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Advice for Living (and Blogging): 7 Lessons from the 20SB Summit

Sunday, August 21, 2011

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Advice for Living (and Blogging): 7 Lessons from the 20SB Summit | Faith Permeating Life
This weekend was the 20SB (20-something bloggers) Summit in Chicago. It was amazing. I don't want to do a full recap because 1) I'm guessing a lot of you don't care that much and 2) it would be about 10,000 words long, but I do want to share -- and capture for myself -- the main ideas I'm taking away from all of the fantastic speakers.

So here they are, in no particular order. These are applicable to everyone, not just bloggers!

1. Action is everything. What you say only matters to the extent that it pushes people to act. Getting your thoughts re-tweeted 100 times means nothing if people aren't acting on it, and especially if you're not acting on it. Go after those things that really matter to you. When you want to make something happen, keep track of action items separate from all of your other notes. Always be moving forward in some small way, even when you feel like institutional politics are freezing you in.

2. Everyone starts small. Stop being afraid to go after a goal just because you can't do it overnight with no mistakes. Every big website or blog I heard about this weekend started by someone just putting something out there. It might have looked really crappy at first. But the important thing was that it got put out there, for better or for worse, so it could start to become something. You don't have to be an expert or even the best at what you do -- what you do will work for some people, and those people will find you.

3. You don't have to do everything yourself. There are different kinds of people out there with different strengths. Leverage the power of collaboration and community. If you want a professional site but don't know enough html to do it or don't have the time, pay someone else to design it. If you don't have the money, find some other benefit you can offer in exchange. Brainstorm big, or work with people who will help you brainstorm big. Trust your readers. Rely on your readers. Ask for help when you need it. Give help wherever you can.

4. Don't do things halfway. If you're going to take a risk, take it. You can't stay in your comfortable status quo and make a big change at the same time. If you're going to launch a new site, build up 3 months of content before you start publicizing it (except to get feedback from your trusted circle), so you can find your rhythm and make sure you're passionate enough to really commit to it. If you want to do something, tell your community you're going to do it. They will hold you accountable.

5. Be true to yourself always. If you hate doing something, don't do it. If your job is making you sick, quit. But every big change doesn't have to mean quitting your job. If you hate being self-employed, that's OK. Do what feels right for you. Be authentic. Don't try to become a mommy blogger or fashion blogger just because that's what's popular right now. Do things because you love them -- that's it. And don't try to lie to your readers, because they will call you out on it.

6. Carve out your space. Figure out what your boundaries are, whether that's what you share on your blog or what you do with your time. Take some time to unplug, recharge, and take care of yourself. You can't figure out what you love and what you want to do if you're constantly just reacting -- to comments, to Twitter, to your page stats. Make sure you have time for thinking, for reflecting, for decompressing, for brainstorming.

7. It's OK to be called crazy. When you find that idea that everyone says won't work, then either it won't work or it will become huge, because that means you're doing something new. Your family and close friends want to protect you, so their natural reaction is to keep you from taking giant leaps of faith. Trust the people who say, "I can see this is what you're truly passionate about." Passion is enough to keep you moving forward if you know how to feed it.

I came away from this weekend with both practical tips and huge amounts of inspiration to go after the ideas I've been sitting on forever. Plus -- and I know this is shocking -- I actually made friends! Some of whom actually live near me! For some reason, knowing that almost nobody there knew each other offline pre-conference gave me the confidence to introduce myself to everyone I sat down next to. That and I'd bought 250 business cards for my blog and I was determined to give out as many as I could. It made me feel like I might actually be OK at "networking" despite my huge fear of talking to people I don't know.

Two moments were hugely gratifying to me as a blogger:
  1. One of the first people I met recognized my username (my nametag had my first name and Twitter handle), had read my blog, and remembered what it was about!
  2. I had given out my card to someone I was sitting by and was talking about some things I've written about, and two other people sitting near me asked for my card so they could check out my blog also. Amazing!
20SB is already planning to make this an annual event, and I am going to try my best to make it to the next one. I found this conference more helpful and inspirational than any conference I've been to for my job. I highly, highly recommend attending next year -- you don't even have to be in your 20s. Or a blogger. Seriously. It is worth it!

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If you want to see more wisdom from the summit, just search the hashtag #20sbsummit on Twitter.

These lessons are a mish-mash of ideas from the following conference speakers:

10 comments:

  1. This is GOOD stuff! I absolutely want to go next year! Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. @Hannah J. Holmes
    You absolutely should! It was fantastic!

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  3. I loved this post, you touched on so many points that were so powerful about the summit....wasn't it just powerful to hear it in person? I totally was in awe of being around so many dynamic people that were blogging with big hopes, dreams and so much diversity among us!

    I will be going again next year if all goes to plan. It was just the right length of time, lots of great people and some fabulous opportunities to learn and grow!

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  4. @Shannyn @frugalbeautiful.com
    I was thinking as I wrote this that as great as all of these ideas were, what really moved me and what I can't capture here is all of the passion that the speakers had! You're right, there's something about hearing it in person. I really hope I'm able to go again next year!

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  5. I love seeing: 1.) that I'm not the only one who thought that any true recap would need at least 10,000 words and that 2.) so many people walked away with the things I seemed to learn. It makes that sense of community and involvement even stronger.

    Plus, I don't feel THAT crazy. ;)

    Lor

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  6. @Roxanne and Lorraine
    Yeah, I learned SO much that I couldn't even figure out where to start telling my husband about the whole thing. I kept getting frustrated when he would get excited and want to talk in-depth about an idea because I was like, "Yes, but... I still have so much more to tell you!!" Haha.

    I'm also glad that everyone seemed to get the same things out of it and just enjoy it so much. I really did feel like I belonged there.

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  7. So glad to have you join us and I'm SO STOKED that people got a lot of value and fun out of the weekend. #nextyear!

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  8. @Derek
    Thanks for organizing such a fantastic weekend! Can't wait for next year!

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  9. so glad you had a great time! i knew you would :)
    -Missy

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  10. @Missy
    Thanks! You should think about coming next year--it was super-inspiring!

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