03 June 2010

Casual Blogger Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts it is! Luckily for me some of the speakers and panel members have written about their conference experiences. So the task of telling you about Day Two in the Casual Bloggers Conference is not so difficult.

The first panel discussion we listened to was about how to balance your online life. While this topic appears to be reserved for those who have an online life, I was surprised to take some snippets away for myself. Three lovely ladies discussed how to have blogging zen and work-life balance so to speak, including one of my favorite bloggers, Marta Dansie (click to read her very detailed notes on this workshop). The moderator asked a series of organization questions to the panel like, "What clues showed you that your online life was of balance?" or "What are your methods for organization?" Basically the premise of the discussion is that the world wide web is all too easy to be ensnared in for hours on end without accomplishing much besides window shopping and casual reading. For on-the-verge-of-not-being-casual bloggers, this time should be used for writing a post, making impact marketing moves, or really, just not being on Twitter.

Tips for balancing from panelists:
- Set a schedule and timer for how long you'll be online
- Write down what accomplishments you want to meet before sitting down at your computer
- Set small goals for your site
- Embrace organic growth
- Try "no guilt" blogging (get your life in order, a.k.a figure out the menu and go shopping and spend time with your family before sitting down to write and read)
- If you do what you love than that = time well spent
- Be yourself, have a voice, and don't copy

The net panel discussion concerned niche blogging. Do you know what a niche is? How should one pronounce niche? These were all questions we addressed in this panel discussion. We didn't stay long for this workshop because it was nearing the noon hour, but I did stay long enough to see the creator of Sugardoodle.net in PERSON! Seriously the most down to earth, casual person I heard speak at the CBC. I never even knew there was a single person (not a company) behind Sugardoodle.

Interesting story she told us - Sugardoodle was created because she had over 10 boxes of church materials in her basement and her husband said she needed to get rid of them. To her this was blasphemy, just not physically possible. She compromised by getting rid of them physically, but typing up all of her documents and storing them on a website (the most random name she could think of). One day someone emailed her to suggest a document that should be added to her personal collection. She had no idea anyone even knew her documents existed. Talk about organic growth!

Tips I did glean from this neeshay topic were, keep your website and knowledge updated and current, allow readers to connect with you on a personal level, and be unique. It may not be necessary to have a niche, as some people pointed out. Like Marta, some audiences come because they are people with interests like you. So you don't need to write all about food or all about mommies. You just write you.

Blogging and Faith was an interesting panel discussion that included all Christian ladies, mostly LDS blogger women, and then one guy from the YouTube channel Mormon Messages. Everyone discussed how they blog about their faith, whether it was open and direct or casually. Whether they used Christian or Mormon lingo, or avoided it for audiences who wouldn't know the definition. One woman talked about how she, as a mommy/grand-mommy blogger didn't discuss religion at first in her blog, because she didn't want to be seen as a stereotype. However, she felt that she was leaving out a large part of who she is by not writing about it openly. She also realized that she would remain a stereotype until she defined herself.

I really enjoyed this conversation, because I understand the various sides of the topic. I want to write for all audiences - for my family, friends, non-LDS high school friends and relatives, or complete strangers if they found something interesting here. I want them to know who I am. Am I afraid of rejection or mean comments? A little.... moderately... But I'm learning that my religion is not just that one building I spend three hours at on Sunday, it has molded me into who I am today and is so much a part of my daily life that my religion is my behavior (or at least I try). I like me! So you may see the word Primary in my blog writings or I might write about prayer, and you're welcome to ask me what that means and I will probably explain it a little for those who don't know.

The last workshop I attended was a Design Lab. I found out that a good place to get graphics is of course, iStock photo, but also Photopress (photos, not necessarily vector images) and Delicious Scraps. Also I wasn't aware that you could do animations in Photoshop (like blinkies) or have a corporate Photobucket account for $40/year. If you're curious about Blog Design, you can fill out a form on April Shower's site for a copy of her presentation. Also, she has great tutorials that pretty much summarize everything I wish I had learned in the class, but didn't have time for.

Welp, that pretty much summarizes Day Two for ya. Sorry it was lengthy! If you're curious about how to get into the monetizing thing, I can direct you to the most expert speaker at the conference from Day One. Would you be surprised to know that she now has a business teaching people to monetize? If you're interested in my swag bag discounts, they may be going to the trash sometime in the near future unless you want to save them. Next up - my CBC Eavesdropping post, complete with unicorn drawing!