I’ve been shortlisted at the Canadian Weblog Awards!

2011 Canadian Weblog AwardsIt’s a good thing I did some sprucing up around here last week.

I found out this morning that I made the shortlist for the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Canadian Weblog Awards! Lifetime Achievement means “for weblogs created before January 1, 2005”. (Clearly the weblog is still a relatively new medium for communication.) I submitted hellomelissa.net on a lark just before the nomination period closed. I wasn’t sure if submitting myself for nomination was proper etiquette. I figured the worst that could happen was a polite note from Schmutzie telling me that sites need to be nominated by other people and I should try again next year. No harm no foul.

I also wasn’t sure if hellomelissa.net was good enough for submission. I also submitted to Best-Written and Best Life Weblog. I knew that all of these categories would be full of lots of writers I read and admire. And they totally are.

See what happens when you take a little risk and put yourself out there? Remind me to do that more often.

Best of luck to everyone who has been shortlisted with me in the Lifetime Achievement category: Cheaty Monkey, Coin-Operated Boy, Urban Daddy and Weighty Matters. There are some great sites – and people – here. Good luck to all the other nominees too.

Make sure to check out the first-round nomination list too – there are so many great blogs to discover here.

Thanks again to Schmutzie and to everyone that has volunteered to jury these awards. That’s a huge pile of work.

My #BlissdomCanada recap: better late than never

So my Blissdom recap is happening more a full week after I came home from the last party. You know, the one where that guy from the late-80s boyband showed up.

No matter, I’m choosing to believe that I’ve taken time to consider my thoughts and formulate my opinions. It was not that my laptop was busted or that I have a life outside of the Internet – I mean really, who has *that* these days?

So I went to Blissdom Canada. I had a good time. It felt different from last year. I’ve been reading everyone else’s blogs all week and I’m not the only one who feels that way. I’m just glad I’m not crazy! The conference, and expo hall, were much larger. The round tables at the front of the session rooms filled up quickly so I usually ended up in the rows of seats at the back of the room. That took away from the community vibe a bit, but doing the whole room with tables would have fit fewer people in so I get why it was done that way.

A lot of people talked about feeling alone or disconnected from other people at the conference. I felt that way too sometimes, but honestly, I expected that. I go to these conferences alone. I’ve connected with lots of the attendees online and met several of them last year. Even with that ‘in’, I don’t like to interrupt other people’s conversations. I often spend a lot of time listening or observing in group situations. By the time I’m ready to comment on something, the moment has passed. I did my best to come out of my shell, but I know I didn’t interact nearly as much as I observed and listened. I did have a great dinner Friday night with Mel and Sherrie Mae, which made up for a lot of the shyness I was feeling earlier in the day.

Many (but not all) of the sessions talked about monetizing your blog, building your personal/professional brand, and working with corporate brands. I left the conference with my intent not to do any of those things intact. I’ve been comforted to learn this week that I am not the only person that feels that way.

When I introduced myself to people, my answer to their first question “how long have you been blogging?” was usually “I’ve been writing online for 11 years, but I’m not very good at it, because my stats aren’t great and my readership is small.” I inwardly cringed every time I said this, but I couldn’t stop myself. I was trying to build myself up by mentioning my longevity in the genre (even though longevity doesn’t really matter). Then I instantly knocked myself back down by saying that even though I have lots of experience, I’m still not “good at it”.

Way to go, self.

I don’t have as many readers and feedback as someone who hustles like crazy to promote themselves and their blog. While I have been blogging a long time, I haven’t always done it consistently. I also haven’t participated in the community aspect of blogging as much as I would like. I read, but rarely comment. (Hey, I remember when blogs didn’t even have comments!) So really, what am I doing to earn readers and feedback?

I want my voice, my writing, to matter. I realize this makes me sound incredibly narcissistic. I write about my life on the internet as a hobby – of course I’m (at least a little) narcissistic.

So ultimately, my takeaways are as follows:

  • In order to publish more, I need to write more. I need to find the time to do this.
  • I need to earn the feedback I want. Good writing is only the start.
  • I need to get a better handle on tasteful promotion, so I can get what I want without feeling gross or dirty about it.
  • I need to stop diminishing myself and develop confidence in my writing and my voice.

Now to actually get started on these things. Advice is welcome.

Hello Fellow Blissdom Canada Attendees!

Like many other web-savvy Canadian women, I will be attending Blissdom Canada this weekend. This conference is in its second year, and after the great time I had last year, I was thrilled to be able to attend again. The #blissdomcanada hashtag has been going nuts for weeks. Lots of folks returning, and lots of new people coming. We’re all so excited to meet and learn from each other. Never mind all the talking that can be done outside of 140 characters!

I plan to meet and talk with as many people as I can. Like lots of people who spend a significant amount of time online, I can be shy, but once I get talking, I may not stop! (I’ll try to rein that in, so you can talk too!)

If we’ve never met before (online or off), here’s an introduction of sorts:

  • hellomelissa.net is my personal blog. I’ve been blogging since 2000 and have done so under several domains and platforms (my About page tells this story in more detail). I write about my life and issues that are important to me. I don’t write as much as I’d like, and I’m hoping that this conference gives me some much-needed inspiration.
  • My twitter account is @mpricemitchell.
  • You can follow/friend me at various sites by either checking out the “follow me” widget in my sidebar, or by visiting my about.me page.
  • I have a fulltime job outside of the social media sphere, so I’m not in the know about every little thing going on out there. That bums me out sometimes.
  • I live in Toronto with my husband, daughter, cat and dog. I’m originally from a small town so I’m not completely city-fied yet.

That’s enough about me. I can’t wait to learn more about you! Hope to see you there and have a chat. If you see me at a table by myself, come join me! I’m not saving seats – I’m passively networking, hoping you’ll come sit with me!

Obligatory Anniversary Post

April 1 2011 is the 11th anniversary of my first public blog post. I’m not linking it, but you’re welcome to dig through my archives and find it.

I posted much more frequently back then, but many of those posts were only a couple of sentences long. Some were only tweet-length. Many things probably shouldn’t have been posted, but the site certainly makes for an interesting time capsule of my 20s, and now my 30s. (I was 21 when I started blogging. I turn 33 in August, if you were wondering.)

My blog has seen me through a lot of major milestones:

  • My first major job (I’d been working there for nearly a year by the time I’d started but I was still pretty green, especially when you see some of the things I was willing to say. Nothing truly trashy, but I was sure open to admitting that I was writing instead of working. I was meeting my deadlines and targets, but I still want to pat my 21-22 year-old self on the head and say “shut up Melissa!”
  • My move into Toronto (I really don’t miss that Oshawa > Toronto work commute)
  • Getting engaged, buying a house and getting married within 13 months.
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood
  • And all the little milestones in-between that don’t make all the sappy banking or life insurance commercials but are still important

Just for kicks, here are some links to how my site has looked over the years using the Wayback Machine (which is pretty neat in itself). Dates indicate when the site was crawled.

I learned a lot about web design during the early days of my site. I used to hand code the layout and Blogger took care of the rest. Then I started using Blogger’s built-in themes with some customization. When I moved to Vox.com, I relied on pre-built themes which were super-easy to change. I do that now with WordPress as well. I love that I can concentrate less on the structure and more on the content.

I enjoy blogging because I like having a place I can write and say what I want. This place can be a journal, a soapbox, a place for general information, or whatever I want. I have complete creative control. And that feeling is awesome. Reading, and eventually meeting great people due to blogging is such an amazing bonus. I blog for me first, but I’ve learned from so many people over the years and I am grateful for each and every one of you.

If you’re a blogger, did you expect to get hooked? What sucked you in?

Driven to Distraction

Flora and I had the following conversation this morning while she ate her breakfast:

<Sean’s Blackberry vibrates on the table>

Flora: “That’s Daddy’s Blueberry.” (We’ve told her it’s a Blackberry, but we giggle every time she says Blueberry so it’s starting to stick.)

Me: “I know. It’s noisy isn’t it?”

Flora: “I don’t like it.”

Me: “I don’t either. I don’t think Daddy likes it sometimes, but it helps him get his work done.”

Flora: “Where’s my Blueberry?”

Me: “You don’t have one. You don’t need it. What do you use to get your work done?”

Flora: “Umm…my toys.”

Me: “That’s exactly what you need to get your work done.”

At that moment, I think Flora didn’t like the Blackberry because of the noise. But later that morning, when Sean was scanning his messages before we left for work and daycare, Flora was trying to get his attention and he took a beat too long to answer her. To be clear, he did answer her properly and not in a distracted way, but he finished what he was doing first before he responded. She didn’t protest the Blackberry or its usage then, but watching that exchange and our earlier conversation got me thinking.

I don’t think Sean did anything wrong. In fact I think he taught Flora something. He taught her that people like to finish one task before they move to another. Then, once he was finished, he could concentrate on her question fully, rather than give her a quick answer that would allow him to return to his original task, distracted by the interruption. As we all know, neither task is usually done well when that happens. At two and a half, Flora may be a little young to understand that concept, but it’s never too early to start teaching her good manners.

I believe that although we use technology around our daughter, I don’t think Sean and I are any more distracted as parents than anyone else. Housework, cooking, reading or any other task/event that forces me not to concentrate on my child with laser-like focus is just as distracting as checking email on a Blackberry or reading tweets on an iPhone (or anything else you can do on a typical smartphone). As long as we can extract ourselves from any of those tasks when life calls for it (whether is to answer someone’s question, or to stop someone from colouring on the walls), I think we’ll all be just fine.

I also think this is where the Golden Rule comes into play. As a family, we all need to treat each other as we would like to be treated. Even our littlest ones that aren’t always at their most civilized. If Sean and I expect Flora to listen to us, she has every right to expect that out of us as well. If sometimes, one of us needs a moment to finish a thought, stir the sauce, hug the dolly or hit send on an email, that’s okay with me, as long as we can then focus on the interaction at hand.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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