And so…it’s been 2 weeks already since I headed down the highway to this year’s ProBlogger Training Event. Each year, the ProBlogger team goes above and beyond to provide inspiration and technical training to Australia’s blog and online business communities. It’s a massive, vibrant, exciting occasion; everyone walks away with new friends and a to-do list a mile long!
But it wasn’t all selfies and canapes for me this year (although the macarons were outstanding!). I had a brilliant time and learned a lot, but I also got a glimpse into a shady undercurrent that flows beneath that river of networking smiles.
Here are 3 things I learned at this year’s training event that surprised me …
1. Not everyone likes bloggers
One of the risks of spending the weekend with highly motivated people who share your common interest is that it gives you the false impression that anyone outside of that room gives a damn about your blog! I got something of a ‘reality check’ sitting outside at breakfast one morning.
Queue conversation between a group of older golfer types who were guests at the resort:
“So, why are all these women here?”
“Blogger conference apparently.”
“What, this stuff? [Insert hand gesture involving tapping on a mobile phone]”
“So, what do they do? Day One: Taking Selfies?”
[Insert raucous laughter]
“Day Two: Sharing with people who don’t care.”
[Oh, the laughter!]
The ‘general public’ are not well informed about what blogging really IS or what bloggers really DO. In fact, some of them very much DISLIKE bloggers – a perspective I always find hard to understand. Don’t like? Don’t read! But I guess the Interwebs don’t always work that way.
Comedian Kitty Flanagan is another anti-blogger. She’s touring Australia with her latest stand up show at the moment, and had this to say in a recent interview for BMag…
“Everyone has a blog… but not everybody should,” she says. “The reason I read blogs is the same reason I watch reality television, it’s just fun to shout at. I’ll watch 10 minutes of The Bachelor and think, ‘well, I’m a superior human being’. I feel like a winner.”
So, pouring your heart and soul into a blog post has no more credibility for some people than a televised scrag fight over roses. I guess it’s still taking awhile for some people to understand the hugley varied content available in the blogosphere, where you can actually find some pretty darn impressive writing (along with the dodgy stuff).
If you’re part of the blog community, your newsfeeds this week will have been awash with people inspired to blog more, analyse more, monetise more and generally build, grow and achieve their blog/business dreams. It’s heady stuff to behold and I sincerely hope all these PB-resolutions last a lot longer than my New Year’s ones usually do.
But whilst WE know that blogging is about impressive content, smart marketing solutions and creative technical innovations, a lot of THEM still think bloggers are bored housewives taking selfies in their sewing room. Which kind of brings me to my next point…
2. Not all bloggers like each other
As a predominantly female crowd (and seriously, we’re talking maybe 20 men out of 700 delegates) there was some incredible nurturing, support and sharing to be found at PB Event. Sadly there was also exclusion, competition and bitching. I witnessed several incidents last weekend involving old school, high school gossip and backstabbing. If women want to step up and be noticed by leading brands, developers, agencies and middle aged golfers, they need to leave high school behind them. This is blogging, people, not parliament. Let’s play nice.
In another moment of levity and optimism at PB Event, the drawcard keynote speaker, uber blogger Heather ‘Dooce’ Armstrong, declared personal blogging dead now that monetisation has become the norm. It was Derrida all over again. The room fell silent whilst Twitter lit up like a glow stick. As a blog idol of many, Heather’s message was not quite what the more ambitious bloggers in the room wanted to hear.
3. I don’t want to change much about my blog, and that’s OK
So, where does all this leave those of us who love blogging, but aren’t necessarily all that ambitious? I’m grateful to Melissa at Hugzilla blog who wrote one of the most refreshing post-ProBlogger posts this week. She declared it AOK to embrace you’re inner ‘loser’ and agree NOT to make a million dollars from your blog. When asked to reflect on her ‘why’; that is, her raison d’etre blog-wise, she said…
“After two long days of inspiration and insight, my answer is still the same as it ever was: because I want to write stupid shit that makes my friends laugh.”
I heaved a sigh of relief when I read Melissa’s post. I DO get paid to write for a living, and I want to be taken seriously as a writer, but 99% of that happens away from This Charming Mum. In the words of Madonna (to whom I often turn for sage advice) “This used to be my playground”. As a housebound freelance writer/editor, This Charming Mum is the ‘Friday night drinks’ to my virtual office. I use it to learn more about online writing, sure, but mostly I use it to write stuff that doesn’t need anyone else’s sign off.
Let’s face it, I’m a melancholy introvert with a Morrissey fetish. I NEED someone to remind me to lighten up occasionally and thankfully I got that little shake up at this year’s PB. I never want to be taking my blog so seriously that it leads to political tension between me and other bloggers; haters gonna hate, but ain’t nobody got time for that! I’ll remain fascinated by SEO and analytics and engagement and algorithms, but only when I have my professional hat on.
So, more power to those of you striving to turn your blogs into businesses. I will read your shiny blogs and toast your success! Some of you are destined to truly sparkle, others will just be mocked by cynical golf guys.
And if you ever need some down time from all that sparkle and shine, I can probably recommend a good book…