In any long-term endeavor, be it a business, a non-profit, an adoption process, or a renovation, there are stages. Whether you plan it or not, at some point, you can feel a change in momentum, a shift in focus, an increase in intensity. Sometimes, it’s spurred on by something external. A push, if you will. Sometimes, it’s just time.
Y’all, it’s time.
It’s time for next. It’s time for more. It’s time to fulfill all that potential that’s been sitting there.
I had the incredible opportunity this past weekend to join Stephanie Buckley (aka The Park Wife) and the Arkansas Women Bloggers, as well as most of the leaders of the other state women blogger groups under her guidance, for AWBU, Arkansas Women Bloggers’ annual conference in Rogers, Arkansas. I gained so much valuable knowledge and insight this weekend, I couldn’t begin to share all of it with you in just one post.
But there are a few things I want to tell you about what our wonderful Arkansas counterparts are doing really, really well, and what can and will work for us, too.
1. Forming relationships.
– With companies, industries, non-profits, and communities in our state. Farm-to-table initiatives are huge in states like Arkansas and Mississippi, for example. Mississippi is a treasure chest of the arts. Our network of bloggers is spread out all over the state, so everyone should be able to give some input on who we need to be reaching out to in her community.
There are a few things I want you to check out:
First is the story of the Martin family, a Riceland Foods (an AWBU sponsor) farming family. Get the tissues. (More stories here.)
Then, step over to The Cobblestone Project and start by reading some of their stories.
These are the kinds of stories we can tell about Mississippi. This state is full of individuals, initiatives, and industries with stories to be told. Isn’t that exactly what we are – storytellers?
– Blogger to blogger. This is a community, but it will only work as such if the mutual support is there. From the moment I arrived in Rogers, Arkansas, despite having never met any of these 100 or so women (and a few men) in person, there was a spirit of support, of camaraderie, and even of accountability.
While I was there, one blogger who is relatively new to blogging relayed an experience to me that I worry is all too common. Not long after she first started blogging, she came upon a certain women’s blogging community and submitted her form to join. The response she got was something along the lines of “Come back when you have more to offer.” I’m here to tell you right now, I’m not interested in being a part of that kind of attitude. It’s not helpful, and for me, it isn’t in the spirit of community. Thankfully, she soon found ARWB and found a warm welcome, and lots of support.
Clearly, the opportunity to gather with your tribe in person fosters the relationships between bloggers. Make no mistake, in-person gatherings are a priority for MSWB going forward. We may have to start small, maybe with a gathering encompassing just part of a Saturday, but that in and of itself will be valuable. (Some of the Arkansas gals tell me that they meet quarterly in smaller groups – of about 6 or 8 – for a weekend in which all they do is work on blogging and writing individually, a retreat of sorts.) Eventually, we will have our own MWBU, and we’ll be inviting the ladies from the other states to come down and join us for some Mississippi hospitality. That takes time, effort, planning, and SPONSORS, so please let us know if you think you know of a business or an individual that might be willing to help with that.
However, we’re bloggers. Our relationships with each other generally did not begin, and certainly cannot end with in-person interaction. Each of us has invested a great deal in our blog, regardless of whether we’ve spent a lot of money on it or not. (More on that in a minute.) It’s what brought us together as a group, so it should be the focus of our relationships. The more successful we are collectively, the more successful each one of us will be individually and vice versa, when community works like it should.
There’s something called the 80/20 Rule of Blogging. Basically, in building an audience, 20 percent of the content you share on social media should be your own, while 80 percent should be other content that interests your audience. There are several reasons for this, one is so you don’t come across as a constant sales pitch. The other is because building community builds your blog right along with it.
Which is a nice segue into the next thing we should be doing.
2. Establishing our worth, both as a group and individually.
You have built your blogs from scratch. We all have. That is worth something.
Ladies, your voice, your unique individual voice, is an asset. It has value. Do not give it away.
A lot of bloggers are giving their services and their voices away for much less than they’re worth (and sometimes for nothing), often because they undervalue themselves.That needs to stop!
If you’ve never talked to other bloggers, some similarly situated as yourself as well as those further along on the blogging journey, about their expectations when it comes to compensation, you should do that ASAP. It’s incredibly enlightening.
I also realize the money part of this may not apply to you if you are blogging for purely personal reasons or have simply made the decision that making money with your blog is just not something you are pursuing, or not at the current time.
You may also have certain causes that you feel strongly about and are willing to lend your voice because of that and because it makes sense for you.
That is absolutely fine. You should still be aware of the value of your voice whether you seek monetary compensation for it or not.
Like I said, there were so many fantastic takeaways from AWBU, I can’t possibly include it all here. But there we were, learning, sharing, laughing.
Have a great week, everyone, and don’t forget to send us your “Back in My Day” posts!