We had such a great time at Press Publish Portland last Saturday, and it’s been amazing to read the recaps posted by our attendees. We’ve collected all we could find via Twitter and pingbacks so you can check out what Press Publish attendees (both in-person and via live stream) have to say about their experience at the event:
Oh, Portland. Do we have some great stuff in store for you this weekend! “Yeah Andrea,” you say, “we already know all about the great speakers and sessions on the schedule. What more could we possibly need?”
Why the Happiness Lounge, of course! 🙂 At Press Publish Portland on March 28, one great big room will be staffed all day by real, live Happiness Engineers, ready and waiting to help you, personally, get the most out of your WordPress site. Bring in your questions, doubts, and idle musings about using WordPress, and get advice from people who help people with WordPress as their full-time job.
Got a problem with your sidebar, footer, or donate button? Trying to figure out how to get your blog to do that thing other people’s blogs do? Need advice on Jetpack, Polldaddy, VaultPress, themes, or plugins? They can help you with all that and more!
Need a new t-shirt, water bottle, battery pack, coffee mug, or sweatshirt to help you show off how much you love WordPress? We’ll have a swag store, too, where you can buy WordPress apparel for kids and adults. Need a new Gravatar? We’ll have people with some great cameras on hand to shoot a spiffy new picture of you!
And if all you crave is a little quiet time to relax, charge up your phone, and maybe have a cup of coffee with your fellow bloggers, the Happiness Lounge will have a charging station and plenty of space to gather, chat, and rest.
We can’t wait to see all you Press Publish Portland attendees this Friday and Saturday!
At Press Publish in Portland next weekend, we’ll be ending the day with two panels — one about book publishing for bloggers, and one about going pro with your site. Our Going Propanel will be made up of Erick Prince-Heaggans, Ariel Meadow Stallings, Kathy Cano-Murillo, and Kelly Bejelly.
These bloggers have all made the transition from personal bloggers to professionals whose websites are their business. Between them, they’ve done all the things tied to monetizing a blog: selling advertising, doing sponsored posts, getting paid to write for bigger outlets, running a store on the site,
working with brands for promotion, creating product lines, and even running a multi-city expo. This brain trust knows what it takes to be successful and wants to help you get there. In a few years, maybe it will be you speaking on this panel!
As you think about wanting to make a living with your site and related opportunities, what questions do you have? We’ll try to answer as many questions as possible during the session, so tell us what you want to know! Questions can specific or broad, whatever you think would be helpful in your journey to success.
This last featured blogger announcement for the Portland is pretty special to me, and really brings home how small the world can be when you’re a blogger and able to make connections through your website. I am beyond pleased to announce that this speaker is Ariel Meadow Stallings, the founder of the Offbeat Empire lifestyle sites.
I met Ariel back around 2001 when I moved to Seattle. We’d “met” through our blogs, and then met in person at a bloggers meetup. Back then, there weren’t very many people calling themselves bloggers, and it was easy to know the few dozen people doing so in your city. We became friends, and I have fond memories of hula hooping on the roof of her apartment building at sunset. She was a raver with multi-colored hair, editing a couple of zines and sites and writing reviews for Amazon.com to supplement her income. If you had asked either of us then what she would ‘grow up’ to be, it wouldn’t have been the head of a wedding industry business.
In the years that followed, she grew it into a business, added more sites to complement other areas of the Offbeat lifestyle, and developed it all into today’s Offbeat Empire. Now running a successful web content business with a small, dedicated staff, Ariel is also a mom (hello, Offbeat Families) and recently renovated her Seattle home (and hello Offbeat Home & Life). In short, my old raver friend has totally grown up into an amazing role model for anyone hoping to build a business starting with their blog.
Her session in Portland will be an interview/conversation rather than a presentation, and will really give you a chance to get to know her and how she accomplished what she has. If you would like to suggest questions for the interview, please leave them in the comments — note that we won’t answer them here, we’ll save it for the interview at the Portland event. In the meantime, here’s a little Q&A to get you started.
Q. What made you start blogging?
A. I was editing a rave magazine in 2000, and got an inquiry from a freelancer who linked his blog as his writing sample. I was immediately struck by the immediacy of self-publishing… I was sick of being beholden to the magazine model of printers and distribution, of having to wait months to hear feedback about the work I was producing. Thanks to the joy of ye olde Blogger.com, I was able to have my own blog within an hour of being introduced the the concept.
Q. You started as a personal blogger and now have your own Empire running on WordPress. What made you shift from a personal site to professional ones?
A. I came of age with the early wave of personal bloggers, and was totally focused on first-person writing. After a couple years, I started exploring more topical publications, first with Hooping.org in 2002 (dedicated to hula hooping) and then with offbeatbride.com in 2007. I shifted to WordPress when I launched offbeatbride.com, which was originally just to promote my wedding memoir that I was oh-so-excited about. Within a few months, it became clear that no one cared about my stupid memoir, but everyone loved the website.
Part of this shift to more topical writing was getting sick of talking about myself, but part of it was also in response to some pretty intense trolling that I dealt with for several years. While my desire to be a publisher never slowed, my patience with personal attacks got pretty thin. I made my personal blog members-only in 2009.
Offbeat Bride eventually grew to be a whole network of lifestyle sites (including offbeatfamilies.com and offbeathome.com), and while the writing is remains personal and first person, it’s most definitely NOT my personal story. I still write on my personal blog a couple times a week… while the readership is about 100 people vs 1 million people on my work blogs, it’s the best 100 people ever.
I wish more of my old-school blogging colleagues had members-only blogs. Personal blogging is still awesome.
Q. What kept you (and still keeps you) posting regularly?
A. First answer: Revenue. HA! Just kidding. (Sort of?)
Second answer: Chartbeat! I’m addicted to watching real-time reader counts after publishing something.
Third answer: New toys. I cannot lie! Nothing like a fresh WordPress update with new functions to fiddle with to keep me excited. I did a HUGE redesign of all my site templates last year, and the new format made writing on the same old site feel new.
Q. What’s your most popular post?
A.I got left at the altar: turning heartbreak into artwork
This post was carefully engineered to hit a sweet spot… Just negative enough to get the drama-hounds on Facebook sniffing the air and baying into the wind… but not so negative that it’s out of line with our mission — which is all about empowerment.
Ultimately, the story garnered huge mainstream media attention — the bride ended up on the Today Show — and even made waves internationally.
A. Over the years, I’ve got some truly amazing feedback about how my publications have made real, tangible differences in readers’ lives. Offbeat Bride isn’t curing cancer, but the site’s commitment to inclusivity and tolerance is downright revolutionary in the wedding industry, and knowing that we’ve changed people’s minds about trans* issues, or marriage equality, or how they communicate with the people around them… it’s hugely motivating.
I also love that as a publisher, I’ve been able to get my contributors noticed on a national level… in some ways, I consider myself as much a publicist as a publisher, and nothing makes me happier than when one of our stories blows up in the mainstream media. I love being the person who delivers offbeat culture to the mainstream’s consciousness.
Q. What are you hoping to share with the Press Publish audience?
A. A sense of wonder at the unexpected paths your career can take. I thought that getting a book deal was going to be my ticket out of web writing… and instead the blog supporting the book grew into a publishing company that now supports a staff of six. I found the wedding industry exhausting and stupid, and yet now here I am, not only a part of it, but actively working to improve it. Life is weird. Make plans, but enjoy the ride!
Q. Is there anything you’re hoping to learn at Press Publish?
A. I’m mostly stoked to talk to other people who spend as many hours a day living inside WordPress as I do!
There were already a lot of great sessions and classes on the Portland schedule, but we’ve gone ahead and added some more! Those last TBDs are filled in, and we’re pretty psyched about how it’s all come together. Some of the new sessions:
An interview and Q&A with Ariel Stallings of Offbeat Empire on how she went from personal blogger to running a network of successful lifestyle sites.
$$$: Ads, Affiliates, and Stores. Because everyone wants to know their monetizing options, right?
Blogging 101 — Planning Ahead. A hands-on workshop to teach you how to set up an editorial calendar, schedule posts for publication, and keep a drafts folder for quick and easy posting when the well runs dry.