My time at last Saturday’s Blogger Week 2015 conference was the last stretch on what had been an exciting, stressful, nerve-wrecking and rewarding spring event season. Earlier this year, the magical GG Renee Hill invited me to join a panel she would be pitching for the conference. Then Erica and I also decided to pitch our “Three Es of Personal Blogging” workshop–a concept we had defined and then refined for awhile.
But, spring event season–a two-month time span that included my annual showcase, a panel I spoke on, a brunch event and finally the Blogger Week conference–wore my narrow ass out. It’s kind of funny when you get the things you’ve wanted for so long. You realize there is insurmountable responsibility that comes along when you’re entrusted with your dreams. There is more work than you expected, more unpredictability than you could imagine and more growing pains than you thought you could endure.
So, by the time Blogger Week rolled around, I had to jerk myself back into “game on” mode. Events and panels aren’t like writing. They are not solitary experiences. They require you to put on your best face, best self and best shoe so that you can reflect the online brand you’ve worked tirelessly to create. But, I am so glad I had the opportunity to do so. Here are some recollections, recaps and revelations from my time at the Blogger Week 2015 conference:
Sometimes you have to sell yourself. It’s OK.
Danielle Belton, associate editor at The Root and founder of The Black Snob, opened the conference with a keynote about the elements of building a brand. She said a few things that stuck out for me, one of which was “Becoming a brand means being a product. On some level, you have to sell yourself.” I know words like “brand” and phrases like “sell yourself” can be hard for creative types to digest. We like to think they’re dirty words, but hey, I use a lot of dirty words and I’ve been OK so far. What Danielle said reflected exactly what I referenced earlier in terms of pulling it together and representing your online brand offline. A brand should be a consistent experience for the recipient, meaning sometimes you have to get from behind the computer, go shake hands and kiss babies. If you do it in a spirit that’s genuine and engaging, then I ain’t mad at you.
This whole writing a book thing…
Anytime there is a “Blog to Book” session at a blogging conference, I am a moth to a motherfucking flame. It’s weird. It’s like I don’t even see any of the other breakout sessions listed. Because there is something very comforting and affirming about being around people who have gone from blog to book. In my mind, writing THE BOOK has always felt like this enormous, unbeatable and overwhelming task. But, anytime I meet someone who has done it, it feels a little less enormous. A little less unbeatable. A little less overwhelming.
During the session, I got to hear from several experts including Yalanda Lattimore, founding editor of DryerBuzz.com and author of “27 Answers to Create Buzz.” Yalanda dropped my favorite line of the conference which was “Likes are good; dollars are better.” SAY. IT. AGAIN.
At the end of the blog to book session, I also met Zena Thomas, author of “The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Getting the Job.” (Feature coming soon on Twenties Unscripted!) Then while washing my hands in the bathroom, I met T.S. Wallace, author of the newly released book “The Wayward Wife.” Each of these women and their stories of pushing through to publication fueled me in a much-needed way.
That’s all I am going to say (for now) about the whole book thing.
Don’t play it small when you introduce yourself
When GG, Erica, Shefon and I kicked off our “How to Build a Loyal and Connected Following” panel, Erica’s intro caught my attention and resonated with me. With ease and grace, she introduced herself, spoke about her recent accomplishments and stood firm in the powerhouse that is Everything EnJ. It made me all too aware of how much I still downplay myself when I speak publicly about Twenties Unscripted. It’s like in my head and heart, I know the efficacy of my work. But, then I try and dance around it. No more of that. No more playing it small.
Real life connections will always, always, always trump online ones
It’s always a beautiful and surreal experience to meet people you’ve spent weeks, months and sometimes even years forging online connections with. I finally had a chance to meet Candice of Brown Girl Bloggers, Briana Ford of Brianaford.com, Rachael of Life, Laugh and Luv, Nia of The Glam Savvy Life, Ashley of Don’t Die Afraid and my good Twitter buddy Warin. I take my online interactions seriously, and it means a lot when people choose to spend whatever available time in their day to support the work I do. It means even more when I get a chance to connect with those people in real life.
Personal blogging is a slow, but organic, build
After lunch, Erica and I had a chance to share our blog elevator pitch workshop entitled “The Three E’s of Personal Blogging: Explore, Exploit, Evolve.” And even though Erica had created a wonderful Prezi and we also worked on a handout, our session just turned into a feel-good, honest, girl talk session. But, I think that’s the beauty of personal blogging and being around other personal bloggers. Maybe us personal bloggers don’t garner 1,000 likes on an Instagram picture of pretty flowers. Maybe we don’t earn 100 new followers every day. But, the work we do is about heart. It’s about connecting. It’s about creating spaces for people to see themselves and know that the raw roller coaster of emotions they’re experiencing are a common thread we all share. We are all so much more similar than we think. It’s the responsibility of personal bloggers to remind us of that when it feels like we’re drowning, floundering and unable to see our way through.
And, speaking of our workshop…
For those who couldn’t make it, we wanted to share our worksheet. The Three E’s of Personal Blogging: Explore, Exploit, Evolve can be summed up as such: every blog has a purpose. Every bloger has a story. But, how aggravating and nerve-inducing is it when someone asks you as a personal blogger what your blog is about? The Three E’s is about answering easy questions to get to the heart of your blog elevator pitch. You’ll never stutter, stumble or mumble your way through that question again.
Here you go. Enjoy.
And thank you to all of the wonderful, amazing and incredible people who made my Blogger Week 2015 an experience I’ll never forget.