I learned or realized 22 or so things at Blissdom '09 (a blogging conference in Nashville this past weekend)...
- It takes a good 48 hours or so for me to feel comfortable around strangers
- Blissdom was only about that long, so I was....yes... The Wallflower
I'm a country girl, so although I think I'm WYSIWYG*, I realized I'm vain enough to notice that my thumbnails are crooked. And so I opted for looking like I don't have thumbs all weekend, tucking them in under my hand like that.
- I'm uncomfortable small-talking for hours, so after a while I tend to find a wall to lean on (WallFlower), or go to the room for a bit
- When I go to the room for a bit, I find myself wondering what is happening below, and wishing I wasn't hiding out in the room, but I don't know how to break into a group.
- It pains me to think I may be boring someone, so if her left eye wanders even once, or she mutters a second, "hmm," I find a way to be the first to leave the conversation. I definitely don't want to be last.
- there is always a moment when in a crowd that I think, "I wish we were texting each other," instead of talking. My mouth could use a Backspace key.
...about the business of blogging. From the panelists, I learned a few things I didn't already know:
- Put keywords in your post titles. Instead of cutesy titles like, "Looky here!" use a Google-friendly title such as "10 Reasons You Should Look Harder for Good Grocery Deals." (That one was totally off the top of my head. You may have it. You're welcome.)
- Stop writing to gain readers; write for yourself. Okay, I already knew this one, but it's always worth reminding myself of it.
- Posting frequency: Any amount of posting is fine - once a week, a few times a day - but there needs to be a rhythm, so readers know when to come back.
- DivineCaroline.com is a place to syndicate your content.
- Don't write for free unless it benefits you. Don't give away your content and readers to a column or guest post (my note: Sometimes it's worth it to write for free just to see where it will lead. I started writing for Precious Moments for free in late 2007 just to see what might come of it, and in April 2008 I was flown to an all-expense-paid-VIP trip to DisneyWorld as a direct result of my Precious Moms blog).
- Don't take reviews for items you can't seemlessly weave into your blog's voice already (I should post a list of reviews I've declined for this blog - it could be funny if it weren't sad that a company actually thinks we women want that junk.)
- Show your warts (cellulite, dandruff...) when you write. It keeps you real. People want to ineract with someone real.
- Opportunites will open up if you let those locally - in your community - find you on social media (eg. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
- I learned of a couple affiliate sites I didn't know of, like Logical Media and ShareASale.com
- Add a Disclosure Policy to your blogs
- Consider asking for compensation for giveaways (I have never done this on this blog, Just Pure Lovely or on FreelyEducate.com, and I don't know that I ever will here, but am considering doing so for FreelyEducate, which has become a reviews and giveaway time-hogging monster)
- Create a Media Kit for dealing with marketing companies and other advertising opportunities
...about this blog, Just Pure Lovely...
- Even though money is tight and as much as I'd love to help my man out with making a little, I remembered, while at Blissdom, that I want Just Pure Lovely to be happy and pretty - a just, pure, lovely - place for me and for anyone who stumbles upon it.
- I don't want to have to worry about this blog making money, or about its ads being relevant.
- So, I pulled the ads (did you notice?) and will only keep up affiliate links like the Books I'm Reading Next list, if they enhance the blog and what it is about, instead of detract from it
Just Pure Lovely is an inspiration and creativity blog, I decided while away, not an advice blog or a memoir blog. Before Blissdom, I didn't really know exactly how to define it.
When I got back home, my man asked, "Did you have a good time?" My first answer, was "I'm...not... sure yet." I was overwhelmed still with the speed at which things happened, with the how cool is this Crocs $50 gift certificate and with the I-was-a-Wallflower, never-really-fit-in feeling. I've also been stuck between Holy-Smokes-that-was-expensive-and-we-couldn't-afford-it and it's-nice-to-fly-like-an-important-gal-and-stay-in-a-nice-hotel-room.
After processing the trip, I decided that Blissdom was really good for me. It reminded me of who I am: a wife and mama first - this is a season of helping the family through these tough financial times, whether that means clipping coupons (ick) or making a bit off my other blog. I smiled my way across the Bay as I thought of my family waiting so eagerly for me to arrive. And I decided that, at least until things get easier (or someone sponsors my trip away), I need to stay home with them, keeping my priorities straight.
Going to Blissdom also reminded me of what Just Pure Lovely is and why the blog started in the first place, and what I want it to stay - a blog of peace and pretty and, well, the just, pure, and lovely things in life. This blog doesn't need to make money. It needs to help whoever God sends this way, and if that's nobody, that's fine, because it's helping me.
Which leads me to the best thing I was reminded of at Blissdom and as a result of Blissdom, while in my room thinking or reading Blog Blazers, a book given to us in our swag bag...
We all have influence. It may be to just that one regular reader, or it may be to hundreds of readers, but we all have influence on someone (we mamas already know this to be true, as our influence over our children is so staggering it's often prayer-causing).
That influence should be handled with care and integrity. Be true to your voice. You are the only you there is; you have something to offer others that nobody else can ever offer. Don't imitate. Don't copycat others, not even the ones you perceive as the "bigger" bloggers (or other people). Learn from them, but don't try to be them. Be true to yourself, follow your passions, and don't be discouraged over numbers. Isn't influencing just one quite a success?
Again, write about the things you're passionate about; write in your unique voice. Everything will fall into place once you've done that. There are readers who need what you have to say, and readers who will not find anything they need on your pages. While exchanging favorite blogs, I was amazed at how few blogs mentioned are the same. And how nobody else seemed to know my favorites: Blue Yonder, Angry Chicken, Posie Gets Cozy, All Sorts, Wee Wonderfuls....to mention a few. With that came the panicky-lost feeling I get when I wonder if I opened the wrong door. As in, oh, crud, am I in the wrong room?! But then I'd realized that I don't know their favorites, either. We find the writing we need to read.
I'm glad to be home and I'm glad to remember what Just Pure Lovely is all about. I'm energized and ready to find more creativity and inspiration to share with you, as I first take care of my top priority, my family (which, today, is a sick little boy).
*WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get (pronounced: whiz-ee-whig)