See Jane Write

Photo courtesy of Sherri

Last night I attended Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism— hosted by  See Jane Write at Innovation Depot. Javacia, our fearless See Jane Write leader did a wonderful job planning the event. Our moderator was Javacia’s husband Edward T. Bowser, Community Engagement Specialist for the Birmingham Hub of Alabama Media Group. I was thrilled to finally meet Edward, because I had heard so much about him from friends and his lovely wife.

The panelists were Staci Brown Brooks, the Community News Director for the Birmingham Hub of Alabama Media Group; Emily Lowrey, founder of Magic City Post; Andre Natta, founder of The Terminal; and Erin Shaw Street, travel editor and editorial content manager for Southern Living magazine and the magazine’s blog, The Daily South. So much awesomeness all at one table.

It was exhilarating to be around and meet so many terrific journalists, writers, and bloggers. Some ladies traveled from Huntsville and Montgomery just to come to this event! I especially liked meeting Jamie, Carol, TK, and LK in person—you ladies inspire me daily!

I’m not a journalist so I have never felt that confusion of whether to define myself as a journalist or as a blogger. I never even realized that there was a debate over the issue and how the lines (or lack thereof) can easily be confused. Journalists report things just as they are—they give all the facts, stay true and unbiased, include sources and links, and adhere to a code of ethics. Bloggers, on the other hand, write in a conversational tone using their opinions and beliefs to encourage engagement from their readers. They welcome engagement from their readers.

Here are my key takeaways from last night:

  • From a PR perspective,  get involved Attend events either in person or virtually. Join a Twitter chat. Read blogs, and comment on them frequently. The more you interact with people, the more you will develop relationships and a following for your blog.
  • Some competition is healthy It can be frustrating when you know that your [insert topic here] blog is one of thousands like it. How will people ever find your blog?  You can team up with fellow bloggers for guest posts, and learn from each other. Remember, no one else has a blog written in your voice.
  • Don’t sacrifice quality over quantity You shouldn’t write posts just for the sake of beefing up your blog. Your readers will know if you’re churning out posts about things you’re not passionate about. That being said, set a standard for yourself so that you get into the habit of posting regularly. No one wants to read an outdated blog.
  • Write about something you love This sounds so simple—duh. But think about it. If you’re writing about your passion, blog posts should come easily to you. You should be bursting with ideas and have a packed editorial calendar. But if you’re not invested in the topic, you’ll quickly lose your excitement and blogging will seem more like work than fun.
  • Define your goals, and stock your toolkit with skills to achieve them What is the ultimate purpose of your blog? Do you want to share your life experiences, influence people, make a difference in your community? Figure out what you really want your blog to be, then do everything you can to work toward that goal through every post.

I’m so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful community that is constantly educating, mentoring, and encouraging other writers in Birmingham. Events like these make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. *Hugs* to you Javacia!

For more tips from last night, check out #sjwbhm on Twitter!