My (Honest) Blissdom 2010 Re-cap

(Explanation: My intent with this post is to be constructive and honest. I do not intend to be hurtful or snarky.)

As you all know, I was on a high anticipating my trip to Blissdom. I kinda hate it when I do that because I inevitably leave a smidge disappointed.

And that’s kind of what I’d say about this conference.

My Blissdom Report Card
Food: B-
Take-away learning: B-
Opportunities for relationship-building and making connections: A
Organization and logistics: A
Swag: A+
Overall grade: B

Blissdom kind of reminds me of a ginormous sorority meeting, which is good in many ways and kind of useless in others.

No doubt about it, this is a great place to meet all the ladies of the Blogosphere. Seeing these bloggers up close in person takes the shiny veneer away and gives you an invaluable dynamic of someone’s personality that you don’t have otherwise.

I had an opportunity to tell a fantastic blogger face to face how much her post made me laugh and cry. I was able to say “thank you” to another smart lady for some bloggy advice, and I got to ask another multitasking mom for more “mom advice” about managing schedules.

I loved that I learned a lot of great info about monetizing my blog and the vocabulary of ads. I needed that lesson. The Nashville blogger gals were able to socialize quite a bit, as well as trade helpful advice and information. I found my conversations with Bilingual in the Boonies (don’t you love that name???) refreshing and insightful. I loved that I have found new friends in my Faithful Blogger gals, Kelly and Courtney. It was great fun to meet them and talk about Faithful Bloggers face-to-face.

But when it came to technique and practical take-aways, I thought the conference came up short. Don’t get me wrong: I did bring home a few helpful lists and tips (those posts to come), but I spent way more time checking Twitter, Facebook, and email during the sessions than I would have thought I’d even want to.

I am a writer (not perfect by any means), so I don’t need the basics. I’m not sure what I do need; I was hoping the conference would tell me!

And if I had heard the word, community, one more time, I would have thrown up in my mouth a little.

Ironically, I just posted on the value of community at Faithful Bloggers last week. I think my issue with a blogging-conference definition of community is that—at least it seemed to me this weekend—creating a community around one’s blog was more about what it could do for the blogger than what the blogger could do for the community.

One of my personal goals of writing has always been to perform a “public service.” I really want my writing to resonate, inform, encourage, and/or otherwise be helpful. If just one reader comes away with something, then I feel I’ve done my job. That’s not a great big community there, but for me, it’s more about the quality than the quantity.

Sure, you must have quantity to get traffic to get exposure to get ads to get money and so on. But I’m of the belief that quantity follows quality. And if it doesn’t, then, well, I need to reexamine my purpose for writing in the first place.

I think the “women blogger group” (for lack of a better term and to be dangerously broad-sweeping) has a somewhat skewed definition of community. Certainly, aspects of community do exist and thrive among this network of blogs. But more often than not, I find these “communities” a bit superficial and fickle. (Or maybe I’m just a sucky “community member.” LOL)

Also—I hate to say it—but I sometimes question the sincerity of the overriding sentiment that blogging is “all about community.” I think their idea of community begins at a rather self-centered place.

Just who is your community? Me. Who is my community? You. That’s right. We’re all blogging and reading and blogging and reading. Sure we have readers outside the blogging community, but really, in the end aren’t we really just giving ourselves a big pep rally and a collective pat on the back?  Building community in the sense of a “blogger conference” definition seems just down right exhausting at best and self-aggrandizing at worst.

Recommendations for Change
I’m not sure WHAT I would change about Blissdom. I think I’d begin with redefining the word community (‘ya think?) and helping bloggers really drill down to their core motivations for writing.

Maybe I’d do away with the panels and bring in more stand-alone speakers. (I do realize this costs money, though.) I loved hearing from the PR and marketing professionals. Editors, attorneys, and web/tech gurus would all be interesting to me.

I think I’d like to participate more in vision-casting. I loved how Alli Worthington said that this is just the “pre-game” season; the season’s not yet begun. I’ve never been on the cusp of anything in my life! Let’s explore that more and how we all fit into that bigger picture. Let’s look at what it takes to really equip women to be influential and effective.

I don’t mean to detract at all from the hard work of the organizers and the obvious enthusiasm and positive energy generated by the conference.  Truly, these have their place and can be beneficial in accomplishing many goals.

I’m just not sure those were my goals, too.