We all put our pants on one leg at a time

standard September 30, 2010 13 responses

They write well. Compellingly so. More importantly they have a knack for sharing just enough about their innermost selves, to reel you in and turn you into a fan.

You read a post, a second post, a third, and soon you’ve read back all the way through the archives. Then you come back every day to read a little more.

The writing is what makes the “popular” bloggers popular. But they don’t call themselves that, we call them that, and for the most part, as far as I’ve seen, it makes them intensely uncomfortable.

They are not intentionally clique-ish. They just feel awkward surrounded by people gushing and fawning over them. And who wouldn’t want to gush and fawn over someone whose blog you read religiously?

I’ve done it. I’ve “squeed” in someone’s face. I’m mortified to admit it. (And no, I’m not telling you who I did it to.)

The “popular” bloggers have fans, loyal readers, because they put themselves out there every time they write a blog post. They put vulnerable parts of themselves out for the world to see. And it’s one thing to do that at home, in your jammies, behind the safety of a computer screen. It’s another to be in front of one, ten, fifty people who have read their words and seen right into their souls. Unlike High School where the popular girls craved the attention, I’ve rarely met a blogger who really wanted to be in the limelight.

They’re not complaining. They chose to write like this – to dump, vent, turn pain into poetry. But it’s hard to look people in they eye and see that pain reflected there.

So they hide, they keep to themselves, and sometimes they hide together.

That’s when you hear others grumble. “The popular bloggers are stand-offish.” “They think they’re better than us.” “They don’t have time for the likes of us.”

It’s not true. It’s not what’s happening.

They’re well known because they write well and without pretense. They strip themselves bare day after day. Then in public they feel vulnerable and exposed. But really, they’re no different than me or you. We just know more about them than they do about us.

They’re bloggers with the same fears and insecurities. They put their pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.

So next time you see a huddle of “popular” bloggers standing off to the side, take a second before reacting. Remember that they’re just like everyone else. Stop and say hi. Make conversation. Later, work that “I love the way you write” into the conversation. Just remember that it could be you who’s inapproachable rather than the other way around.

The Secret to Online Success

standard September 28, 2010 12 responses

“Don’t ever say you’re just a blogger.” I said to the room filled with hopeful faces, each waiting for me to deliver the secret to using a blog to land “gigs.” “You’re so much more than that.”

I left it at that, but I should have added one more line.

“But in the end, you’re nothing if you don’t believe in yourself.”

There’s a process to succeeding online or anywhere.

First, decide where you want to go. Second, believe you can get there. Third, find and arm yourself with the tools you’ll need to arrive.

What. Is. Your. Goal?

Do you know?

Are you writing to just write?

Is your blog an outlet?

Are you launching a media empire?

Are you on the first step to a major writing career?

Fine. It’s all fine. The only person who should care about your personal reasons and goals for being online is you. I don’t need to know. Frankly, I don’t really care.

But you need to know. You need to care.

I see it in people’s eyes at blog meet-ups and conferences. They get dazzled by all the other goals and aspirations being flaunted. They start to think “Why don’t…?” or worse “I should…” Then the confusion is replaced by jealousy. By envy. 

Other bloggers are more successful. They get more traffic, more props. Some get more love from the PR teams. Some bloggers get wined, dined, and traveled. Some have TV appearances or even book deals.

It’s easy to get caught up on the frenzy of the “I shoulds” or worse, the rampant “gimmes,” sometimes loosely translated as a simple “I want.”

It’s hard to remember why you started in the first place.

I find it sad to watch people get lost.

There is no secret to online success. It boils down to two things: Dedication to your goals and staying true to your voice.

You started blogging for a reason. What was it? Have you forgotten along the way? (It’s ok if your goal has changed, as long as you’re aware and approving of that change.)

You have a unique voice. Do you let it sing?

Goodnight SV Moms. You were more than just a collaborative site.

standard June 16, 2010 3 responses

Over four years ago I was an avid reader of the now defunct DotMoms site. It was a collaborative blog made up of mom blogging stars. I dreamed of joining the ranks of their elite. It was my blogging goal at the time. A lofty one considering I was still a hack and hiding behind a pathetic attempt at an alias.

One day when I was plotting how to become one of their team of writers I came across a posting on my moms’ group inviting bloggers to join a local collaborative blog.

What the heck, I thought, I can start small and work my way up to DotMoms.

Four years later and DotMoms is a mere memory for some while that small local blog is a social media powerhouse with blogs in 13 cities around the US and Canada. The 400 or so bloggers that are regular contributors are considered with respect. We are most definitely part of the blogging elite.

But being a part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group has turned out to be about so much more than clout and respect. Over the years the contributors have become my friends, my blogging family. I was proud to be able to say that I was part of SVMoms Group. It was like belonging to a club, a powerful club, one that opened doors where ever I went, one that was made up of friends in every city. A sort of blogging sorority if you want, but in a good way, without rushing or hazing, or skimpy tank tops.  

Yesterday the writers received an email from the SV Moms Group founder announcing the dissolution of the company and the closing of the sites. I read the email once, twice, and a third time. There was no way this was happening. And then the words sunk in and I started crying.

I sat there on my couch, tears streaming down my face and I thought of all the people I met thanks to Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Friends I would never have connected with if it weren’t for this group. I thought of the blogging opportunities that offered themselves up to me thanks to this group. Sites I’ve blogged for, companies I’ve connected with, jobs I’ve obtained. But again and again I came back to the friends I’ve made.

These women were my sisters in arms. We spoke the same language long before it was socially acceptable to use the words we bantered around – blog, twitter, RSS, widget…

Blogging is cool now. I don’t need to be part of a blogging group to feel accepted. I’ve also come a long way on my own and I probably don’t need the back-up clout of the SV Moms Group to give me authority as a blogger or writer. That’s not what I’m crying about.

I’m crying for the friends. For the community. And for the big waste that this all is.The missed opportunities. The connections that haven’t yet been made. The what-could-have-beens.

Yesterday we were a 400 strong blogging community. Today we’re 400 panicked writers, struggling to find a way to hold on to what we had. And in my heart I know we can’t.

And it’s a crying shame.

Fighting Child Hunger at the LA Foodbank

standard April 7, 2010 1 response

I arrived in LA around noon, and after a little snafu where Melinda from Look What Mom Found and I forgot Jessica Smith at the Burbank airport, I checked into my hotel room.

I resisted the urge to dive into the massive expanse of King sized white soft cushy bed that I don’t have to share with anyone and headed down to lunch meet the other bloggers taking part in the ConAgra Foods Child Hunger Ends Here trip.

I’m in amazing company. Seriously.

Still gabbing non stop we headed to the LA Food bank where all of our chatter stopped in the face of the enormity of what the food bank does. These people work tirelessly to collect donations and wrangle amazing discounted food for the countless people in LA who are hungry every day.

Last year this food bank fed a million people.

We toured the whole warehouse – sort of like a massive Costco.

Then we headed upstairs to the packing room where we packed backpacks for the kids who are on the free lunch program at school. These backpacks go home with them on Friday night, packed with enough food to see them through the weekend, and then come back Monday to be refilled at the end of the week.

We packed 179 bags, enough to for one school, not nearly enough to feed all the kids who need it.

We joked and laughed as we packed up generic peanut butter, corn flakes, spaghetti, and a few other things, but it was hard to not imagine the child who would be digging in to these bags and wonder if he’d be thrilled to find a little bag of animal crackers or sad that there were so few treats.

It was an amazing experience and it felt good to do something hands on to help the hungry kids of LA.

Tomorrow we are heading the Desperate Housewives set for the official launch of the CHEH program. It’s not going to be the same kind of hands on help, but I’m hoping that it will be no less valuable. The more people are made aware of the hunger situation in the US, the more help these kids will get.

I’m glad to be a part of it all.