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BlogHer 2006: Saturday, July 29, Part 2
Saturday, 2006 August 5 - 11:55 pm
More of the conference, and my fabulous encounter with Dooce.

From Here to Autonomy

The next session focuses on blogging as a means of making a living. We get two different takes on this: Heather Armstrong, who vaulted to fame for being fired for blogging, and Arieanna Foley, who writes for seventeen various topic-specific blogs, including a couple of celebrity news blogs (which are her cash cows).



As it turns out, blogging for a living is not all that much fun. It's a self-employment job like any other, with all the pressures of generating enough money to support yourself and your family. You still have to maintain work/life balance. You have to find ways to stay motivated and interested. So as glamorous as it may seem to be a blog rock star, it's probably more work than most bloggers imagine. I get the impression that some bloggers think, "I can blog just like I'm doing now, writing and posting for half an hour a day, and I just have to get enough people to notice me, and then I'll be RICH, BEEYOTCH!" But, as Heather makes clear, it doesn't really work that way.

Some of the session is pretty informative, and I've actually got a few ideas about some cash-cow blogs I could write myself. My criticism of the session, though, is that it sometimes devolves into a "Dooce, YOU'RE SO AWESOME" fan party. Somebody would later suggest to Heather that she just run a session of her own, where her fans could ask her questions and listen to her talk. Or heck, she could probably have her own dang convention.

Not that the session isn't entertaining. Heather is frequently hilarious. She talks about how nice it is to be home during the day, so she could prevent Jon from making laundry mistakes, like putting her bras in the dryer. She has a poignant story about not talking to her dad for three months after he read her criticisms of Mormonism, because he thought of her as a "vile and disgusting creature of the dark". Her story of her decision to make a masthead that says "This Site Sucks Sweaty Goat Balls" is just brilliant. (She did it because she specifically didn't want to be beholden to the advertisers who complained about it.)

And when the session is done and there's an awkward silence, Heather bursts in with, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Afterwards, a large gaggle of people stay around to say hi to Heather, and get pictures taken with her. Most of them tell her things like "I lurve your blog, and can I get a picture? Tee Hee!"



Me, I'm different. First of all, Heather remembers me from last year when I sat with her at dinner and talked to her for a few hours. Second, I have an interesting thing to tell her: I note that my own site traffic tripled due to Google searches for "heather armstrong boobs" (thanks to this post from last year). She found that interesting... and disturbing. "Oh, GREAT", she said.

But I still get my picture taken with her. She's even nice enough to crouch down so she appears to be close to my height. Did you know that she's actually nine feet tall? Heather, I lurve your blog! Tee Hee!



One final thing about this session: I finally run into the incomparable Lisa V. Hooray!

Next Level Naked

My third and final session is the follow-up to the "How to Get Naked" session from last year. It's about exposing one's identity in a blog, and the repercussions thereof. Last year's session was huge because it covered a lot of interesting ground, and well, because Heather Armstrong was one of the speakers. This year? Not quite as interesting. One of the panel speakers blogs anonymously, pretending to be a man. Her comments turn out to be not-so-enlightening when trying to answer questions about "blogging naked". One person during the session makes a pointed statement: "You can't be anonymous and naked." You might be able to talk more freely as an anonymous blogger, but that's not the point of this session... the point is being yourself.

So I don't get nearly as much out of this session as I did from last year. One of the few highlights is panelist Maryam Scoble, the wife of one of the most famous male bloggers around, Robert Scoble. It was interesting that she's there, in light of my conversation with the guy on the airplane. Also interesting? Robert is working during BlogHer as the video guy. (Not that that keeps him from speaking up. A lot.) Maryam seems to be the most genuine member of the panel, the only one who truly seems to embody the concept of "blogging naked".

But Maryam isn't enough to keep me from being a little... well, bored. I start to wonder, "what question are we trying to answer here?" Maybe that's just the male engineer in me, but if we're not talking with a purpose, then I find it hard to stay interested. Has anyone ever been to a large meeting at work, when they have a Q&A session at the end, and people pipe up with questions like, "I have a squeaky chair in my office; can someone take care of that?" This session feels a little like that.

The girl I'm sitting next to during the session, Virenda, doesn't seem to be all that captivated by the session either. We both leave a little bit early. (In hindsight, that probably looked a little odd, as if we were leaving together. And Amy wasn't there. Honestly, people, we just happened to get up to leave at the same time. Nothing untoward going on there. Not that Virenda didn't seem like an interesting girl. But I am true to my hunny boo.)

Next up: the closing session, and the day 2 cocktail party.
Permalink  6 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: bloggerslife

Comments

Comment #1 from GraceD (Guest)
2006 Aug 6 - 12:52 pm : #
I tried to meet you last year and tried again this year. Next year I will push you up against the wall and say "hi" to you, ever so sweetly.

Please be kind to me on your review of the closing panel. Nah, don't be kind, but definitely be gentle.
Comment #2 from Amy (Guest)
2006 Aug 6 - 11:15 pm : #
Thank God you know NOT to put my bras in the dryer!! At least you left with some valuable information.
Comment #3 from Sabrina (Guest)
2006 Aug 7 - 9:11 am : #
*Barf* The whole BlogHer thing looks from the outside to be a big excuse to have high school cliques as adults. I can toally see how you would have a good time because you know the biggies as well as having quite an audience yoruself. It seems like if an unknown like myself ever went it would be boring and awkward, as I only know the "famous" bloggers like you Ken, and Alice, et al, through your blogs. Do you have any insights into how the "ordinary" bloggers who attended might feel about the experience? Or how I can find that? I'd be very interested to hear those.

I've moved my "ordinary" blog if you're still interested in reading it. My old one actually affected my "real life" in such an awful way that I had to shut it down. Wonder what panel that should have been on?
Comment #4 from Jenn (Guest)
2006 Aug 7 - 9:42 pm : #
Wow, while the BlogHer thing doesn't make me want to vomit in anyone's comments, I do agree with Sabrina in that I thought the whole thing would have the tendency to be clique-y. The reason everyone goes to BlogHer is what keeps me from ever wanting to attend.
Comment #5 from Sabrina (Guest)
2006 Aug 7 - 11:31 pm : #
I'm sorry Ken. I'm an idiot, I didn't even think of the vomit thing. I was not trying to throw up on your blog! :o) It was more of an 80's term usage. Man, I'm really sorry about that part.
Comment #6 from Ken (realkato)
2006 Aug 8 - 10:59 am : #
I think you'll find that BlogHer isn't as clique-y as you'd think. Most of the people are small-time bloggers. Including me. Only a couple people there are readers of my little blog. Yes, it's nice to see people you know, and of course you wanna hang out with them. But everyone is also there to meet new people and make new connections. (And to pimp their blogs.)

As for the barf, don't worry; I think I've got a wet-wipe here somewhere....

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