The bumpy road home from BlogWest

My BlogWest notebook ends abruptly on page 31 with a rough sketch of the intersection of the Kinsmen sports center parking lot and Edmonton’s Walterdale Hill. That’s where we were rear-ended by a synchronized swimming coach. Because if there’s one thing I remember from my Young Drivers of Canada lessons over a decade ago, it’s always sketch the accident scene. And stagger yourself in traffic. And turn on your headlines, even in the daytime. And don’t ‘squash the tomatoes’ when you’re changing gears. (I never got the tomato analogy, but I don’t grind gears today so something must have stuck.) And keep your eyes on the damn road – guess the synchro coach missed that class.

The Sylviamobile suffered some damage to her hindquarters that should be repaired before the end of the month. I spent five days wrapped around a heating pad, whenever I didn’t have to surrender it to Travis. It was a minor accident that threw all of last week out of sync. (As my former colleague would say, it really messed with my Chi.)

So I’ve missed the boat on the BlogWest wrap-up party, and if I learned anything at all during my two days there it is the Internet moves really, really quickly! (If anyone would like to weigh in on my continued capitalization of Internet, now would be the time.)

But! Here are some exciting things I learned anyway…

1. People actually make MONEY blogging! I know! I could hardly believe it! Okay, not entirely true. I knew it was possible to make money online (in spite of everything I was told in journalism school all those years ago), but I thought it was an all-or-nothing deal. But apparently there are all kinds of ways to make moolah, like selling ad space, writing sponsored posts, running an online store, joining ad networks and publishing affiliate links. These are all find and dandy, but I have a complicated enough relationship with the advertising in my offline life, that I don’t want to clutter up my headspace (and by extension, blogspace) with it too. This is probably the most you’ll ever hear me talk about advertising on my blog. Fin.

2. You can make money doing other things online, and not *those* things, either! Yes, it’s true. You can get paid to write online, in places other than your blog. I already knew this, and if I could ever get away from the damn trad. media racket I would pursue this much more thoroughly. This was my main reason for attending BlogWest – to learn about pitches and how to find writing gigs. Turns out, I knew most of it already. Now I just need to find the time to follow through. (Hello, day job. Suck it.)

3. I’m just not in it for the money. We all had to come up with our REASON for blogging. Our WHY. Why do I spend so much of my time thinking about my online presence, crafting blog posts in my head and engaging with strangers on the Internet? The most I came up with is “My name is Laura” and “I am from Newfoundland,” but neither of them really answer the question.
Why do you blog? Because my name is Laura!
While I met another awesome Laura and one cool Laurie, I bet neither of them blog just because they are from Newfoundland. So I’m going to keep working on that. Which is a very nice segue into…

4. I have a brand. I do! And it’s not just those snazzy puffins at the top of this page. It’s my voice and my identity – what you will take away from just a few moments on my site. Newfoundland plays a big role in who I am, so understandably it is part of my brand, but what else? And Why? Because I like Alberta an awful lot too, but the common denominator is Canadian rural living, and that’s something I find missing in many parenting books and magazines. And as Natasha wisely pointed out, parenting is what I do right now, so obviously my blog will reflect that. So, why do I blog? To talk about rural Newfoundland parenting, and connect with other natural rural and urban parents, and smart people in general. What’s my brand then? Natural, rural parenting with a big dose of practical reality thrown in (like living in the oil patch, when our hearts are in Bonavista Bay).

5. Ain’t no strangers no more.
A few weeks ago I was talking (on the phone!) to a friend who reads my blog occasionally. (She is actually my long-distance training partner, and would make a fine blogger if she ever put her mind to it. Bonus! she could join the Laura/Laurie/Lora/Lauren name club!) She mentioned it, and said “I saw one of your friends had commented…” And I jumped in and said “Oh she’s not my friend, she’s just someone who reads my blog.”

I SHOULD BE SO STUPID!

(Look at how fast the Internet moves! Just LOOK at it! Six weeks ago I was a naive babe in the woods, and now I’m all over Twitter and have Internet peeps!)

Obviously my readers and commenters are my friends! Even ones I’ve never met in person! Yeesh. And it’s not just because I got to shake hands and trade business cards with a ton of people that I’ll now call them friends – it’s because I learned that my online life and my offline life are not mutually exclusive. It’s all just Real Life. Embrace it.

6. Results.
Tonight, I watched a CTV Edmonton segment on how online parenting networks are a great way to counteract baby blues or postpartum depression. It starred Kristin, of Momstown Edmonton South. At BlogWest, I gave Kristin and her sister Janine the inside scoop on how editors read press releases. My advice was certainly not the reason Momstown got airtime, but it was SO COOL to feel like part of it, and from the other side of the recorder and notebook this time.

7. Traditional Media and Blogging don’t always get along.
I missed the lively discussion on the Wild West of online reporting, but let me add my two cents here: In my (offline) job, I use social media every single day. Trad media? Y’all had better catch up!

So! That was BlogWest! Actually, that was just a teeny tiny part of BlogWest, you can read a whole lot more here, courtesy of Tamara Stecyk. I just realized there’s a bunch more posts up, so I’ll be doing some reading right along with you.

I also got the sense that Blogrolls aren’t in anymore. Can anybody fill me in on this? Because I love scrolling through rolls of other bloggers. I also want to link up more of the fabulous blogs I discovered at BlogWest, and I thought updating my lackluster Blogroll would be the best way to do that. So watch for that in the next few days.

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5 responses to “The bumpy road home from BlogWest

  1. Sounds great. Particularly love your brand – it’s right on the money. Now I most figure out mine – not sure I have one! Keep up the great work.

  2. Wow! Sounds like you got a lot out of BlogWest. Knowing who you are and what you want to focus on is so so important!! It takes some people years to figure it out and look at you — you’re already ahead of the game!

  3. Late to the party here, but I loved your recap (and sorry about the accident-yuck!)

    I definitely think rural/non-urban moms are underrepresented and it’s so refreshing to hear the perspective, because it really is different isn’t it? I grew up rural even though I live suburban now and I feel rural at heart, I’m sure that draws me to your blog 🙂

    And while blogrolls aren’t as big now I still like reading through them too.

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