News Column

Online Writers Join Forces to Produce Blog Convention

Sept. 27, 2012
blogging

The women behind NEPA BlogCon want to help prospective bloggers make a splash online.

The event will bring together online writers and social media experts for a daylong brainstorming and learning session on Saturday at Luzerne County Community College. Proceeds from the sold-out event benefit the Arc of Luzerne County and the NEPA Veterans Multicare Alliance.

Organizers Karla Porter and Michelle Davies first brainstormed the event while attending a mixer for area bloggers. The women wanted their event to serve as a vehicle for aspiring bloggers to learn more about the craft and become proficient. They wanted to address common questions, like how to attract traffic to a blog or how to monetize one.

"(We thought) wouldn't it be great if we really had a conference to teach people how to do this?" Porter said. "So that's what we decided to focus on, to be able to provide something for every interest."

They presented the idea to local bloggers Mandy Boyle and Leslie Stewart, who joined their effort to produce the convention.

The event caters to bloggers of all capabilities, no matter what their goals -- to monetize their site or to utilize social media more effectively, Davies said. Classes include seminars on search engine optimization, HTML, and social media, all from local and national professionals.

"If you're a newbie and you don't even have a blog and just starting out, or if you're more experienced, you could pick up a new tip," she said.

Stewart emphasized the focus on social media, a medium that has become even more popular than blogging.

"It's probably invaluable for a business in this day and age," she said.

All four organizers have immersed themselves in the online world, both personally or professionally. Porter has blogged since the late 1990s, including as a freelance new media consultant and the program development and marketing director for the Arc of Luzerne County. The Internet gives people access to a medium that allows them to get their own personalized message out, no matter what it is, she said.

"The saying, 'We are the media,' -- it's so true today. Anyone can have a voice," she said. "You literally can be up and running in a matter of minutes. ... There's no limit to the power an individual voice has today."

Stewart, a graphic designer at PepperJam Exchange and self-described social media butterfly, will celebrate her two-year blog anniversary in December. She said the blog convention can also help people who are still figuring out what they want to do online, whether they want to address a certain audience or just blog about whatever crosses their minds.

"As long as you're passionate about it, you'll always

have good content. That's my rule," she said.

Mandy Boyle brings her background in advertorial copy writing to the table. She now leads the search engine optimization team at Solid Cactus. The local blogging community has grown greatly over the years, making this a perfect time to hold a convention based on maximizing blogging skills, she said.

"There's a lot more bloggers that you would think. There's definitely a lot of people here who want to explore this world of new media and technology," she said. "We want to bring that kind of stuff here, and show at the same time that there's local talent."

Davies, who works in information technology at WNEP, started blogging about 10 years ago.

"I ran into a couple of other people's blogs, and I thought to myself, 'I could do this,'" she said.

She eventually became co-manager of the aggregate website NEPAblogs.com. The site brings together bloggers of all backgrounds and skill levels, who might only be familiar with each other online, to network and share their ideas. Her goal for the convention is similar to that of the website.

"This will bring them all under one roof," she said.

Attendees will have access to computer labs at LCCC to try out the things they are learning and ask for help from the experts during the convention.

Organizers plan to repeat the event next year, after compiling feedback from attendees of the first conference. They're excited for the results.

"It should be a diverse crowd and lots of good ideas," Boyle said. "It's something new that will bring a new perspective."

Writing women

Visit nepablogcon.com or browse the founders individually:

Karla Porter: karlaporter.com, personal.karlaporter.com, @karla_porter

Leslie Stewart: darlingstewie.com, pepperjam.com/author/lstewart, @darlingstewie

Mandy Boyle: mandyboyle.com, newfrugality.com, @mandyboyle, @pechakuchascran

Michelle Davies: blog.mhryvnak.net, nepablogs.org, @mhryvnak, @nepablogs



Source: (c)2012 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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