How Chris Brogan Saved My {Blogging} Life

Confession: I had a blogging identity crisis. Right in the middle of Walt Disney World.

Readers of ZannaLand may have noticed the not-so-subtle shift from Disney posts to more me/personal/generic posts. This happened both because I combined the MainStreet.Zannaland.com posts here and I really wanted to venture out into the world of Mom Blogs and hopefully get more involved with other bloggers, product reviews and blogging opportunities. I thought – “I can be a REAL blogging mom!” There was only one problem…I had no idea what to blog about.

I’m just not a gifted blogger like some of my friends. I can’t keep things short and sweet and interesting and share-worthy about me. Even as I wrote out my first “all about me” post I looked at it and thought, “Really?! Who is going to want to read this?” {ok, my mom wanted to} And lets be honest, being a successful blogger is often times about the numbers and no one is out there googling “What kind of childhood did Suzannah DiMarzio have?” The result was it was stressing me out. Big time.

I was emailing my blogging friends, desperately asking for help and advice…all the while writing up my life story while I waited for the “oh, here’s how you do it” replies. I’d hit send on my email and be embarrassed for myself, asking such stupid questions when I pretty much knew the answers. I just didn’t know how to come up with the content to keep people interested. I lay awake at night worrying about what the %#&! I was going to write about the next day. Blogging started to feel like a job. I knew something was wrong and it shouldn’t feel like that. I’m sure many people treat blogging like a job, and probably have the income to prove it, but that is not what I set out to do. I wanted to connect with others and share my experiences in hopes of helping others in some way – and make friends along the way. The crazy part was, I’d already done that. It was those connections that cheered me on when I was applying to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. It was those connections that helped get my blog noticed and out there to begin with. In my eagerness to get to the next big thing, I forgot the big thing I already had.

Before I left for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I actually wanted to give up blogging. The stress was getting to me and I was doing it wrong. I figured I’d give myself till after the conference to decide, and hopefully learn something there that would help set me straight.

And I did. It just wasn’t the answer I thought I was looking for.

I will do recaps of the entire conference experience and the people I met, but this post had to come first. One of the speakers I was most looking forward to hearing was Chris Brogan. I had watched his keynote speech at IZEAFest and of course instantly liked him because he was from Boston. However, I worried that his speech really wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I wasn’t a business, I wasn’t even a successful mom blogger – how could his advice on social media business relationships help ME?

My biggest fear as a blogger was selling out. I didn’t want to become one of those blogs with 200 blinking ads on either side, only talking about the great product I just tried and leaving all my personality and stories on the other side of the screen. When I got up the courage to just introduce myself to Chris at breakfast on Thursday (yes, I said courage, for a shy fat girl with social anxiety, it was a big deal) he asked me, “What do you hope to get out of the speech tomorrow?” We were interrupted by a cast member that needed to whisk Chris away for an interview, but it gave me time to come up with an answer. I later tweeted him that I wanted to know how a new-ish blogger could successfully use social media without “selling out”. I figured he had over 100 other people telling him what they wanted to get out of his presentation as well, and just thought I’d sit back and enjoy his speech.

In absence of a white board, Cinderella Castle works for Chris Brogan

Chris is a smart, witty, engaging speaker. His subtle jokes are the same ones that run through my mind half the day and go over most people’s heads. He opens with the Zulu greeting “Sawubona” which means “I see you.” And he does. There was no person too ‘small’ that Chris didn’t see and connect with. He made sure of it. I will never forget his magic triangle describing Community, Content, and Spnsors, invisibly drawn on the Cinderella Castle backdrop behind him on the stage.

Then he spoke the simple words – “Never alienate your community.” I felt as if that phrase was branded onto my brain. Or rather, as if those words had finally opened my eyes. I had alienated my community, or was at the very least on the path to do so. I had created such a wonderful community of Disney fans and then said, “oh, well, now that you’re here lets talk about my laundry.” Clearly, I had made the wrong choice.

I mulled over that phrase again and again for the remainder of my time at the conference. I tweeted my friend that I was having a blogging identity crisis. I met amazing, wonderful mom bloggers that CAN tell people about their laundry or any other number of topics and get people to listen – and care. I simply am not one of those people. Maybe, in time {and with more time personally}, I could be but right now, it’s just not where I am in the blogging world. Kind of like a rock guitarist that gets a job with an orchestra. You know how to play the music, you know the notes, yet you are never really playing the right song.

Once I had that revelation and made the decision that followed, I was again excited about blogging. I was filled with ideas and new goals to reach. The stress was gone. Even though Chris Brogan stopped short of reenacting James Brown’s scene from The Blues Brothers, shouting “Do you see the light!?” and I stopped short of doing back flips in Grand Republic Ballroom A, I did see the light.

Even if sticking with my niche prevents me from working with certain companies or being open to some opportunities available to a more broad-content blog, that’s okay. If I have my community and my content, the rest will come. And if I make a really cool Xbox Controller Cake and want to share it with you, I will. If my kids do something funny or I have a craft to share, I will. But I will do my best to never alienate you again. {And I’ll just save my childhood stories for my book 😉 } I am a mom blogger. I’m a mom that blogs about Disney. And that’s okay.

So thank you, Chris. Sawubona. And I’m so grateful that I did.

 


*This post is now part of the Disney Blog Carnival, where you can find a great group of Disney articles!*

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About Suzannah Otis

Boston girl living and blogging in Walt Disney World's backyard. Wife, Mom of 3, coffee addict, lover of travel and adventure.