SOBCon08 – Biz School for Bloggersâ€¦ A report, part 2
Amazing that it took a whole blog post to cover the first day of SOBCon08, but it did. Friday was great. The boat ride stellar. And the conversation even better.
Seeing Lorelle first thing Saturday morning started the day off right. Got a chance to speak with Easton Ellsworth a bit, catching up on family and the like. Truth is I talk to Easton almost weekly. I did get to have breakfast with David Dalka and Phil Gerbyshak. We mostly talked shop – not blogging shop, but business shop – niche marketing and expert positioning. In other words, what problems do you solve for whom.
Business School was the theme of SOBCon08. The idea was born from watching lots of bloggers getting traffic and tons of comments, but making no money. This year’s SOBCon was going to bring business people and bloggers together so that business owners could learn about communities and using social media while bloggers could learn solid business practices.
Anita Bruzzese of 45Things kicked off the morning. She gave a great talk about managing your online reputation. Her advice: Remember “whatever you write has your name on it and you must be willing to stand behind it.” Her talk sparked a great conversation afterward that I was really getting in to. If only more time.
Next up was the Copyblogger himself – Brian Clark. Brian opened with “forget blog. be an entrepreneur rather than a copywriter.” He had me with forget blog.
What Brian did really well was remind us that a blog isn’t in and of itself a business. What we actually do to make money is our business. So he encouraged everyone to consider a business model showing us that a business model is not:
- Your revenue source
- Your traffic strategy
- Your blog
What a business model is, rather:
- The right product or service (for) the right target market (at) the right price.
That sentence above is the key to having a successful business. Brian knows it which is one of the reasons why Copyblogger and Teaching Sells is doing so well. There’s more, of course, but this was the key point that I felt was most important to take away form Brian’s talk.
One note on Mr Clark, somehow he managed to leave Chicago without us having a good chat together. Not sure how he managed that, but he did. That’s all right, I’ll pin him down next time.
After Brian, Lorelle VanFossen led a discussion and exercise to help everyone find the ten words that would describe what you do as a business owner. That was her main point – you have to be able to describe what you do to people who may be interested in language they understand. I’d go a bit further and say that you need to concisely show that you can solve their problems. That’s why the conversation can be so valuable before you get to talking about what you do.
Next came Chris Garrett of chrisg.com fame. Chris and Darren Rowse just released a book called Problogger: Secrets of Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. Haven’t finished it yet, but from what I’ve read it’s really good. Make sure you get a copy.
Chris’ talk called, More Bang from Your Blog, covered a lot about workflow. He says, “you have to have a work structure” to be successful at blogging (and at business). His workflow consists of Learn / Create / Communicate / Promote. Workflow – both for you blogging and your business – is something I spend a lot of time with clients working on so I couldn’t agree more. There’s so little time, why not make the most from it.
Somewhere in here we had lunch and I spent a nice time talking with Stephen Smith from Productivity in Context and Jared Goralnick from Technotheory. Jared and I shared in great converation around business building, marketing and business growth. Then we mingled a bit chatting with a number of people – most whose names I just can’t remember. Sorry.
Back to the presentations…I next got my socks blown off by David Bullock. Obvious this guy knows what he’s doing when it comes to business development, business growth and metrics. David was one of the business owners who was there to learn about social media. And boy did he get a dose of it. His S.T.A.R.T. Formula is a solid business development model:
- Strategy – what’s the overall story and how does your overall story match the overall story of the marketplace?
- Tactics – planning – how are you going to do what you need to do to grow your business
- Action – doing the plan – you’ve gotta actually do something to make the tactics work for you.
- Results – you’ve gotta know what results you want from your actions and whether or not your site or business can gain those results.
- Tracking – pay attention to what’s going on – most often missed by small business owners. It’s more than just site statistics. It’s knowing what you expect from your marketing, for instance, and being able to measure effectiveness.
David also had what may have been, for me, the most power-packed quote of the whole event: “I want to own a space not own a channel.” He and I talked about this afterward. Be a great conversation piece in the comment box.
Funny thing is that Chris Brogan followed David – which was a perfect blend. Following David’s business-minded presentation, Chris offered an opportunity to for us to think of businesses as being people (sound familiar?). His overall message was to differentiate your community from your marketplace. In community it’s about the people and how you connect with each other. Ultimately it’s about people doing things freely for each other. Marketplace, though, is where you sell things. Chris suggest keeping them separate. How, invite community into your marketplace, just don’t turn your community into the marketplace. Let people have both.
We started running long on time so Liz Strauss’ presentation was cut a bit short. The key element I took from her was, “Know the difference between traffic, readers and customers.” I’d say know who each are, why they’re at your site and how you can meet each of their needs.
Wendy Piersall ended the day with an emotional, spirited and high energy presentation challenging each of us to be great; great as bloggers, great as people, great as business owners. As she says, “what right do you have not too?”
That ended Saturday’s main events. There was still Sunday to go – and don’t forget Saturday night – which I’ll write about later in a piece about selling.
Reading through all this, are you beginning to get the idea that blogging is not, in and of itself, a business? Rather, blogging is a way to interact with your audience, increase your reach and inform about your business. In other words, a blog is a method for marketing.
I see way too many business owners confusing their blog for their business. Perhaps it’s because they put so much time into it – I’m not sure. Yet it’s important to consider that a blog is something that serves an overall business, helping the business reach its goals.
So how is your blog serving your business? Are you selling products and a landing clients from your blog? If so, what have you done to make yourself successful?