The Top Secret World of Blogging

So, first things first. Currently ahead in the “Things That Ruined My Decorating” informal Martha Points Point Sweepstake is Kaira (sorry, no link available) with the taxidermied stuffed pheasant, followed closely by LauraK with the plastic NE Patriots Helmet and Yellow Highlighter Award. Final tally will wait for the second link party I think I’m going to hitch this post to. Also, voting is still open for me as Queen Goddess Extraordinaire and Ruler of All Things Chocolate. Wait… I’m getting an update here…ok, I’m being told that that’s NOT what  I was nominated for. It’s not? What is WRONG with the world? It was what? “Awesomest Blog?” Well, ok then…I can live with that! So vote at I Am Mommy!

And now to the Top Secret World of Blogging. They didn’t actually let me into the Top Secret meetings. I could see them through the windows though, in the private rooms marked “Really Cool Top Secret People Only.” I was dressed too much like a mom. If I had worn something torn, and pierced something, or used magic marker to draw tribal tattoos on someplace really visible, I bet then I would have made it into those rooms.

Saturday was WordCamp 2010-SF. My first real blogging conference. Well, my first real, fake, made-of-cream-cheese or any other kind of blogging conference, as I have never been to any blogging conferences before at all.

Random thoughts from the trip and the conference:

  • On the way to the City I was passed by an unmarked refrigerator truck. Why do there need to be unmarked refrigerator trucks? Aren’t most places that need to transport cold goods affiliated with some sort of company? There  is NO need for anonymous refrigerator trucks and they should be legislated against. Unmarked refrigerator trucks just make people with overactive imaginations start to worry about secret human organ trafficking.
  • The WordCamp people did NOT make me sit outside just because I showed up with no laptop (my battery is crap) and no smartphone (haven’t gotten around to it yet). Which I thought was pretty generous of them.
  • The WordPress people thought it would be cool to have a jazz combo with the barbecue lunch.

Do doo dwee do do bop BWAH BWAH BWAH (Lori scatting along to the jazz combo, causing many geeky conference attendees to exit the lunch line. I always have a plan.)

  • The people who manufactured the T-shirts apparently sized them on Skipper and Barbie because a medium, which I normally wear, would never have fit over my forearm, let alone my torso. Many women were lining up towards the end of the day to swap. I swapped, and am wearing my WordCamp t-shirt at this very minute.
  • Matt Mullenweg (the founder of WordPress) is a LOT like Dave Foley (from Kids in the Hall and NewsRadio).

He seems more Dave Foley-like up close. He made kitten jokes.

  • I sat through one tech session and understood about half of it. Which is 100% more than I thought I would understand of it.
  • I took advantage of the genius bar to ask about how to move my blog (which I’ll probably need to do soon), and the very nice genius in question spent over half-an-hour with me to make sure I understood it. That alone was worth the price of admission.
  • Cool Google chick (Vanessa Fox) gave a 35-minute  talk on SEO optimization which was WAY too short for a topic that big.
  • The developers at the conference (over half of the attendees) did not mock, tease, taunt, pull-the-hair-of nor make superior remarks to the woman who blogs about cat-hair and dying houseplants.
  • Most of the coolest things I learned had little to do with my actual blog, but gave me a much better understanding of the blogosphere.
  • A really nice guy (who I accidentally took a movie of instead of a picture –  I SO don’t belong at tech conferences) chatted with me for a while as we waited for Matt’s Big Talk to start, and he pulled up my blog (cause he, being of the tech variety and NOT carting around a bag that only had a paperback novel and two Hollywood Diet Cookies in it, actually had a laptop with him), and said complementary and encouraging things.
  • I opted out of the last session as it was more tech oriented, and it took me an hour and twenty minutes to get across San Francisco to the bridge I needed. As point of reference, it took me an hour and twenty minutes to make it from my house to the parking garage the very same morning. The linear distance it took me an hour and twenty minutes to drive was 10.1 miles. This made me cranky and bad company. So it was a good thing I went by myself.

On the plus side, the high amount of stopping meant I could snap a few pictures of the City without 1)breaking any laws, or 2)breaking my neck.

For your vieweing enjoyment:

Here is the lovely Palace of Fine Arts taken through the dirty windshield of a '96 Camry stopped in some of the world's most annoying traffic.

Does everyone outside of Northern California understand that the Golden Gate Bridge is really orange?

Much of what I learned about makes more sense for my business blog (yes, I have one, but this one is more fun) than it does for people who blog mostly for fun but with an eye for opportunity if it should present itself.  But there were a few things that were interesting and may be relevent to others:

Google doesn’t care about meta-tags/keywords, and pretty soon,  no other search engine will either. If I understood correctly, this was in the meta-data, not your regular blog tags which are actually used for indexing, at the very least by your blog’s host. I don’t have access to the meta-data in my blog at this time, so I’m certainly not trying to load it with high-incidence search terms, but maybe some people are and apparently that is not something search engines will pay attention to.

No time was spent on defining what searchability meant for the non-business blog or how to use it well. I’m curious what others think about this.

If you are an artist (music, film, animation) go to QuestionCopyright.org and learn about what free distribution really means and what copyright really doesn’t.

Content content and content. (Although actually this was only a tiny portion of the conference in general.) But if you want people to read, you need to be writing content that is fundamentally interesting or informative. Believe in the power of the words (written or spoken, but in a blogger’s case written).

So although I enjoyed myself and learned some interesting things, I think WordCamp is definitely for a different type of animal than myself or most other recreational bloggers, particularly of the parenting/lifestyle/family/cooking/crafting variety.  I think if I had asked Matt about that demographic he certainly would have emphasized the importance of it, but that just wasn’t the audience in residence for this particular gathering.

Ok, class. Any questions?

16 comments

  1. stopping by after you replied to my “post title” discussion at SITS Blog Frog. Love your site! I [attempt] to cook a lot of Martha meals on my foodie blog! Following you via RSS!

  2. I would stay very far away from an unmarked fridge truck…that is just wrong.

    I am fascinated by SEO – it is more important for my website for moms in DFW where we actually print information people are looking for than on my personal blog where I don’t really inform anybody about anything. I might be on to something there…capture the key word NOTHING.

    1. Always thinkin’, that’s what you are!

      I would have loved to hear more of what Vanessa had to say about all of it (apparently she’s written a book, though, if I decide I want to dig deeper).

      But yes, I think we should explore the secret algorithm for getting our humor blogs as the number 1 result for every search string EVER!

      MWUAHAHAHAHAHAH…ack…cough..HAHA…sputter…

      Apparently I need to practice my Evil Maniacal Overlord laugh.

  3. Fascinating! I’ve never been to any kind of blogging conference and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about this one….

    1. It was lots of fun, even if a large chunk of it was meant for people much more tech-savvy than me.

      I blame the husband for the camera fiasco though – he wanted to use the nice one, so I ended up with an older one that I’ve basically never used. And I tried to make it do fancy things – you know, make coffee, find me the nearest BBQ chicken pizza – and apparently confused it too much to take actual pictures.

  4. Thank you. Oh, the blog entry was amusing but it was the pictures of the City that made my day. Thanks to being a military spouse this born and raised San Francisco girl is stuck in the middle of Oklahoma. Your unusual, dirty windshield pictures made me homesick, teary and strangely happy.

  5. Even though I don’t really have a need for SEO, I do have this overwhelming urge to learn all about it (I’m strange like that!)

    As to unmarked refrigerator trucks…there is all sorts of places that sent my conspiracy-minded thoughts and none of them were pretty! =)

    1. The irony is that I have a book called “Internet Guerilla Marketing,” and talks a LOT about the meta-data in your website.

      And apparently, it doesn’t matter.

      And I’m collecting signatures about the trucks.

  6. Yes, several questions. First, even though I work in IT, I’m in marketing, so I have no earthly idea what ‘SEO’ is. Also, while I have actually heard the term ‘meta data’ I don’t know what it is or what it does. Any chance you can provide the idiot’s guide?

    Finally, I’ve seen reference to this ‘other’ business that you so bravely scaled back the regular-paying job to do. Any chance you’re going to blog about it? Because see, there’s a whole host of us that are clearly enamored with your blog (and therefore you) and the curiousity is killing us!

    Thanks for the post on the conference. I saw the ads and briefly thought about trying to completely alter my life schedule to attend. But frankly, I was afraid of the scary developer people.

    1. Ooohh….let’s see if I can sound smart! (But if I end up sounding like a total doofus, just smile and nod and distract me with something shiny. Or chocolate.)

      SEO = search engine optimization, and it refers to systematic use of words or strings of words placed strategically in any web document so that the document (blog, website, etc) can be easily found (and prioritized well) by search engines.

      Meta-data = information embedded into the source code of a website (viewers won’t see it) that “talk” to browsers or search engines.

      SEO becomes really important if you’re trying to cultivate a consumer market online because of the sheer obscene mass of stuff out there.

      But what about us folks that blog for fun but want to create an audience? If SEO is an effective strategy for that, I haven’t seen anything about it.

      And if the conference hadn’t been 1)close, and 2)on a weekend bizarrely free of other conflicts I wouldn’t have made it.

      Although I am going to another in August. Bloggy Bootcamp is coming to SF, so I’m going to go to that one too, and I bet I won’t feel so much like the kid in the slow track in the reading group. Although you never know, sometimes I surprise myself.

      And…in regards to the business. I’m being vague here on purpose because I once I start the actual marketing of said business later this month, I don’t want people to accidentally find THIS blog where I talk about having emotional meltdowns over cat hair. I think that would undermine the capable, professional business persona I’m hoping to cultivate.

      But I’ll send you a link to the website and you can have a private viewing. : )

      And…you are an awesome lady, you know that?

      1. Oh my god, I am aghast at the work I inadvertently heaped upon you. And on a Wednesday (of all days)! You should get +15 Martha Points for so generously catering to marketing idiots that really ought to know what SEO is, but don’t. THANK YOU for the explanation.

        Also, had I been thinking clearly (which I wasn’t due to lack of chocolate-flavored coffee), I would have guessed why one might be vague about other endeavors. Still, I appreciate the preview. And the lovely compliment (right back at you, girl).

  7. P.S. Oh yes, two more questions:

    1.) Why do you need to move your blog? And when/where do you think you’re going to do it?

    2.) Can you blog about nothing in particular (like parenting perspectives) and cultivate an audience? I’ve been wondering about this…

    1. I’m thinking that I will probably want to move OFF of wordpress.com and onto wordpress.org as a self-hosted blog, and I should probably do that before I seriously cultivate an audience that would get kafuffled by me moving. (Should be smooth and seamless for people who read through the actual website, but might be problematic for people who might have subscribed by email or RSS feed, once I actually have any of those people. I wonder if I have any now?)

      And…I hope one can cultivate an audience blogging just about observations and things. If you read The Bloggess, or Lauralee’s Looney Tunes, that’s their primary voice. Pioneer Woman has the whole cooking and photography angle, and the number of decorating blogs is overwhelming.

      But there’s word of mouth, and then promotion, when you seriously want an audience. I’m hoping for both, personally. : )

      And at the end of the day, writing things that are entertaining or informative is the secret of success. Things that teach, or are just damned fun to read (you, for instance) I think will have better “legs” than people who just blog random stories and try to get readers exclusively with give-aways or reciprocal posting.

      But I’ve been doing this all of 6 weeks. It is entirely possible that I’m a nitwit and that I’m never going to make it if I don’t giveaway gift cards. (Not that I wouldn’t love to give people things, but there’s a cost issue I have to be real about. ; )

      1. Lori — Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and hooking me up with another funny thing to read beyond the Bloggess.

        Six weeks may not sound like much, but you’ve got at least three weeks on me, which (if my calculations are correct) equals 45 cat weeks, which means that you are very nearly one whole human year ahead of me in blogging expertise. In my book, this makes you an expert.

        (Seriously, how how smug do you feel about your blogging prowess right now? I’d be smug.)

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