* All stories, all media, all second-hand versions are constructions. As a reader, as a blog-follower, as a consumer, I am going to do my best to remember this. Comparing myself (or my family, or my blog) to everything else that’s out there online is ludicrous. I know that I’m honest in what I write, but this blog is still just my version of the story, which makes it a constructed truth. The same is true for anyone who shares bits of their lives through pictures and words.
* I own the power to connect with other bloggers. There are something like 200 million blogs out there now. Most of us who blog are not the powerhouses with bajillions of daily hits and legions of fans. But all of us are looking to connect with other people, right? We all have the power to make those connections. Comment more. Ask questions. Reach out. Pay compliments. Seek out help. Waiting for someone to come to you will get you nowhere, so if you want an online community, start seeking it out. Probably the biggest theme of my BlogHer experience was community: find your people & use their input.
* Set privacy boundaries, but don’t let anyone decide them for you. I am always wrestling with what the consequences may be for Natalie that her baby life is out there on my blog. I hope it is not irresponsible. I feel that the positives outweigh the negatives, so I’m comfortable with what I put online. Doug French said that he “would love to read a blog that [his] dad wrote when [he] was 10,” and that felt really gratifying; some day Natalie will get to read what her mom wrote when she was a little kid. I am going to continue to be wary of what I put online, but this is her little internet baby book and I want her to have a full truth of what our experience as a family was. The side-eyed looks I get from people when I say I blog about parenting, with pictures of my kid, are not going to be enough to scare me into stopping.
* Don’t be afraid to take a breather from blogging. Stepping back, unplugging, or whatever you want to call it, is healthy. When you’re away from your blog, let it go. I was probably the only person at BlogHer without a twitter handle (which, I think, I’ll be remedying soon), and it was kind of nice to be one of the few people not connected to the internet at all moments of the conference. Yes, this was a blogging conference, but we are all part of an offline world, and it’s really important to exist away from the blogosphere.
* Blogs matter. This might be the biggest thing I took away from BlogHer. Blogs are important, relevant, and influential. We are part of a massive network of people writing from various corners of the world on a multitude of topics for very personal reasons, and we are connecting with people through what we write. Some of the statistics about the influence of blogging blew me away–did you know that 80% of blog readers have made purchases based on a recommendation from a blog? There were 3600 women (and a few men!) at BlogHer who are part of the humongo blogosphere, and lemme tell ya, they (we!) have influence.
* BlogHer is for everyone. Really, everyone. There were moments when I felt out of my league, but that’s my issue. The conference has something for everyone, whether you’re thinking about starting a blog or are a seasoned blogger with your own url. I hope to see so many of you in NYC next year for BlogHer ’12. Do it!