Pathfinder Day is a great way to start your BlogHer conference. If you haven't done it, I highly recommend it for next year. This pre-conference day gives us a nice soft landing into the intensity that is BlogHer. We get the chance to check in, have longer conversations, and get into a long-form workshop. (That is, all day.) I went to the Change Agent path this year and I'm so glad I did. The facilitators are survivors who learned how to tell their story and, importantly, how to stand up for their story. (NPR recently talked about this, too.) This, I think, is a powerful life skill as much as a blogging skill. And everyone in our room (like everyone in life) had a story. They were there to learn to how to tell it with courage, with honesty, and how to build community around it.
-Dannielle Owens-Reid, Everyone is Gay, @dannielleor
-Rae Lewis-Thornton, @RaeLT
The attendees were brave and honest sharing about who they are. We were such a diverse group, which made it an interesting day. The diverse attendees included:
blogger who's a reporter and also endured the terrible loss of her brother
blogger on interracial marriage who's working on a Loving Day documentary
women who are new to blogging
a mom who adopted 2 HIV kids
a birth mom was forced to give up her baby as a teen
a domestic violence survivor and advocate who says, "I show my scars so others know they can heal."
This was a smart, funny group! There was a lot of laughter flowing.
Here are some key takeaways in not-super-edited form:
On sharing personal story: Don't worry about being defined by your story. It's true, you may lose friends. Consider that maybe they weren't real friends! Maybe that can be thought of as culling! It's just part of growing up, even as an adult! The internet makes things more open. That's just how it is now. It's better to live more openly, anyway. So keep doing the work. But here's what's make it worth it: For every person who's cruel or who abandons you, you will find many more people who support you, who connect with your story. They are the ones you're writing for when you're writing to create a community.
Bloggers must take that first step of sharing their personal stories, about surviving domestic violence, about coming out about attempted suicide. What follows after that first step is healing by sharing and finding community. Ok but really. My feelings are super hurt by the trolls and even worse, people who were friends and aren't any longer. It's ok. Don't run from it. People are going to have their opinions, and you have to decide how you'll deal. We're blogging to bring awareness to an issue. We can't ignore the controversy attached to the issue. Use your unique personality to deal with it the way you will. If they don't like how you talk about an issue, they can certainly find another blogger to read. If they don't like your stance on that issue and they're respectful, great! Keep writing, keep the conversation going. If they're just being cruel, it's ok to block them. Keep your community healthy, keep yourself and your well-being healthy. More Practical Takeaways
Look for what people are searching for on the blog!
Think about switching from Blogger to WP. You've got to be present on the social media channels that make sense for you. Once you're on them, you have to post. On Instagram, you have to post pretty pictures. That's why people are there. But you can have pretty pictures with a cause. Hashtag everything all the time. *But! Having an inactive account is still better than nothing. Include a link to where you ARE active! Have a Twitter account with a picture, and then say "I'm really on Instagram!" And then people can tag you even if you're not really on that platform. You can do Instagram chats! Make an image that says you're taking questions.
Don't forget to offer products and have a donate button if you're looking to fundraise.
Indiegogo crowdfunding. Dannielle made a funny video, but the response was not very high. Made another video about why they want to keep going to schools and speaking about supporting and being gay kids, earnestly. Response was much higher. Crowdfunding and speaking at schools has been the most consistent.
People respond most at funny posts with Likes. They thought people would like a funny video. But when it comes to giving money about org that's changing your life, show how you're changing lives. You have to show a specific goal for people to fund. People take money seriously.
Make indiegogo prizes digital!! Thank you notes, birthday videos, Skype sessions.
Secret is encouraging small donations.
Then got $50K, 2K people donating, 40K people visited the indiegogo page.
I'd love to clean this post up more but I'm trying to double task at a keynote (and I'm terrible at double tasking because I'm an intense listener) and I want to post it while the info is still fresh. SO! Hope this is helpful for you all here at BlogHer, at home, and hopefully weeks and months from now for those looking for support to use their blogs to make change.
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