04 April 2012

Thoughts on blogging - post DPCon12 and APSC ethics events.


Last weekend was a blur of blog related activity in the 'real world'. Blogging events with actual bloggers (Digital Parents Conference - DPCON - drinks and Bloggers BBQ) sandwiching an event where I talked to non bloggers about social media (the Australian Public Service Commission ethics meeting).  (The Digital Parents Conference was on Friday but I did not attend as I was in Canberra.) 

The events left me buzzing and feeling flat at the same time. On the one hand, I could talk about blogging all day - I really do get excited by this. The people I met were lovely. I saw old friends and made new friends - I LOVE meeting people 'from the internet'. I received such lovely messages of support at all the events (Farmer's Wifey told me to remember she loves me heaps, which made me teary. Dorothy said some beautiful words to me, and I admire her strength. Lori was so supportive of me. Mrs Woog got me excited about New York and BlogHer. Kirrily and I had a beautiful chat. I finally met Pip from Meet me at Mikes. Bianca from Big Words Blog and I had lunch. And there were so many more.).   

On the other hand, it is tiring socialising with so many people, and I was very sore, so I even sent out a tweet asking people to be gentle with me at the drinks. I also saw some passive-aggressive tweets, and also exclusivity, which made me think about the nature of the blogging community and how things translate from on screen to off screen. I made a decision to invest in the blogging community that invests in me.

Blogging is such a niche activity and community that I don't think it helps to break down the niches any further. That promotes exclusion, and it's hard when we're all trying to find our place, find our voice.

I've been wondering if I am doing the wrong thing with blogging. No PR people are interested. A disability/chronic illness/food/fashion/band review blog isn't sexy. Chronic illness doesn't sell.
 I became despondent. (I also think it's important for the blogging community to stress that it is difficult to get sponsorship - not as easy as it looks.) Why can't I pitch myself to PR and brands like the others? Aren't I a good enough writer? I need to meet with brands and PR to show them how incredibly awesome I am. Because I am.

And then I saw this tweet:
"I'm so tired of 'experts' lecturing the truly talented. #dpcon12 #noteventhere" - Lisa Lintern

And I felt so strongly about this.  We as bloggers know what we're doing. We do things to suit ourselves, to tell our own stories. We may not know everything there is about blogging, but there are no rules. We are our own editors, our own censors and our own storytellers. Guidance helps, but shouldn't change how we're doing things.
I need to quit worrying whether I am doing things wrong - just because other bloggers are doing something, doesn't mean I need to. The way I blog is the right fit for me. I tell stories through my writing. I share photos. I love blogging. I love to write. And blogging has helped me with developing and sharing my writing to a wide audience.

Plus, I had SO many wonderful bloggers come to talk to me at the DPCON drinks and Bloggers BBQ, telling me they love my blog, they love my writing, they can relate to it, and they think that my blog posts recently are some of my best work. Wow! Thank you ladies. Thank you. I really want to stay in touch with you. Their comments reassured me I'm not doing anything wrong. In fact, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, and enjoy it, and take pride in knowing others are enjoying my work.

I took this photo of the sunrise from the plane on the way to Canberra. I think it signified the new lease I have on blogging, following the weekend's events.

Speaking on the discussion panel at the Australian Public Service Commission was a fantastic experience. I was honoured to be a part of it. It was an internal government event, so I don't want to reveal too much, but these are the points I took away from it:

  •  There is an assumption that only young people use social media in damaging ways. I don't believe this is true. I believe that many young people are so digitally literate that they are aware of consequences of misusing social media. I also think the bloggers that I connect with (many in the 35-50 age group) are very social media savvy. Conversely I've seen some adults (older than me) make some clangers on social media - public arguments on Facebook and blogs, sharing personal information too freely). We shouldn't make assumptions that poor social media use is limited to a certain age group. 
  • As I wrote here, there is a blur of boundaries between social media use outside work vs social media use on work resources. Perhaps the notion of 'limited personal use of IT equipment' on work resources applies to  the use of social media in and out of work time? It's so tricky.
  • It's hard to define what's public and private when it comes to social media. I have the motto - write for the world to see. Even though my personal Facebook page is set to private, is it really private when I have 1400 'friends'? And even though bloggers write to the 'anonymous' internet, it's public. People forget this. 
  • You can control your own use of social media, but what about what others post on your Facebook wall or comment on your blog? I have, in some cases, removed posts on my Facebook page, when people start criticising the organisation I work for. And then I private message them, telling them that I am not comfortable with them criticising my workplace (particularly the service it provides) on my Facebook page. 
  • It is difficult controlling the way clients criticise the organisation on the organisation's Facebook page or via Twitter or on a blog. It's particularly damaging when the attacks are toward an individual staff member. But the organisation should also be open to feedback. 
  • Perhaps instead of discouraging (young) people from putting potentially damaging photos and statuses online, we should be encouraging people to put all the positive things about themselves online - to give the best impression to future employers!
  • It's also difficult to enforce rules around social media when an organisation does not have a social media policy or it is not circulated. 
  • I believe that social media policies should be set by policy makers who understand and use social media, and aware of its risks and benefits. Many people are quite closed due to its risks and cannot see its benefits. 
The conversation touched on many topics about how to educate staff and the legal implications of social media misuse. To end the conversation, I put my hand up and said that it's so important to remember the positives of social media. That it can be used to get important messages to staff in times of crisis. That it allows people to connect when they otherwise may be housebound. That brands are really connecting with customers via social media.That it gives bloggers like me a voice. And I am going to the UK to  speak at a conference and for work experience, and then to the US, all because I blog. That rocks.

I'd like to thank the Australian Public Service Commission for asking me to be a part of this event. It really made me think about the way social media is perceived, and the ways conservative organisations are approaching it - for the best. I'd also like to thank the Digital Parents and Bloggers BBQ teams for having me, despite not being a parent. I made a joke that I thought about having a baby just to get a product at the BBQ!

To end, I'll leave you with this tweet (via About a Bugg) of a quote by Nikki Parkinson from Styling You. I think it applies to everyone's use of social media. Bloggers, Facebookers, Tweeters and organisations that are using social media:

"The whole reason your blog is successful is you".


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Megan. I am glad you can relate. Hope you and baby To be are well :)

  2. So true Carly. It was lovely to meet you at the BBQ. I get so much of what you are saying. You know don't assume that just because people have giveaways that they are successful.
    I have giveaways, but you know what, I don't make money from my blog. I'd like to, I'd like it to be a passive income for my family, but I don't want to trash my blog to do so.
    This is my personal space that makes me happy and I'll make sure it remains that before anything else.

    1. Ive been doing a few giveaways too. They're nice to do and I get a few perks. But ultimately I'm a writer. I can't compromise that too much.

    2. And it was lovely to meet you too :) hope you had a good time :)

  3. Oh, great post Carly and great to see you if only briefly! Glad my quote resonated with you. Hope it does with others. x

    1. Thanks Nikki - I look up to you because your blog is authentic and you've done the hard work to bring you success. That's my ethos.

  4. There is so much in this piece that had me nodding in agreement. My favourite quote from DPCON12 was also from Nikki at Styling You: 'Stop looking over the blogging fence at what others are doing and concentrate on your own blogging garden'. There's such a vast range of blogs on many topics and there really is room for all of us. As long as we're authentic and write from the heart. You do that so well.

    1. Thanks Kim! Great meeting you - I was so excited when you said I was one of the bloggers on your list to meet :)

      I love that other quote from Nikki - thanks for sharing it :)

  5. Dear Carly, I agree that you have to define your own path as a blogger. Being entirely who you are distinguishes you from everyone else. Sometimes, "advice" is less than helpful, isn't it? How interesting talking to the APSC - we forget that lots of people of all ages are now learning to engage with the internet in its myriad forms and as a result they make mistakes. I think that a little generosity from other users helps. I am always astonished at how angry and aggressive people can be at each other on the internet - it is as all the usual social norms no longer apply. I hope that you have a bit of a rest and start feeling less sore. love Lindaxxx

  6. Never apologise for the way you look or blog. We come here for the very reason that you do it so well. Cherrie

  7. Another great post to be admired.Im so glad you blog Your way and not the way others say you should.If you stop doing it how you enjoy doing it then the fun is gone from the whole process.Life is too short to be doing something that has no joy accompanying it.So keep on doing it Carlys way as look how far it has got you..look where you are going to be travelling too and most importantly look at all those you have helped along the way to here and now.That must make you feel so proud.That alone is a great achievement for you and your blog x

  8. Gorgeous girl. It was so lovely to see you Saturday- spotting a genuine friend in a huge crowd. I thought you looked a bit sore too- I was trying to be careful when I hugged you!

    It's funny, I had the same kind of epiphany after this Con, and the conversation we had added to that. I think of it as hitting the "refresh" button on my blogging self- needs to happen every now and then ;) xxxxxx

  9. You know, there are so many blogs out there that have been taken over by PR posts and are worse for it.

    it might sound glamorous to receive free stuff (who doesn't liek free stuff??) but then the PR agencies hound you daily for write-ups and it becomes less fun.

    You have a good little community going which is worth much more.

    1. You are right - I do have a good community - thank you for being a part of it :)

  10. Lovely, YOU are the real deal. I loved chatting to you as you are so interesting and intelligent, we get along so well..you have so much to give. You are a go getter and just keep on doing what you are doing....xxx

    1. Aww so lovely to see You! Next time we shall hang out more xx

  11. A very inspiring post Carly.
    I think that as humans, especially women, we place too much emphasis is what others thing of us, that we forget that it's important what we think of ourselves.
    Too often is it people who don't really know who we are that drag down our own opinions on ourselves, who make us question who we know ourselves to be. And what for?

    I love Nikki's quotes.

    Thing is, I don't feel this critisism comes from fellow bloggers but more from the brand aspect of it, it pits us against one another if we allow it to. It has us pushing ourselves for more, which isn't always a bad thing, but we need to learn our own limits and when to say enough is enough, we aren't going to make that goal, and that it's ok because we can try for something else.

    1. You are right - I do think the corrosion comes from brands and pr but I do Aldo think there's a sense of desire for bloggers (people) to be the best at their game and the measure of success is most usually money earnt or brand association.

  12. Great post. I definitely think that if you concentrate too much on what others are doing it can drive you batty. Your blog, the voice and the feel are unique because you are. I'm so glad you came home from the weekend reinvigorated.

    I look forward to meeting you someday. Soon, hopefully. I think we'd get along just fine! :)

    1. Thanks you Suger. It'd be great to meet you too. I an wearing your cardi tonight.

      Re unique voices - often with PR pitches on blogs the unique voices are lost. It takes true talent to not read like an advertorial.

  13. As I said, you are an awesome writer. There is something magical about how your words say exactly what they mean to do, simply, unpretentiously and with feeling. Your writing inspires me, rather than discourages me, as some other bloggers do. And it's lovely to "hear" your voice in your writing after we've now met a few times.

    And I loved that first tweet too :)

  14. You make some great points. Much food for thought in this post!

  15. Great post Carly.

    And I LOVE the idea of people putting the best parts of themselves out there in the interests of future employment! THIS is what I want my children to learn. The internet is what it is, who you choose to be out there is who the world will see you as. Make it fabulous!

  16. Thanks Dorothy - I do have writers that inspire me to write better too.

    Looking forward to the next bloggers meet up

  17. Dear Carly I think this is my first ever ‘Blog’ comment!
    I am stepping outside my usual approach to let your readers know that the learning from the forum hosted by the Australian Public Service Commission was both ways – I learnt many things from the panel discussion, for example I am now aware of the Blogger’s Manifesto which I did not know about and, the different demographics of who, how and what people Blog about. Your positive and thoughtful contribution in the panel discussion was very well received and the parallels between expected and accepted behaviours of the on-line and Australian Public Service communities was a real insight for me. Thank you for opening my mind to some of the possibilities of social media and, you should take some satisfaction in moving me to take this small, tentative step in that direction.
    Kind regards, Annwyn Godwin, Merit Protection Commissioner.

  18. Hi Carly. Here's a funny thing: we haven't met, but we used to work in the same building and I would see you around now and then. It's a small world...

    I think that you can tie yourself in knots when you see other bloggers heading in various directions and wondering whether you should be doing that too. But whether you work with brands or not, or make squillions from your writing or nothing at all doesn't matter. As long as you're writing from the heart about things that are important to you and are happy with the direction you're taking, then you're succeeding.

    Integrity and personal satisfaction are way more important than the number of brands who want to work with you. I think you've chosen the right path. :)


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