a bigger, decent-sized blog at that point. For comparison, my Lisa Loves Logan blog has had 1500 pageviews in the 3.5 weeks since I started it. Of course, it will never meet a benchmark of anywhere near 100,000 pageviews a month due to the smaller population of possible readers in the valley. But that's not really what I'm going for on that blog. This blog, A Farewell To Can't, has had 2500 pageviews in the 5.5 weeks since I started it. Thank you to any and all of you who are following along and reading!
Bottom Line: Was It Worth It?
It's hard for a class not to be worth FREE. Yes, it was totally worth the price I paid. But was it worth the price I didn't pay? Was it worth $15? I think so. I'm excited to take the rest of my free classes, and I could see myself paying for another class or two down the line. It's not just the instruction from the teacher that makes it worthwhile. It's the opportunity to "meet" and network with many other bloggers at once, who are at various stages of blogging. For me, as a beginner, I'm not sure that's necessary, but for others who are further along I think it can be a really good thing to develop a tribe of sorts.
Speaking of tribes, here's the whole roster of bloggers who took the class with me. Check em out! I will be! It's a big list and may take me some time to get through. I'll report back if I find any new particular faves.
Syrah | the Pièce de Résistance http://www.pdrsweets.com
Aja, the gold hat: http://ajalake.blogspot.com
Jordan - Polkadot Prints: www.polkadotprints.com.au
LIndsay, Shrimp Salad Circus: http://shrimpsaladcircus.blogspot.com
Uncle Beefy: http://thebedlamofbeefy.blogspot.com/
Jeudi: soon to be launched Home And Yonder blog
Lisa: www.afarewelltocant.com & www.lisaloveslogan.com
Whew, that's quite the list! Bloggers from the class, please leave a comment if you visited and fill me in on something (anything) from the first half hour of the class! :) Also, let me know your Twitter handle if you would like me to follow you.