Why I Unfollowed You on Twitter

First off, don’t feel bad. This doesn’t say anything about our friendship. I’ve been unfollowing a lot of people and it’s not because I don’t like you. 

Here’s what you need to understand. I like Twitter. I’ve been there for years. And it’s the social network I care about the most. For a long time I followed everyone I was friends with and everyone I thought might have something interesting to say.

As time has passed I’ve realized that a lot of you don’t like Twitter the way that I do. I want to have conversations there. I want to learn things there. I want to enjoy myself there. So I have a new rule: if you’re not making my life on Twitter better, I’m unfollowing you.

It’s not personal. Promise.

In all likelihood, I still follow you elsewhere. Probably multiple elsewheres. And you’re awesome in those other places. 

There’s no need to make excuses. I know that there are a lot of social networks and you can only invest so much time into them. If Twitter is the one where you’re automating, that’s totally fine. But it means that those of us who Twitter our asses off aren’t going to follow you. 

Reasons I might have unfollowed you:

You Auto-Tweet

By far this is the biggest one. Auto-tweeting has become the norm. But it’s really obvious you don’t pay much attention to your feed when you auto-tweet things so constantly that it gets annoying. You’re on a pinning spree and every single pin auto-tweets. You auto-tweet your posts as they go up on your blog. Even worse, you auto-tweet everything on Facebook. You’ve got automation so far stretched that I’ll often see you tweet the same thing 2 or 3 times in a row from different automated sources. You use triberr or one of those other things.

Auto-tweets aren’t a death knell, but if I see one I’ll pull up your profile. And if all you’ve been doing is auto-tweeting, I know you’re not on Twitter the way I’m on Twitter. I know we won’t have a conversation here. So that’s that.

You Self-Promote

We all do it. But if all you tweet is links to your posts, I can get that from other places. You aren’t here to hang out. So that’s that.

You Sign Up for Programs That Tweet For You

I don’t care how many people unfollowed you today. I don’t care who your most engaged followers are. This is stuff for you, not for me. And if you’re tweeting this and not hanging out, that’s that.

You Share Inspirational Quotes

Personal pet peeve. They bug me. I won’t ding you for one, but if that’s all you’ve got, I’m out.

You Tweet a Lot of Ads and Twitter Parties

I know you can get paid to tweet. I tried it. And I quickly quit. If you do this too much, you’re taking up my feed and that’s that. I’d rather hang with you in a place where I don’t see your ads.

 

The bottom line is: we all use the internet differently. And following you on Twitter isn’t an endorsement of you as worthwhile. It’s a decision I make about what I see. 

So if I unfollowed you, no hard feelings on my end. I hope there aren’t any on yours either. Feel free to say hi on Instagram, Facebook, email, or in real life. 

And if you want to join the conversation, then just @ me and start a talk and when I realize I’m not following you, I’ll rectify that. 

A Study in Contrasts

I’ve always been a bit of a study in contrasts. 

I love rules. I often break them. 

I love organization. I tend to be messy.

I crave science and data. I yearn for creative expression.

It’s just how things are. I’m pretty used to it.

Last week my post on the snow in Boston went a teeny bit viral. Viral in the sense that it spread almost exclusively on social media, mostly Facebook, and that almost everyone who read it or shared it is from Boston. (How many people that I met on OkCupid found that post and recognized me and told me so? 3. I’m assuming many more just didn’t send a message.)

The blogger rule book says I should capitalize on this, being every so briefly dubbed the Voice of Boston. But I won’t. Thanks.

Because I never want to be blog famous and that post reminded me why. I don’t want to have to moderate comments when people are fighting. I don’t like internet fighting. I spend a lot of time on the internet, but I also carefully control what I see and unfollow liberally. I can’t imagine what that would be like if they were fighting about me.

It’s funny, but I kinda hate conflict. Yes, I know, I used to be a lawyer and made my living fighting in a courtroom and I hate conflict. Like I said, contrasts.

There’s more reasons I won’t keep writing about the snow. Not because it’s any better. (We got another foot or so over the weekend.) But because I am trying really hard to hold on to any bit of grace and kindness I have left. I’m at the end of most of my ropes and it’d be great if I could hold on a little longer.

That post I wrote about banding together after divorce and treating each other with grace? I really meant it. But I’m not particularly good at it. It’s more about what I want to be and not what I actually am. 

I need to work on that. And writing about all the stuff that’s making me angry isn’t going to help.

Just a few days after I wrote that post I read a post by two divorced women and instead of feeling connected and full of grace, I felt resentful. I thought then that they really didn’t get it because they both fell into new relationships and got into them quickly and how could they understand the loneliness that I’m dealing with when they pretty much skipped that part?

It was a stupid thing to think. Luckily my own post talked me out of it. 

It’s not that I feel the need for this blog to be constantly positive. That is so not my jam. My jam is being the other side of that a lot of the time and not being afraid to talk about things that people won’t talk about. 

But this is a little different. It’s something I’m working on. Actively. And I have to nudge myself a bit. Just a bit closer towards grace.

I can’t promise there won’t be venting on social media (there will be) but I feel like I’ve said my peace and it’s time to tell a new story.

701 Words.

This post is 701 words long. It originally clocked in at 1258 words and made its points very well. I’ve trimmed it down for reasons that will become clear and many of my points are now rather crude.

Normally word counts are something I deal with only in my freelance work.  I am usually given a firm 700 word limit and it’s often impossible to write something really good in so little space.

This blog is a place where I don’t care about word count. Here I tell my story and I tell it however it works best. 

This online writing thing is a bit of a thankless job. You write in the hopes that what you write will mean something to somebody.

But if I aspire to anything it has been to one thing: to write something good enough to be a BlogHer Voice of the Year. BlogHer is a conference that happens every summer for women in blogging. It’s a huge event that can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of people and sponsors and things and events. 

I went to BlogHer in 2012 and that experience was about just one thing for me and that was Voices of the Year. 15 people stood up and read their stories and it meant more to me than I can possibly express. It inspired me to up my game as a writer. It showed me the potential in every single post. It changed everything.

Those stories were what inspired me to write my own story and audition for Listen To Your Mother. Now helping people tell an important story in front of people they’ve never met takes up half of my year. 

I’ve been honored for the last two years to have a post selected as a Voice of the Year. I wasn’t chosen as a reader, but seeing my name on that list the first time jolted me. I set out to do it and I did it. That meant a lot to me.

So why am I writing about this right now? Nominations have opened for Voices of the Year 2015. This year I’m planning to attend and that means I could finally have that dream of being a reader. But it won’t happen. 

Here’s what they want:

We’re asking you to help us find the most memorable, heart-stopping, brilliant, hilarious, impactful works of the past twelve months … works that deserve to be heard, seen and read.

But this year they’ve decided that they will limit blog posts to 700 words. (There is an exception to the rule if you have a “viral” post. But we all know most posts aren’t “viral” enough to count.)

700 words. I’m nearing that right now in my initial draft and I’ve just started to make my point. 

The posts by last year’s readers, on average, clocked in at over 1255 words. The longest was over 2,400 words. The shortest was the only one that would be eligible now, at 700 words. Go figure.

This is VOTY deciding that the writing they have previously valued is not the writing they will value this year. If you have a post you want to submit and it’s over 700 words, you must re-write it. So basically, that thing you wrote that was so powerful, make it shorter. Which, of course, makes it an entirely different post with its power stripped out in bits and pieces.

The stories that are shared on that stage are personal and real and incredibly moving. They’re also usually people you haven’t heard of, posts you didn’t read, stories that didn’t go viral. It’s a moment to remind ourselves that stories are everywhere, they’re all around you and you don’t even know it. 

This year there are a few I wrote I’d submit. But the shortest one is 1077 words. I refuse to go back to these posts and change them. They are just as I intended them to be and I’m not going to change something I love to get a prize.

I can’t say that this year’s Voices of the Year won’t be worthwhile. But I know I won’t be in it. Most of the posts other people wrote this year that I loved won’t be in it. That feels wrong. 

The Blogger’s Guide to Affiliate Summit

affiliate links pic The Bloggers Guide to Affiliate SummitI’ve heard about a lot of bloggers attending (or thinking about attending) Affiliate Summit West 2015, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned. I attended ASE2013 and spoke at ASW2014. If you’re used to blogger conferences, you’ll find this is a very different situation and I know I could’ve used the tips when I arrived my first day and realized I had no idea what I was doing.

How Affiliate Summit Is Different From Blogger Conferences

Blogger conferences have mostly bloggers as attendees with a few social media or marketing folks mixed in. But Affiliate Summit is for everyone in Affiliate Marketing. That means it’s for the brands who have affiliate programs (merchants), the managers who run the affiliate programs (affiliate managers), the platforms that connect affiliates and merchants (like Shareasale or CJ), and any other business or service that any of these industries use. 

NSC Banner 250x250 The Bloggers Guide to Affiliate SummitAffiliate Summit feels more like a trade show than a conference. There are education sessions but there are always way more people on the exhibition floor than there are in the classes. 

This is a conference where the goal is networking. Everyone there is trying to promote themselves or make connections. You won’t see the kind of socializing you’d see at a blogger conference where people are there to make friends.

What Kind of Pass Should You Get

The Networking Pass isn’t going to do much for you. It gets you in the expo hall, it’s true, but the hall is enormous and overwhelming. The first time I went I spent hours going through trying to figure out what all these businesses were. The second time I spent much less time there, I’d learned that there weren’t many programs there looking for affiliates (or publishers) like me, at least not the kind I wanted to work with. More tips on the expo floor later.

Networking Plus or higher will help a lot, give you some sessions to go to, and give you access to video of anything you miss. But the price tag is pretty high. If you’re interested in attending a future Affiliate Summit I recommend following them as they often give away passes. (That’s how I got into my first AS.)

How’s the Content?

Like any conference, the content can be hit and miss. The key is to know what’s for you. If the title or description doesn’t make sense, skip it. It’s not for you. 

You can get a lot of great industry tips here that may not relate to affiliate marketing directly. The social media advice usually comes from some strong experts that you may not find elsewhere. 

The blog sessions on affiliate monetization are the trickiest ones to figure out. Here’s the biggest thing you need to know: most publishers/affiliates/bloggers at Affiliate Summit are people who do this for a living. They don’t blog for a living, they do affiliate marketing for a living. They don’t blog the way I do (or the way you do, if you’re like me). They don’t write for a readership. They build a website to make money. The site is built for that purpose, they market it for that purpose, and they produce content for that purpose. The sessions these experts give won’t be super helpful for you if you’re thinking of how to appeal to your readers because you think of your readers differently than they do. Still, you can get some useful technical advice and get info on new tools. Read the descriptions carefully, choose accordingly, and don’t feel obligated to sit through the whole session if you realize it’s not working for you.

Like a lot of conferences, you’ll find they have their favorite speakers that come back over and over again. And remember, if you get a pass that gives you video access to talks you can always watch them later and take meetings instead.

How to Network

When I attended I had trouble finding other bloggers like me, I ran into only a few. To find your tribe, I recommend locating the Blogger Lounge early. Finding other bloggers to latch on to and work the conference with can be really helpful. If you have friends going, stick together.

Go to the First Timer Orientation Session and be ready to give a short elevator pitch of what you do and who you’re looking for. This is one of the things Affiliate Summit does best. At this session, the floor is opened to anyone and I exchanged more business cards in this session than anywhere else.

You can do a lot of advance work to help network better. The truth is, that there are people who are looking for someone exactly like you. Bloggers with established audiences are desirable, but it can be hard to find those people looking for you with so many other people around. Join the Facebook group, follow the conference hashtag (especially when you’re attending), look at the list of companies exhibiting and do some research to see if any of them are interesting to you. If anyone you currently work with is attending, see if you can set up a face-to-face meeting.

When you do have a meeting, make sure you’re ready to talk about what you write about and who your readers are. Know how that overlaps with the brand and you’ll be able to make your pitch and see what their tools are to help you do it better. If you haven’t used their product/brand yet ask them about opportunities to review. Giving away product and paying for posts isn’t that common amongst affiliate marketers, but it does happen sometimes. You shouldn’t go in requesting sponsored campaigns, that’s a different business all together and is usually handled by PR. But reviews can be easier, though still not a given. Most affiliates build sites without payment or product, but you have the advantage of connected readers who trust you. 

How to Work the Expo Floor

First, do your research. Check out the exhibitors and flag the ones you want to talk to. It can get crazy out there, you need to have a plan for your must-visit exhibitors.

Second, hit the Meet Market on the first day. It’s smaller, it’s cozier, it’s more focused and you’ll get more done. 

Third, take it row by row. The expo floor is huge, it can get very crowded, and there’s all kinds of crazy things going on. Take your time, don’t feel rushed, and don’t be afraid to come back when things die down a little.

If you say, “I’m a blogger,” some people will be confused. Because the industry is so varied some people have no experience with the actual people running websites who do affiliate marketing. Say “I’m a publisher” or “I’m an affiliate” or  “I’m a content creator” and you’ll be better off. Hopefully you know a little bit of the affiliate lingo already, but if not don’t be afraid to go back to your hotel room with the directory and do some googling to scope out who you should talk to.

Have Fun

Affiliate Summit parties are far and away the biggest I’ve been to anywhere. There are plenty of official parties, and there are plenty of other smaller parties thrown by companies attending. You won’t hurt for fun and if you want to have free drinks all day, you can probably manage it if you plan accordingly. Enjoy it. 

If you’ve got questions as a newbie or advice to give as a veteran attendee, I’d love to hear it!