Later this week, I’m speaking on panels for both the Smart Girls Group conference
(Thursday) and a HerCampus conference
(Saturday). If you’re attending, let me know– I’d love to meet you!
Both are, of course, related to blogging and personal branding online. I don’t get nervous public speaking, but I do like to spend a little time preparing for panels… because you have to think on your feet. Especially for the Q&A sections at the end.
I’ve been thinking about how much blogging and social media has changed since I wrote my first post
– and how much I absolutely did not expect. In no particular order:
ONE // The community
It was a pretty small group of bloggers back in the day. It’s been amazing to see how much the community has grown over the years. And I absolutely count readers as part of the blogging community. I don’t think you need to have a .com to be a part of it! I love getting to meet new people, whether it’s from a tweet and only online or finally meeting a longtime internet friend “IRL.”
TWO // The platforms
Not going to lie, if I were to start a blog today… I think I would be too overwhelmed by the number of platforms out there. I count my lucky stars every day that I could adopt new platforms along with the times (i.e. spaced out over the years) instead of having to jump into everything all at once. It’s incredible
to see how social media has grown to include so many new channels. I love them all (Tumblr
… etc.), but I definitely think there are so many
that it can be hard to manage them all. And even more challenging because the audiences on each might not even read the actual blog.
THREE // Mean girls
It kind of sucks, but I guess it’s life. Mean girls are everywhere and blogging is no exception. In fact, I’d argue that the internet makes it worse. In high school, before TCP, I would get the most hateful messages on Facebook and it was terrible that I knew that the person was someone I went to school with. It happened again in college, with a nasty anonymous blog on our campus who said horrible things about me. But I have to say… it’s kind of a good thing. As much as it used to bother me (more so when it was legitimately people who I knew), now I’m so used to it that I don’t even bat an eye. My skin is so much thicker and it’s been a good thing overall. Also, it makes me value my friendships with the good girls a whole lot more. Not everyone out there is a mean girl!!!
FOUR // An industry
How weird that an entire industry has evolved around blogging, social media, and digital media. Pretty awesome. To be on the blogging side of things, I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the whole thing has evolved. Bloggers and blogs are treated completely differently now than they were when I started out. There’s legitimacy where there wasn’t before… and companies see the value. Again, it’s pretty awesome. The best part is that it’s not just limited to “the bloggers.” I’ve seen friends from college build out new divisions within their companies, lead serious digital campaigns for major brands, and start their own consulting companies helping small businesses utilize social media.
FIVE // Competition
Of course, as the industry started developing, the competition around blogging grew. (This also contributes a bit to the mean girl mentality.) Sometimes the NYC blogging scene can be… a lot. Frankly, I keep a toe in the water but pretty much keep my blinders on and stay out of it. It can get ruthless out there. It’s different here than other cities too because there are just a LOT of fish in the pond. (To quote this elderly woman who sat next to me at the ballet: “Doesn’t everyone blog now?” Yes, yes they do.)
I firmly firmly firmly stand behind the idea of “what’s good for one blogger is good for all bloggers.” As an example: if I see that a major retailer is using a blogger in a print campaign… I think of how amazing that is for the blogging community. It means that there will be even more opportunities in the future for more bloggers. Next season, I promise you’ll see handfuls of bloggers being used in print campaigns.
Side note: this works for just about any kind of industry… and it’s great to keep in mind!
SIX // Open doors
I never imagined how many doors blogging would open for me. Besides it turning into a very visual and public resume, I’ve learned about a ton of different industries. It’s allowed me to sample doing different elements of various industries. Sometimes I discover that I’d really not enjoy doing it longterm and other times, I’m fascinated by it and want to know more! There’s also a weird shift in a bunch of industries where your digital influence gives you an edge. I’m working on three separate projects (one in LA and two here in NYC) and every single time that it gets down to a project proposal or pitch, my “follower” numbers and page views are at the top of the page. At first it irritated me, like I was only “worth” what my “influence” (which is such a ridiculously annoying term to begin with) is online…. but if it opens more doors, I say, go with it.
SEVEN // Finding a voice
I think ultimately, I didn’t expect blogging to help me find my voice. Whether or not anyone was listening (err… reading), it was important for me to figure out who exactly I was. A lot of events lead up to this– going to college out of state, learning that failing wasn’t the end of the world, putting myself “out there,” and simply getting into the practice of writing. But it was really blogging that tipped the scale for me. (I even wrote a post for the Georgetown Voice about this back in 2011
.) I’ve always been a numbers person
, but it was writing that let me come out of my shell. I kind of feel like I’m a different person (not just an older person, but a different
person) than I was five and a half years ago. There are a LOT of numbers involved with blogging (understanding strategy and statistics and analytics make a huge difference for successful blogging), but blogging without writing would be fruitless!
Have you experienced something from blogging that you didn’t expect?