When I left Opryland Hotel on Saturday, I was full to the brim with emotion. I couldn’t speak and I fought back tears for forty miles. It was much harder to leave my friends than I thought. This online community that I find myself in is incredible and Blissdom is the perfect chance to blur the lines between our online and offline lives. I learned some valuable information but more than that, I strengthened invaluable relationships. And rumor has it they are not expanding Blissdom next year, so if you want to go, start saving and planning now. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever experience–it’s just…..bliss.
So, here’s the short list of things I learned.
1. Content is still king.
It’s so easy in blog world to get distracted by a million other things. Headers, sidebars, platforms, SEO, social media and on and on and on. It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that we’re here to tell our stories. And how we tell those stories will always be the most important thing. You might tell your story with pictures or with poetry or with compelling original writing. But tell your story. Tell the truth and they will come. Let your readers hear your voice and be authentic to that. If they meet you in real life, you want them to say, “You’re exactly like you sound on your blog.” Emily from Chatting at the Sky, who spoke on this very topic—and who is an amazing truth-teller—gave this quote by Howard Thurman that has become my new mantra,
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
And that is so true with writing/blogging. It’s tempting to try to decipher what it is that people want to hear. But what they want to hear is a ‘you’ that is alive and passionate. So do your passion and it will be compelling. And the best way to get better at writing is just to write. The second most important thing is to read great authors that you’d like to emulate. I find that the more I read, the more I have to say. And when I’m ‘fresh out’ of words and ideas, it’s usually because I haven’t been reading as much.
Quick tip: Read great books and tell your story with truth and passion.
2. Live then write.
Striking a balance between your online and offline life is difficult. But you first must live your life to be able to write about it. I can only sit down on Monday morning and write about Blissdom if I’ve been to Blissdom. If you find yourself at a loss of things to write about, step away from blogging/writing and go live your life. Don’t be afraid to take blog breaks. I have always admired my sweet dear friend The Nester for this. Even though she has a jillion people who read her blog, she seldom posts on the weekend. I’ve cursed her through my screen and said things like, “Come on Nester girl, it’s been four days, get to it, post something!”
But I do admire the boundary she draws for her family. And Megan from Velveteen Mind took a four month blogging hiatus and didn’t really worry about what would happen to her blog in the interim. Develop of healthy detachment from your blog. Don’t let it take over your life. Blogs make perfect slaves but terrible masters.
Quick tip: Live a full, productive offline life and then tell us about it.
3. Find meaningful ways to connect with your readers.
I haven’t been very proactive with social media. I like interacting with my readers on my blog and their blogs but that can be very time consuming. It’s taken me awhile to figure out how to use Twitter and Facebook productively without them becoming complete time wasters. Ironically, my husband, who was very hesistant to all social media at first, has taught me the power of Twitter.
So here’s my advice to you, get a Twitter account and spend some time figuring it out. It’s such an easy, quick way to interact with people–kinda like group texting— and it’s fun to use. If you have a smart phone, you can download a twitter application. I use tweetdeck but there are others. There’s a function called @replies where you can talk to specific people by using their twitter name (handle) with the @ sign in front of it. There’s also the powerful hashtag (ie #blissdom) which makes it possible to search any topic you’re interested in and it will bring up all the people on twitter who are talking about that topic. The #blissdom hashtag was going crazy this weekend but it makes it easy to follow people who have similiar interests as you. Once you figure it out, I think you’ll agree that it can be much more helpful and intuitive than facebook. And there won’t be old pictures of you with big hair and blue eye shadow from high school. You’ll still need FB for that! I still use Facebook some but Twitter is becoming my social media of preference. Steve says it’s the communication of the future. Follow me on Twitter (click the ‘follow me’ button in my sidebar) if you don’t already and send me an @reply to follow you!
Quick tip: Use Twitter regularly to interact with people you love/stalk. Use @replies liberally.
I miss my Blissdom girls already and had a wonderful weekend meeting them all. Alli and Barbara did an amazing job putting this event together. We were treated like royalty and the Opryland staff is impeccable! The sponsors were so generous to us and lavished treats and swag on us like crazy. Add this event to your calendar next year. You won’t be sorry! I’ll be back with another post on all the amazing women I met. I’m still processing my photos!
Have a great Monday. See you on Twitter!
See other Blissdom recap posts at JoLynn’s blog Musings of a Housewife.