Notes and Commentary on "Ur Blog Sux and Print is Dead"
Ur Blog Sux and Print is Dead, with Ben Huh, CEO of I Can Has Cheezburger? and FAIL Blog, Christian Lander Writer of Stuff White People Like, Kerry Miller of passiveaggressivenotes.com, Heather Armstrong President of Blurbodoocery Inc. and Ana Marie Cox National Correspondent for Air America, brought laughs and insight to the crowd gathered in room 18 of the convention center Tuesday.
The first talking point: they have all received death threats since becoming celebrity bloggers .
“Once you become somewhat known on the Internet, once they find out who you are, they want to find a lot more than you want them to know,” said Huh.
Armstrong once wrote a post about Palin and someone commented “I know where you live and I’m going to come hurt you.” Scary.
“I haven’t had as many threats as hope for my deaths,” said Lander. He recommended when purchasing hosting to “pay the extra 15 bucks for the anonymizing, I strongly recommend that… When people send in stuff about how much they hate me, I don’t engage that.”
“Most of the death threats are not serious,” said Huh. “They just had a problem with a bad link.”
“The total crazies are not that hard to deal with,” said Miller. “The ones that are hard to deal with are the smart people and with the cover of anonymity are just really mean.”
Huh and Armstrong both said that it gets really scary when the threateners cross the line and make real contact like sending mail or leaving voicemails.
Once they addressed the death threat elephant in the room, the panel discussed how none of them really planned for it to work out the way it did.
“None of us actually started these things thinking a career would come from it,” said Cox.
Lander’s first post for Stuff White People Like was in 2008 of January, by February it blew up, then in March there was a book deal in place.
“Most people were searching for fair trade coffee and got my site instead,” he said.
Miller’s idea for Passive Aggressive Notes began with a rant post about her roommates’ not reloading the toilet paper.
“Don’t start a blog because you want to be internet famous or you want to get a book deal, cause people can tell,” Miller said.
After ~10 minutes of (prepared?) presentation the panel went to QA.
They fielded more questions about death threats, book writing, being “Internet famous”, the lives of their blogs, bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation in their user submitted content, whether or not to keep it going if it is getting big and dealing with publishers.
“When dealing with publishers, act like a rockstar,” said Huh. “In most cases you are the talent… but you know the audience, don’t let them tell you what to do.”
“I had a fantastic experience with my publisher,” said Lander. “They wanted me to keep doing what I was doing, but for them… they didn’t ask me to change anything.”
“Its been a very very very horrible experience going from blogging to publishing,” said Armstrong.
When asked about how long they plan to continue the blog or if they have thought about quitting it they all had various responses.
“I quit just cause it was too much,” said Cox. “Its not just the negativity, its the ability to leave the house.”
“People mistake blogging for themselves,” said Huh. “You can actually plug in someone else… you can stop and still cash the checks.”
About drawing lines between personal life and blogging the panelists mostly all agreed that there has to be a personal separation.
“The one boundary I do have, for fear about destroying WordPress’s comment system, is abortion,” said Lander.
Armstrong said that she likes having the illusion of not having boundaries in her writing, but she confessed she actually does, and needs them.
Miller finished the panel by asking the other panelists about money.
“I am ready for the bottom to fall out under it at any moment,” said Armstrong.
“The number one thing in business is to know where you spend your money and count every !@#$ing penny of it,” said Huh. “We’re in the roughest advertising economy since the Great Depression.”