Blogging While Brown 2013 Recap

I was honored with the chance to keynote this year’s Blogging While Brown Conference this past Saturday (June 22nd). My presentation entitled “Data Driven Blogging: Treat your blog like a product”, (hopefully) inspired bloggers to stop focusing on gaining traffic, and start focusing on activating users.

For those who don’t know the background; my business partner and good friend Angela Benton and I keynoted the first ever Blogging While Brown Conference back in 2008 (which in internet years was 20+ years ago). Our presentation entitled:  “The Ultimate Blogging Experience”, highlighted the platforms, widgets/plugins, designs, layouts, and SEO tips to help enhance your blog. The timing of this presentaion was epic! In 2008, not a whole lot of bloggers were thinking along the lines of SEO, social networks, and design and layout. Fast forward to 2013, where plugins are plentiful, templates are easy to find, everyone’s writing about blogging tips, and everybody and their mommas (literally) have Twitter and Facebook accounts.

So, when Gina Mccauley, the founder of the Blogging While Brown Conference, asked me to speak on the technical components of blogging and social media, I got a little nervous. My concern, was that most bloggers either already knew, or could easily find the hottest technical tools for their CMS. I then thought that maybe I should just geek out, and discuss hosting providers, cloud services like AWS and Joyent, server technologies to increase speed like using Memcached, Redis, page caching and CDNs. But, then as I started outlining it, I almost put myself to sleep. Not to mention there’s a pretty good chance that quite a few bloggers are using shared blogging platforms like and Blogger to power their sites, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave anyone out of this presentation (after all I was the keynote).

So, it hit me, one of the biggest problems I see with bloggers is that there’s so much focus on traffic, and driving impressions for advertisers, that we’ve forgotten the real reason why advertisers started pursuing bloggers in the first place…. COMMUNITY. So, as I started researching tools and techniques, I figured why not equate the lessons I’ve learned building products, to blogging. I mean, after all blogs are products.

Without giving the whole presentation away, some of the key highlights are to focus on the AARRR Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue (I eliminated the Revenue Part in my presentation.)
  • Referral

Like McClure, I asked bloggers to focus the lion’s share of their time Activating users. For those who didn’t see the presentation, and aren’t familiar, activation simply means getting users to “join” your site. “Joining” could be anything from adding their email address for your newsletters, liking your brand on Facebook, or following your brand on Twitter. I asked bloggers to use the analytics tools in this presentation to determine which activation route to go down. Example: if you’re “winning” (winning = activating more users) on Facebook, double down on Facebook. Same goes for Twitter. One of the most effective acquisition tools for me has been email (I call email the forgotten app).

The tools and techniques shared in the presentation focused largely on plugins and analytics like Mixpanel and Optimizely to help determine the activation route, and simple plugins that would entice users to activate.

Check out the full presentation below or on slide share.

If you’re interested in any other bonus materials including video tutorials using some of the products mentioned in this presentation, subscribe to my newsletter.



Published by Markus Robinson

Markus Robinson, an entrepreneur with more than ten years of professional experience in Information Technology, is the owner of Robinson Innovations, a start-up business. He has created custom web applications and mobile apps for businesses, including Radio One and Connxus. Currently, he is the lead for a team of developers and designers at Interactive One’s Innovation who research, develop, deploy and launch new web and mobile products using Lean Agile development techniques. He is a co-founder of Black Web Media (Flagship site Black Web 2.0).

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