Teaching new and experienced bloggers at Blogger Fair 2013

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The Southeast Michigan Media Lab hosted its first Blogger Fair May 9, attracting 31 people either interested in starting a blog or currently posting to an established blog. The event drew writers from across Southeast Michigan, from Metamora, Sterling Heights and Birmingham to Flat Rock, Dearborn, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, where the lab is located.

The fair featured an overview about the media lab, its free workshops and instruction, as well as its mission to recruit 100 new blogging partners for parent company 21st Century Media’s Michigan group of news websites managed by Digital First Media. In the last three months, with blogger fairs held at sister publications and through the efforts of editors and staff, 43 new blogging partners have been added. The program has been such a success that the webmaster of Heritage.com had to figure out a way to accommodate all the new RSS feeds because they were overloading the website, with a total of 89 partners. Blog categories were added under each tab, rather than all under the “Life” section. The Oakland Press has the highest number of blogging partners with 126, followed by The Macomb Daily with 85.

Breakout sessions followed the media lab presentation, with News-Herald Online Editor Joe Gray leading the session “Blogger Basics and Social Media;” Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, led “Understanding Search Engine Optimization, Analytics and How to Monetize Your Blog;” and I led “Incorporating Visuals and Interactive Elements in Your Blog.” The 3-to-5 group saw the largest turnout, and the 5-to-7 group also featured some writers from the earlier group who wanted to join a second breakout group. Copies of my presentation were handed out to participants, and an electronic version can be found on Scribd.

In addition, freelance photojournalist Mark Bialek of Ann Arbor Nights took portrait photographs of the participants who wanted new photos for their blog and/or social media channels.

We have received positive feedback about the event via our page on Meetup.com and through email. Additional blogger recruitment fairs are in the works at The News-Herald and The Oakland Press. Voice Newspapers, The Macomb Daily and Daily Tribune in Royal Oak held similar successful events earlier this year.

Below is a video from the event. If you are interested in becoming a blogging partner, call 734-719-0192. Also, you’re welcome to stop by the lab for help with your blog or to attend our free workshops. On June 20, the topic is “Blogging for Nonprofits.” “Using Social Media to Engage Your Audience” will be presented July 25. Visit our Meetup page for times and sign up to be notified of future events.

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