Not only do you learn a lot of really useful information from the vastly talented and inspiring speakers covering seven master classes...you also come away with a greater appreciation of bloggers in general.
My mind is absolutely overflowing with blogging information and ideas at the moment, and while I let that all digest, I thought I would share a few unexpected lessons I learned along the way...
1. Bloggers are real people
Its funny, when you sit behind the comfort of your computer screen, you can type whatever you like and be whoever you want to be. You may even feel free-er to divulge more information than you normally would. Why? Because it is so much easier than saying it to someone's face. Many of the bloggers I met shared how nervous and anxious they were to meet the very people they've been reading about for so long and talking to online. Sometimes it feels like you already know that person inside out, and it can feel very surreal and a little confronting to meet that person face to face. The fact that we were all feeling the same way was actually very comforting. I can be painfully shy in real life. It takes a lot for me to come out of my shell, and this weekend was no exception.
[Naomi and I at the Digital Parents lunch]I was blessed to share a hotel room with the lovely Naomi from Seven Cherubs and she helped me navigate the physical blogosphere, helping me put twitter handles, avatars and faces together. There were still a few bloggers that I would loved to have introduced myself to, but didn't quite feel comfortable. Its kind of like having a little rockstar moment...recognising them from afar and being too nervous to go up and say hi. (blog stalker much? lol). At one point, I do believe I calmly said "OMG, YOU'RE GLOWLESS!!" to one of my favourite bloggers...and she's as gorgeous in real life as she is talented.
[the gorgeous Glowless and I...except I'm the one with the glow...of embarrassment! lol]
2. Bloggers are SO diverse
I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole new world! I never realised there were so many types of blogs out there. For over four years I have been blogging about scrapbooking, and most recently I've been moving into the "mummy blogger" niche. I love discovering blogs by other mums and scrapbookers and indulging in their words and creativity. Blogs of all kinds were represented at Blogopolis...fashion, food, finance, photography, real estate, beauty, design, travel, music, tech stuff, blogs about blogging...its all good! I want to visit them all and find out what makes them tick. I had no idea there were so many food bloggers out there (over 1,000 in Australia alone!)...sitting there viewing images of meals they've enjoyed at restaurants and at home, made me want to find the nearest cafe and order up big! Even in the mummy blogger arena, the content differs wildly...books, recipes, depression, organisation, play time, children with special needs, and much much more...all under the one family friendly banner. Love it! The lesson here: Step out of your blogging niche and see what else is out there! btw - you pick out the fashion and beauty bloggers a mile away in a conference...thank goodness I made an effort to dress up! lol.
[the super cute Danielle of Hello Owl; lifestyle blogger and events coordinator]
3. Bloggers are generous
This weekend was about sharing. How to improve your own blogging skills; building community; viewing other bloggers as your mentor, not your competition. It was fabulous! I met so many talented writers and techy types that are willing to show how they've made their blogs successful, and what works for them. I will be forever grateful. They are also generous in spirit, in their time and in chocolate. lol.
[Nathalie from Easy Peasy Kids and bringer of chocolate!]
4. Bloggers have ethics
One of the master classes was about editorial v. advertorial content...the latter being a paid post. I strive to disclose each and every time I have received something in return for blog exposure, and I am 100% honest in each of my reviews. The Bloggers' Manifesto is a Digital Parents initiative, and I was more than happy to sign it when it was first released. It seems timely that its revisited...be authentic, be appreciative, be transparent, be respectful, be accountable, be responsible and most importantly, be original! One of the main things that ticks bloggers off most is having their content ripped off! I have always written my own content and it was mind boggling to find out that some unscrupulous bloggers copy posts word for word and try to pass it off as their own work. Knock it off blog content thieves!
5. Bloggers are supportive
Blogging can be a very joyous experience, and at other times leave you feeling emotionally raw. Blogs are created to voice your opinion, and stir emotion...whether that be laughter, tears, empathy. A reassuring comment from a blogging friend goes a long way! I know when I've posted my thoughts on depression and being morbidly obese, the comments I've received are my most treasured. I read blogs like Lori's (RRASHM) and want to reach through my computer and give her a big hug. We love celebrating other bloggers successes! From Eden Riley (Edenland) going to the USA to speak at BlogHer, to Nicole Avery (Planning with Kids) releasing her book (which I now own, and its a great read...highly recommended).
[Nicole, the Planning Queen and my saviour...here's to less organisational chaos!]
6. Bloggers have feelings
Mess with a blogger, and you will know about it! I have seen smack blogs over the years and how hurtful anonymous comments can be...and thank goodness the scrapbooking smack blogs have died away. This weekend, I read one of the nastiest comments accusing a mummy blogger of neglecting her children by spending too much time online and for going away to Blogopolis. This weekend wasn't frivolous, it was an educational event. Mums are people too and they need time out occasionally. If that means spending 3 days out of 365 away from your family, then so be it. If her own husband and kids don't have a problem, then why do you! Shame on you. Like any online community, bloggers unite.
7. Bloggers embrace technology and social media
I thought I was a bit of a goose taking my netbook to the conference with me...but I was not alone! Laptops, netbooks, ipads, iphones, androids...it was all there...and being used like it was going out of style! Blogopolis was like techy heaven. This is the first conference I've ever been to that had its own dedicated twitter hashtag and monitors to watch the twitterstream. Its moments like this when I feel slightly old...I'm embracing as much technology as I can and I do love it so, but whoa, I felt a little out of my depth. Watching the #nnb2011 twitterstream during the conference is akin to watching the stock exchange figures flying by...but slightly faster. Its not rude to tweet while someone is talking, in fact, its encouraged. I tried using TweetDeck for the first time and it blew my mind! Way too much information. lol. I personally found tweeting distracting and had to stop so that I could listen to the speakers. Towards afternoon tea, most bloggers exhausted their batteries. Luckily there were a plethora of powerpoints available, and generous bloggers willing to share their chargers...and how does one ask if someone has a charger available? You tweet it of course! lol.
8. Bloggers know what they like
This was a hot topic of conversation...do you use Blogger or WordPress, and why haven't you moved to WordPress yet?? Its like Ford v. Holden or Canon v. Nikon; everyone is dedicated to their own blogging platform, and will try and convince you to swap teams. I'm not yet convinced that a move to WordPress will make my blogging experience better, and I'm waiting to see where Blogger is going in very near future. I happen to like Blogger, and its been a pretty comfy home for over four years. Please Blogger, make me want to stay...
9. Bloggers don't realise their worth, and neither does the marketplace
During one of the panels, the topic of remuneration and monetization was raised. What do you charge and how do you put a price on your time and intellectual content. Its a difficult question to answer. Yes, my time is valuable. If a company wants to work with me, there needs to be some kind of trade off. Lady Melbourne mentioned her standard rate and most people were shocked. I thought it was more than reasonable...for her. I personally wouldn't expect to charge that much because I don't have nearly the same reach...yet. When you take into account the amount of time it takes to write a thoughtful and considered post, have taken photographs or sourced images to accompany to your text, formatted it for publication, then posted it to your blog, twitter, facebook, etc...its no wonder that bloggers are reluctant to work for brands for free. I'm not saying we should be the Linda Evangelista's of blogging and not write a post for less than $10,000, but hey my time and intellectual property is worth something.
10. Bloggers are awesome!
Yes, yes they are...if not a little bit misunderstood. If you read a blog post you like, leave a comment and let us know.
btw - have you noticed that I'm on the right hand side in every.single.photo? That's because they're all self portraits taken by me (hence the term...self portrait. der Lis.). Tomorrow I'll leave a couple of tips on how to take a good selfie. Coming up later this week, I will delve into the rest of Blogopolis and share a few more layouts from Camp Mojo. Stay tuned...