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Remember why you blog

standard June 29, 2012 14 responses
It happens every time. The conference is a day or two old. People have started looking a little more glassy eyed and a little less eager to engage with other attendees. Excitement and enthusiasm is giving way to overwhelmedness.

At first it’s a mumble, then the sentiment takes shape.

“I think I’m going to quit blogging.”

The blogger’s shoulders are usually slumped, her eyes sad. A few minutes of conversation later and the story is out.

It’s never the blogging per se that’s the issue. It’s always the conference. Or, rather, it’s being exposed to all those conference attendees.

We all blog for a different reason. The platforms are more or less the same. The tools are more or less the same. But the reasons that bring us to blogging are as diverse as there are blades of grass in a field.

This one started to tell the story of life as an expat mom.

This one started to share her knowledge of her favorite topic.

This one just wanted a digital diary of her child’s first years.

This one started because she wanted a virtual room of her own.

This one started because she heard she could make a living from it.

Beautiful, mundane, extraordinary, varied, and intensely personal reasons.

When we arrive at a conference, for hours at a time, on very little sleep, and often with slightly disturbed intestinal tracts not to mention struggling with the latent anxiety anyone used to living behind a computer feels when exposed to hoards of people, we are bombarded with everyone else’s reasons for blogging, with everyone else’s goals and aspirations.

And, oh my God, are these awesome aspirations. They are full of passion and excitement and they all sound just. so. tantalizing. And so much better than our own.

Soon you start to hear murmurs.

 “I should do…” 

“I really need to…” 

“Maybe I should try…”

Some of these murmurs hum with authentic excitement. An idea that rings true and right has been sparked. Most often though the murmurs are just tired. Another chore has been added to an already exhaustingly overwhelming to do list.

These tired murmurs come from the people who have forgotten their own purpose for blogging and are letting all those other purposes cloud their vision.

Here’s what you need to remember:

It is OK to not want to monetize, optimize, glamorize your blog. 
It is OK to want to redesign.
It is OK to just want to write.
It is OK to want to turn your blog into a very successful business engine.
It’s all OK as long as you’re doing it because you want to, not because you feel you should just to keep up with everyone else. 

So, if you’re heading to a conference this year, I beg of you, take a moment to finish this sentence:

 “I blog because…”

Write your answer on a post-it and stick it on your notebook, laptop, iPad, tablet… And when you get to that overwhelmed feeling, at the conference or after, look at it, remember why you blog, remember that your purpose is yours and that it is awesome, worthy, and enough, because you are awesome, worthy, and enough just the way you are.

What is your take-away?

standard September 28, 2011 2 responses

When I got home from BlogHer I came across a blog post written by the lovely Rachael H. about what brands should do to prep for conferences.

I know she meant it for brands and brand reps (It’s in the title. I’m smart like that.), but really, what Rachael had to say would work equally well for bloggers.

What struck me the most about her post was this notion that we should prep for conferences.

I mean, duh, we all prep, but I tend to feel good and ready if I’ve printed out the schedule, vaguely know what I’ll be wearing each day, and have some sense of who I’ll be seeing.

At coffee a few days ago a friend asked me what my take-away was from BlogHer.

I blanked.

My BlogHer was wrapped up in turmoil, in make-overs, in speaking, in spending too little time with close friends, with walking, lots and lots of walking, in chaos and excitement, and yes, in some learning.

But I really had to stop and think about what I had learned. What I had taken away.

I looked up at him and shared that I had attended a photography session and been struck with the way photographers tell stories with pictures in the exact same way I tell stories with words. Everything boils down to the point of view they chose to share.

Then I shared what I had learned from my session. That bloggers are excited and motivated to be the best professional bloggers they can be. That brand reps are excited and motivated to work well with professional bloggers.

And finally I shared what I had learned in the session about blogging with vulnerability. That it can be scary and downright dangerous, but that the rewards are more than worth the risks.

It seemed a… paltry… amount of learning for being at a conference for four days.

I know there was more. There were countless conversations. Innumerable interactions. And yet, I’m blanking about it all.

Yes, if I’d been in a better mental place, I could have gotten more out of it. But really, I think I just didn’t go into it (or really any of the conferences I attended this summer) prepared properly.

I should have gone in asking myself “What are my expectations for this weekend? What am I hoping to walk away with?” And I should have come out asking myself “What are the take-aways from this?”

My usual MO is to just be open to whatever comes along. To take life as it comes. And for the most part, this attitude has served me well. And definitely is less stressful than other options. But in certain instances, it might be a wiser use of my time and money to at least tentatively guide my analytical brain down a specific path.

Definitely can’t hurt to try.

Happy go lucky go I! (At least it’s fun!)

It’s always better in the morning

standard August 22, 2011 4 responses

For the longest time I was a late night blogger.

I’d work all day – both as a mom and as an employee – and ponder my post for the day. Sometimes I’d take notes, sometimes I’d just file my thoughts away in my head, just waiting for that moment when the house would be settled and I could finally open my computer.

More often than not, by then the post would be stale and I wouldn’t want to write it. Or worse, I would want to write it, but be completely unable to remember what it was I wanted to write.

My motivation to post late at night was fueled by my own blog reading habits. If I started my mornings with a fresh cup of tea and my favorite blogs, it stood to reason that others would do the same. Since I’m always three hours behind the rest of the country, by dint of being on the West coast, I always felt like I had to post before going to bed so the East coasters would have something to read in the morning.

My schedule changed and I relinquished some of my obsessions and poof… started writing in the morning, when my ideas were fresh and the words flowed fast and free. And a miracle happened.

Instead of struggling to come up with good posts, instead of fighting for inspiration and then hitting publish on stuff I thought was sub par, I started being really proud of my posts.

What had started to feel like a chose started to be fun again. What had felt like work started to feel like art again.

If you’re a regular around these parts you might have noticed that I’m not posting nearly as much any more. But what I am posting is so much more me. So much more a part of my soul.

Late in the evening I’m often gripped in a frenzied “I should really post. It’s been days and days.” panic. I pop open the computer and stare at the screen, searching my brain for something, anything. I cycle through my day and my thoughts to see if I can come up with a nugget of something that could grow into a post.

And then I breathe, close the computer, and walk away.

It’s always better in the morning.

18 Signs You Might Be a Blogger…

standard July 14, 2011 33 responses

Two blog conferences down and one to go… Bloggers are an interesting crowd; one that inspired the following list.

You might be a blogger if…

  1. You use the words “snarky” or “kwim” in real sentences.
  2. You coin words like “blama” (blogger drama) and think nothing of the fact that no one knows what you’re talking about.
  3. You never take a bite before snapping a picture of your food. 
  4. You converse and think in 140 character increments.
  5. You mentally write a blog post about everything you do or see. 
  6. You expect people to give you free stuff just for showing up.
  7. You’re often tempted to scream “Do you know who I AM?!” when things don’t go your way. 
  8. You think nothing of having a laptop, iPad, and smart phone open and running at the same time. 
  9. You know where every outlet is located at all times. 
  10. You introduce yourself with two names – your “real” name and your twitter handle – and don’t really expect anyone to recognize the first one. 
  11. You know more about your friends in the computer than the ones in the carpool lane.
  12. Your friends are scattered around the globe and you’ve met fewer than a handful in real life.
  13. You snap photos of your baby doing disgusting or dangerous things before running to her rescue.
  14. You’re part of a top secret Facebook group, Stumble community, or Skype chat room.
  15. You’re the “mayor” of every business in your town.”
  16. Your Twitter followers know you’re pregnant, engaged, or getting divorced before your family or friends.
  17. You’ve officially out-geeked even the geekest of your middle-school friends and know how to code your own site.
  18. You have another 10 things to add to this list. (Go on, add them in the comments!)

    (Thank you to the awesome Shannan Powell for helping me compile this list. And to all of you for giving me the examples.)