One Girl, Two Cities

Minnesota Blogger Conference 2015

minsgameboss minsgame

In BOSS order: Anthony, me, Heather and Sara

Waking up on Saturday felt a little like Christmas because I was about to spend the day with so many people I’ve gotten to know as friends over the past year, and I’d be meeting some new people that I’d connected with on social media but had yet to meet in real life. I had attended the Minnesota Blogger Conference for the first time in 2014 (click here to read about it), and to say I was excited about 2015 is an understatement.

If you’re a writer, having friends who write is such a special gift because they understand how important writing is to you. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to collaborate with them, as I have for MinsgameBOSS. One of the best parts of the day was having Sara, Heather, Anthony and I all in one place, and of course we had to take the picture above to mark the occasion. Finding people to collaborate with is one piece of advice I would offer to any blogger. You don’t even need to find someone with a blog similar to yours; you just need a shared interest. Once you find a topic, you can either guest write on each others’ sites, or write posts on your own sites that then link to the other person’s site. MinsgameBOSS is an example of the latter, and it’s an excellent way to introduce your own audience to a writer you admire.

Having Chris there made the day pretty special, too, because we’ve spent a lot of time talking about blogging. He started Everyday Riding in 2009, so he’s an old pro and has given me so much helpful advice in the time we’ve known each other. We’ve enjoyed writing together quite a bit, from road trips to restaurant reviews. Check out his other two blogs: Everyday Tastiness and Everyday Urban Gardener.

Many of the Blog Con talks I attended reminded me that as a blogger, you have to wear many hats. What we do is hard work, and for as much as some of us put into it, you have to know that we truly love it considering how little we get paid, if at all. We have to come up with the content. We have to create the content, including visuals. Then we have to market the content. Our communication skills have to be up to par when it comes to networking and talking with potential sponsors. You really have to be able to look at every side of it in order to succeed, and that’s not an easy feat.

Lucky for me, I really enjoy the social media and in-person socializing aspect, but I do struggle to switch to marketing mode. I’m still figuring out how many times to re-post a new article on twitter, what images to include if I do, what quotes to pull, what times to do it, who to tag, etc. Things like this are where your analytics really come in handy, and I personally think they’re fun to look at and learn from because the results can surprise you.

blog con selfiesBlog Con held a selfie contest by having us post selfies with the tags #selfiecontest and #mnblogcon. Lo and behold, I won a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 from Verizon! I have a couple more not pictured above, but I was seriously so excited when they announced that I won. I even posted a couple more after they made the announcement, haha.

I was also honored to have Julio Ojeda-Zapata interview me for the Pioneer Press, and the article included some other bloggers that I know.

When all was said and done, I attended 5 sessions and grabbed at least a few takeaways from each.

Arik Hanson: 7 Trends That Impact Every Blogger In This Room – Arik helped remind me that people read what we write because they want our opinion. Everyone has a different background and therefore a different persective, and that’s something to share and celebrate.

Adam Dince: How to Build Social Communities That Drive Meaningful Traffic to Your Blog – Adam’s talk emphasized the power behind twitter chats and helped reaffirm that I should stick with #TCTalk. I did decide to switch it to every other Monday from 8-9pm because hosting a chat is a lot of work! But you can make great connections that go beyond the twitterverse and give you an excellent support network. He also drove home that when it comes to social media you, should “engage and be genuine.” If you’re on social media, you should be social! His slide below offers more tips, and you can click here to head to the Blog Con site to see the rest.


Davis Senseman: What’s the Risk? Legal Issues of Note for Bloggers – Davis’ talk applied more to people who write blogs for companies. However, she mentioned this simple piece of advice that most people forget to consider: if you’re not sure about something, read the rules. Are you using affiliate links but not sure if something is allowed? Read the rules. Not sure what to do about Pinterest? Read the rules. Also, be very aware of the rules regarding images. Your safest bet is to use your own images, of course; otherwise, try Creative Commons.

Alice Seuffert: Beef Up Your Food Photography – Alice offered great tips for improving food photographs, the most important being to use natural light whenever possible, and play around with the direction of the light. She also had a great list of low-cost props that can add interest to photographs, like ceramic tiles, scrapbook paper, small white dishware, fabric scraps and more. If you’re looking for ideas, run a quick Google image search of what you want to photograph to find some inspiration. If applicable, include brands and be sure to tag them on social media because they may ask to use your images. Also, label your photographs the same as your post title to help with search results.

Ashley Zeckman: The Marketer Abides, 3 Lessons in Creative Content Marketing from the Big Lebowski – In all honesty, your best bet for a recap of this one is to click here to head to Top Rank Marketing’s blog. The big takeaway for me is to use storytelling to connect with your readers. They have an interest in you, and telling a story is a great way to make them feel like they’re sharing the experience you had and getting to know you better in the process.


Did I mention Al Franken recorded a video for the opening remarks? That was pretty cool.

Did I mention Al Franken recorded a video for the opening remarks? That was pretty cool.

Jen Jamar and Mykl Roventine organized Blog Con which celebrated its 6th year, and this year’s event was held at St. Catherine University which is gorgeous. Jen and Mykl are awesome at what they do, and I’ve also enjoyed attending a couple of their Social Media Breakfasts this year. They just launched Get Social Events, so you should head over there and check it out! Last but not least, I love Ignite Minneapolis which Mykl co-founded and coordinates, and I highly recommend checking out the videos on YouTube. We’re incredibly fortunate to have both Jen and Mykl as part of our community because they provide us with so many educational and networking opportunities. Click here to head to the Blog Con website and sign up for email updates, and mark your calendar for Oct 15, 2016.

Now click the links below to read recaps from some of my fellow bloggers and see what they took away from our fun day of learning.

Simply Save

The Beth Next Door

Katie Looking Forward

Participation Medal Wife


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13 thoughts on “Minnesota Blogger Conference 2015

  1. Beth

    Great recap! I especially enjoyed reading your takeaways on the sessions I didn’t attend! It really was a great day, I’m already looking forward to next year! (Thanks for the shoutout too!) 🙂

    1. Laura VanZandt Post author

      Thanks so much, Beth! One of the best parts of the recaps is learning about the sessions you weren’t able to attend. I’m excited about next year, too!!

    1. Laura VanZandt Post author

      I know exactly what you mean, Heather. It’s so much more fun when you know so many people going into it, and also when you have a better idea of what to expect. I’m bummed you won’t be able to go next year!

  2. Marcie

    Hi, I’m a new blogger and decided I should look up some local blogger’s to learn from and network with. I found the blogcon site which led me to you. You were my first stop and you have so much great info and great links, I’ll be busy for a while. It’s hard to get up the gumption to go to work these days, all I really want to do is write, research, network, and write some more!

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