It’s 9:30 on a Friday night, and I’m sitting on my couch, writing and listening to rain and thunder that is so loud it’s actually masking my tinnitus. The rain is messing with my plans, but I’m enjoying the sound of it. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I’m somewhere in the hill country. It has that country-rain-in-a-barrel timbre.
I am attending my first blog conference, Blog Elevated, this weekend. I got an email about it on Wednesday, and since my schedule today was open and the conference is in Houston, I decided to go. Organized by the founders of HoustonBloggers and #TXBloggers,, the conference is in City Centre in Town & Country, which would have been great except for the thunderstorm that descended upon us as we ate lunch at a restaurant “within walking distance” of the conference center.
Lunch was interesting: ten local restaurants donated gift cards that were distributed randomly to all the conferees, so we all went to different restaurants. There were about 20 people, including me, at the Houston Texans Grille. I met 9 other bloggers who blog about a variety of topics (see links to their blogs at the bottom of this post.) I sat between an engineer for an oil company who blogs about Disney World and someone who joined the Air Force right out of high school and now does PR for the Johnson Space Center and across from someone who just started her own accessories company. I was in very impressive company!
One of the afternoon sessions was about SEO and affiliate marketing. Rae Hoffman of Sugarrae™ blitzed through a presentation about how to drive traffic to your blog, increase your readership, and make money. I felt like I had been transported to a foreign country: Link Building, Google+, Information Architecture, Google Suggest, Topsy – I’ve got a steep learning curve! (In other news, I was the only person in the room who raised her hand when Rae asked who is still blogging on wordpress.com. Literally everyone else has a self-hosted blog. Need redesign and transfer to wordpress.org ASAP!)
I came home during free time before the evening’s activities, a fashion show sponsored by Macy’s and emceed by Rebecca Spera of LiveWell Network’s Mirror/Mirror. followed by dinner. Now I’m stuck at home, because there’s no way in hell I’m driving out to I 10 and the Beltway in this weather! Oh, well. More time to watch Orange is the New Black, refine my Candy Crush Saga skills, and check out all my new friends’ blogs!
It’s actually kind of nice to have a night all to myself. Coco is at the pet sitter’s, the wonderful Michelle Giddens of Tanglewood Dog Walkers (I needed a respite from my diva, I mean angel, dog.) She went to the beauty parlor (Memorial 610 Bed and Bath Inn) today to get her hair done. Lovely timing. Glad I’m not the one who has to take her out tonight! I have cereal and ice cream, which passes for dinner at my single-no-kids-just-a-dog house., so I’m all set for an evening in. I’d wish the rain away, but that would be futile. Thankfully, a cold front is at the end of this mess. Might be time to polish the boots and break out the leggings!
One thing I’m pondering: I don’t really have a niche in the blogosphere. When someone asks me what my blog is about, I tell them it’s a lifestyle blog about personal and professional transformation, teaching, cancer, grief, my dog, fashion, decorating, organizing, and a bunch of posts that live in my head because I’m too afraid to publish them. I love writing for this blog, and I hope I write posts that people want to read, but it’s very hard to focus on one topic. 40 is the new 30 is me and who I was and who I’m becoming. How can I focus on just a few interests? One of the things Rae said in her presentation was that each of us should find our point of difference. What sets me apart from other personal/lifestyle bloggers? In what area am I an expert? It used to be teaching and learning and now it’s sort of fashion and accessorizing, but I’m not a fashion blogger. I wonder: what do I have to say that is different from everything else out there?
Blogging is an amazing communication tool, and I would like to be more effective at it. I’m a writer in search of meaningful things to write about. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I’m open. Please comment here or on Facebook, if you read my post there. I am interested in what you have to say!
If you have some time, check out these blogs. I’m sure my blogger friends would love some new readers!
Lauren Mills Sunday Beach Blog (fashion)
Sean Wilson The Average Supermom (mothering)
Emily Wells Ema’s Grand Ideas (lifestyle)
Karen Nelson Design with Your Dime in Mind (interior design)
Stephanie Nickolich Accessory Fanatic (jewelry and accessories)
Mary Connor Capturing Magical Memories (Disney – what else!)
Candy Mickels Mejia Slightly Overcaffeinated (family and wellness)
Sarah Kostusiak Play2 Learn with Sarah (resources for families)
Jill Jarvis BIG kid small CITY (exploring Houston with kids)
You have got to check out Joe the Garbage Man on Jill’s blog. Her son started his own business when he was 6 – yes, six! – years old and has been interviewed by television and radio stations in Houston. I told you I was in some impressive company!