What I Learned at Blogher '08

I've been thinking long and hard about this Celebrity Rock Star
Blogger thing. Just what constitutes "good enough" to hit the
stratosphere in the Blogosphere? Why can certain bloggers post pictures
of their shoes and end up with 120 comments when some bloggers pour
their heart and soul into posts, and get little recognition or
feedback? Most of those Rock Star Bloggers are really nice people. with just a few notable exceptions, mostly those who have bought into their own press.

I have come to the conclusion: it isn't that people are rude or cliquey, they are just full.

There is a concept that the older and busier we get, the harder it
is to make friends and keep them. Women are mothers, wives, employees.
We are consumers, voters and bill payers. We have little to no extra
time. So when there is time, it is finite. Interactions are like
strings, tied to the person. The person might tie a string around
family or a close friend, who has a child the same age. More strings
go around a career, volunteer work, school duties. Eventually, though
the person might be willing, there are simply no more strings to be
tied anywhere. They are all tied with other commitments.

I see the Internet as similar. Many, many bloggers have those they
read regularly, are chummy with and interact with. There simply isn't a
lot of time left over to discover blogs that were previously unknown to
them. Even if those blogs are good. I am sure this is why there are so
many experts out there willing to teach bloggers how to drive traffic
to their sites. It isn't enough to be a good writer, you have to be
willing to sell yourself as well. Content may be king, but his bastard
son is promotion. I find this difficult.

As women, we are taught that if we just do a good job, keep our head
down, someone will notice our hard work and reward us. When those
"rules" are flouted, it feels like a betrayal. Women who do become good
at promoting themselves are called bitches, money-hungry, and even
pimps. Trying to go against this paradigm can be difficult;
socialization is a tough taskmaster. For some, this comes easily. For
most, it can be like pulling teeth. It can be very uncomfortable to be
the one to stand up and publicly tout your work. And yet, sometimes
that is exactly what is needed.

For me, I am solidly in the middle of the pack. I am not a Rock
Star, but I'm not a newbie, either. There are bloggers who inspire me
and I humbly say that I know I am an inspiration to others as well.
There is always a struggle in trying to get new readers, especially
readers that participate in the community you are trying to create. I
get solid traffic, I think. I know friends lament not getting comments,
or even readers. And honestly, I love and live for comments. After all,
this blogging thing for me, is about connection.

I blog because I want to connect other parents who feel alone when
it comes to autism. I blog because I want to educate, entertain and
energize my audience and friends. (that's you) I write because I have
to, if I want to breathe. But I blog because I want to make a
difference. Readers help make that difference. It can be disheartening
when there are a small number of comments on a post that holds a part
of you. The most I have ever had was a bit over twenty, and that was
because I was giving away Starbucks gift cards! But...I try not to get
wrapped up in all of it.

This weekend at BlogHer, I learned a lot of things. But the thing I
came away with? I am on the right track. I am doing it all the right
way. I write from the heart, in a transparent way, not focused on stats
or monetization. I simply want to share my experience, and to share in
the community that bloggers have created. I love this blogging thing.
And, true to the BlogHer theme, I am reaching, definitely... but I am
not using my blog as a stepping stone. Yes, I want to write
professionally, which is defined as actually getting paid. Stephen King
said it best:

"If you wrote something for which someone sent you a
check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then
paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented."

I will just keep doing what I am doing, and where it leads is
anyone's guess. I don't want notoriety, at all! I simply want a sense
of community here. Oh, yeah and if some agent wants to hand me a
butt-load of money to advance my book, so much the better. Recently, I
started using the term, "writer." I have always wanted to be a writer,
but never considered myself good enough. Now, I have decided to own it.
You have to tell yourself the story you want to hear.

How about you? How do you feel about comments? How do you get your readers to participate?


T. is passionate about social media and building community with women bloggers (yeah, ok and some men, too) . She loves meeting new people, and wishes she could have met everyone at Blogher '08. Hopefully, next year, she'll have another chance to meet you, since she has plans to sell a kidney in order to get there. She blogs at Send Chocolate.