The Problogger conference (or PBEvent2013 for those who followed the hashtag) took place at the super hip QT Hotel on the Gold Coast fully two weeks ago. We'll just chock this one up to a case of the 'better late than nevers' and I'll launch right in to my reflections on the ProBlogger 2013 event...

Your DIY Media Empire

There are lots of things that excite me about blogging. One is that it's so democratic. Anyone can start a blog without raising funds; we don't need permission from the bank. We can all learn how to do this ourselves; we don't need permission from a university.  And we can all put ourselves out into the public sphere; we don't need permission from a publishing house. That is pretty darn empowering.


A New Feminism?

Another thing I love about blogging is that it's an integral part of a web-based world dominated by women. Think about it. For the first time in human history, women are creating a new business model, parallel to traditional male-dominated corporate structures, that combines commerce with a sense of personal fulfilment, all within an arena that makes space for the demanding realities of family life and motherhood. That is a powerful shift, and from the rate at which the ProBlogger conference is growing every year, more and more women (450 this year) are cottoning on to the opportunities and possibilities this represents.

As Claire Bowditch said, blogging is about using sensitivity, not toughness, to figure out how to do what you want and create a big, chunky following who's excited about it. For once, traits that have been typically seen as "feminine" are becoming highly prized in a business arena. As we women use our communication and organisational skills to build brands in our own image, we not only change our own lives but we can increasingly dictate the terms on which we exist within the broader economy. That is both extremely exciting ultimately liberating.

Love and Commerce

Whatever things or ideas we're promoting, blogging allows us to tell our own story about who we are as people and as brands. It's our best way of putting a frame around what our particular talents and skills are, and how they can help other people (our readers) solve problems, find useful information, or be inspired in their own lives.

This idea was echoed by many of the speakers, including ProBlogger founder Darren Rouse. In his opening address, Daren explored the idea that blogging is first and foremost about community building.

Once you've found your niche topic - the thing that fascinates you, the thing you have something important to say about - there are lots of ways to make the internet pay... from a place of love. In order to do this, we have to reach a significant audience, so the broad focus of the conference was sharing strategies for building a big, beautiful community who are excited about following whatever it is we do.

While there is no blue print for blowing up and making a mint online, there are principles shared in common by successful blogs. The consensus seems to be that it's this community engagement, above all other markers, that defines our 'success' as bloggers.


Going Offline

It has been my experience as a blogger and a businesswoman that the best place to start building a community online is offline. That's why I haul my Spring Shop marquee around the markets every weekend, and that's why I love going to blog conferences.

There's nothing quite like sharing a cup of tea and a whole lot of laughs with other women who get our passions and curiosities. In our adult lives it doesn't happen very often that we meet new people and instantly *click*. But hanging around ProBlogger I met so many interesting, smart, hilarious women who I feel lucky to have made into friends. From a business point of view, having these women as close contacts is a hugely valuable resource for getting help with new projects, setting up guest posting, and finding the moral support  we all need in this sometimes strange blogosphere.


There's Always Something New to Learn

Nikki said it best in her (much prompter) post on the ProBlogger 2013 event... "The appeal of this dynamic, pioneering industry... is [it's] always changing and there’s always something new to learn. Although I've been writing The Spring Blog for almost 3 years, I came away with a long list of tips to try, strategies to employ, and ideas for posts I want to create. The seminars and socialising are super energising and inspiring - I feel sure that any possibility of writers block has been banished for months and months to come as my head's still spinning with ideas for new content.

The main thing I've come away with, though, is the confidence (and a set of actionable steps) to think bigger and take more risks. For me, that means stepping up  and making plans for next-level business growth, aspiring to reach a bigger audience, and posting my first video (which frightens me like crazy!)

I do plan to get back to writing more about blogging strategies and my own work habits as an online entrepreneur, so if you have any specific questions or topics you'd like to see covered, please leave me a comment or get in touch via email. Have a wonderful weekend! x

Catherine Roberts