There's a lesson here, of course. And it's almost so trite that I hesitate to point it out. It is, of course, this: Perfectionism leads to procrastination. This is the third time I've tried to write this post, and I'm determined to get through it now. So...
Why should a conference of 800 women bloggers have me in such a tizzy? When I tried to explain the conference to people in my "off-line" world, I could tell some of them didn't really get it. I realized I was doing a poor job of describing BlogHer when someone asked me, "So, it's like a conference about computer stuff?"
Yes and no. But for me, mostly no. That's what I love about blogging. The technology surrounding and supporting it is cool. And I have loads to learn. But what the technology enables is way cooler. I was excited to meet other women who are sharing their opinions, telling their stories, and creating communities online. I was excited to meet other women who "get" blogging.
You know how you build something up in your mind and the real thing can barely compare? Well, BlogHer wasn't like that. It may be the best conference I've ever been to. I met so many interesting women over those three days. I'm still working through the stack of cards that I collected, visiting new blogs and sending little email "hellos." I was also touched by how many other women were interested in me. They wanted to hear my story as much as I wanted to hear theirs. There was a strong sense of community and good juju that I never experienced at the business networking events of my previous life.
The days weren't just about meeting and greeting, though. There was a jam-packed schedule of sessions to choose from. I mostly stuck with The Art of Life track, but ventured into a few Business and Technical sessions. I'm still going through all of my notes. That's another thing that really impressed me about this conference: its usefulness. Maybe it's just because I'm more interested and motivated on this topic than others, but I don't usually find much value in seminars and conference sessions. All too often it's a bunch of talk without any useful take-aways. But I have tons of resources to check out and ideas to pursue after BlogHer.
Before I left for Chicago, I made a list of BlogHer Deliverables, a mini wish list in which I described how I wanted to weekend to go.
- Meet new kindred spirits and begin to establish meaningful friendships.
- Meet blog crushes.
- Find someone who will redesign and combine my website and blog into one fabulously designed site.
- Increase my blog audience.
- Make good professional connections for future writing work.
- Begin to learn about monetizing my blog.
- Make good connection for my book.
- Be inspired and encouraged.
- Have fun!!
- Be comfortable and confident in my own skin (and my own clothes!).
- Feel beautiful and intelligent.
Saturday night, after two very long, action-packed days, I sat in my hotel room feeling very tired and a little sorry for myself. Nothing was actually wrong, but my internal critic started whispering in my ear, saying darkly seductive things like, "Sure you met a lot of people, but who will remember you? Will this weekend be worth anything once you're home? Maybe you made a fool of yourself, blathering on like you did, eh? And let's face it, your blog sure needs a lot of work..."
I was journaling about all of this, boo-hooing for myself when I remembered my list. As I read through it, I was shocked to realize that every single item had happened or was in the works. The only iffy one was learning about monetizing my blog. But I learned something even more important: I'm not sure if I want to monetize this space. Some people are definitely pro-ad or anti-ad. I can see the value in each scenario. I realized that I need to better define what I want this online space to be and to do. And that goes far beyond the "ad vs. ad-free" debate.
My weekend among other bloggers has me asking questions: Why do I blog? For whom do I blog? Can I be a generalist? Do I need to find a more specific niche? Does my voice come through in this writing?
To that end, why do you come here? Tell me your thoughts and preferences in the comments or by email to jennifer[at]