Being the guy who told his team mates and manager that we had to get into blogging 4 years ago, I guess you can say that I am a "bleek". You can see my twitter links, facebook and LinkedIN information as well. I'm a big fan of social media in an online world - its a natural extension of what I do (and love to do) - connecting with IT Professionals across Canada - regardless of their technology passions.
I am glad to see that Graham decided to extend his boundaries to look into what's taking place in the Bleekosphere. I am constantly searching out different ways to connect and share stories with people. I took in a PodCasting conference (Podcasters Across Boarders 2008) over the summer and regularly participate in meetUps and *camps. Heck, one of the organizers of PAB recently had a very poignant post about the importance of getting involved in some capacity with social media and moving beyond your local stomping ground in order to encourage growth.
Get connected! Start Communicating! Start Sharing!
Graham Jones (Surrey, BC)
Recently I got an email from my neighbour/friend (Mike Nielsen) inviting me to an evening event on blogging using WordPress (partially sponsored by them). It turns out that Mike’s employer Express Computers was also one of the sponsors. I thought that it might be interesting so I went along. Mike was our chauffer and our first port of call was to pick up another of Mike’s friends and a couple of teenagers. As we travelled to the event I was conscious of the fact that Mike’s friend and the two teenagers were having a conversation about blogging in the back seat. I was equally conscious of the fact that they were using a “language” that I barely understood; clearly the lingua franca of the “Bleek”. This made me wonder what was in store at the event. As it turned out we were to be “treated” to a series of talks about using WordPress and the benefits of blogging. I was expecting the audience (~100) to consist entirely of “bleeks” but it turned out that there were people everywhere from extreme “bleeks”, who clearly don’t have a life, to people who were there to find out “what is this blogging thing about?”.
The talks that stuck in my mind were as follows:
1. The business benefits of blogging. This was given by the owner of an ISP called BlueFur (no clue about the name) who claimed that it had made a huge difference to his business. He said that he spends about 2 hours per day blogging which has led to a “connect” with his customers that he never had before and a steady stream of new business. It had also led him to provide managed blog hosting, ie. host the blog plus provide expert help on such things as “theme” customization, etc.. BlueFur was also an event sponsor. They provided the draw prize which as an eeeASUS notebook, which as per normal I didn’t win!
2. A talk on WordPress blog site customization using PHP. The point of the talk was to illustrate the benefit of making yourself looking a little less “me too” (ie. not using out of the box themes) and that you don’t need to be a PHP/CSS expert to make simple but effective changes. The talk was given by Miss604 who is quite well known locally. I chatted with her at the “comfort break” and she told me that she had very recently made blogging her full time employment. I suggested that was a very “brave” move on her part!
3. Having just mentioned making a living from blogging the most interesting talk of the evening was by John Chow. John runs a blog/website which helps people learn how to make money out of blogging and, of course, in turn makes money for him. Around October 2006 he said to his friends that he thought that he could find ways to make money out of blogging which resulted in a large amount of skepticism, and a challenge to prove it. In his first month he made ~$300 (typical Google ads stuff). Last month he reached $40K (yes, that is $40,000) for the first time. He well surpassed the value of simple Google ads a long time ago. Some of the schemes that he has devised are very ingenious; some might say slightly unethical. He even admitted that he is definitely not on the Google Xmas Card list!!
All in all it was quite an interesting evening. What did I learn? First and foremost I am definitely not smart or energetic enough to make money out of blogging J. I am very happy to have the privilege of blogging here as a guest as and when the spirit moves me to discuss something that interests me and hopefully is of value to others. I still don’t have a clue what the “bleeks” are talking about most of the time and probably never will. I am equally sure that life will go on without that knowledge. Like most things that achieve a large measure of popularity a sub-culture with its own social structure and language has developed around blogging. When you see people in the room from ages 10 to 70 you know that there must be an appeal somewhere. What is hard to picture, such as with online social networking, is how it will evolve. Sites like Twitter are something of a combination of the two.