Lessons from the ProBlogger Event. Darren Rowse, Chris Garrett, Sonia Simone & Tim Ferriss?

Looking for a clever way to start this post. Failing miserably at this stage.

Better move on with the post itself before anything I write here becomes extremely redundant. No time to be fancy.

Will come back to this. (You can see that now that I didn’t)

Darren Rowse, problogger event Melbourne 2011

Here are my notes from the conference.

Blog Smart – But from the Heart by Darren Rowse

When you are passionate, you attract passionate readers. Set the tone for your blog and you will find like-minded audiences.

People remember stories. Stories that resonate, go on forever.

Darren talked about some personal posts he had done on his blog that became immensely popular.

He talked about one guest post ‘How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World’ by Jon Morrow, the associate editor of copyblogger. That post has gotten over 2300 tweets. 2300+! Read Morrow’s incredibly inspiring story, be sure to follow the links inside the post. Read this and you will feel inspired for as long as you can remind yourself of this story. I guarantee it.

Other tips: Inspire people to go on a hunt for for information, be playful, throw in a personal touch, surprise your readers, write in your own style and most of all, be really useful.

If you want your blog to be a business, treat it like a business.

Have you created your reader profile?

Your brand is what people say about your blog when you are not there. What do you want people to say about yours?

Go where your potential readers are gathering.

Work out your editorial strategy – the type of posts, the rhythm. Experiment, test, tweak.

Focus on building your brand, your community, first. Once you have the readers, then think about monetization.

Blog Critique with Chris Garrett

‘About me’ page – talk about what you offer to your readers. Why should they come to your blog? (Check!)

List ‘Resources’ in the sidebar. (To do)

Attraction – Conversion – Retention. Formula for success.

Make one main call to action when someone visits your blog. What do you want them to do, buy, hire, advertise, subscribe?

Use compelling images.

Use descriptive headlines that make a promise and then deliver. Imagine a brat saying ‘so what?’ after each headline you write.

Make your headlines, subheads really stand out by choosing a different colour.

Blogs reach a plateau when they stop using headlines that attract new readers.

How I wish we had more time so I could offer my blog for a critique.

Creating Content that Builds ‘Know, Like, Trust’ by Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone said copyblogger is her baby- her vision, that she is responsible for 90% of copyblogger while Brian Clark takes care of the business side of it. She went on to say that Copyblogger is not a blog that is monetized but a business that has a blog. This is some serious fodder for thought. Have a think about your own.

Create Know, Like, trust.

Audience that knows you, likes you and in turn trusts you.

Cookie Content

Treat your readers like dogs. Produce content that will reward people every time they open it.

#1 Cookie Content makes life easier
#2 Cookie content can be useful right away. (The a – ha moment for me)
#3 Cookie content tastes good.

Auto-responder. Set up a series of training posts that puts your reader in the habit of opening your content. (When somebody signs up that is.)

Creating Trust; show up, pay attention, and don’t lie.

Have a predictable schedule of posting. (I know I personally have to work on this.)

You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak.

Sometimes, posts don’t get many comments because they are so comprehensive, so self contained. Readers don’t feel they can add anything but they still share it like crazy.

Blog is to attract, newsletter is to engage. (Feel free to interpret this however you like)

First mistake you can make is to assume your reader is you. Do reader surveys to establish what your audience is like.

If a post doesn’t do well, its almost always the headline that is the culprit.

My Tim Ferriss Story

So at the end of the conference, we are sitting down for the final case studies. There is one vacant seat next to me and somebody comes over and asks if they could sit down. Naturally, I don’t take much notice and utter a polite yes.

In about a minute or so, another man on the other side leans across me and asks this question ‘ Are you who I think you are?’

The mysterious man whispers ‘yes’.

As I sit there wondering .. while not looking directly, Darren announces .. and we have one surprise guest for you who happens to be in town, all the way from US, Tim Ferriss.

And this man, sitting right next to me,  gets up and goes up to the stage as half the audience – including myself – nearly faints with excitement.


Who is gonna believe, mighty Tim Ferris. Tim Ferris of 4 hour work week, was sitting next to me at the problogger training event, Melbourne, 2011.

And we had a full (ok – two sentence) conversation!


This has been the story that I have been telling people, over and over again, and can’t still get over it.

Check out this Video by Trevor Young of Blog Hub here.
At about 1:10 mark, see the part where Tim Ferris shows up? You can see the back of one head in the right corner – someone taking pics? Well, that head belongs to yours truly. 🙂

Other Fun Stuff

Met gorgeous Annabel Candy of Successful Blogging. Check out her awesome post ‘5 Bonza Blogging Sessions From the Problogger Event’ for even more details on other sessions.

Had a brief chat with Darren, Chris and Sonia had pictures taken with them. Bought problogger’s book and had it signed by Darren and Chris. YAY.

Darren Rowse is such a brilliant speaker. He was really funny too.

Sonia Simone was really casual. She made a comment that she thought Aussies are formal so she is wearing her new sneakers. She wanted to let us know that she had made an effort.

And Chris Garrett was just sooo charming. He was soft spoken, incredibly wise and so kind. It was an absolute pleasure meeting him.

Lovely photos from the event here.

Found this awesome graphic ‘What I have learned, Blogs are like Icebergs’.

Wish I had written this post. What I learned at the problogger conference. UPDATED

And of course problogger’s post has gone live too. Melbourne ProBlogger Event Recap, LinkUp and Looking Forward (#PBevent) UPDATED

All the people behind the event were wearing handwritten tags as they forgot to have theirs done. While this was hilarious, it also made it fairly easy to spot people behind the event. Good on ya guys!

Darren showed a really old photo of himself, probably from high school that I can’t find anywhere now. UPDATED Check this out. (Scroll down)

Looked like brown, black or blonde were not the only popular choices in hair – there were some blue, green, pink and reds to be seen. A mixture of some in Sonia Simone’s hair as well.

Some babies were also spotted at the conference – some early starters I reckon. 🙂

It was really, really – really noisy in between sessions. My voice was hoarse from – what felt like – shouting to get heard. But I am used to it, after all I do manage to talk to my boys over the sound of telly.

All in all, it was a fantastic event. People are already talking about the next one. I know what to do for that one, wear comfy shoes, and network more!

Maybe I get to see you there. 🙂

Photos credit. Problogger.net

If you could go to events like that, would you? Would sort of questions would you ask? Did you go to this one? Share your thoughts on this recap in the comments below.

Have you taken my 3-minute Client Attraction Quiz? Check it out now, it’s awesome! :)


  1. Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging Says :
    Posted on October 24, 2011 at 3:59 am

    Hi Marya,

    Great to meet you and love the pics of you with the celebs:) You were sitting next to TF?! Fab:)

    Ah, I didn’t realise the babies were bloggers too. I just thought they were there with their mums;)

    • marya
      Posted on October 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

      Annabel, wish I had taken a good look at his face though. In my defence, he was wearing a cap that sorta hid his face. The guy next to me only recognized him when Tim took his cap off. And he didn’t stay for long after his bit.

      Babies sure added some sound to the event – although, it wasn’t like it was needed.

      Many thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  2. Ali Says :
    Posted on October 24, 2011 at 7:09 am

    You should bring them to Karachi 😉

    • marya
      Posted on October 24, 2011 at 7:29 am

      ha ha … I wish. How is it going?

  3. Avadhut Says :
    Posted on October 24, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Hi Marya,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sure, it’s difficult NOT to get motivated by the presence of these well known bloggers.

    Yes, I too need to work on ‘About’ page and resources.

    Hope to take some ideas from these celebrities 🙂

    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 12:38 am

      Great to hear from you Avadhut. It was just amazing. There is already talk about the NEXT event .. I know what I will be doing differently that time though. More networking! Cheers 🙂

  4. Eddie Gear Says :
    Posted on October 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Marya, as promised a lovely post highlighting the problogger even. I hope that one day I would migrate to Australia and would be able to meet you all. This sounds great. Thanks for sharing the problogger even with your readers.

    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 12:40 am

      Hey Eddie, don’t have to migrate you know, maybe come down under for a visit? 🙂

      I didn’t talk much about what actually happened at the event. But you are probably aware of the problogger post that has gone up now. It actually has some great links to follow as well. I missed out, damn! what can I do, life intervenes. 🙂 Cheers

  5. Vincent Says :
    Posted on October 24, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Marya,

    It was really nice meeting you at the Problogger event in Melbourne last week.

    Also enjoyed your post. It reminds me of the highlights of day. And me too I couldn’t believe Tim Ferris was speaking a few meters from me. His 4-hour work week sits on my bedside table and I recently watched a video on YouTube where he talked about how he invests in startups.

    Keep up the good work and I hope we will meet again.


    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 12:42 am

      Hey Vincent, thanks for coming over. Hope you get some good ideas re your blog. Fingers crossed, we meet at the next problogger event? 🙂 Cheers

  6. Maid In Australia Says :
    Posted on October 25, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I missed this one, but hopefully I’ll be there at the next one! Great recap and photos!

    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Thanks very much Bronnie. Can you tell I had a peak at your blog? You’ve got some great photos in there too :).

      Would you believe, people are already asking Darren about the next one? Not sure about others but I will surely go to the next one. Absolutely. 🙂


  7. Gilbert Ho Says :
    Posted on October 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Great write-up of #pbevent, Marya! I like how you’ve summed up the main points so succinctly.

    I still can’t believe we were sitting next to Tim Ferriss! I was trying hard not to act like a crazy fan as I got the feeling he wanted to remain incognito until he was announced as the surprise guest.

    Still, it would have been nice to get a photo opportunity with Tim… 😛

    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Hey Gilbert, great to see you here. 🙂 People, this is the guy who was sitting on the other side who recognized Tim Ferriss – finally, I have a witness! heheheh.

      oooh, I would have liked a photo with him too.

      Thanks for appreciating the post. The teacher in me wrote that, whereas most posts going around are focusing on the networking side of it. Figure, this would satisfy people who are wondering what was actually being said. Take care and keep in in touch.

      Oh and I just had a peek at your blog – it is gorgeous! Did you take the photos? Of course you did, you are a photographer too – so yummy! Did I tell you I am obsessed with food? Cooking – not as much unfortunately.

  8. Chris Garrett Says :
    Posted on October 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the day. Wasn’t Tim Ferris a surprise and a delight? I have to admit I chickened out from talking to him, something I regret now. Had he turned up at the start I might still have had some social battery left, but at the end of the day I was feeling the need to escape to my introvert cave 😉

    Great write up and keep up the good work! 🙂

    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      Hi Chris, wow you are indeed a man of your word. I am so flattered. 🙂

      What a blast we had at the conference. You were fantastic to listen to.

      I was talking too much and too fast because I was so nervous and anxious inside, I always do this when I go to big parties, which is not that often.

      This will probably sound silly but I am going to cherish this comment forever – I am silly like that. 🙂

      Thanks so much for coming over – I am looking forward to meeting you in person again, whenever it might be. One day! 🙂

      Must stop talking now – especially when I am rambling like an over excited teenage girl.

  9. Liz@LastChanceTraining Says :
    Posted on October 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Marya,
    What a pain that I missed you – I did look for you but it was so hard with so many bloggers! However, it’s really nice to make all these connections and friends in genres that I don’t write about at all. Loved it.
    Hugs, Liz N

    • marya
      Posted on October 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      Hey Liz. I was actually too nervous to approach a lot of people. That was not a natural habitat for me, its hard for me to mingle with people at crowded, noisy evemts. A true introvert deep down.

      I am sorry I missed seeing you too. Maybe next time? Can’t believe there is already talk of a next time. 🙂

      • Liz@LastChanceTraining Says :
        Posted on October 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm

        I’m glad you said that Marya, I succumbed to an attack of extreme introversion at the time. I escaped during the lunchhour because I was just feeling so darn shy!
        Next time – I hope there is and sometime soon. I would love to redo the day!

  10. The Blog Designer Says :
    Posted on October 26, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Great post Marya. It was a great event huh! Your post perfectly captured the enjoyment and spirit that exists in the Aussie blog community. I ended up bringing a new designer along with me who is from a web design background but I wanted to show him what the blog community is like. He was amazed!

    • marya
      Posted on October 27, 2011 at 2:47 am

      Hi Mike and Andy. Hmm, wondering who actually wrote this comment? 🙂

      Thanks for your positive words. My heart swells with joy every time I think of the event – a tad dramatic but true.

      Hey, I checked out your site – very cool! As you can probably tell, everything on mine is handmade – to say in the nicest possible manner. I am happy with it for now as it is not monetized yet. However, as soon as I reach that stage, I will surely look you guys up.

      Many thanks for dropping by.

  11. sudha Says :
    Posted on October 27, 2011 at 7:09 am

    So interesting and a brilliant round up

    • marya
      Posted on October 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks. 🙂

  12. Increase Web Traffic Says :
    Posted on October 28, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Sounds like you had a blast and learned a lot, Marya.

    Wow, Chris actually left a comment!

    How did Brian Clark take Sonia’s claim to Copyblogger?

    Jon Morrow is a great writer for sure; you’ve got to be to be paid up to $5K per post.

    Thanks for the notes.


    • marya
      Posted on October 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

      Hey Ana 🙂

      Chris is the nicest guy – for someone who is really amongst the A – list bloggers elite – he rocks! Really down to earth and a self confessed shy guy actually.

      I don’t think Brian worries much about what people say. I wouldn’t think he would have a spare moment to think about it.

      Ahh — Jon Morrow. He is fantastic. Now, I am in a bit of a dilemma here. I want to go through some professional training and I am torn between Jon and HIS MENTOR Chris Garrett. I am thinking, Chris would be able to teach more about blogging as a business, monetization etc whereas Jon primarily talks about guest posting. I am doing pretty good on that front – except for Copyblogger that is.. something (or someone!) is not clicking into place for me, wonder what it might be. 😉

      Sorry for the rambling. Great to have you over, as usual! 🙂

      I loved reading your comment btw. Looks like at least one person read it properly.

  13. Ana Hoffman Says :
    Posted on October 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Sounds like Chris is the way to go!

    • marya
      Posted on October 29, 2011 at 1:04 am

      Thanks. Only if I could afford him, that’s another matter altogether …

  14. Samuel Joshua Says :
    Posted on October 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Hey Marya,
    I really admire and appreciate your firm and well fabricated effort for presenting all these inspirational and important tips at this post.These all are blogging legends.I am feeling like i am sitting in that conference hall and absorbing all things directly.I have got one very beneficial formula here and that is “Attraction – Conversion – Retention”,this formula is 100% workable and it is an actual foundation for any blog to achieve magical success.
    Thank you for sharing such a great,considerable and informative content with us.

    Good Luck and God Bless!!

    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua

    • marya
      Posted on October 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Samuel.

      Thanks very much for the kind words. I I was very lucky to be able to attend a conference like that, considering hardly anything ever happens down here (Melbourne).

      I agree with what you have said about the formula. I would say that I am somewhere between attraction and conversion stages. Fingers crossed it turns magical for me too. Have you been blogging for long? I checked out your link but couldn’t see your ‘about me’ page. Would have liked to find out more about you … 🙂


  15. Introverts, You can Network Too: 7 Tips That Really Work for the Shy Types | Writing Happiness - Writing Happiness Says :
    Posted on November 3, 2011 at 1:35 am

    […] I went to the problogger training event, I was really nervous. Not about the conference; the talks and the workshop, I was really looking […]

  16. Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D Says :
    Posted on November 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Congrats on your 2 sentence conversation!!!
    And, very nice tips.
    I have a lot of work to do!

  17. Adeline Says :
    Posted on November 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Great post, Marya! Picked up a lot of really great tips here about blogging. You’re really fortunate to have attended such an insightful event. Hopefully, they would host something like that here in the Philippines, too.

    • marya
      Posted on November 9, 2011 at 12:38 am

      Hi Adeline, good to see you! Yes, I am lucky that we have got Darren Rowse as a Melburnian. Otherwise, anything worth mentioning takes place in the US and it’s so hard to go there considering I’ve got a life hrere. Oh how I wish I could be in LA now, for the blogworld expo .. ah, wishes! Have you seen any recaps around worth writing about?

  18. Keith Davis Says :
    Posted on November 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Marya
    Well written and informative as ever.

    So much stuff, but liked…
    “‘About me’ page – talk about what you offer to your readers. Why should they come to your blog?”

    I’m off to read my about me page and put that into action.

    Looks as though you took a lot of notes.
    Much appreciated.

    • marya
      Posted on November 14, 2011 at 12:50 am

      Hi Keith, good to see you again, how is it going?

      It’s often surprise new bloggers that their ‘about me’ page is not really about them, but about what they can do for their readers first. Glad to know you agree with this point of view. 🙂

      I did take heaps of notes, this summary was just focusing on what might interest my readers, I have tons more. 🙂

      Many thanks for the comment. Sorry for such a late response, I was tied up with things on the home front. Cheers.


  19. Chris Richards - Mindnod.com Says :
    Posted on November 22, 2011 at 8:07 pm


    Thanks for the update and the links to other great posts on this. I’m so new to blogging that I appreciate any tips.
    I particularly like the tip to go where your potential readers are. Basically the same for a bricks and mortar retail business, set up where most pedestrian traffic is.

    • marya
      Posted on November 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      Chris, have you had a look at my 18 steps to a path of blogging success? (see link under popular posts on the sidebar) You might find that helpful.

      Actually, I just had a look at your blog and it looks great. I think you are being way too humble. 🙂


  20. Tram Tran Says :
    Posted on December 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Thats really cool. I love how all bloggers unite. Must have been so Fun. Do you know when the next event is ? Im blogging from Sydney, do say hi sometimes on my blog. And OMG you sat next to TF? Awesome;)

    • marya
      Posted on December 22, 2011 at 1:54 am

      It was loads of fun. Many people were talking about when the next one’s gonna be (2012) – even before the day was OVER. Maybe you should come down next year, many people did.

      Just had a look at your blog Tram, and my first impressions? WOW. It looks absolutely amazing. Being a food addict, I am in love with your top post. I will be checking it out properly soon.

      Tim Ferriss … sigh! Almost like sitting sitting net to a celeb eh?

      Many thanks for coming over, let’s stay connected. I love enterprising individuals, especially the young ones! 🙂 Marya

  21. Why these 34 Bloggers Inspired Me in 2011 | Writing Happiness - Writing Happiness Says :
    Posted on December 30, 2011 at 2:49 am

    […] blogger. The Authority Blogger! I had the pleasure of meeting Chris and Darren both at the Problogger conference. Have the signed Problogger book to prove it […]

  22. Pete Goumas Says :
    Posted on January 10, 2012 at 1:07 am

    There is some really great advice here. This looks like it was quite the conference. Do you attend these often?

    • marya
      Posted on January 10, 2012 at 3:42 am

      Hey Pete, I don’t, considering I am in Melbourne and mostly everything worth going to takes place in the US. Also because I am an introvert at heart and prefer to hide behind the computer screen.

  23. Laura Says :
    Posted on January 26, 2012 at 4:41 am

    I’m reading your points and the funny thing is… it sounds like everything blogging was when it began. I can still remember the early blogs, once we started using graphics. It was like a lightening bolt hit from the sky.

    The blogs I remember were simple in appearance but bold too. (Not a lot of graphics but what they did have were striking, attention getting). They were clever and fascinating! The writing was personable. No one was selling SEO, or ebooks or whatever endless regurgitated content I find on blogs now. Blogs had a WOW factor and it wasn’t because they were new. They were special, like going to the circus or to the theatre downtown to watch Phantom of the Opera. You could stay home and wear your scruffy slippers but feel you had just gone out and done something deluxe.

    The best bloggers were those who knew code, they could do so much more than those of us working on Blogspot, trying to figure out how they created such greatness. Now we have so much done for us with plugins and themes. But most of the blogs are disappointing, they really don’t have anything new to say and they tend to look like cookie cutters of each other.

    I won’t hold my own up as a pinnacle of greatness. It’s tougher now when we have a vast ocean of blogs compared to a river ten years ago. But, I think we get swamped with so many people telling us what we should do, how we should do it, that we forget the whole plan was to create something to represent ourselves. The creativity and the freshness gets lost in the undertow.