I made a few remarks as I made my way to the last session of the morning. I said that it was mean to put these people together at this time. I said that I was not looking forward to the session. But that’s because as a chubby man, heading into a food panel right before lunch on a stomach that was void of everything except coffee, was disconcerting. If you looked at me, you may not be shocked to find that I like food. In fact, while I don’t read a ton of regular blogs, I was familiar with the works of all three panelists; Krista Butler, Lindsay Nelson and Laura Oakley.
I really loved the variations that the three panelists offered. While they’re all committed to the search for great food, their purposes and processes are very different. From quick and easy home recipes to “food quests”, these three are working hard to provide the people of Halifax and beyond with the best eat in, take out or dine at home experiences possible. One of the things that I really loved about this panel was that it wasn’t just “what’s your favorite restaurant” but rather had some serious insights on blogging, regardless of content area. If you’ve been reading the rest of this post (and I can’t imagine that you would have skipped the first thousand or so words and landed here) then you’ll know that BlogJam seemed to have an overarching theme; be yourself.
One of the things that all three focused on was the idea that if you want to blog and you want to get out there and you want to do something, then YOU have to do something that YOU love. There are too many people out there that are super focused on trying to find a niche, finding a place for them, finding their home on the web that they forget that home is where the heart is. If you want to blog because you want to blog then you need to be yourself. People will believe in you. They will follow you. They will trust you. But only if you’re actually you. All that being said, as Motherfumbler says, if you’re a terrible person, maybe be somebody else.
Then I had lunch. Now, I will talk briefly about lunch, for a few reasons. First, I ended up at the restaurant at the Marriott because I failed to take advantage of the BlogJam “boxed lunch”. I wasn’t sure if I would be there for lunch so had to “settle” for one of the best sandwiches you could ever imagine, El Cubano. More importantly, I got to have lunch with the aforementioned WordPress Wrangler, Alison Knott, as well as my good friend and incredible illustrator, Tara Andrews. But even more importantly, I got to have lunch with a whole bunch of women I didn’t know. I find that one of the things that happens at a conference is that some people, who can be shy (you’d never know it but I’m incredibly shy and self conscious), spend their time talking to either no one, or a handful of people that they already knew. And for much of the morning, that’s how I spent my time. And then along came lunch.
Getting to share my time with people who were at various levels of their personal and professional careers and blogs was incredibly informative. I got to learn a lot about what they did, both as bloggers and as humans, but I also got to share my own knowledge (no one at the table understood what Periscope really did before our lunch). It was SUCH a great lunch that I may have missed the beginning of the next session I was planning on attending. Which turned out to be fine.
I don’t like to do anything right before I present. I can’t just switch gears and get into my presentation if I don’t have a break so I took a break. If you want to know about MY presentation, there’ll be a post coming very soon so be sure to follow me on Twitter.
After my session, I decided to sit in on the next session with Renee Downs. The subject matter was not something that I was in any way interested in. I’m NOT a reluctant blogger. I’m an over-sharer. But I was intensely interested in the story of Renee Downs. Renee is an extremely talented writer and I was interested to hear what would hold back such a talented writer from…well…writing. What I learned was that there is a huge difference between telling a story and telling your story. There’s a huge difference.
One of the things I loved about Renee’s session was that she was so excited about everything that she did. As she loved showing us who her blog and book had allowed her to meet, you could feel the giddy excitement. I love people that love things. I know that sounds weird but it’s true. There are way to many people who hide their emotions and their interests and it’s always refreshing to see someone who is generally excited. But there was more.
Renee shared with us her plans to use this platform to share the story of her son’s journey with dyslexia and to create a collaborative community of individuals dedicated to helping those who live with and support those with learning disabilities. It is always inspiring to see people using their powers for good rather than evil.
BlogJam was an incredible experience. Today I completed their survey and it was a resounding WOO HOO. Are there things that could be better? Have you been to a conference where there weren’t? The team behind BlogJam deserve all the hugs, all the feelings and all the things and I know that next year when this conference rolls around, they’ll have come up with even more ways to knock our socks off.