Of course, the first shock is that there actually are hundreds of other bloggers. And that they make so much NOISE! As I descended the escalator to the venue for Mumsnet Blogfest 2015, the clamour of dozens of voices rose up to meet me. There was no one in the crowded hall that I knew; but although many others had also come alone, you couldn't have told it from the level of conversation.
|Panel session with live link to Margaret Atwood|
It quietened down once we had drunk our coffee and entered the auditorium. The speakers covered a wide range of the writing world; from authors to agents, columnists to comedians, and brand experts to bloggers. Every discussion was very entertaining, with plenty of humour and some thoughtful comments. But when it came to summing up what I'd actually learnt from the day, I found myself struggling. Had anything changed the way I thought about blogging?
|The Blogfest venue from Regent's Canal|
Scanning my notes again, I realised that the different sessions reflected some very different ways of thinking about a blog. For some, it was a creative outlet - an expression of themselves that may be influenced by parenthood, but isn't necessarily defined by it. Others were driven by the delight of writing, and dreamed of translating their blogging into publishing contracts and full-length novels.
From a more mercenary viewpoint, you can regard your blog as a brand, and focus on harnessing the power of social media to provide valued content to your target market. With all the buzzwords. Blogging can be big business; companies are keen to get their products recommended, and the community provided by a blog can be the ideal way to make that happen.
Alternatively, several people I met had started a blog purely to provide information - often about nutrition, for some reason - or to campaign for change. For them, a blog was less about the writing, and more of a platform to connect with others and raise awareness for their cause.
Finally, the cutting-edge bloggers are active on fifteen different types of social media and have jumped gleefully into vlogging; about which I know virtually nothing except that it is, basically, blogging by video. When somebody mentioned Periscope I had to look it up later, but was somewhat reassured to discover that it's a video app that was only released in May this year. So I'm not that out of date. Well, I am. But not in this case.
|Two people talking and one person running away|
You may have realised I am firmly in the creative outlet camp. Moreover, I have an outstanding talent for doing my own thing and entirely ignoring the rest of the world, which accounts for me joining Twitter approximately five years after everyone else in civilisation. So once in a while, I try to pull my head out of the sand and realise that there are a lot of other people out there doing very interesting things and asking very interesting questions. (And to be fair, a whole lot of noise, too.)
What is a blog? All of the above. And then some.