I have avoided starting my own blog for quite some time. Sure, I know it’s a great way to establish yourself on the web and create credibility for yourself as a professional. I also know that it can build a platform that can be used to land a book deal. I know all this, but it seemed like an incredible time consumer to me. I made the executive decision to use the time to write and sell articles instead.
Obviously, I’m writing this post in a blog so I’ve come around. At least partially. I have a bunch of blogs now because I was hired to teach two classes on blogging at The Writers’ Center in Bethesda, MD. One was to be a beginning bloggers course, which was cleverly called Blogging 101. The focus of the class was on such topics as “What is a blog?” and “What’s the difference between a blog, a website and a forum?” I also included marketing tips and information on how a web presence is really a good idea for writers. There were tips too. And a Power Point presentation with lots of screen shots.
Prior to the Blogging 101 class, I’d never held a class before—on anything. Being the sort that gets frightfully nervous when speaking in front of a group, I decided to script the presentation, complete with notes on when to click the slides. Overkill? Maybe, but my brain tends to shuffle around the data stored there whenever someone asks me a question. Names and dates are the absolute worst offenders. If I could rely on the information to stay where I put it, I wouldn’t get so nervous. As it turned out, I managed to get out of my notes for about half the class and actually interacted with my students. I’m very proud. The feedback was good too.
I did learn quite a few lessons from that first class. The first lesson was that there are actually functioning buildings in Chevy Chase Maryland that have rooms with no power outlets in them. Get this, apparently it had never been a problem before. Better than that, the Writers’ Center people were supplying a 17″ monitor for my Power Point presentation. I asked for the auditorium with the projector and they told me it was occupied. So, since the room was to be a small one, I thought I could get away with a 17″ monitor. I got there and they gave me the monitor. No power outlets and no extension cords. So they moved the class to the auditorium. No way to hook up to the projector and even then they had to scrounge for a power strip to get the power to the stage. So my poor class had to sit in the auditorium and watch my slides from 10+ feet away.
The other blogging class I had talked them into was a workshop where the class would all be logged into the Internet at the same time and we’d build blogs together. Build a Blog Workshop. They were very excited about this because apparently no one had done an interactive Internet class there before. For their last blogging class, the instructors had been on-line doing a demo, but the class had taken written notes. They had a wireless WAN with a DSL connection. Why not?
Build a Blog was scheduled for the Saturday following Blogging 101. Having learned my technical lessons the previous week, I asked a lot more questions this time. That class had a few technical issues as well.
The lesson of this? Never be the first to conduct a high tech class in a building without electrical outlets in every room? Seriously. I think I’ve taken a great deal away from this. I got paid to learn how to teach a class, I got a blog and I got something to post in it.
Originally posted on my hosted WordPress Blog, October 2007.