3 "Healthy" Lessons I Learned At BlogWorld


Last weekend I travelled to Los Angeles to attend the BlogWorld 2011 conference.  It's kind of a Mecca-like gathering of bloggers and social media geeks.  I went for two reasons.  First, I wanted to learn how to blog better.  I figured there were some things I could learn from veterans about what I'm doing right or wrong.  Second, I wanted to meet fellow patient bloggers.  These are the folks that blog about chronic illness and share with the world their trials and triumphs.  Many of them inspire me everyday.

I didn't come away with a lot of new practical or "how to" knowledge.  Maybe it was just the sessions I attended, or maybe it was because I had recently stopped taking my Crohn's medication for some upcoming GI tests and could feel a flare on the horizon and was just a little foggy.

The lessons I came away with were more ethereal, more common sense, but important.  Here are my top three:

Lesson #1:  Just be yourself.
Some, but not all, bloggers and social media "experts" have carefully crafted online personas.  In fact there was one controversial session about how to literally deceive your blog readers into believing you are someone other than who you are!  Their reasoning I guess is no one really wants to read about your boring life or what you have to say.  I've been around long enough to be comfortable in my own skin and I don't try to be anything other than what I am.  It's what I've done for 16 years and nothing is going to change that.  Be true to yourself.

Me and my honey in the Google Blogger photobooth.
Lesson #2:  Relationships matter.
It's important to make relationships with people both online and in person that you can both relate to and who will inspire you.   I had a chance to meet two such people at the social health sessions - Jenni Prokopy (ChronicBabe.com) and Kerri Sparling (Six Until Me).  They were totally cool and made me feel so welcome.  Their blogs inspire me everyday.  I also got to meet Sean Ahreans, founder of Crohnology.com, an incredibly brave and determined young man trying to make a difference in the lives of others dealing with Crohn's Disease, a chronic illness he was diagnosed with at age 12.

Power Patients:  (left to right)  Me, Kerri Sparling, Jenni  Prokopy, and Sean Ahrens at the social health track.
(Thanks for the pic Kerri!)
Lesson #3:  Do good.  
For some folks blogging and social media is kind of like a modern day gold rush.  But like that awesome Cyndi Lauper 80's song, "Money Changes Everything", often in a bad way.  If money is your only motivation, you won't find happiness. I believe if you aren't doing good, then you must be doing something wrong.  I met a lot of people at BlogWorld, especially in the health area, that are doing good.  Patients, nurses, and docs alike trying to make a world a better place through blogging and social media for people like you and me with chronic illness.

So I guess the lessons I learned at BlogWorld were lessons I've always known.

But it was nice to be reminded.