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VagFest In Review

So I'm a woman, right? I have all the equipment and know how to use it, but sometimes I sort of forget that I'm female. Most of my dearest friends in Scotland have been male, and I've joyously immersed myself in the swearing and smuttiness and talk of sport.

But when I found myself at the BlogHer conference in a big room with 800 other women, all talking about their passions with such contagious enthusiasm, it was a most pleasant slap to the chops. Whoa. I am woman. Hear me roar. Grrrl Power, and all that. I just wanted to climb into platform shoes and a Union Jack frock and strut.

geri.jpg

Award for Dodgiest BlogHer Sponsor Gift:
The Nasal Decongestant Spray left on our tables on Saturday lunchtime. Que? Maybe they thought we needed to clear all the excess estrogen from our nasal passages?

Award for Dodgiest BlogHer Snack:
The "Healthy Snack Alternative" provided on Saturday arvo. If you didn't want to eat the hot dogs, pretzels or popcorn you could have a 100 Calorie Curves Chewy Granola Bar. I'd rather scoff down unashamedly unhealthy mustard-drenched cylindrical pig snouts and trotters than eat a bar of self-loathing containing 27 unpronounceable polysyllabic ingredients posing as "health food".

But I do realise that a conference of such spectacular scale needs sponsors. I am enjoying my swanky laptop bag and Butterball Turkey oven glove, yes siree.

. . .

The first session I attended was called "Self Branding And Self Promotion" and I think I should have gone to the panel next door with the sex toy goody bags. I realised I've been clinging on to early Naughties dreamy dreamland notions, where people blogged just because they had a burning need to express themselves, or because they were lonely and wanted to reach across the universe. You know, when people knew all their readers by name. At times the panel had a wee bit of a vibe like, "I've been blogging for two weeks, how come I'm not rich and/or famous yet?"

I know blogging can be big business these days, your blog can be your resume, etc etc. And that is cool, because goodness knows my career has been transformed because of my online babbling. But how about starting off with having something to say? How about taking some time to find your voice and build a body of work and an audience and then start fretting about your lack of revenue/devoted stalkers?

I'm sad I missed the panel called It's Not Your Size But Your Passion That Matters, because I'm so glad to hear that the idea of Blog As Just A Place To Tell A Story And Meet Like-Minded Souls has not been swallowed up by the money thing. Happy days.

. . .

Award for Most S-M-R-T Ladies of BlogHer: There were far too many inspiring, rockin' dames to list them all, but here's a stirling sample –

  • Cynthia Samuels and the Sarcastic Journalist on the Media Training Panel, gallantly providing advice for bloggers on what to do when the papers come a callin'.
  • Elizabeth Edwards and her gobsmacking intelligence and wisdom during her keynote discussion. I'd vote for her.
  • Ariel Meadow Stallings with her sage and hilarious advice on the Blog To Book Panel. Her tips for ego-crushing book signings? "Have your antidepressants in your pocket."
  • Our Blessed Conference Founders for kicking off something so deliciously inspiring and energising. I'd sell my granny to go again next year.
  • The SJ – I learned so much from her – the joy of being comfortable in your own skin, how to talk to strangers, how to calculate tips. I'm still in awe that I get to be her pal.

(see also: BlogHer photies on my Flickr)

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


10 thoughts on “VagFest In Review

  1. I hope you enjoyed my healthy alternative, the “cow bar,” aka Chicago dogs. I’ll sell your granny too! And can I say that I love you as Ginger Spice. I fear this makes me Scary what with the babydaddies and…scariness and all.

    Suppressing the urge to write first, just to get up on your goat.

    Spring break! FNIF.

  2. Actually the nasal decongestant spray kinda makes sense if you consider the post-con too-little-sleep too-much-junkfood lurgy that hits half the attendees after any given con. (This is the hoarse voice of experience speaking.)

  3. Wish I could have been at Blogher, but I had to settle for freezing my ass of in Australia!!! 😀 I hear you on the whole pathological need to make money blogging issue. I think people get really competitive about stats and number of comments and frankly, it’s sad. In fact that was just what my last post was about. I simply get a kick out of writing and making people laugh. If I make money at it someday, great. If not, then so be it.

  4. For me, the great peril of the Healthy Snack Alternative goes well beyond the fact that nobody can remember the proper name. It’s bad enough that, as Shauny quite rightly reports, there are often 27 polysyllabic ingredients — many of them untraceable and all too long for any sane person to Google them all and to thus determine if these polywhateverthefuck byproducts actually live up to their salubrious qualifiers. But one would expect the food industry to come up with better names for their snacks. Names that might actually have the friendly guy at the convenience store remembering them. Sure, that guy knows we buy a 40 ouncer of beer — and sometimes two – and concludes that we’re some kind of sad alcoholic who will die before the age of forty — “one year for every ounce,” he probably tells his pals. But he also knows that we buy the Healthy Snack Alternative and he can’t remember which one it is. And because he’s likely to get a higher profit margin from the beer, he remembers the brand name of the sad malt liquor, but not the Healthy Snack Alternative.

    Is this really the way to unite the world? If health is a lingering concern for the world — whether through Vagfests or cigar bars — then surely the stores and the folks who concoct this nonsense might better articulate that the Healthy Snack Alternative is better by dint of a memorable name!

    This brings up all sorts of ethics, of course, involving capitalism, Madison Avenue, and the idea of brand names being co-opted into verbs that invade the delightful clutter of the English vernacular. The only real solution is to clutter it all up, much as the grand Shauny has done with inverting gender qualities in her opening paragraph.

  5. I liked your thoughts about blogging as a commercial exercise vs blogging with an authentic voice. It’s not that I begrudge people the right to make money out of it (although I’m still mystified as to how that works — has anyone ever actually clicked on a sponsored link?), but I have a sense that the for-money megablogs have come to dominate the conversation about blogging. When I first stumbled upon your blog, which was around time that I first stumbled upon blogs per se, I had the sense of having discovered a hidden gem, a secret treasure shared among a select number of readers. Reading one of the major blogs, though, is much more like consuming mainstream media, and I suspect that the 30-reader plugger might have vanished off the radar. When people think about individuals writing online for the sake of writing, they’re more likely to think of MySpace/Facebook/Twitter etc, which bear no comparison to what you have created.

    Perhaps there’s a grassroots blogging movement on the way, driven by those nostalgics who still remember blogging circa 2000.

  6. Sounds like it would have been such an awesome experience! It is amazing just how many different reasons there are out there for blogging. I personally don’t like the “give me money” blogs but then that’s me. Just as there are so many different kinds of blogs, there are just as many different kinds of readers. Cunt power sista! Would have loved to have experienced that energy too 🙂

  7. I spilled coffee on Cynthia Samuels at the unconference. I just threw my backpack on without looking behind me and sloshed coffee all over the place. I bet she’ll remember me, though I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t, since she seems rather cool and I am just the dope who spilled coffee on her.

  8. I hope that you don’t change your blog one bit.
    I love it here just as much as the first time I read it many centuries ago, it remains my foavourite though over the last year i have found others I like to read.
    Now you’ve been flying in the blogging stratosphere, I hope you don’t feel the need to include ads. I would rather subscribe.

    A couple of years ago your blog got me through a very trying time at work, when I had about 10 minutes a day to chill out in and WNP always did the trick. Still does.

    I’m hoping you’re writing a book perhaps?
    Anyway,
    still get a kick when ya visit!

    and ps, you look wonderful in all those photos!!

  9. whoops i replied on the wrong entry… meant to say fifi dear, i will never have advertising on my blog. unless i’m pimping my own wares 😛

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