I don’t usually use my personal blog for a specific purpose other than to get stuff off of my chest. Not this time. This time, I am blogging in hopes of winning a Bloggy Conference ticket. Bloggy Conference’s vision focuses on offering new and continuously developing approach to growth, networking and education in social media. To give my readers a little background, I learned about this conference and opportunity on a website I happened upon about a year ago called BloggyMoms. While I am a Mom who blogs, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “Mommy Blogger”. The reason I had actually joined this particular network of bloggers was to attract attention to two other blogging projects that I am involved with. In short, I feel that attending the Bloggy Conference would benefit these two projects that I am involved with. Allow me to digress! (*Ahem* that’s code for Let me talk your ear off.)
I started my personal blogging adventure in 2001 on Diaryland, if you could even call that “blogging”. It was more of a personal journal in my opinion. In 2003, I decided to up the ante and moved from that platform to my own hosted domain name and a CMS called “Greymatter”. I didn’t have any expectations about blogging other than to talk about things going on in my life (at the time – getting married and my pregnancy with my daughter) in a humorous way . It also gave me a chance to play around with HTML, CSS and PHP coding – something that I didn’t really touch in my job function at the time. I didn’t really believe anyone would actually read it. As you’ll find out below…I was wrong! One day, I was checking out my blog’s statistics and noticed that I received an incoming link from a blog called “NEPA Blogs“. “What is that?” I pondered. When I followed the link, I was greeted with a bunch of links for blogs from my own backyard. Like a mad man, I contacted the group’s administrators and started suggesting my own links from the area. And that’s how the story begins….
In July of 2008, I was invited to join the ranks of this popular group of bloggers in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The group was started in January of 2006 and formed by Harold Jenkins. He himself started blogging that year and wanted to see if there were any other local bloggers out there. The group came to be known as “NEPA Blogs” (NEPA, btw, stands for Northeastern Pennsylvania). Harold’s mission was very simple. He wanted NEPA Blogs to become a clearinghouse providing links to blogs and other sites about Northeastern Pennsylvania or by people from Northeastern Pennsylvania, in other words, he wanted to create a regional blogging community. Harold had also recruited another local political blogger, Ben Hoon, to help seek out bloggers from the region. Together, the three of us have been blogging for the community for five years. We’ve had our share of squabbles and successes, but we remain tightly knit through it all.
In April of 2011, I decided to leave my job in the Supply Chain management field to change career paths. I was unemployed for a little over a month before I found work back in my field of choice – IT. During that month, I took a lot of time for myself, but I also dedicated a bunch of my free time to help improve NEPA Blogs. I registered a top level domain for the Blogger site and worked to transform the social media footprint of the group. I created a Google+ account, a Facebook page and group, a Twitter account and a Pinterest account to accomplish this feat. Each week I work to keep these accounts up-to-date with the latest blogging news from the area. I was/am instrumental in gaining media attention for NEPA Blogs. With my assistance, NEPA Blogs secured a weekly “Blog of the Week” segment on WBRE-TV’s (Wilkes-Barre’s NBC affiliate) local variety show called PA Live! that my blogging partner Harold produces/hosts. We’ve also been been featured in several local periodicals, interviewed for a local radio station WFTE-FM, and have been asked as guests on local cable access TV show ComputerWise. You can read these articles, listen to the interviews and watch the segments on my press page. I’m happy to report that with all of this newly found attention, our page views sky rocketed and we connected with more local bloggers than ever before! In January, Harold created a presentation for Pecha Kucha Night Scranton that summarized all of NEPA Blogs successes throughout the years. I’d like to share that with you below!
One of the fun parts of being a part of a community of bloggers is by far the meet-ups. You get to meet all of the people you know from online, offline! The first meet-up was held in December of 2006. Sadly, I was not able to attend the first event because I was still learning to cope with being a mother of two children! I gave birth to my son in August of 2006 and he still wasn’t sleeping all that well through the night. My daughter was barely 2. I had my hands full and not much time to myself. The turnout was small, but I’m told that the atmosphere was friendly and warm. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t miss the next one.
I was given the opportunity soon enough, Ben and another local blogger David Yonki started planning bi-annual “Blog Fests”. These events are usually geared more toward the political bloggers and the evening has a casual networking atmosphere. The rules for these meet-ups are (according to Ben): no speeches are allowed and agree to disagree but don’t be disagreeable. Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Pastafarians all converge on a Pub in Pittston, PA and for that night put their differences aside to have a little fun.
From our NEPA Blog Fest gatherings, I learned that social media, networking, and blogging was a hot button issue in the community. Those who didn’t know about it wanted to learn about it. It started the discussion “What if we could transform these gatherings into a learning experience?” Soon after, plans started to come together for an educational blogging conference. I got to meet and collaborate with 3 amazingly talented local blogger women to organize this conference. We called ourselves the Fearsome Foursome and we named the event “NEPA BlogCon” — NEPA’s first ever blogging and social media conference. The four of us agreed that blogging gatherings should not just be limited to drinks and politics. We really wanted to give something back to the community while teaching the area about the latest technologies for personal branding, marketing and blog monetization at their disposal. Our first event, last year was a success! We had 80 attendees and were able to donate over $2000 split between two local non-profits/charities. Our speakers included the talented Kris Jones, Lauren O’Nizzle, Kuhcoon.com, and Gala Darling!
Now that you know a little bit about my background, I am sure that you can see I am extremely passionate about blogging and blogging communities. Attending this conference would be of great value to me, not just for the exceptional sessions and panels, but also the planning aspect. Up until planning our conference last year, I have never attended a blogging or social media conference before. I’d love to see how others do it – I’m sure there’s a great deal of room for improvement on our parts, but it was only our first year. We were just inventing the wheel. BloggyCon 2013 could help me put more “tools” in my preverbal “toolbox” for this year’s conference planning. I’d also love to meet some bloggers from outside the area.
In closing, I have always strived to be a lifelong learner and feel that whatever I may learn from the sessions and panels at Bloggy Con can not only can be used on this rinky-dink personal blog of mine, but across the Northeast Pennsylvania blogosphere. I thank you for your consideration and for listening to my rambling!