This past weekend I headed to the Utah desert for a think tank retreat as part of Brand About Town’s inaugural advisory board. I am honored to be in this advisory role alongside some truly smart, funny, and passionate bloggers (Julie Marsh, Kelly Wickham, Gwen Bell, and Amie Adams), and to interface with the impressively thoughtful and forward thinking Brand About Town team. As I’ve described on this blog, it’s been a rocky year for blogging, particularly if you run in mommy blogging circles. And I’ll admit that I’ve had plenty of moments where I’ve felt rather blue about the state of blogging, feeling like an idealist, writing-focused dinosaur amidst a vastly growing sea of bloggers hell bent on “getting something” from blogging (other than community and a forum for self expression) and elbowing their way to the head of the pack (tangibly in a swag line or otherwise).
But this meeting gave me hope. It was inspiring and rejuvenating to talk about blogging, social media, and brands in a constructive, creative way. It was humbling to be in the company of brilliant women who care deeply about the online space and for whom creativity and connection are at the forefront of consciousness. It validated my hope that the act of artful blogging is not, in fact, dead.
Related to this, there was one ironic piece of this weekend. We had the pleasure of sitting down for a fireside chat with Julie Powell (the writer whose blog turned into a book and then the movie Julie & Julia). Julie achieved The Dream that has launched so many starry-eyed blogs. But the fame clearly has brought along many challenges; not only the personal challenges one would expect when your life gets turned upside down and someone offers to buy your story, but also in the sense that with fame, it’s possible to lose the very thing that is so appealing about blogging in the first place: the ability to be raw and open and to trust that people are coming to you because of you and what you have to say, not because of your persona (and possibly what you might do for them...OK, there, I said it).
Yes, Julie Powell has made it to that mythical other side, but what was very clear to me is that it’s the craft that is important to her: the way words can help you through a process, the challenge of creatively assembling words to convey a story engagingly, the connection you can foster when you write about things that matter to you and others.
I’m not saying that all blogging needs to be memoir form, but I do urge people to think about why they are blogging. To get past the obsession with monetization and leveraging and swag and junkets. To look at the occasional sample, trip, or affiliate check as icing on the cake, not the end all be all. To return to the basics of creativity and communication.
You might just be surprised how inspired you will be.