Over 250 bloggers from as far away as Newfoundland and New York City came together in Toronto on a rainy September Saturday to learn, share experiences, and have fun. I travelled to Blog Podium 2013 to connect with other home and design bloggers, and to find ways to make Housecraft better. There was no shortage of new perspectives. The day was so packed with information that I felt like my brain was overflowing with ideas – and that was after just one workshop!
Blog Podium was started by Jennifer Flores, the blogger behind Rambling Renovators. Now in its third year, the conference has been growing from an afternoon to a full day – and who knows, maybe more in the years to come. For weeks beforehand the excited Tweets had been popping into my feed: “are you going?”, “what should I wear?”, “I’m new to blogging, should I go?”. Now that I’ve attended I can definitely recommend that you go next year, even if you never plan to make money from your blog.
Why? To escape your bubble. To climb out of your small pond and dive into the ocean. Sure, you can read every blog from the comfort of your own home and enjoy great content from design aficionados all over the world. But when you’re in the same room with other bloggers you can share on a whole new level. You can learn from people who have turned their blog into a huge success as well as from those who are just starting out.
I should warn you that what follows is not going to be a report about what happened and how awesome it was (and believe me it was awesome from start to finish). Sure, Sarah Richardson’s opening speech was nothing short of perfect – she was funny and warm and inspiring and got everyone so pumped to get into the day. In sharing some of the experiences she’s been through to get where she is, she made me feel like I could change the world too. Sure, there were great workshops and an eye-opening panel discussion on traditional media and social media. But that’s not why anyone who’s a design blogger needs to go. Go because it will give you courage; go because it will show you the value of what you do. It will completely clarify your blog’s essential role in turning your life into a passionate journey.
It’s easy for non-bloggers to take blogging for granted because there are so many of us out there now. Some blogs become very important and influence what international brands and professional designers do, but most don’t (at least, not by themselves). It’s no secret that the blogging world is changing – quality, not frequency, is the new direction now that the blogosphere is so big. Jaded by too much noise, and not enough signal, everyone’s looking for the real deal.
The trick is that the “real deal” means different things to different people, and I’m not just talking about what goes onto the digital page. I’m taking about what motivates people to spend their valuable time to make a blog happen. Some are trying to make it big; others are looking to connect with other people with the same interests. But what it all boils down to is passion. Consider V., who has had two careers in her young life so far, neither of which really gave her what she needed. Or A., who is a professional journalist but who doesn’t get to write about what she finds important. In their blogs, these women can follow a road that has more meaning. They get to say what’s important. They call the shots.
Blog Podium showed me that I’m not alone when I put my message in a bottle and throw it into the digital ocean. The workshops showed me dozens of ways to take my passion and make it better and more useful to others, which was what I was hoping to learn. More importantly, it taught me something I didn’t even know I was looking for: that what I do on these pages matters. Not because of how many people read it or don’t read it or how powerful those people are, but because it’s the doing that matters. It’s how I grow by making the effort to share what I learn, and how that makes me hungry to keep growing. To borrow an idea, it’s not what I make that’s the “art” – it’s me. And that’s why we like design, right? Because in changing even the smallest part of the world for the better, we transform ourselves.
Get out there. Connect and learn. It’s worth it.
By Jennifer Priest
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