Last weekend I went to a conference. It was a blogging conference. I hate the word blog. It was called Bloggy Boot Camp. I hate the word bloggy even more. And the phrase ‘boot camp’ automatically makes sweat puddle under my boobs and I have panic attacks thinking that I will have to work out until I throw up.
So, regardless of the fact that I don’t approve of the name of the conference (who the hell am I, right?), I knew that I needed a kick in the ass to get me going again. The conference was in St. Louis and there was really no excuse. I had to do it. Also, there was wine.
The last (and only) conference I have gone to was three years ago and my steam from it had run out. I needed new inspiration. I needed to to be around other people that cover up their social awkwardness in public by tapping away on their smart phones. I needed to be around other people that understood the connections that can happen in this community. I needed to be reminded of having goals and taking chances. I had to do it for me.
I also needed to get away from my kids.
I have to be honest and admit, I did not learn a TON that I did not already know. But the goal was to light a fire under my ass and not reinvent the wheel.
But Idid learn that time in the blogosphere is kinda like dog years. I’ve been doing this for four years. Which, before last weekend, I still thought I was a newbie. I mean, I’m not running conferences. I’m not a household name and I’ve never been recognized. I don’t have my own TV show. I have no book deal in the works. I can barely figure out how to change things in my sidebars, for chrissake!
But apparently, I’ve been doing this for the equivalent of, like, 25 years. Or something. (We also don’t do math.) I am one of those old timers that started this as an outlet, to vent. We wrote about our day, bitched about our kids and our husbands and what was on our minds. We hopped around, read everyone’s blogs and commented. Some exchanged emails, some even exchanged phone numbers and, if you were lucky, you got to meet your friends that were only in the box, in the flesh. Some were taller than you expected, some you didn’t really click with, some knew how to photoshop REALLY well (ahem), and some were greater in person than you ever would have guessed.
We didn’t make more than a few cents a month in advertising and maybe received a bottle of lotion or a vibrator to review every few months. But that was more than enough. I don’t think then, that most of us started this as a get rich scheme. I know I didn’t.
Many people that started around the time I did are gone. Life got busy and their kids grew up and were no longer in the “Ryan played in his poop today” phase, or, at least, too old for it to be cute or acceptable anymore. You can only take so many pictures of your garden or your dog before you realize how pathetic your life is and that you must OHMYGOD GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND INTERACT.
Facebook, for all intents and purposes, is the blogging community of the past, the one I knew when I began. It has been replaced with people that are young, savvy, intelligent, witty, creative thinkers that want to make money doing what they love and know they have a worth.
I think this transition scared me off for a while. After all, I was just a personal blog. I’m not a chef. I am not a crafter. I don’t clip coupons and I can’t take a decent picture to save my life. What did I have to offer? But I had to admit, I blogged for more than just a Facebook status. I wrote. I poured out real emotion and shared. I was blatantly honest and real in my words. I had truly found something I loved and wanted to keep it going.
The question that has been running through my head for the last year as I contemplated whether or not I would continue to pursue this was “what is my niche?” The question haunted me. For someone that is as unsure and self-deprecating as I am, this is a toughy. Admitting what you’re good at, standing behind it, and being confident in it is like standing in front of a crowd, completely exposed, naked and just waiting for ridicule.
But again, last weekend, the question came up again. What is your niche?
My niche is being me. Which is just like you. I am regular woman. I’m a mom. I deal with shit everyday, just like you do. I love my kids, but they drive me nuts. I wish I could find a wrinkle cream that worked. I probably argued with my husband about the same thing last week that you argued about this morning with yours. Paying bills puts me in a bad mood. I cuss too much. I feel guilty for eating that extra brownie yesterday and already ruined my diet that I was supposed to start this morning. I’ll tell you it like it is, even when it’s not pretty. I get you and you get me.
Not sure if that’s enough, but that’s all I’ve got.