A while back I introduced BlogU, a new kind of blogging conference. (You can read all about it here.) If you’re you a blogger on the fence about attending, I know what you’re thinking. I clearly remember my trepidation before attending my first blog conference. Had I given into my doubts, not only my blog, but my entire life would be different. Does that sound like an overstatement? Well, it’s not. Today I am a published writer with a network of professional and personal relationships, all thanks to that first step I took.
I started my blog in 2010 and I remember how exciting it was when 15 people saw it. I thought, “I probably only told 13 people about it. Who are those other 2?” Soon I was excited when 40 or 50 people read a post. “Now that’s definitely more than just my friends and family! Someone told someone and now people are actually reading my stuff!” The first time I got 100 hits my mind exploded.
I was the only person I knew who blogged. It was a strange thing I decided to do all alone in my house with no one looking. I soon became friendly with a few other bloggers online, which was unexpected and fun. I felt like we had an understanding that I didn’t find in the “real” world. Afterall, we each decided to do this weird thing alone in our houses with no one looking. We read one another’s blogs, commented, and exchanged witty Tweets.
When the opportunity to attend a blog conference presented itself I felt both excited and apprehensive. I wanted to go, but did I belong at a real live blogging conference? Surely not. Who was I but a teeny tiny blogger? I didn’t have fancy things like advertisers, sponsors, or a strategy. I had no inkling of SEO or other blogging buzzwords. Nevertheless, two of my newfound online friends and I decided to do it. I was nervous and had no idea what to expect.
At that conference, back in 2010, I met JD Bailey of Honest Mom and Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start by Saying. I couldn’t have known at the time how much meeting these women would change my life, but I knew instantly that I found two kindred spirits. Four years later, I communicate with JD and Kim nearly daily. Through the years we’ve helped one another with all things writing and blogging, but, more importantly, we’ve become real friends. I turn to them when something hilarious happens. I turn to them when I’m struggling, sad, angry, frustrated, or need to know which shoes to wear. I’ve shared meals, drinks, skin care secrets, hotel rooms, spa days, tears, and so many laughs with them.
I learned so much about blogging from that first conference. Within a few months my readership doubled, tripled, quadrupled and then some. I felt less weird and alone in my blogging. I would never be where I am now if I decided I didn’t belong at that first conference. I’ve since attended other conferences where I’ve had the good fortune to meet so many more amazing bloggers, and where I’ve made professional connections that have led to some incredible career opportunities. JD and Kim are now among a tribe of women I rely on to get through every single day. I can’t imagine my life without them.
So, if you’re thinking that your blog is too small or that you won’t fit in for some reason, if you’re worried that you don’t know anyone who’s going, stop it. We all have something in common: we’re writers. That means that if you’re worried that you’re too socially awkward or introverted, I can guarantee that plenty of your peers are feeling the same. We’ve kept BlogU small to create an accessible, intimate, non-intimidating atmosphere. Whether you have an online relationship with any other attendees or not before walking in the door, I can assure you that you’ll leave with not only new professional contacts, but with new girlfriends.
If you’re still nervous, feel free to contact me or one of the other faculty members to ask questions. Talk to your blogging acquaintances to see if they want to go too. Check out our Facebook page or join the BlogU attendees page where you can get to know some of the other bloggers before we all descend on the Baltimore campus in June.
I can’t guarantee that attending BlogU will change your life, but it just might.