Last weekend I attended Mumsnet’s Blogfest 2016. It was my first blogging conference, and I was a massive noob as I’ve only been blogging for about 4 months. I attended thinking I was going to learn how to grow and promote my blog. But I left with something much more important – a renewed sense of purpose.
Before I began blogging, I didn’t really know what it was all about. I thought people just wrote diaries about their daily lives and didn’t mind if strangers read them. I started my blog to offer advice about how to plan successful days out and holidays with young children in tow. I was going to keep it impersonal and apolitical, but my plans changed very early on.
I soon learned about the amazing community of parenting bloggers. These were intelligent, talented people who were writing about things for which they cared deeply. Parenting is not a walk in the park, and they were honestly sharing their achievements and failures in a way that could make others feel not so alone.
They were writing about important issues such as coping with miscarriages. They were removing the stigma from PND and other mental health issues by sharing their stories and coping strategies. They were standing up for others – both those like themselves and those who were different. They were campaigning for equal rights for all.
The other bloggers changed my goals for my blog and I started writing about issues I cared about too.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that Blogfest was not just about beautiful photography and great SEO. It was about how blogging can make a difference.
We are living in a time when politics are making people feel uncertain about the future of the world. One of the drawbacks of social media is that it can filter out alternative voices, making it easier for people to only see what they want to. We’re living in a world where the truth belongs to whoever is powerful enough to propagate their version of it.
In such a world, bloggers have a surprising amount of power and responsibility. We are in a privileged position because we have the resources to publish our views and the skills to communicate them effectively.
That gives us the opportunity to campaign for what is right. We can speak up when others might fall silent. We can speak truth to power.
Blogfest was about so much more than monetizing your blog or increasing your pageviews. It was about a beautiful community of women and men who, unusually compared to so many other professions, support each other more often than they compete with each other. Who defend each other’s right to speak even when they disagree.
So as I look forward to continuing my blog, I will try not to obsess over stats or which brands I’m working with. I will focus on whether the things I’m saying will make a difference. I’ll add my voice to the many who are challenging dominant narratives. I will not be silent when I see injustice. And if that helps just one person feel less alone, or makes just one person reevaluate their thinking, then that makes it all worthwhile.
I’m going to leave you with this YouTube video that they played during the campaigning session at Blogfest. It was a speech from Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, about how one voice can effect change. The speech may be 8 years old, but I’m more fired up and ready to go than ever.