Monday, July 28, 2008

What I took away from BlogHer '08...

It's been a week since I returned from the BlogHer '08 conference, and I feel the need to clarify a few of my feelings about the time I spent there. I loved the conference! I would definitely go again and I hope those of you who didn't make it will really consider going next year. There was something so powerful and energizing about being around so many other people who share a passion for blogging.

I was and am incredibly impressed with Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort and Jory des Jardins, who are the three founders of BlogHer. I was lucky enough to chat with Lisa for a few minutes between sessions, and she made me feel welcome. She was genuinely interested in what I do on my blog, and despite all the things she had to keep track of at that moment, took the time to speak with me for several minutes. On Sunday I sat in on an informal session about how to use the BlogHer site and got to meet both Elisa and Jory. The excitement they express in what they are doing, and their enthusiasm for supporting other women and their blogs is simply...a lovely thing. They are three extraordinarily generous women taking big risks and it was inspiring to be around them.

I attended a variety of sessions and some were better than others, but I got something from each one. I didn't have any goals or expectations going in, other than being open to hearing what people had to say and to share of myself, if I felt so inclined. Some sessions were disapointing, some were not to miss! One of the things that I liked so much in their planning of the conference is their willingness to take chances with their choice of speakers. They give everyone an opportunity to be a session speaker. This lends a community feeling that encourages dialogue and discussion between those who choose to partake. So, there is always the risk that someone may not be a strong speaker, but they are willing to take that chance in order to discover unique voices. And I like that.

I think it is fabulous that there were sessions on how we can increase traffic and earn money from our blogs. For people who would like to do that, there were some great ideas! Although for myself earning money from my blog is not a primary goal, I am definitely open to that happening at some point if my blog is meant to go in that direction. (Hey, I signed up for a free Cafe Press account!) I cannot imagine anything better than being paid for my writing.

A few days ago, I wrote a post reflecting on some of the points expressed in one of the conference sessions: Because that is the art of blogging. (WARNING: THERE IS A VA-J-J PAINTING ON THIS POST THAT HAS SENT SOME READERS OVER THE EDGE. Please note that the painting was done in 1999, when I was suffering through intense grief with infertility. I put the picture up to reflect that art is different things for different people and that I believe it is good to take risks, even if your stomach heaves when the comments do or don't reflect back on what you've put out there.)

In referring to the goal of your blog having a single focus and doing posts that are 300 words or less in order to have a readership, I said this:

Truthfully, I'm really writing for me. And if I start to write with these goals that are not mine, I'll feel hemmed in and trapped, and God forbid...pandering.

I want to clarify here that by no means was I referring to other bloggers who have created opportunities for themselves to earn money on their blogs as being pandering. I was referring only to myself in saying that if I limit myself to keeping my posts to 300 words or less, (and I know some of you are saying, Hallelujah, Amen!), my truth is that I would feel boxed in. My blog would probably benefit from having "a single focus," but for right now is what it is. I'm a rambler by nature and often take more of a meandering path. Perhaps someday my blog will have a singular focus. I truly believe that if you follow your passion it will lead you to creating ways of earning income for doing what you love. For now, blogging is my passion...

I mentioned that I wasn't sure that we were all that welcoming to the few men who attended. That was not true of everyone. Once again I should have used "I" instead of "we." In every session, I would see a lone man or two and wonder how he was surviving. The female energy was intense...even for females! I was just so eager to connect with other women that I wasn't very thoughtful about engaging the men. But, they were not shunned. Certainly not deliberately. (Jason, my dear, if you had attended we would have created a float for you to loll about on as we sashayed you down the hallways.)

What I took away from BlogHer '08 was to absolutely honor everyone's individual voice and to celebrate blogs. I can't think of a better message than that.

***Photo of Lisa, Jory & Elisa courtesy of the BlogHer web site.

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  1. Don't you DARE start limiting yourself to 300 words per post! We your faithful fans would feel so cheated! Besides, you'd set a bad example for MOI!

  2. Now I have to go read the offended comments. I was impressed with the rawness and honesty and knew immediately where it came from. It was so YOU. I said it last time . . . "Don't go changin'"

  3. Oh, I'm sorry you got nasty comments. I'm not even gonna bother reading them, there's so much of this negative shit out there. I'll just continue loving you and your blog - bloody va-j-j's and all.

  4. Okay, what does it say about me that I didn't even notice it was a va-j-j until the next day when I came back to visit you again? Really, I was so intent on getting my little comment in that the art completely escaped me. When I finally realized what it was--DUH!--I actually thought it was rather befitting the subject matter.

    "...absolutely honor everyone's individual voice and to celebrate blogs." Amen! I loved what you wrote about BlogHer in that post, and also what you write in this post. Since I know next to nothing about BlogHer (but it sure looks fun), I enjoyed reading your "take" on the conference. I also read the opinions of a few other attendees so, all in all, to one who wasn't there, it was fun to read what everyone had to say about it.

    Although I'm very new here, I pretty much like everything you write...a lot :). And that 300 word thing? Only if that's all ya got on any given day...

    I don't think that will ever happen to me. Meandering? Oh yeah. Good descriptive word!

  5. I am totally going next year, and I will bring you backup fishnets.

    I love any forum where people come together to support each other...and I never expected to find so much creative passion and cathartic energy for bloggin...

    (tiny voice - and if there was ever a way to make money doing it, I'm with you, I won't slam any doors).

  6. Your such a peacemaker.....we have that in common too.

    I completely understood where you were coming from on your earlier post....and I so want to go next year!

  7. Your posts and energy have been my #1 motivating factor to go next year--do you know where it will be?

  8. I agree, everyone should go to BlogHer once themselves and see if it is for them or not.

    As for your painting, I just don't understand how people are offended by ART, I can't think of something that is more about self-expression! That painting perfectly expresses exactly what you were going through and you shouldn't have to make disclaimers...especially on your OWN BLOG!!

  9. I don't understand how someone could be offended by that painting - it's an expression of your grief at that time. (which I GET by the way)

    I think the traffic tips are great but you have to modify them to suit yourself. I don't have a strict focus and I have a problem with fewer than 300 words as well...

  10. Don't go changin' to try and please me...

    Sorry, couldn't stop myself. Your blog is fantastic just as it is. Seems that everyone agrees!

  11. Thanks for the explanation of your painting. It is cool to know when under what circumstances you were painting it. It makes more sense now because, while it didn't offend me, I didn't get it.


  12. " absolutely honor everyone's individual voice and to celebrate blogs."

    Amen, sister.

    Ps. I adore you and your vagina painting.

  13. You are a better woman than I. Next year, would you mind if I held onto your coat hem? Thanks :D

  14. You know what struck me about you, in person?

    That anyone who knows you is blessed, I made me cry IN A BAR.

  15. Very well said, J! I loved it too!

    Take care - Kellan

  16. Wow, you and I are in very similar places indeed. Although I do love making money from my blogs. And I never took your "pandering" comment as an insult to me. Didn't even think about it until you mentioned it now.

    You are in a good spot with your tone. I will be equally as comfortable in a few months. But I need time.

    I will keep the 9th open to be sure. Email as it gets closer.

  17. I thought it was an amazingly frank and brave painting.

  18. Poop on the world! I am so glad we met at BlogHer. For me the best part of the whole experience was the women was able to make friends with.

  19. So are you saying you actually got mean spirited comments? OY.

    I love that you write more than 300 words (actualy I've never counted). I could NOT write 300 words if I tried. I'm a scientist so my mind isn't wired for eloquent linguistics like yours is JCK! Then again, I don't make money or have a large readership either. I just like posting pictures and that's that.

    Keep on, keeping on my friend. I'm witcha.

  20. I hope you don't think I was offended. Quite opposite actually, I too love reading blogs to learn more about everyone else voice and experiences. I love the variety. I love this post, I am very much in agreement with you.

  21. Seriously, when I first joined BlogHer, I was completely impressed by the things they do, their responsiveness and all...Wow! you get to talk to Lisa! It must be quite an inspiration!

    What they are doing is really massive.

  22. "I'm a rambler by nature"

    You think this is what the Allman Brothers were referring to?

    I think your painting is perfection. I have long been fuming about abhorrent reactions to women's biologic experiences. If men had periods, there would be a monthly week's paid leave.

  23. anyone who paints vaginas and drinks jack is good people. (for the record, you're the only people i know who does this.)


  24. Live and let live. It's the best advice. I'm glad you agree!

  25. You are totally unique JCK, and we
    (ok, I) love you for it! Be who you are and write what you want...As long as you want.
    I just have to figure out how to write what I would like to and still get around to reading all the ones that I love on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. Yikes.
    Pax, EJT

  26. I'm glad to have read this post. Thanks for the update and the vicarious surge of blogger love.

  27. Everyone has their own reason for blogging, and their blogs should reflect that. I hate it when women are catty and judgemental of each other for any reason. Let's all be supportive of each other. That is what blogging is about in the big picture of things.

  28. How did I miss this wonderful reference? I would love to loll about on a float while lovely ladies sashayed me down the hallways!

    Rats. I shoulda gone.

  29. I don't count people's words. I read you because you are intelligent and well-spoken and have a marvelous amount of wit and clever turns of phrase and I would go on, but I don't really have those things so I'm out of words now.
    I do want to go to BlogHer next year. Or SOMEWHERE where I can meet my bloggy buddies. Of course, now that makes us sound a bit like frogs. See, that's the whole turn of phrase thing I was talking about.


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