Redux: Bloggy Boot Camp.
When I first heard Bloggy Boot Camp planned on a Denver stop this year, two reactions popped into my head. First, wow!, a blogging conference where the only cost will be the program ticket, no plane ticket or hotel room needed in a year when saving money and travel time is of utmost importance. But then, wait a second, is this format worth it to me, someone without kids, someone without a desire to work with many brands?
While I did turn some heads when I explained that I primarily write about chronic illness, I felt mostly at home during the one-day conference. No one knew (until now) that I avoided the sponsor tables and did not participate in the drawing for free stuff. The only freebie I brought home was a copy of the October selection for the SITS book club, Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. After lunch, no one knew (unless they follow me on my locked Twitter account) that I needed to step out from the “chaos” that any conference brings for a little “me time” to soak in all I learned in the morning sessions.
After attending a session on “Authentic Branding” with Amy Bradley-Hole (@AmyBHole), I felt compelled to take on an overhaul of my “About Me” page. She asked us five questions, noting that we may not have a full answer by the end of her session and that they were meant to set us thinking about whether we are properly branded. (As much as I used to cringe at the word “brand” in regards to blogs, it is true that in order to take blogging from a hobby to something that makes a dent in the bills, a strong “brand” is needed in order for name recognition.)
Five questions to ponder:
- What are my distinguishing characteristics and personality traits?
- What are my guiding principles and values?
- What is my role on the web?
- What is my promise?
- What is my story (why I am what I am)?
Answering these five questions is leading to some reconsideration of the information I put forward on the “About Me” pages of both blogs.
The session that followed turned out to be most valuable. As someone who has been stuck in a “woe is me” spot in her life, I know it has shown through in my blogging the past several months. Inspiration from Jillian Tohber Leslie (@catchmyparty) through her presentation on “The Creative Process in Blogging (and Life)” will most certainly lead to getting my blogging (and offline writing) back on track.
Eight tools to get unstuck:
- 15 minute timed writing sessions. “The only way to fail is to stop writing before the 15 minutes are up.”
- Look at small goals instead of the big picture. (If I can come up with three blog posts a week that are not all about “woe is me”, I will be happy.)
- Write now, edit later. (This is huge for me, as someone who likes to edit almost as much as she likes to write.)
- Keep a Golden Circle. “Cultivate relationships with people who support your creative self and set boundaries with those who do not.”
- Co-create with your community. Realize you are not alone. (Sound familiar, diabetes online community?)
- Replenish the well. Make time for yourself so you do not overdraw on your creative bank account.
- Become an expert from every angle imaginable, deeper not broader.
- Notice how the universe is conspiring to help you. Inspiration from blog comments, or noticing ideas that suddenly pop up when you least expect them.
“Blog Design Basics: Clean Up Your Act!” by Aimee Giese (aka @Greeblemonkey) and a session on vlogging with Jessica Bern (@bernthis) rounded out what I experienced last Saturday. These two women are people I know now in “real life”. Therefore, I could gush and gush about their sessions, but I have picked a few key ideas I walked away with that resonated.
From Aimee, I learned what I already knew, if that makes any sense. Keep consistent with blog design, keep blog design consistent with personality, revisit the organization of your blog every few months – essentially create a style guide.
From Jessica, I decided I need to stop trying to film vlogs in one take. It is impossible to look casual without filming a few versions and splicing them together in iMovie. She also gave out a few lighting and clothing tips that I will take to heart in my next venture into vlogging.
Thank you, SITS girls, for bringing Bloggy Boot Camp to my “backyard”. In a year when travel is light and money is tight, this should become a valuable experience in helping me take back my blogging from a dark place.