BlogHer 07 -- The Real Swag
It's impossible to encapsulate all that a new blogger like me learned in the four heady days at BlogHer 07. So I did a quick memory check. What do I recall clearly enough not to have to refer to my notes, or at least know exactly where I can spot them in those notes? Here are the lessons I digested best:
- Utility: Blogs work best when the content is useful. Whether you are chronicling your daily life or baring the guts of the iPhone, blogs will matter if readers can use the information you provide.
- Personalize: Useful content is not equal to a user's manual. The personal touch or experience is what distinguishes a sought-after blog from regular review blogs. In short, it's not about what you should feel or experience, but what you actually feel and experience.
- Reinforcement: Repetition works! When the same words or phrases -- that define your posts -- appear in your tagline, body and headline, search engines figure you are serious about this and are more like to present your blog on the first pages of a search result.
- Technology: Tools are available, cheap or even free, so put them to good use. The tech chicks were just too good! A million thanks to Elise Bauer and Vanessa Fox for making it all so easily accessible here and here.
- Languages: As I admitted at a panel, I always tended to equate blogging in India with English. Well, as it turns out, people have been blogging in other Indian languages. I can read and write two of them besides English and plan to track them. For those interested, here are two good sources for Indian blogs: Desiblogs and Indianbloggers.
- And oh, I almost forgot, Read the Manual.
A few interesting insights:
- Never underestimate how much you can learn at a panel. I turned up for the Speakers' Training talk on July 26 (thank you organizers for keeping it open to all), just so I could pick up a few tips from some rocking panelists. Not only did I learn how to break up annoying back-bench whispering during packed sessions, I got talked into being a panelist for the Women Across the World session, filling in for panelists who couldn't make it. What a chance to put to use my newly-acquired speaking skills! Add to that the value of meeting and working with the lovely ladies of Global Voices Online -- co-managing editor Georgia Popplewell and Arabic Language Editor Amira Al Hussaini who blogs at Silly Baharaini Girl -- and Kenyan expat Juliana Rotich of Afromusing.
- Over 40 percent of Trinidadians trace their roots back to the Indian sub-continent. No wonder Georgia knew exactly which part of India I was from and what language I spoke just by looking at my name.
- Does education ensure that women are empowered? I can't forget how Nataly Kogan of Work It, Mom!, who was partner at a venture capital firm, told us that she had to leave the room during meetings with clients because they wouldn't start talking until the male partners arrived. We need more than education to break the glass ceiling.
- You don't have to have a degree in computer science to be the CEO of a tech company. Check out Slideshare's chief executive Rashmi Sinha.
- Women are super organizers! Wireless that works, childcare, no stampedes and pretty much everything on time and in place. Wow!
- Bloggers are a fast and passionate lot. They blog all the time, using up every single minute that can be squeezed in between back-to-back panels.
- Being vegetarian is cool.
Looking forward to BlogHer'08.