By Marc W. Polite
Last week, the annual Blogger Week UnConference was held at Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C. Founded by Jessica Ann Mitchell-Aiwuyor, Blogger Week 2019 was its fifth year. Held on Saturday, October 12th, it was a day of meeting many new bloggers, and learning in the various break out sessions that were available. Among the sponsors of this years event were Upscale Magazine, and Bronner Bros, the hair and skin care company based in Atlanta.
In the opening plenary, we heard from Lynn Cooper, who is also known as the Digital Instigator. Cooper, who has been published in places such as Black Enterprise, spoke about best practices for those who want to achieve in this field. She mentioned the importance of setting goals, and that you cannot circumvent the process in getting to where you want.
The next presenter was author and blogger Ni’cola Mitchell, who spoke on the necessity of discovering what social media spaces work best for you. Also, Ni’cola highlighted the importance of engagement and letting people know that you are listening.
After these two addresses, the event moved into the breakout sessions. I can only address the sessions that I attended.
The first of which was the “Monetizing a High Quality WordPress Site For Beginners” by Lindsay Joseph. This session got into the details of search engine optimization, sponsored posts, and affiliate programs.
After this, there was a complimentary lunch, and we were addressed by Bernard Bronner of Bronner Bros. Mr. Bronner, who is the second generation of this family owned Black business, gave down to earth, applicable advice to attendees. He advised potential entrepreneurs to start small, and make your endeavor a success on a small level first.
Social media has an emerging role called an influencer, and Ebony Evaughn in her session “Finding Your Influence” broke down exactly what that meant and how to do it effectively. In a hilarious and spirited session, M’Shai Dash showed us how to make memes Vemes (video memes) and one minute shorts.
In the last breakout session of the day I attended, the issue of social media and mental health was highlighted. “Break the Internet, Don’t Let the Internet Break You” by Michelby Whitehead was a presentation about the necessity of dealing with the stress that comes with being a creative. The pressure to “be first” and keep current on social media can build anxiety in bloggers and other content creators, and Michelby shared tips that help with decompressing that pressure. She emphasized the necessity of taking mental breaks, and being careful of self sabotage. Michelby has a forthcoming book, Write On Time, coming out on December 13th. Considering the recent experiences of this author, this session resonated with me greatly.
The entire event was book ended with a presentation from Roland Martin where he spoke about journalistic integrity and the downsides of hot take culture. Here, recalling his experience as a journalist, cautioned attendees on jumping on stories too quickly before they were fully vetted. Solid advice in an era where everyone is trying to be “first” to break the news.
Overall, Blogger Week 2019 was a great event. Even though I have been blogging for years, I am still learning more about social media and this field. This conference is ideal for people who are interested in blogging whether you started yesterday, or have been doing it for a few years.