It's funny how you can form meaningful and lasting friendships with people you have never met. I have made many friends through my blog. I recently went to a blogging conference in Sydney. The conference was followed by a dinner dance. I met some of my online blogging friends in person at the conference for the first time. I also made many new friends. It was lots of fun!
A blog is like an online diary. You can write about whatever you like. Blogs can be public or private. They can enable fantastic discussion. Information and experiences can be exchanged across the world.
My blog contains posts about my life. Common topics include live music reviews and cooking. I also write about how I manage my chronic illness. I receive lots of comments on my blog. The comments are from people I know as well as strangers. Sometimes I even get recognised in the street because of my blog.
The recent blogging conference featured a number of discussion panels. Topics included blog content, social networking and how to build communities. I learned some tips from the panels, and discovered that I already do a lot of what people were suggesting. Advice included:
- Good content is key. We can make our blogs look pretty, but readers come back for the content.
- It is important to promote your blog. Twitter is often the best marketing tool to use. But it shouldn't just be used to promote blogs. You should interact with your followers. Engaging in conversation will help draw people to your blogs.
- Be careful online. Don't post pictures of children. Don't tell other peoples' stories.
- Be authentic with your writing voice. Be honest. Don't promote or advertise products that don't fit with your blog or beliefs.
- Blogging creates wonderful communities and friendships between people with common interests. It can be like online activism.
- Blogging is a valid form of media. It's another avenue for citizen journalism.
I was lucky enough to be asked to give a speech at the conference. Five other inspirational women also spoke. The theme was My Blog, My Story. The women told stories of their own adversity and triumphs. Some of the speeches were very confronting.
My speech was about the way my blog has created so many opportunities. As part of my speech I read out two articles. One was from my blog. The other was In control and telling my story from DiVine. I also spoke off the cuff. I talked about my life and my interests. I also spoke about the support I have received through my blog and how it has helped others. Finally, I shared my achievements since blogging. I even gave out my room number to any men in the room and spat my lolly out on stage! Keeping it real!
I received so much good feedback. I got four big claps, lots of laughs and some tears. So many people came up to me afterwards to thank me for my speech. When I returned to my table, I saw that I had received so much support on Twitter too. It was an honour. I felt very loved.
After my speech, several other bloggers read their best blog posts. Many stories were confronting and brave in their honesty. There was also plenty of humour. The stories were certainly my favourite part of the conference. It's the sharing of life experiences which resonates with me. It makes me want to keep writing and reading other blogs.
I made so many new friends at the conference. I now have lots more blogs to read. It was also fantastic to meet people whose blogs I had previously read. I like keeping up with their lives now that we've met in person.
Since the conference, I have thought about where I want my blog to take me. The conference gave me confidence.
I want my blog to be a platform for my freelance writing. I want to maintain the quality blog posts that my readers have come to expect. I want to be able to submit more of my best blog entries to other publications. I want to continue to influence and educate people. I want to make people laugh and think. I want to help change their perceptions. I also want them to keep reading and tell others to ready my blog.
I have decided to blog a little less than I have been in recent months. I think this is the key to higher quality, more meaningful writing. I want my blog to keep opening up new opportunities.