Last week I attended the Press Publish in Portland, sponsored by Word Press (geez, say that 3 times fast).
With panels on content creation, marketing, and techy things, I found that I learned the most from bloggers who have been at it for a few years and even longer.
Speaker and novelist Christine Hyung-Oak Lee has been blogging since 1995, before a weblog was even called a blog. Ariel Meadow-Stallings started blogging in 2000 and started her digital publishing company in 2007. Since she started blogging in 2005 Ananda Leeke has published several books. It’s amazing to think of people like Christine, Ariel, and Ananda who started blogging back when blogs were hardly a thing, and during the process have found their calling and in Ariel’s case, built an empire.
But now an online platform or presence is the thing to “have”. There is no end to the amount of content, ideas, opinions, and “secrets” you can read about when it comes to building an online platform. Yet even if one were to practice everything perfectly, there are few things about that kind of success that can be carefully planned and carried out without some real gritted-teeth perseverance.
Here are some things the speakers had to say about their experience.
“You can’t please everybody, but you can bore everybody. It is better to be interesting and piss people off.” @WhyJerryWhy
Author and blogger Jerry Mahoney, author of Mommy Man: How I Went from Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad, commented on the importance of writing about controversy, difficult topics, and issues in which readers may vehemently disagree with you.
It’s not always in your best interests to avoid difficult topics. If you try too hard to please everybody and avoid even offending one person, then you end up with a pretty limp, wet noodle of a blog, and then nobody reads it, not even your mom.
Sometimes finding your unique voice means taking some risks and putting yourself out on a limb. And if you’re still not sure, then go on to Amazon and read reviews of best-selling authors. Even those people have haters.
“You have these plans to get somewhere, but the road is not what you expected.” @OffBeatAriel
When Ariel was building her empire, she never expected to offer services in wedding planning. When she started planning her own wedding, she discovered an unmet need for unconventional weddings.
This was a common theme I heard among the speakers. Few had these picture perfect plans for building their blogs up from nothing. When they started out, they couldn’t envision where it would take them. And to follow that unexpected path, they had to be open to it, open to what it was calling them to do and open to the fact that the outcome may be something they never dreamed of.
“Success is knowing that you’re doing exactly what you set out to do.” @CeciliaGunther
This bit was precipitated by a question from a blogger who felt like she was writing in her most unique voice, but nobody was listening. (Haven’t we all felt that way?) Cecilia pointed out that bloggers can be successful, even with a small following.
If you are connecting with readers, who truly get you, even if that seems like a small number, then you are successful. That connection is one of the most important things you can create. All it takes is one person or three people or ten to really get you. That is all you need. Create for them and others will come.