Telling a Story

So, I proved myself a geek yesterday and went to Blog Indiana, a small conference for local bloggers (and then proved myself an even bigger geek and stopped by GenCon, but that's another story). While I learned some useful information, the highlight was seeing the people there- reconnecting with some, and meeting others for the first time.

I'm not a big-time blogger, nor do I aspire to be. I love writing and taking pictures, and so I do, simple as that. I am beyond appreciative of those of you that read along and join me on the journey.

The first panel was about business bloggers, full of marketing people and a business owner, talking about how they further business connections via Twitter and blogs. Next up was the food blogger panel. To be clear, this was a "foodie" panel, and I never fully realized the difference between "foodie" and "person who likes to cook" until listening to this group. Because I do have a food blog, I was looking forward to this panel, but most of the discussion was about wine (which I don't drink and know nothing about) and restaurants I can't afford. Kinda disappointed, but I was too shy to speak up with my own questions, so it's what I got.

The last panel I attended yesterday was originally called the "Mom Bloggers Panel" but the discussion turned into women bloggers (and blog readers) in general, and how they differ from everyone and everything else we've heard at this conference. Some of the points made:
  • "Mommy bloggers" is not a valid description of all women who blog. This may be obvious to you. I'm a woman who blogs about home and family stuff, but I'm not a mom. There are moms who blog about things other than being a mom, and they don't fall under the "Mommy Blogger" label either. Even those that do blog about their kids don't necessarily like the "Mommy Blogger" label.
  • Women online are a force to be reckoned with. Women make a huge percentage of a household's purchasing decisions, so figuring out how to market to them, how to reach them, and how they spend their time online should matter to marketing folk. It was sad, to me, to see that the auditorium emptied out for this panel- all the men who had been hearing about online marketing strategies for the last 3 days didn't see the value in hearing from influential bloggers from a segment of the population that carries the nation's pocketbooks. To me, it goes to show how big the disconnect between men and women online is, as I think the moms panel felt discounted and set aside for the Serious Man Talk of SEO and CSS and other, more important acronyms.
  • Women blog to connect. Each and every panelist said they first started reading blogs, first got online, and first started blogging to find people going through the same things they were. They blog to relate, to be in and find community, and to be known- and know they're not alone in their experience. Many of the blogs by men I see exist to share information, while blogs by women share stories. Disclaimer: I know this is a generalization and not true for everyone- just an empirical observation.
That last bit- blogging as a story- is what's gotten me thinking. I'm in the middle of a draft of Donald Miller's new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. (Proper review forthcoming) Miller, in the book, talks about the importance of Story- our lives as an overarching story. The basic form of a story is, "A Character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." Every good, engaging, compelling blog tells a good story- a story of desire and conflict and overcoming. Women seem to want to tell this story, and find people with similar stories- other Characters walking the same journey. Blogs about the latest tech tips or best business practices or commentary on news events don't capture me as much as a story of even the mundane bits of life.One panelist says she waits to blog about an event until it has a resolution- I could relate. I like being able to tie up my stories. I waited a week to mention we got a dog, just to see how it was going to go. Other stories on my blog include the Daybed Story, the Debt Story, the Hail Story, the Car Swap Story, the Engagement Story, and even my Bean Story. I'm not a compelling or funny storyteller, but I write down these stories to make sense of them- to give the trajectory of my experience a beginning, middle, and end. When you look at blogs in teh context of Story, it's easier to get beyond the flashing ads and silly insurance marketing, and see the heart of the writer.

Stories matter. They help us make sense of life, and connect with others' lives, I'm thankful for my friends who let me share in their stories, both online and off.


moosh in indy. said...

I like that "the stories matter" because they do, even if it's to just one person.
Also, I had to giggle, boys use SEO CSS acronyms and the like while lots of girls I know use BTW and OMG.
Lovely to see you yesterday.

Heather said...

Yes! I read blogs for the stories and the personality. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I still haven't even had time to organize them.

I really enjoyed the Moms panel and I'm glad to hear that a non-mom found value in our discussion as well. The foodie panel disappointed me a bit too, though - we talked a lot about wine and I'm not a wine person at all. Live and learn.

Michelle@Gotchababy said...

Nice summary of our great day! I also found it interesting that the men left for the women's panel, and then most of the women left (to continue talking) for the tech panel. There is a disconnect--obviously the women there were techy enough to spend one, two or even three days talking tech with the men, but had no desire to sit through a session labeled as such. Very interesting indeed!

Michelle@Gotchababy said...

Oh...and as far as the food panel goes, I like me some wine. But I am much more of a three-buck chuck sort of girl, and I've been to Ruth Chris exactly once in my life, so didn't find much relevance....

quatro_mama said...

I'm glad you were there Saturday! It was nice to see a familiar face even in a somewhat empty lecture hall! You made some great points ont this post. We ARE relational, THANK GOODNESS! Hope to see you again soon! Keep loving what you do! You're great at it!


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