A Few Thoughts From BlogPotomac

I had the pleasure of attending BlogPotomac last Friday, in Falls Church, Virginia. As far as conferences go, it was a little different than what you might expect:

  • there were only about 150 attendees
  • none of the speakers used Powerpoint
  • most speakers focused on creating a conversation with the audience than just talking

This format led to some very interesting discussions, primarily focused on social media in marketing — with some sidetracking into politics, personal branding and other topics. Beyond offering up some great insights into the current state of social media, I did catch some ideas that bode very well for freelance writers.

Marketing Needs Writers

This sounds like a ‘Duh!’ sort of idea, but stick with me. Marketing teams have always included writers: they’re key to turning out copy for ads, brochures and other marketing materials. But as marketers explore social media options, they need to bring in people (often on a freelance basis), who are capable of putting out regular content for the company blog, who can craft short snippets and answer questions on Twitter and who can put together ebooks and other promotional resources. The amount of work available to writers boomed when companies started going online and needing copy for their websites. I think we’re at the start of another boom as companies look for content for social media.

It doesn’t hurt that a contract with a freelance blogger is going to still cost most companies much less than a television advertising campaign would.

Writers Need to Educate Clients

If you’ve decided to focus on producing content for clients, you’re going to have to act as an educator for most of your clients — and that means that you need to be pretty knowledgeable yourself. If you’re creating a blog from scratch for a company, you’ll want to be able to make recommendations on which CMS is best to use (and which you’d prefer to work with), what metrics are particularly useful and similar details. Just as a copy writer who specializes in direct mail is well-versed in the technicalities of conversion, a web writer needs to know her niche well enough to teach clients how to work with her.

Attaching Your Personal Reputation to a Client’s Project is Good and Bad

Aaron Brazell and Amber Naslund spoke about personal branding — and how it’s become something of a cheat. Many people ‘build’ personal brands online by simply putting up a website and a LinkedIn page. But a brand is still something that must be earned. It’s your reputation, and it’s important.

Many companies are looking for bloggers and other social media help from people with brands / reputations, partially with the idea that such individuals can jump start a company’s online efforts. Others are shying away from working with such bloggers, on the grounds that they may focus on building their own brands rather than helping the company. Sticking to the reputation side of the personal branding argument and earning a great brand, rather than building one, can help you balance between these two approaches.

The Briefest of Summaries…

These three thoughts are absolutely minimal when you realize how much information was shared at BlogPotomac. I can’t even begin to describe all of the information that was shared. I have run across a few blog posts that focus on other parts of the conference: Jennifer Berk’s post on Advocacy Avenue and Julie Minevich’s post on her personal site.

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