Tag Archives: writing

December NaBloPoMo: Workin’ it

1 Dec

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) started off as a response to National Novel Writing Month.  BlogHer somehow positioned itself as the “official” NaBloPoMo site, and while November remains the official month, they have stretched the event over the whole year with different themes and prompts.

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December’s theme is Work (click for the prompts).  Although work is a massive part of my in-real-life life, it takes up a disproportionally small amount of space on this blog.  I love the prompts that BlogHer has posted, and am challenging myself to complete the month with their posts.  There aren’t prompts assigned for the weekends, so I’ll come up with my own topics on the theme.  I will also continue to add in some non-work posts from time to time.  Despite the theme, writing about work of course will not involve me writing about office gossip or clients/engagements.  Rather, the theme focuses on more general issues of work, motivation and discipline.

Since today is a weekend and therefore a pick my own prompt day, I’m going to kick this off with some warm fuzzies about good things that happened at work this week:

-My research and briefing resulted in a positive result for an important client.  The main partner on the matter sent a firm-wide email congratulating me on my hard work, and it totally made my day.

-I got calls on two new engagements this week.  One was specifically about a defamation case about a blogger, which is right in my niche practice area, and I’ve been working hard to develop recognition for my knowledge in this area.  Building a book of business is a slow and tricky process, and I’m ecstatic to see things start moving in that direction.

Legal Intelligencer asked me to write regular Young Lawyer columns!  You can look forward to see columns from me quarterly!

Happy December, all!

Two Little Words

28 Sep

“Good Job”

“Nice Work”

“Thanks for your hard work on that project!”

Do you have any idea how amazing these little phrases can make my day?  Praise is so powerful when it’s handed out sparingly but meaningfully.  And when I’ve worked really hard on something, there is nothing that makes me happier than hearing “Good Work!”

My practice group leader left a note for me this week telling me that an article I drafted was “First Rate Work.”  Another partner said I did a “Good Job” on a brief, and that he really liked it.  Despite my days being hectic and long, that little sparkle of encouragement reminded me why I love the work I do.  Those words brightened my mood, and my productivity even increased!

It’s just as important to give recognition as it is to receive it.  Keep your eyes peeled for hard work, and remember to recognize it with a few kind words.  You will make someone’s day!

#BlogHer12 — A Retrospective

5 Aug

This was my first year at BlogHer. I suspected it would either be phenomenal or terrible. It was neither, it was somewhere in between, closer to the “satisfying” place on the spectrum. In the opening address, BlogHer’s founders promised that we would “find our flock” and be surrounded with people who finally “get it.” My experience was slightly different, but no less enlightening.

1. I learned a ton of awesome stuff, tech wise

I blog using WordPress, and I know the basics of it, but don’t have the time to really mess around and teach myself much. I attended small, focused sessions on the WordPress platform and on WordPress plugins. Although the sessions were too short to really get into the meat of the subject, they provided exactly what I needed to point me in the right direction to get this blog more in order, tech wise.

I also attended an awesome iPhoneography (iPhone photography) panel, where I learned all about quick and easy apps for photo editing. Since getting my iPhone, I’ve ditched my 5-year-old digital camera, and with all the amazing apps and technology available, I’m convinced that was a rational choice.

I’m just not able to set aside the time I need to get my head wrapped around these things, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so. Even though I didn’t learn all the details I need, I was provided with the foundation and direction to easily find those further things myself.

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2. The blogger economy is not my economy.

I really did not appreciate the scope (and depth) of sponsorship offerings until I attended BlogHer. I met an Australian blogger who was fully sponsored for an 11 day trip to NYC (FROM AUSTRALIA) for her and her husband. There were TONS of other bloggers who came from the US and Canada on someone else’s dime. I knew bloggers are offered free products in exchange for an online review, and are also frequently paid for reviews, but the extent of this practice was lost on me until I came here and started talking to people.

Private sponsored parties were also in abundance. I met people here, started following their twitter accounts, and immediately started reading about all these fun, fantastic parties by all kinds of different sponsoring parties…none of which I was invited to. I admit, I felt left out and a little sad. I’m not a sponsored blogger. I don’t even run ads. This is by choice, it would cause too many complications with my day job. But all the “cool kids” of BlogHer have tons and tons of followers, and are sponsored to the gills. It made me feel left behind. But I’m not like them, and I’m not going to be like them.

Not surprisingly, most of these massively sponsored bloggers do not have day jobs. Blogging is their “day job.” In blogging, time is the currency. The more time you can invest into your site, into scouring the internet and commenting on other sites, and driving more traffic to your site, and optimizing your SEO, the more traffic you will naturally receive. In the economy of time, I am impoverished. Even without revenue, I love to see my site traffic go up and up and up, it’s purely an ego boost. But I have to be at peace knowing that there will be limitations on my ability to build traffic, simply because there are limitations on the amount of time I can put into this little hobby.

Yes, up against these “big time” bloggers, I felt a little inadequate. Then I realized that my feelings were RIDICULOUS. Feeling inadequate undermines all the hard work and accomplishments I have devoted to my professional life, where I’m lucky to be involved in prominent cases, and make my mark on the legal landscape on a national scale. With all the elbow grease and dedication I’ve put in my career, it is absolutely ridiculous for me to feel sheepish in comparison to moms, who have all day long to tinker with their sites and get their traffic sky-high.

3. I know my flock.

BlogHer is not all mommy bloggers….but it is a lot of mommy bloggers. I’ve spent so much time scouring the internet for the working, blogging moms. And specifically, moms that work demanding, high-hours jobs. And I have had little luck finding these people, presumably because they are WORKING instead of blogging. OK, we lawyers and doctors and phamacists and engineers are not working ALL the time, but when you work a time-intensive job, there are limits on how many hobbies you really can pursue, and while many people in this position enjoy playing sports or similar endeavors, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of them who are really into blogging.

So when the speakers announced in the BlogHer opening that I would “find” my flock this weekend, I wondered where that flock was hiding. And after mingling with and meeting bloggers over the last few days, I know exactly where my flock is– all around me at home in Pittsburgh. I am so blessed to have so many people who understand me, and where I come from, and the challenges I face. And these people are not online, they’re all around me, in real life. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends who understand the challenges of a demanding job. I’ve got my friend Christine, who is always up for a Clarks show and a beer, and my friend Sandy, with whom I can email with day-in day-out about the frustrations and triumphs of raising headstrong toddlers, and even my friend Krista, who I can call up and have a total meltdown over why does everything I write still have typos, even though I’ve proofread it 178 times?!?! I don’t need to FIND my flock, I HAVE my flock. They are all around me, and I am so lucky about that.

4. Folks need to learn some PERSPECTIVE

BlogHer isn’t just for Mommybloggers, It’s for all bloggers. But there sure are a LOT of Mommybloggers here. Mommyblogging, by the nature of the industry, is egocentric. You’re making money talking about yourself. Combine that with a massive expo with tons of freebies, and it’s like a wrathful god dumped all of the Costcos on the planet together on sample day in the Hilton NY. Mommybloggers make money (or at least get free stuff) from their writing. I get that. I get that writing is effort, and is work, and is valuable, and should be compensated. But I overheard entirely too many elevator conversations about the “absurdity” that such and such a vendor would think they’d deign to write about the product, just because they handed out a product for free, but not “working with” (i.e. paying) bloggers.

This came to a head when I was watching the #BlogHer12 hashtag feed on Twitter. During the session on how to price and value services, there were all kinds of enthusiastic tweets about how valuable writing is, and how a blogger shouldn’t sell herself short, and she should get a good contract with whatever company she’s working with, and make sure it compensates her fairly. Then came the tweet about how bloggers should get those contracts reviewed by a lawyer FOR FREE.

Wait.

What?

YOUR writing about the marvelous scrubbing powers of P&G’s latest creation is so valuable and meaningful that it’s beneath you to put hand to keyboard without a check on the way, but I spent over $150,000 on a legal education, have worked damn hard in a cutthroat industry, and have developed meaningful expertise and I should review your contract for FREE?

Sorry ladies, the world doesn’t work like that. The Mommyblog bubble lacks serious perspective about the give and take of the professional world. It’s to be expected, when the main tasks in your life are chasing after little ones, testing new crafts and recipes, and sorting out which humorous anecdotes about your humble existence wrangle the most page hits.

I recognize that this last bullet point probably just made everyone I met at BlogHer hate me now, but whatever. I do have some comfort in the fact that my pals in out in the real world do have some perspective, and don’t make my hair light aflame with anger quite so often. Phew.

So where does this leave me with BlogHer? I am glad I went. Would I go again? Maybe. This year, BlogHer made up half of my official “vacation,” and I wouldn’t spend my vacation again on the conference. Next year is in Chicago, and I could catch a night flight there, and only miss one day of work. The conference itself is surprisingly inexpensive, so I’m certainly not ruling it out. This year it made sense for me to spend my vacation at BlogHer– Baby Beez is too young to behave on an airplane, I wanted to check the conference out. All the pieces fit together. But next year I need a vacation that involves snuggling with a (hopefully better behaved traveler) Baby Beez. So next year is a “maybe” on my attendance, but I’m certainly counting this year as a good experience, and an eye-opening one.

#BlogHer12 — in the full swing of things

3 Aug

Mr. Beez and I flew in to NYC yesterday, and started our visit with a storytelling performance by his friend (and her storytelling class) at the 3 of Cups. The $4 happy hour sangria, bacala bruschetta, and portabello pesto/asiago pizza were delicious, but I was really blown away by the storytelling. The performance included tales both comedic and somber, and all deeply personal.

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The calm of the story performance has been contrasted by the complete insanity that has been the BlogHer conference. The conference opened with inspiring words from our Commander in Chief.

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Mr. Beez and I also had a few drinks and snacks, and even tossed around a bowling ball, at the BlogHer parties last night.

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Today has been jam-packed with panels. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so I think I have a pretty good handle on how to produce content. It’s the technical and strategic side I need a lot of help with. The iPhoneography panel was the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. I got my iPhone back in January, and I haven’t used my digital camera since (mostly because it’s 5 years old, and technically inferior to the iPhone). The panel didn’t have the time to go through all the details of photo editing apps with a fine toothed comb, but I did get a good footing on where to start for some quick and dirty lessons in photo editing.

I also attended a panel on pitching to publishers, which was very interesting and informative. A lot of the bloggers here blog for money or sponsorships. I’m in a different boat, because, although our professional responsibility rules lag behind in specifically addressing the intersection of blogging and legal practice, blogging for money is an ethical can of worms I don’t care to deal with. Despite this big difference, I have met a lot of very nice people, and received a lot of business cards for blogs I look forward to reading.

Martha Stewart spoke during today’s lunchtime keynote, but I was still so overstimulated from EVERYTHING GOING ON that I don’t remember in the slightest what on earth she talked about.

There are 3 large expo halls which, likewise, are looking to set up review relationships with bloggers, or to even garner favorable publicity on their webpages. I’ve spent a little time wandering through the exhibitor halls, and taking pictures with REE DRUMMOND, the Lorax, and the Jimmy Dean sun guy (yes, the one from the commercial), and a Jamba Juice bananaman.

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My most valuable takeaway today has been that I really need to work harder on engaging with readers. Commenting and retweets are the currency of social media, and if I want others to read my thoughts, I need to work harder at reading and responding to theirs. I’ve felt a bit lost over the last few months, not entirely sure where to go to find interesting blogs in the MASSIVE space of the internet, but now with the heap of blogger cards at my side, I’ve got a good place to start.

A Giant Thank You :)

20 Jun

I just wanted to take a quick moment to say THANKS to everyone who has been reading! I’ve been posting steadily for about 10 months now.  Yesterday was my most successful blogging day, with 294 site views, and bringing me up to a total of 22,193 views on this site since it’s been live!

I recognize that there is a not insignificant chance that my total siteview number consists of 15,000 views from my mom, 5,000 views from random bots, and 2,193 views from actual readers, but whatevah! Hi Mom!

So thanks everyone (and Mom) for reading! I plan to keep on keeping on, and I hope you keep coming back for more 🙂 

Completely gratuitious LOLCAT, because it makes me LOL

My First Blogging Conference! #SoMePgh

18 May

I worked extra hard and extra fast this week to bill as much as possible, so that I could ditch the office today for Visit Pittsburgh’s Tweet, Like & Be Social conference at PNC Park.

I hoped it would be interesting and informative, but it totally surpassed my expectations!  I attended an interesting session about practical tips for being creative and social media content within limits– especially the delicate balance of writing thought-provoking pieces while simultaneously putting forward a good image for your organization.  I also attended a fantastic session led by WordWrite PR about content strategies for engaging your followers.  The day was a great networking day, and I met a ton of enthusiastic, intelligent people!

A lot of people in attendance work in marketing/PR, and although that is not my area of work, I learned a lot about how a variety of businesses use social media to attract clients, even though they are not the kind of business that you traditionally associate with social media.  For example, I attended a session where Coldwell Banker’s local social media maven discussed efforts they have made to engage followers through facebook, and how that has led to real business, even though people don’t really sign onto facebook for the purpose of buying a house.  It made me realized that I don’t have to write a sttictly-speaking “law blog” in order to develop relationships and engage with people online, with the potential of developing future business.  I have to do a better job of linking together my online content with my area of work, but I don’t have to let the subject matter of my work entirely overtake my online presence.

All conference attendees also got to participate in a really cool behind-the-scenes tour of PNC Park! We got to go to the Pirates Clubhouse and tour the locker rooms (we weren’t allowed to take pictures in there. And those baseball players have a RIDICULOUS quantity of hair care products. Why does a baseball player with a helmet on need Aussie hairspray, anyway?)

In the dugout!

I had such an amazing time today, and I’m so inspired to write, write, write! Today’s experience made me even more excited for BlogHer!

Rejected.

22 Feb

I’ve been in a bummer mood this week.  To top it off, this morning I woke up with a form e-mail from BlogHer, announcing that my panel submission was not chosen.  I e-mailed the conference coordinator because I submitted two panel proposals (and assumed that I would get two response emails, even if both were rejected), and asked her to confirm that neither one was picked.  I’m sure that’s the case, because if they DID pick one of my proposals, I at least would have gotten one e-mail saying that they liked whichever one they liked.

Now I have to decide whether I still want to attend.  I often feel like the redheaded stepchild in the blogosphere– BlogHer is bound to be overwhelmed by Mommybloggers, and I definitely do not identify with them.  True I talk about my family a lot on this blog, but a significant part of my identity is shaped by my work life and professional activities and accomplishments.  There is a “Career” section of BlogHer, but that seems to be overwhelmed by women who blog for a living, and my perception is that there are very few women represented there who are in “traditional” full time careers, like law, engineering, pharmacy, or medicine.  I wonder whether BlogHer is not the right conference for me.  I’m looking into attending Corporate Counsel’s Social Media forum, because that might be a better fit for my specific interest.  However, attending BlogHer still remains a possibility.

I  am going to continue to focus on my writing   I have been working on putting a “Law Corner” into this site to showcase my legal publications (for anyone who is interested, I recently wrote about the Business Judgment Rule and Ownership Rights to Marcellus Shale Gas).  My firm has been very supportive of both my interest in social media and my interest in writing, and has given me numerous opportunities to pursue both.  I’ll be doing a practice group presentation in a few weeks on managed care issues, and have been doing a significant amount of research and writing about managed care litigation, so I’ll likely have a few publications on those issues soon.  

I do spend all day reading and writing for clients, and then I write about these additional issues in my free time.  Between that, and two book clubs, I spend a lot of time with the written word.  I really do like these extracurricular reading and writing activities, though, so it’s really not a chore.

For today, I need to gather up my bruised pride, and get back to it.  I find that a fancy coffee is a solid cure for a sour mood, so I treated myself to a huge delicious cafe au lait for breakfast.

And here is a completely gratuitious picture of Baby Beez and I saying “CHEEZ!” last night. Just to make me feel less mopey.

Update:  BlogHer’s been posting the agenda online.  It looks like the whole focus is how to make your blog into a job/moneymaker.  That’s not my area or interest.  Oh well.

Shameless self promotion, and time for blogging

18 Dec

BlogHer featured my piece on Multitasking and Working Moms on their website this weekend! It was featured both on the main page, as well as the Careers page! They’ve featured a million different articles and a million different writers, so it isn’t a huge deal, but I did think it was exciting.

My friend Viki asked me yesterday “how do you find time for reading and blogging and working and mom-ing and everything else you do?”  I don’t have any grand plan with time management.  I make sure to get my work done, and coordinate things with Mr. Beez to coordinate spending time with the little one, networking events, and happy hours…and everything else sort of falls in between.  My time management skills are probably “satisfactory.”  I am guilty of sometimes forgetting to put things in my calendar, or double (or triple) booking myself, or flat out forgetting things…but I manage to take care of all the important stuff, and even some not as important stuff, and it all turns out ok.

As far as blogging, I fit it into my life as a hobby.  Every time I’ve heard “It’s not about having time, it’s making time,” I’ve cringed… but it has some truth to it.  In participating in NaBloPoMo, I came across a number of blog posts where people complained about blogging being hard or too time consuming.  I’m a big believer that hobbies should be fun, and although challenges are sometimes fun, a hobby shouldn’t be so challenging that it sucks the fun out of the hobby.  I gave up crocheting for this very reason– it took forever for me to crochet anything, my skills were wanting (and everything turned out crooked and uneven), and the effort and time it would take for me to get good at would have killed all the fun, so I quit it.

At a Loss for Words

To the misfortune of the internet, blogging comes easily to me.  I always have a lot of ideas whirring around in my head.  They’re not ideas in terms of a storyline– I don’t think I’d make a good fiction writer.  They’re thoughts about things I’ve read, or seen, or heard.  I listen to NPR in the morning, and try to generally keep up with news and pop culture.  I’ll come across something that catches my interest, and I’ll roll it around in my mind for a few days or weeks.  Sometimes I’ll start a post on an idea, and save just a few sentences or bullet points.  Then I usually hit a point where my thoughts on the topic all come together, and I know what I want to say.  At that point, I can usually throw together a blog post on my idea in about 15 to 20 minutes.  It’s easy for me to find those 15 to 20 minutes in my day, because even if you’re very busy, you can often find 15 or 20 minutes to squeeze in a hobby you enjoy.  I often write at night right before bed, or after dinner while Baby Beez plays.  I will often write up an entry and save it for the next day to review and post.  It is important to me that I don’t sound foolish, and a break in between writing and posting gives me an opportunity to reflect and revise.

I’ve considered trying to write a topic-specific blog.  However, that would be much more time intensive– I’d have to spend more time reading and doing things specific to that topic.  That’s more of a time commitment than I’m able or willing to invest, so that’s not going to happen.  Writing about whatever miscellaneous topic comes to mind is easier, faster, and (for me at least) more fun.

If you’re interested in blogging but don’t know what to talk about, questions are a good jumping-off point.  I look through writing prompts when I feel like writing, but don’t know what I want to talk about.  My general approach for blogging, though, is to write about whatever I’m thinking about.  I tend to think about a lot of things, which is why I tend to have a lot to say.

Using this thing for more than pictures of shoes and my kid

9 Dec

When I saw that BlogHer 2012’s Call for Ideas submissions opened up this week, I was THRILLED.

Admittedly, I have never attended a BlogHer conference, or any blogging or social media conference for that matter. In terms of conferences, though, this is probably as big (in number of attendees) as a blogging conference gets.  It has also been around long enough to have a credible reputation, and not just be a gathering of poorly socialized narcissists (although there will probably be a handful of them there, too).

I’ve been blogging in one form or another since seemingly the beginning of time, but I’m not really involved in the blogging “scene.”  I do follow legal issues surrounding blogging with great interest. BlogHer makes a point of having 80% new speakers every year, so there are plenty of opportunities for newbies to speak. I decided this would be a good opportunity for me to throw my hat in the ring.

My friend Jill and I submitted a session proposal yesterday to present a session called “How to Blog and Not Get Fired.” We would talk about the tensions that arise between employers and employees when there is blogging involved, and legal and practical guidelines for blog content and internet conduct.

I am also working on another session proposal, but I haven’t submitted that one yet…I’ll share the topic once I’ve sent in the proposal! 

I’ve vetted both of my ideas with Mr. Beez.  He would much rather give himself a root canal than listen to me talk about law, and even he thought these topics are interesting, so there is hope!

I’m excited that I’m finding opportunities to write creatively, but in a productive and professional fashion.  I have no aspirations of being a “professional blogger.”  I am just happy that I am able to pursue a hobby I like, not be too bad at it, and get a little recognition for it.  On that note, my review of “High Octane Women” was also published on the Her Circle E-zine this week, which I think is pretty neat.

BlogHer’s call for ideas is open until January 5, and we’ll find out who made it through the first round of selection in mid-February.  Wish me luck!

better blogging

25 Aug

PodCamp Pittsburgh is coming up on September 17 and 18.

 

 

 

I first heard of the event last year, shortly after it took place, so it was too late for me to attend.  The conference hits on all forms of social media, and although I’m not interested in podcasts or twitter (I really really hate twitter), I would be interested in learning how to be a better blogger and how to capture a wider audience.

Confession: I LOVE reading my site visit stats.  I felt like it was a huge accomplishment when after writing for several years at my old blog, I hit 3,000 views.  I’m starting at ground level again, and probably because of my ridiculous ego, I’d like to see my viewer stats climb.

I won’t be able to attend PodCamp Pittsburgh this year, either, because that is the weekend I’m visiting Philly with Sandy.  (If you’ve ever tried to schedule a weekend getaway between two women who work full time, have kids, and one of whom has a husband who works on Saturdays, you will understand why rescheduling the trip is NOT an option).  Luckily last year the panel discussions were posted online.  This year I’m sure they’ll do the same.  Although I’ll miss out on the networking aspect of the conference, I’ll at least be able to learn from the speakers.