I was sent to SOBCon this year by a social networking website for “lifestyle design” called Biglife. My mission was simple, I was to learn to blog and then teach the life coaches that run the site everything I learned from the conference.
Being a non-blogger, I have to admit, I had a really slanted idea of what I thought this conference would be like, In my mind, I knew that I would be surrounded by tattoo laden, pierced, tech savvy, laptop toting hipsters that would be talking code and philosophy completely over my head. I was already near a nervous breakdown keeping up with my own imagination and was not sure if I would live through keeping up with a group like that. What I found when I got there was that these were everyday people, the kind of people you might see in the grocery store, all ages shapes and sizes (although a lot of them did have laptops).
Taking out my tiny back pocket notebook, I made a quick note to self: Remove fake tattoo and clip on nose ring at next 5 minute break
Just because I recognized that the bloggers were people doesn’t mean my fight or flight “pretend to be stupid and young” instinct didn’t kick in during some parts of the conference (c’mon girls, don’t hate, I know that you’ve faked stupid before). These cats were still pretty unique, intimidating and mysterious in a lot of ways – I mean, they spoke a whole new blogger language that I had to ask many a definition for. (OK, so maybe I wasn’t playing stupid) I did however, gain a little clarity that I didn’t have before about blogging: Anyone can do it. Yup, I know, you’re rolling your eyes saying to yourself “That should be a given, they really wasted their money sending you along.”
If that isn’t good enough for you here are some other key points I learned:
2. You have to be passionate about writing about what your passionate about
This was an aha moment for me, I’m a life coach, I’m passionate about helping people grow, however, I am NOT passionate about writing about personal growth. So, a personal growth blog is probably not the best fit for me.
3. Transparency and Authenticity online are two separate things.
Unless you want to tell people what color your undies are, you don’t have to. Blogging is not about putting it all out there; blogging is about being authentic in your word. Without authenticity, your blog will most likely be detected on bullshit meters everywhere.
(Believe me, bloggers have excellent BS meters)
Of course, being famous for mashing words together, I mashed some words to define this:
Blauthentic n: the authenticness of the written word esp. referencing blogs. 2. The authenticity of the blah blah blah between the header and footer.
4. Most blogs are written in a conversational tone, and the comments are meant to be an extension of that conversation.
I think that this is where most coaches get this wrong, and that’s a funny thing because coaches are kick ass at real life conversation. However, get them on paper and for most of them, a blog post is where they strut their stuff and show what they know, it’s not conversational, it’s authoritative. I don’t think coaches are alone in this mistake, I think many people must miss the boat on this. In part I think people are just used to writing for an audience that can’t participate. People get a little freaked out that there is even a comment box anywhere near what they write. So they make sure to wrap it up tightly and leave no room for argument or questions. The problem is, it’s hard to build a reputation online without relationships, so conversation and a little vulnerability for comments in necessary.
I mashed up another word for this open conversational blogging: Vulnerablogity. At the time I thought it was a genius word, now I think it kinda’ blows – but it still makes a good point, let your blog post be vulnerable to scrutiny.
5. Bloggers are a family. (at least these bloggers are)
The blogging society is a tight knit group of people, they for the most part, know each other, love each other and support one another, whether or not they have physically met. In that respect, they are a lot like life coaches: They don’t expect much, they just expect you to be exactly who you are – on and off the page.
I did learn alot of other things at the conference, some invaluable information about monetizing my blog and organizing my blog – about how wordpress is the place to be and I am really uncool – but I think, for a non-blogger just starting, these five key points are imperative.
Comments, question, hate mail, additions?
I have an admission to make. I’m a half ass planner. Case in point: The capture box on my homepage promises a report that gives you 12 Ways to Think Without the Box without actually delivering a thing to anyone. For 2 weeks people have been exchanging their names and email addresses in hopes of getting some helpful information – and have got nothing in return (sorry).
As tempted as I am to use the excuse that there was a broken link on my page, I can’t, I just hadn’t written the 12 points until today – I was getting nervous with all the requests stacking up, but didn’t want to send out an uninspired piece. I’m pretty sure the added pressure of being past deadline was ultimately what got the ball rolling. This segues nicely into the actual list
- Procrastinate till the final countdown – I dunno about you but that’s when my best shit comes out. In fact, procrastinating until after the final countdown can really help you get your ass in gear. (Not recommended if you trade your time for money on someone else’s clock – great if you’re a free agent who makes your own deadlines)
- Spend some time “mashing” ideas. Pick any two unrelated ideas and try to mash them together, find all the secret ways in which they intermingle and then figure out how they relate to Kevin Bacon.
- Staplers Make Great Nutcrackers: Pick an object within sight and invent new and different uses for it- spend 20 minutes thinking of all the unusual ways the stapler on your desk can be improved upon or transformed completely and used in a new way.
- “Yes and”.. write down or say any stupid thing you want, whatever the first thing is that you think of – continue on that thought, accept it as fact, add to it. Example: I like the taste of dirt…Yes, and the texture is a refreshing alternative to broken glass…Yes, and there are so many varieties available…Yes, and.. The point here is to retrain your brain to think without the usual parameters enforced by negation.
- Wake up to Fuzzy Logic – seriously, while your mind is fresh and fuzzy. Sleepiness has the advantage of creating some whack and beautiful neurological misfiring.
- Have an Orgy – Seriously, have an ideagasm orgy with a few friends. Get snugly with your idea in the afterglow. (If your down for a real orgy, this may work well too, although I suspect exhaustion will overtake any and all cognition and you will forget every brilliant thing you or anyone else has ever said.)
- Forget what you know – find a new point of view – ask questions like a 6 year old, get on a bike, fall off on purpose, unlearn balance, unlearn calculus, discover ants and chewed gum on the sidewalk.
- Meditate – You don’t have to be Deepak Chopra or eat granola to do this – headphones and some “Your hand In Mine” will do just fine.
- Pick a feeling, any feeling – really get into that feeling – begin to create. Live in it for a few and see what comes.
- Get Uncomfortable – Push the envelope of what’s acceptable – I once knew a girl that made a paintings with her menstrual blood – that’s way too far out for me, but they were beautiful and started a conversation in my head that would’ve never taken place had I not taken the time to accept her art as valid expression. (insert jokes about being “in the flow” here)
- Be Absurd – List the most absurd solutions to your problems you can think of. Can’t seem to get out of the bed in the morning? Hire a marching band to play your Eye of The Tiger in your bedroom at 5am every morning.
- Do nothing – spend a day, or two, or 365 doing absolutely nothing. Guaranteed to piss off the powers that be and put your creative genius in the drivers seat.
Post Hate Mail, Left Out Points, Or Your Secret Recipe in the Comments, Thanks.