Since I started blogging, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet to some fantastic people who are also passionate about carving out a little place online to write and share their thoughts.
First there were the girls from The Blogcademy, each one a sparkly proponent for the joys of blogging. These are people who blog to support their businesses, or they blog as business. They wear bunny ears in public and know how to reach for the stars.
Then there was the Talk About Local Unconference in Middlesbrough, which opened my eyes to the world of hyperlocal blogging, where bloggers dedicate their online space to writing about their local area and all the important things that are happening there. Some act as alternatives to the mainstream local press, others are a community hub to promote family and cultural events.
Not to mention all the North East bloggers, who mostly write about fashion and beauty, and came along to a meet up last month.
This week was something a little different. On Wednesday, I headed over to Manchester to attend the Blog North Awards, where Ten Penny Dreams was shortlisted in the Best Arts and Culture Blog category. Emerging from its previous incarnation as the Manchester Blog Awards, the aim of the Blog North Awards is to: “celebrate the best of Northern England’s independent publishing, and aim to bring some of the great new writing being published online to a wider audience.”
So many of the notable events and conferences for bloggers are based in London; the biggest awards are dedicated to lifestyles blogs, from wedding to fashion to parenting.
That’s why it’s fantastic to have something that is just for the North, something that celebrates diversity and the unique voices that can be found here.
Never before have I encountered so many original, quirky and downright creative blogs. Each category was dedicated to a different subject; as well as arts and culture, there were food blogs, local blogs, personal blogs, plus awards for the Best Young Blogger and Best Writing on a Blog.
There are some hard-hitting blogs here, which make my musings on the life of writing feel a bit frivolous. In particular, Life Without Papers, which won the Best Writing on a Blog award and is a study into the lives of undocumented families in the UK.
Then there is the undoubted star of the show, the witty yet moving Wife After Death, which was a clear favourite from the moment the shortlist was announced. It was so good that the organiser of the event interrupted the announcement to reveal that it was the only blog chosen by unanimous vote from the judges. The victory speech by the blog’s author, a young woman writing about life since the death of her beloved husband, left me in tears. I can’t urge you enough to check out her blog.
So what have I learned from this array of online literary life?
On the internet, there is a space for everything, however seemingly mundane, niche or bizarre it may be. If you have something to say, this is the place that you can find a voice, find your people. The ones who are sitting at the computer, a flicker of light from the screen playing across their faces, as they share their dreams and ideas.
If you’ve been considering starting a blog, go for it. Be as crazy and creative as you can. Don’t worry that no one will read it. Write it for you, because you believe in it, because you can’t do anything else but write and share your passions.
You might just build a community of people who will encourage and inspire you to achieve your dreams. You might even find yourself among the best independent writers the North has to offer.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ten Penny Dreams was the runner up for Best Arts and Culture Blog. A huge thank you to all who voted and have supported this blog over the last year, I couldn’t have come this far without you.