Thursday, October 14, 2010

Silicone Bitch: Is Blogging Really That Blogalicious?

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

blogalicous weekend 2010 miami beach
Blogalicious 2010 in South Beach last weekend was incredibly inspiring. The conference had a friendly, fun and social atmosphere, but it was also dead serious on the the pros and cons of this thing we do called blogging. Panels, discussions and breakout sessions focused on myriad topics -- from all the technical details of blogging to the personal branding that comes along with the craft -- and everything in between.

(By the way, if you've been hanging around here, you know that I take exception to the word blogger and prefer to call it self-publishing, so bear with me while I still use the offensive term.)

Blogalicious was true to its mission of celebrating diversity in blogging and although some emphasis was placed on women of color and latinas, at the end of the day, we were all women of many colors, of many geographic origins, of many creeds and beliefs, of varying incomes, educations, sexual orientations and statuses; we were single women, married women, divorced women, childless women, mommy bloggers, fat, skinny, women ... but who cares what we looked like in the end and where we were from? And heck, there were even some men in the crowd!

What truly mattered is that we all had one thing in common: we were each of us a woman with a voice who has something to say and wasn't afraid to say it, empowered by the entrepreneurial lifestyle of self-publishing. Many of us had already taken the leap of faith; some of us were just mustering up the courage to press that "publish post" button.

And all of this got me thinking about the price we have to pay for this blogging thing we so stubbornly pursue. Being a self-publisher comes at a price. If you're a serious blogger who has thought about making a living at blogging, you know the practice comes with some sacrifice.

Here are some thoughts that have been swishing about in my brain since last weekend.

For me, having a blog has meant sacrificing energy and time, turning away crappy "paying" work only because I believe so much in this damn thing. Call me an idiot if you like, but I'd rather be writing for me than for some factory mill even if that means having to make certain choices about how I live my life -- choices that might be difficult for others to understand; choices that mean giving up certain securities and comforts. In other words, you need cojones and conviction to do it and to own it deep down inside, even if you have to give up many milestones a more traditional life path may have had in store for you. This isn't everyone woman's blogging story, but it's certainly mine and that of other single women I know.

Which begs the question, women bloggers out there: is their a gender role issue in blogging and the independent lifestyle you need to maintain a good blog? Can men handle the independence you need to go out and cover events? Are they jealous? And if you're a wife or mom, are you willing to take the time away from your spouse or children to self-publish? I realize this isn't just about women (men could face the same issues as well), but I've found some guys just can't deal with the commitment I have to my self-publishing lifestyle.

I'm more and more convinced each day that if you're not pitching to brands, you're not ready for a brand to support you. Take time to find those relationships that work for your blog. If your stuff is good, find something that's just as good to support your material and think of creative ways to incorporate it into your website.

But for pete's sake, don't be a shill. Don't do straight-out product reviews! Instead, do something really cool that provides great content; there's got to be something in it for you and your readers. Yes, we do have to make money, but there has to be a compromise -- aim for a relationship to a brand that provides elegant and quality support of your editorial.

Tell brands you're interested in advertising opportunities instead of product reviews. You seriously don't want to be all advertorial. Milk them ... what have you got to lose? Remember, they are sucking up to us because they know how powerful we can be as social media influencers.

On the other hand, and I really mean seriously on the other fucking hand, when you get to paid to blog, invariably, you might feel like you have to sell out a little. How much are you willing to sell out (if we must call it that) and for whom? South Florida Daily Blog recently discussed that in a post about the blogging scene regarding Carlos Miller's move to Pixiq. It's not fair for bloggers to have to starve forever. Cut us some slack. I don't think Miller is selling out. He's doing what he needs to do to keep doing what he's been doing and so good for him.

One of the most annoying things about a being a self-publisher is explaining your line of "work" to people who don't get it, especially those from older generations. Only other bloggers and a few digital savvy people get what I do. Everyone else thinks I'm a professional slacker or something, which of course, provides great fodder for humor. But seriously: it's not a hobby. It's hard work on top of the other work I already have to do. See section "sacrifice" above.

Is blogging really blogalicious? Why yes it is! But blogging comes at a price and one that is definitely worthwhile. I don't think any woman walked away from this weekend without questioning the concept of blogging; yet with that questioning came also came a strong desire to do her own creative thing in self-publishing.

When guest speaker Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, brought up the invention of the Guttenberg Press in a general session on Sunday morning, he knew damn well what he was talking about. Voice and broadcast is a powerful.

And I think (I hope), I speak for all of us that we left the conference with a better understanding of a digital sisterhood. Let's not self-publish in a vacuum. Hopefully for some, a sisterhood will translate into real-life relationships of support and friendship as we grow collectively into a vanguard generation of self-publishers.

If you're interested in seeing where Blogalicious is headed next year, make sure to follow the conference on twitter @Beblogalicious. Kudos to the "Justices" for organizing it a second year in a row and thanks to all the sponsors. Miami Beach was lucky to have this conference!

An extra treat: see a video capture of CNN journalist Soledad O'Brien while she did a Skype conference from her home with Blogalicious. (Via @anandaleeke.)


Rick said...

I really don't think Carlos is a sell out. He's just a guy who made a decision to go in a certain direction with his blog. But I think it has certainly had an effect on his unique blogging identity that he had before making the move, as I said in the post. That's all I was saying.


Anonymous said...

Or you can do your blogging AT work
while collecting a paycheck.
(paid for with tax dollars even better, right rick?)

Maria de los Angeles said...

Hi Rick ... point well taken but it's still the same predicament.

Anonymous ... blogging at work? What if your "work" is a writing job? Writing 8 hours a day for someone else and then coming home to write your own thing is exhausting.

And by the way if you're trying to say that Rick blogs at work, you have no way of knowing that.

Mike said...

Hi Maria-

Been meaning to comment on this. Actually wrote on on my iPad and it disappeared. Fack.

1) Sacrifice is part of anything worthwhile.

2) Relationships. If self-publishing is a major part of who you are, then someone compatible will just have to get that. Or get kicked to the corner.

3) Dealing with brands. I'll get there when I get there.

4) There are ways to sell out in a larger fashion and for more money. Take writing advertising for example. Yes it can be rewarding, but it's the ultimate shilling! Making up stuff to directly broadcast for the brand. It is the exception when your "pure" creativity gets produced andd published just like you had t in your head.

5) Hobby vs. work. If you didn't notice, I don't care what people think. And neither do you, I would imagine...