Friday, September 28, 2012
AdWords Specialists Courtney Pannel, Adam Anderson, and Morgan Price hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the fourth installment of the SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air series.
During the Hangout on Air, we discussed features like call extensions and call metrics that can help drive phone traffic for your business. Here are some resources to check out on call extensions and call metrics.
We also chatted about the benefits of having a mobile-only campaign (keyword + ad optimization, mobile site destination URLs, metrics split from desktop performance, etc.). Here’s a nifty resource about mobile ads, complete with videos and examples.
Here's the full 25-minute Hangout on Air, from the Google Business YouTube channel:
To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.
And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, October 11, when we discuss how to optimize your account to drive local traffic. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Earlier this week HootSuite Enterprise hosted Adam Singer, from Google Analytics, to share how you can use Google to measure social performance. With over half of people talking more online than they do in “real life”, digital social media is a critical platform for marketers, but how do we measure its impact?
Most marketers use platform metrics as performance indicators, but often they cannot be linked to sales. Engagement is the easiest and often the most measured social metric in terms of followers, fans and comments. However, revenue is often the more important (and more difficult to measure) metric that can help marketers determine an ROI for their social media efforts. Google offers two solutions that can help drive social media performance: Google+ and Google Analytics social reports.
Building relationships on Google+ may improve other parts of your marketing plan. Google+ is integrating social in all the Google products marketers already use, which can help them drive deeper engagement with their target customers, be more relevant by offering social recommendations when customers need them most and remain accountable by providing transparency of how their ad dollars are performing.With Google Analytics Social reports you can tie your social media to metrics you care about. Here are some top tips Adam covered in the webinar:
- Find something you can measure (micro or macro-conversions) and sprint in that direction. Focus on how separate channels can drive different types of site actions, which can be tied to a value you determine.
- Measure success criteria directionally. Benchmarks are uncommon and do not necessarily translate across products, services or industries.
- Create your social posts with a measurement goal in mind. Be sure to include a call to action to inspire your audience to act.
- Understand and connect with your audience differently across the different networks. Try not to post the same thing on each platform, customize and use what works best.
Source: Socialnomics, 2009Posted by the Google Analytics Team
Monday, September 24, 2012
Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog
Startups and entrepreneurs have the power to build technologies and creative solutions that transform the world and move us forward. Innovation is happening everywhere: There are approximately 400 million entrepreneurs across 54 countries, and 69 million early-stage entrepreneurs offering new products and services. As Google turns 14 this month, we’re celebrating this creative spirit and officially launching Google for Entrepreneurs, the umbrella for our several dozen programs and partnerships around the world that support startups and entrepreneurs.
Our focus is threefold:
- Partnerships with strong organizations that serve entrepreneurs in local communities
- Google-led programs to bring our teams and our tools directly to entrepreneurs
- Placing relevant Google tools in the hands of startups as they are getting off the ground and ready to scale
To celebrate both our birthday and the spirit of entrepreneurship that’s helped get us where we are today, we are hosting our first annual Google for Entrepreneurs Week, which will bring together more than 3,000 entrepreneurs and Googlers around the world. We kicked off over the weekend with a Startup Weekend event hosted at the Google Ventures Startup Lab in Mountain View, Calif., where Bay Area entrepreneurs came together to create their own startups in 54 hours. Over the course of the next week, Googlers in 28 cities across 13 countries will be hosting an event in their communities to bring their passion and expertise to local entrepreneurs. We’re teaming with a number of partners to make this happen, including the Idea Village in New Orleans, Communitech in Waterloo, Tetuan Valley in Wroclaw, the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg and the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce in Iowa.
For more on these existing programs and to stay connected on upcoming events, visit google.com/entrepreneurs and follow us on G+.
Posted by Mary Grove, Head of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach
It struck me that perhaps the tutor in question may have had a background in newspapers, because publications like The Times, The Daily Mail and The Sun all have staff numbers that Boat Spotters Monthly can only dream of!
Having looked at this student's idea, whilst it could work for her local magazine target, I also felt that it could work for a national magazine too. But, another point I wanted to make here is that whilst the other tutor felt the idea could be written by a staff writer, sometimes it is not your idea you need to sell, but your experience. Why are you the best person to write this idea? Your experience gives you an insight into the idea that a staff writer might not be able to bring to the piece.
A few years ago, I sold an article to The Daily Express financial pages. It was about the benefits of saving a small amount of money each week for Christmas through a Christmas Savings club. Now, any staff writer is capable of researching and writing such a piece. However, the Daily Express commissioned my piece because of my experience with this subject:
- For three years, I ran a Christmas Club at my place of work,
- Not only had I set up the Christmas Club, but I'd also 'sold' the idea to my work colleagues, therefore I knew how to sell the idea to the readers, too,
- Drawing upon my experience, I could give advice to readers about how to set up their own group and the steps they needed to take to ensure the club's probity,
- I could also contact past members for quotes.
Friday, September 21, 2012
In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we chatted with the folks who created the Administrative Assistant Community on Google. Administrative Assistants and other extreme users of Google Apps can trade tips and tricks about productivity, getting organized, and anything else. They’ve also got educational Hangouts (sounds familiar!) that highlight different Google products.
Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.
Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.
Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:
What was the inspiration behind creating the Administrative Assistant Community?
After having worked with a number of Google Apps customers over the years, we realized that Admin Assistants are the real super users of Apps. They use Apps, and in particular Gmail and Calendar, in novel and exciting ways. This also means that they often come across problems or things that don’t work the way they need them to, and this will usually happen when they are under extreme pressure to get things done for their boss. So they are also a group that needs special attention and focus. There is already an internal Google Admin Assistant community sharing tips and tricks, and we thought it would be great to extend this into a more public facing community. Plus we aim to make the site itself a one stop shop for Admin Assistant related resources and materials.
Who can join the discussion? Is it limited to paying Google Apps customers, or “official” administrative assistants?
Anyone can join. It is a free public website and community. Although it is particularly aimed at Administrative Assistants who use Google Apps, all are welcome to share tips and tricks!
Help Desk Hangouts are hosted on the Google+ Your Business page every other Wednesday. Don’t miss our next Hangout at 11a.m. PDT on Wednesday, October 3. Look for the topic announcement on the Google+ Your Business page.
Posted by Dori Storbeck, Hangouts and Chat CM and Jade Wang, Google+ Local CM
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The web is where we go to find things—somewhere to eat tonight, someone to cut your hair or someone to come quickly to tend to your plumbing disaster. Ninety-seven percent of Americans who use the Internet—pretty much all of us—are looking online for local goods and services. Businesses need to be where their customers are. In 2012, that’s online.
Yet, more than half of all small businesses in the U.S. don’t have a website. Many of those businesses are completely invisible in the one place people are looking for them. The impact of being online is real: Businesses that make use of the web are expected to grow 40 percent faster and are nearly twice as likely to create jobs. Since small businesses make up half of the U.S. GDP and contribute two-thirds of all new jobs, the potential impact of getting these businesses (more than 15 million of them) online is enormous. We wanted to help spur a new wave of SMBs on the web, and change the perception that getting online is hard, expensive and time-consuming.
In July 2011, we went to Austin to get Texas businesses on the web. Texas Get Your Business Online helped any business in Texas get a free, easy-to-build website as well as a free, customized domain name and web hosting for one year. The tools and resources made it fast, easy and free for any business in Texas to get online.
The response from the small business community in Texas was tremendous—thousands of businesses started to get online at events throughout the state and on the web. So we decided to expand the program, going state-by-state to get businesses online. At the end of August 2012, we went to Alaska and Hawaii. These were our 49th and 50th states. Just over a year after our experiment in Austin, we’ve brought America Get Your Business Online to all 50 states, with help from ASBDC, Score, Intuit and over 500 local partners. We’ve had more than 20,000 small businesses attend more than 200 events throughout the country.
This is just the beginning of our commitment to get businesses on the web and succeeding online. Today, small businesses throughout the U.S. can get online for free at www.AmericaGetOnline.com. Businesses get a free, easy-to-build website as well as a free, customized domain name and web hosting for one year. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s free.
If you’re a small business, get your business online today. Or, if you know a great business that is not online, use this tool to invite them to the web. Getting America’s businesses online may very well be the fastest, easiest step we can take to grow our small businesses and our economy.
Posted by Scott Levitan, Director of Small Business Engagement
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The opportunity for Google+ to contribute to improved search rankings was a convincing reason to launch the brand’s Google+ page. By adopting social extensions, Ocado ads became instantly more compelling, and click-through rates increased by 30%.
Hangouts are a clever way that Ocado has brought food-centric content to life. The company capitalised on its existing Great British Chefs initiative and used Google+ to produce a live event where the chefs cooked for customers. Ocado promoted the hangouts via True View ads on YouTube, which resulted in 167k engaged views. The Ocado YouTube channel views went from 50k to 230k in the space of a week thanks to the hangout, without including the people who live-streamed the event (which numbered about 60 individuals at any given time).
The experience has led Ocado to consider further possibilities for moving images. They are keen not to use text-based feeds as what they really want is to get people excited about food, and images are a great way of differentiating. In addition to hangouts and images, Ocado has embraced the Google+ badge which appears on the check-out page with the aim of making the shopping experience social through gifting and sharing.
In future, Ocado has plans for more hangouts on the Google+ page, as well as ideas for more video and channel-specific content. The intention is to deliver the sights and sounds – if not the tastes and aromas – of Ocado products straight to users’ screens. Find out more about Ocado’s recipe for success by reading the full case study here.
Posted by Natalia Cano, B2B Google+ EMEA
Monday, September 17, 2012
AdWords Specialists Will Lindemann, Kaylyn Frazier, and Chad Baranik hosted a Hangout on Air last week as the third installment of the SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air series.
During the Hangout, we talked about using negative keywords to ensure your ad only shows to users looking to purchase. To grab the attention of those users looking to buy, we showed you how to optimize your ad text and expand your ad with extensions like sitelinks. To further differentiate yourself in the marketplace, we also talked about video ads and product listing ads and how you can use those more advanced formats to drive users to purchase on your site.
You can watch the full 30-minute Hangout on Air from the Google and Your Business YouTube channel here:
To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.
And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday, September 27, when we discuss how to optimize your account to generate phone traffic. Stay tuned!
Posted by Courtney Pannell and Will Lindemann, AdWords Team
At first I was slightly puzzled, because I had my camera bag slung across my back and the legs of my tripod were fully extended and resting across my other shoulder. Then it suddenly dawned on me ... the tarn I was walking back from is popular with fishermen, and this walker had probably seen my tripod, assumed it was a fishing rod, and thought I'd been fishing. We chatted briefly, and then as I wandered back down the mountainside I began seeing similarities between the sport of fishing, and the 'sport' of photography. We both end up standing around for hours trying to capture something and our perfect prey can elude us quite easily. And then there's all the equipment we photographers like to have - chat to any fisherman and they'll also explain about the need to have the right rod and tackle.
By the time I reached the car park a whole article had formed in my mind, and I quickly jotted down my thoughts.
Two days later I was wandering up another mountainside, and the weather was changeable. In the space of ten minutes seven people coming back down the mountain passed by, and they all said the same thing: "Did you see that wonderful rainbow behind you?" (Funnily enough, because it was behind me, I didn't.) Hence, the incident became another example in the fisherman/photographer article about the 'one that got away'.
And then after one particularly exhausting day on the mountains, I felt I deserved a cup of tea and a slab (yes, a slab, not a piece - I had walked nine miles) of flapjack, so I stopped off at a cafe near the car park, and sat outside to enjoy my rewards for conquering the view. Within minutes my flapjack was under attack from the local chaffinches. "If those bloody birds were human, they'd have hoodies and ASBOs," said a descending voice from the adjacent picnic table (his plate was empty too). A chaffinch with a hoody and an ASBO ... hmmmm, out came my notebook and pen again.
So in the space of a couple of days people making passing comments have helped me to produce two articles. Never dismiss anything people say to you. You never know where it might lead. At the time, it might not make sense, but as writers, these passing comments can be little idea gems. It can all begin with a passing comment, but as a writer you should never let it end there!
Friday, September 14, 2012
Join us for a webinar Tuesday, September 18th 11am PT, in partnership with Hootsuite, to learn how we can make better decisions based on performance metrics of social networks using Google Analytics social reports. Register today, it’s open to everyone!
Adam Singer, the Product Marketing Manager for Google Analytics, will go beyond the current social metrics of followers, +1’s, likes and others, to discuss the true impact your social media is making on your brand’s bottom line. We often are asked about how businesses can measure their social media and how they can capture the value they create for their consumers. Many of our current metrics allow us to measure the reach of our message, but not necessarily the ROI. What impact does social have on a company’s performance? Learn how to connect visits to your social pages all the way through to a sale or conversion on your website. It’s time to prove the value of social media with the right measurement metrics.
You’ll also learn how social media can actually influence other media performance and drive conversions. When you verify your Google+ Page, Google may show more endorsements for your business from your customers and supporters within the search results page. This can raise the social awareness of your business and increase its relevance. Because 77% of US consumers trust recommendations from their social media connections more than any other media source, seeing a +1, can help them make a purchase decision. On average, search ads with annotations have a 5-10% uplift in clickthrough rate. Some of our advertisers have seen even higher uplifts, H&M achieved 22% uplift, Cadbury achieved 17% uplift and Laterooms.com achieved a 9% uplift in clickthrough rates on their search ads.
Start measuring the value you’re creating through your social media campaigns!
Sources: Google Research 2012; Google internal data
Posted by the Google Analytics Team
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Recently, Google took part in the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce's (NGLCC) annual Business & Leadership Conference in Chicago. Our involvement was focused on supporting the start-up community and helping small- to medium-sized businesses understand how to use the web to grow. At the event, entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of experts, including Google’s John Burchett, Director, Public Policy - US States and Local, Latin America and Canada, who gave feedback on how to get their ideas off the ground.
While each business and entrepreneur is unique, here are some general tips for entrepreneurs from John Burchett after the event:
If you can do humor well, do it. The winning team had a very down-to-earth charming video introducing themselves and their product. It really made you root for them. The thing that I was generally most critical about was the tendency of all of the contestants to oversell their product and the world-changing nature of them. Grandiose claims just make me skeptical. Stick to the new, interesting innovation that they provide, but don't overhype. The worst thing is to have the 'infomercial' aroma.
We also asked participating entrepreneurs Michael McCarthy (BudiBar, a focus-enhancing energy bar), Joe Cote (Capsule Pen, a pen-shaped pill case), and Jim Hohl (Tasklite, a project management software for teams) to weigh in on their experience, and share some advice for other entrepreneurs starting on their own business journeys:
What was the most valuable piece of advice you took away from the panel?
Joe Cote: The most valuable piece of advice that we took away from the panel was that when presenting our product, too much is too much! Since receiving this advice we have narrowed our focus and zeroed in on the exact models that will have the most traction in the market, and plan to let other features and design ideas come to the forefront over time.
Michael McCarthy: The most valuable piece of advice was to remove a selling point that people didn't believe to be true, regardless of it being true or not. Instead, focus on what they do believe and you maintain customer trust.
What advice would you give to other new entrepreneurs?
Jim Hohl: Take advantage of the vast pool of free and low cost resources that are available to you from Google and others, for one thing. For another, be sure you are ready for the plunge because it's a full time job with no salary, no benefits and unlimited working hours - if you don't have a cushion, it can be a bumpy ride. And finally, be fully committed to your vision but remain receptive to criticism. I've learned a lot by listening, even when it was something I didn't want to hear.
Michael McCarthy: Make sure you have a huge passion for what you're doing and make sure that passion is not money. Passion is the fuel that will get you through the ups and downs. Also keep a good set of friends nearby who will listen to your panic, soothe your fears, and celebrate your successes.
Posted by Brandon Feldman, Accelerate with Google team
Monday, September 10, 2012
Every day, more and more people are choosing to live online and get things done in the cloud. Helping to make this experience as seamless as possible, Google Drive is one place where you can create, share and keep all your stuff. Drive is available on the web, as well as Mac, Windows and Android and iOS.
Updates for iOS
Starting today, if you’re using the Drive app on your iOS device you can also edit Google documents, just as you can with the Android app. From your iPhone or iPad, you can create a new document, edit an existing one or format text. And, just like on your computer, you’ll be able to see other people’s edits instantly as they’re made.
You’ll also notice other new improvements to the iOS Drive app. For example, you can now view Google presentations on your iPhone or iPad, including speaker notes, full-screen mode and the ability to swipe between slides. You can also create new folders, move files into folders and upload stuff (like photos and videos) from your device directly in the Drive app.
Updates for Android
We’re also updating the Drive app for Android phones and tablets today. You can now add comments, reply to existing comments and view tables in your Google documents. And you’ll have the same new abilities to view presentations and organize your stuff as your friends with iPhones do.
More to come...
Looking ahead, we have plenty more planned for the Drive mobile apps—including native editing and real-time collaboration for Google spreadsheets. Stay tuned.
Get Drive in the App Store for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and visit the Play Store to get the latest on your Android phone or tablet. To learn more about Google Drive, visit drive.google.com/start.
Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Senior Product Manager
In it, she suggests that when you wake up, you pick up your pen and notepad and write three pages. What you write is down to you. It can be writing-related, it can have nothing to do with your writing ... but you just have to write three pages in your notebook.
The idea is that, if nothing else, it clears your mind of all the clutter that has accumulated overnight. You might, for instance, wake up thinking about all of the things you've got to get done today. Well, if you've written them down in your morning pages then you've cleared them out of your mind, thus emptying it of any worry. Your creative writing time is now more likely to be creative.
Hopefully, though, some useful thoughts will come to you whilst you're writing. And this is what I've found has happened to me. Yes, I've written some pretty awful drivel, but dotted throughout these words are the occasional useful thoughts that have helped me develop several ideas, or seen a new idea show itself. Over the period of a week, I found names for two characters I want to put in a short story, and I know what the opening scene is - without really 'thinking' about it. I've also identified a couple of article ideas from this stream of consciousness too.
Like any technique, this is something that I've adapted to suit me. There's one suggestion that you should only write on one side of the page in your notebook. Then, when you come to read back what you've written, you have the opposite blank page to jot down any thoughts. I tried this, but I found there were some pages where I was making lots of notes, and others where I hardly made any notes at all (because what was on the other side was complete drivel!). So, instead, I write my three pages consecutively and then summarise the points on the fourth page, which works better for me.
Writing your stream of consciousness, first thing in the morning, feels strange at first. But give it a try. You can write anything ... but write something. Here's an example of the first few lines of one of my morning pages:
Okay ... so what am I going to write about this morning then? This pen's naff. Is it runni ... ah! That's better. New pen, and one with ink, that'll make things easier when I actually think of something to write! It's a good job I have pens lying all around the place everywhere. That's probably because I'm a stationery fan - aren't all writers? Why are writers such stationery addicts? Why do we go all of a quiver over some Post-It Notes and a couple of biros? What is it about an empty notebook that fills us with excitement ....
And so it went on. As you can see, I wasn't exactly writing Booker Prize-winning prose, but that's not the point of the exercise. The aim is to clear your brain of thoughts, some of which might prove useful. Looking back over the past few weeks whilst I've been doing this exercise, I've got something out of every set of morning pages. It might only be a character's name, although sometimes there's been a couple of article ideas. But, there's always been a useful nugget in there, somewhere.
So, why not give it a go for a week? Do it for a month and you might create a new habit! And of nothing else, at least when you get up, you can do so knowing you've actually done some writing already today!
Friday, September 7, 2012
Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we chatted with the +Google for Nonprofits team about using visual storytelling to create great social content. We talked about using different types of visual content on Google+, from photos to videos to maps. The Google for Nonprofits team shared some of their tips, tricks, and wisdom about managing a successful and engaging Google+ page, and we talked about some of our own strategies for the Google+ Your Business page, too.
Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.
Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:
Where can I find some resources business or nonprofits can use to create compelling visuals, like maps?
We’ve posted resources on our page last month and continue to do so. Our video tutorials can be found here.
What strategies and kinds of posts do you find to be successful on the Google for Nonprofits page?
Posts where we ask our community about themselves and their organizations tend to get a lot of engagement. We try to incorporate questions and opportunities for discussion in our posts every week. We also try to build momentum around a certain theme in our posts for example about a certain product or holidays or season.
Help Desk Hangouts are hosted on the Google+ Your Business page every other Wednesday. Don’t miss our next Hangout at 11a.m. PDT on Wednesday, September 19. Look for the topic announcement on the Google+ Your Business page.Posted by Jade Wang, Google+ Local Community Manager
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Here's an excerpt from our previous case study:
Meet King Arthur Flour, America’s oldest flour company. Founded in 1790, King Arthur Flour is now an employee-owned company that offers everything from baking products to educational baking programs—all with the mission to “inspire, educate and bake.” PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour’s resident writer, shows how Google+ helps the company share the joy of baking with people all around the world. Read More...
We're happy to share that they are opening a new facility — and they've put up an invite on Google+. If you're in the area, drop by and let us know how good it smells. Yum!
Posted by the Google and Your Business Blog team
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
For anyone with a passion for fashion, the most exciting week of the year is here: New York Fashion Week. But while the runway shows at the tents in Lincoln Center are still filled mostly with fashion buyers, bloggers and celebrities, with YouTube and Google+, businesses can grant everyone front row access right from their desktop, mobile phone or tablet:
- More than 30 fashion shows are streaming live on the YouTube Live from the Runway channel, sponsored by Maybelline, giving you front row access from your living room.
- Lucky Magazine’s Fashion Week Photowalk: +LuckyMagazine is hosting a Fashion Week photowalk. All week long, bloggers, designers and Lucky editors will be uploading exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos. You can add this public Google+ Event to your calendar.
- On September 7th, +TeenVogue Director +EvaChen212, and LYST are hosting an exclusive pre-show Hangout with designer Rebecca Minkoff on LYST’s page.
- Paris Vogue Fashion’s Night Out: +VogueParis will be posting “Live-GIFs” of the event on their +Page, where notable guests, models and VIPs will have their images turned into GIFs, ready to be shared across the web. This is in addition to their 3H YouTube live broadcast, available on the Vogue Paris YouTube Channel or on www.vogue.fr.
Searching for style
People are also turning to search to help them keep up with their passion for fashion. It’s perhaps no surprise that searches for [fashion week] are highest in New York City, but interest in the event comes from all over the country:
- Young designers aspiring to make their fashion week debut are hitting the books. Searches for [fashion class] are up 10% in the last month, with most searches coming from California, while searches for [fashion school] are up 60% and highest in New Jersey. [SIDE NOTE: searches for fashion class are also up 15% year over year, fashion school up 10% year over year]
- Fashion Week is about walking the walk. The nation’s next top model might from from North Carolina. Folks there searched for [modeling school] more than any other state this year, with searches jumping 35% in the last month.
- Everyone wants to look top-notch for the runway, or rather, to watch the runway. Searches for [what to wear to a fashion show] have doubled in the past month. What’s the trendiest state? Folks from Illinois searched for [fall fashion trends] more often than those in any other in the past month. Searches have grown 60% in the last month.
- Searches for [fashion week schedule] up 140% in the past month. Searches for [fashion designers] up 20% in the past month.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Whilst events like this are great opportunities for meeting up with old friends, it's also a brilliant way to make new friends and meet up with up with other like-minded people. In fact, on Friday, the day of arrival, there were many times when I was able to put a face to name I recognised from Twitter, or Wordpress, and other blogs that I follow.
During lunch on Saturday, I was chatting to some of the other delegates about why they'd come to this event, and a handful of them mentioned that this was the first such event they'd been to. Suddenly, a whole new world was opening up to them! For years, a couple of them had just been writing on their own, trying to make progress with their writing by reading articles and books on the subject. Some had even joined writers' groups to meet up with other writers, but writers' groups vary in size and quality. Some are excellent, but the drawback is that they may only expose you to the writing genres that other members are interested in. It wasn't until they'd come to something like NAWG's festival, that they realised there are so many writers - people with the same interest!
I could see that, to these people, a whole new world was opening up to them. They were busy sharing experiences and learning new things to try to take their writing further. No longer did they feel alone.
If you've never been to such an event, do try one out. Writing festivals and workshops might last for a day, a weekend, or a week. Yes, it can be difficult trying to fit it in around family life, but there's usually an option that you can fit to your particular circumstances. Whilst the NAWG festival operated over a weekend, many delegates attended for the one full day - Saturday, as a day delegate. That's something that other festivals and holidays often offer.
And, not only might you learn new skills and ideas, you'll also make lots of new friends - people you can keep in contact with in the future, if only by email or phone. Make one of these events a goal in your writing life. Set yourself the challenge of going to one - and perhaps even trying to pay for all, or the bulk of it, by selling an article, or two, or a couple of letters and fillers. By doing it that way, your writing is paying for your treat then!
Here are a few workshops and courses for you to ponder, if the idea takes your fancy:
The Gleanings, Shropshire. 22nd & 23rd September 2012.
Writing for the Magazine Market with some bloke called Simon Whaley. A look at writing letters, fillers, articles and short stories for magazines.
Chez-Castillon - Is There a Book In You? with Jane Wenham-Jones - a 5 day course taking place in October. (Note: Jane told me at the NAWG conference that there had been two cancellations, so there are now two places available on this particular course.) The course is also running again in April 2013. More details at www.chez-castillon.com
Relax & Write: Weetwood Hall, Leeds - A variety of courses running over the weekend of 26th - 28th October: http://www.malagaworkshops.co.uk/index.html
Write Better Poetry with Alison Chisholm
Writing Crime with Passion with Nick Oldham
Effective Self-Publicity with Malcolm Chisholm
In November, 9th - 11th, at the same venue:
Short Story Success with Linda Lewis.
8-10th March 2013 - Weetwood Hall, Leeds:
Write About Your Life with Alison Chisholm (by that I mean that Alison Chisholm will teach you how to write about your life - you don't need to have lived with Alison to go on this course!)
The Writers' Treasury of Ideas with Linda Lewis
Discover Travel Writing with some bloke called Simon Whaley!
Caerleon Writers Holiday - July 2013, Caerleon, near Newport, Cardiff.
Six days of workshops, talks and writing events. www.writersholiday.net Workshops on writing fiction, non-fiction, novels and more.
Swanwick Writers Summers School - August 2013, Swanwick, Derbyshire.
Six days of workshops, talks, and other writing events - and many discos, too! http://swanwickwritersschool.co.uk
I hope some of those whet your appetite.