Thursday, June 6, 2013

how to blog ethically

A few months ago, (before studying restaurants and social media), I gave a presentation on blogging conferences. I wanted to provide an example of how online networks can and do transition into "real world" communities. Since I was one of few bloggers in the class, I thought I'd be in a great position to do so. The presentation didn't go well though. My professor's primary critique: "It would have been more interesting if you had taken the analysis beyond a normative acceptance of 'marketing' driven blogging.
To be perfectly honest, I was offended. I mean, my gosh, I've been blogging for 5+ now! Although my writing style has thankfully changed and my content has hopefully improved, it's the satisfaction I get from sharing my story and connecting with others that has kept me at it. Blogging is fun for me. But, it's also a commitment and an investment. Taking photos, pinning, networking, tweeting, and formulating, writing, and formatting posts is hard work; especially when with "real life" responsibilities.

For instance, when Jeff Jarvis said:
"If we’re doing what we do to fool the public, to sell them crappy content or a shill’s swill, to prioritize paying customers’ interests over readers’, then we will cannibalize whatever credibility, trust, and value our brands have until they dry up.
My advice to news organizations: Move out of the content — and sponsored content — business and get into the service business, where content is just one of your tools to serve the public,"
he was speaking about sponsored content published by news organizations, not by any blogger at The Hive.
"Be authentic" is perhaps the most cliché advice to give bloggers eager to bring their blogs to the next level--whether it be because they hope to use it as a portfolio of their work, make a profit, or simply increase their readership. That's not to say it couldn't be more true though. Blogging is a whole 'nother kind of media. It is not online journalism. And though it can be, because it is not obliged to follow journalistic ethical codes, there's the extra space for my take on this, your interpretation of that, and his/her choice not to mention either. It's about a genuine interaction and exchange. It really should be understood as such.
There's less 'marketing' driven blogging than I think my professor realizes. The lovely Megan explained it perfectly:
"For me,
and I think most people,
blogging starts out as one thing:
Keeping a daily journal for friends and family who you might be separated from,
or you want to share baby updates with other more distant family members.
Then something happens...
you realize that there are a lot of other people doing this blogging thing too,
and hey,
you can make your blog look really cool too?
And wow,
look at their photos, I need a new camera!
Then snap,
I am sorta obsessed with what this chick is wearing, must buy new clothes and photograph them with my new camera.
And omg,
now I have online friends, lets take this affair to skype and maybe have a blate,
and then you can be my bridesmaid!;
(okay that last part might just be me)
Then lastly,
hold up,
you can make money and write about what you love for people you love?"
In other words, bloggers are only human. The most successful bloggers are those who have made their blogging mutually beneficial for themselves and their readers. And when myself and dozens of other bloggers venture to Berlin to learn about How Newsletters Can Support Your Blog and/or Your Business, Online Classes and Teaching with a Blog, How to Make a Kick Ass Media Kit, and Pretty Up Your Blog Posts (amongst other keynotes and worshops), we're trying to do just that. This needs to be okay.

"It was a relief to be in a place where everybody 'got it,'" replied Roni Noone when I asked her about her experience at her first blog conference. Sara Urquart explained it further by saying, "[A conference] creates an entire room of others who understand, appreciate, and are able to help each other in this hobby/business of blogging." (I interviewed them both for my presentation). As such, it makes sense that Peggy and Yvonne promote The Hive as, "the buzzing place, where bloggers big and small and of all kinds get together with like minded people and marketers, who want to understand and work with bloggers."
Did I learn a whole lot at The Hive? Not necessarily, but I did pick up a few tips you may have noticed I've integrated into my blog format since then. I also had the opportunity reflect on why I started blogging, ponder how my blog was creating value now, and reaffirm my belief in "let[ting] your life inspire your blog," (as articulated by Erin Loechner). Most importantly though, I enjoyed myself. I was in the company of creative people with a drive to create, participate, and share stories... I couldn't have helped it.
There was an hour and a half break between the sessions and barbecue on that first day at The Hive. So, Lauren, Anne, and I ran out into the rain for margaritas at Santa Maria Mexican Diner (and, serendipitously enough, vintage eye candy at artdoor). It was more logical than it sounds ;). I needed a quick break from the betahaus I would come to be sentimental about the following day; it was there that I'd met Marcela, Karen, Tobia, Élise, Jana, Natalie, Luisa, Fee-Jasmin, Andreea, Trixi, and Tiffany. And to be perfectly authentic, honest, and genuine, they make up the "real world" community that brought me to the Hive in the first place. 

P.S. Even more perspective: this blog post took me three hours to create. Thank you for continuing to inspire me to do so.


  1. Hi Danielle, I just found your blog. Actually, I am also just learning about what all this blog community is about, so thanks for your post.

    Also, looking at that Mexican food menu makes me homesick.

    1. Welcome! And I'm glad. Sorry to make you homesick! It was a cool place but I'm hardly convinced it would've been good Mexican food :)

  2. Every time I read one of you post your thoughts make me think. It's inspiring. It was so nice getting to know you in Berlin and also thank you for the shout-out. Have a great weekend, Tobia

    1. Aw, thanks, girl :) hope you're having a great weekend!

  3. Love this!! It was perfect for me right now and that's how blogging is sometimes. You read something that is really helpful and you just key in on it!! Thanks!

    1. So true! And it was my pleasure - glad you found it helpful.

  4. Great post Danielle! I think the only people that can "define" blogging or really comment on its place in the world are the ones that actually do it, the ones that are "in it", so to speak, the ones that connect with other bloggers. And because, most of the time, it's so personal anything goes! I love Roni's comment above. That was so great for me, too, that weekend. xx

    1. You're probably right. Glad you enjoyed it, too :) xo

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Hi lovely, thank you for such a thorough comment! Somehow, it got deleted :( but I really appreciate it and I hope that blogging is as fulfilling for you. Please let me know if you do make that conference!

  6. I, for one, think your blog is fabulous!! I've just discovered you and I'm so impressed. I'm a LOT older than you but your writing reaches even me. Keep doing what you're doing. (And I love your story/pics on Santa Fe, one of my favourite places! And I'm Canadian!)

    1. Hi Jo-Anne, thank you! You're making me blush :) I'm glad my writing has reached you! Santa Fe is one of my absolute favorite places, too. Take care!


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