Creative people converge and collaborate at #BlogathonATX

To get an idea for what it’s like to attend BlogathonATX, you’ve just got to peruse some of the posts from attendees on its blog.
Those posts include “I just ate a 40 year old sandwich,” “New Study finds Bumper Stickers Linked to Driving Skills” “They used to call me an editor” and one of my favorites: “Why Am I a Vaginal Surgery Consultant.”
To say that this is a “quirky” group of writers is an understatement. But creativity and innovation springs forth from having fun. This event generates lots of good times.
But BlogathonATX has a serious side. Corporate bloggers attend to find out tips on everything from using social media to the importance of hashtags and cultivating an online audience. A late afternoon session is devoted to blogging for business.
“If I can learn a few things, why not ?” said Jake Wengroff, social media editor with Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio. He attended with Laurel Brewer, an intern at Frost & Sullivan. They plan to share their newly acquired knowledge with others at their company next week.
BlogathonATX started off as a free grass roots movement but has evolved into a twice a year organized event that costs $40 to attend but includes breakfast, lunch, sushi and a happy hour. It’s quite social.
In 2010, Ilene Haddad held the first BlogathonATX at Conjunctured coworking to network and swap ideas with other bloggers. Since then, she’s held two other events that have all sold out at various coworking spaces around Austin.
This is the fourth BlogathonATX and the largest one yet with 120 attendees. It’s being held Saturday at TechRanch, a technology company incubator in North Austin.
In the main conference room, dozens of people hunch over laptops tweeting and blogging and checking their e-mail. In a world full of screens, it’s difficult to really know what people are doing behind them all. But at least a few have tweeted out links to their blog posts.
“It’s the same group of people, but it’s bigger,” said John McElhenny, a social media consultant who writes the Uber.la blog. The big draw is “being around people that are all doing it,” he said.
But he doesn’t like the label blogger. He just wrote a post “Nobody’s going to read your blog.” Because he thinks blogging is a dated term.
“We’re building websites,” McElhenny said. “We’re building content. We’re building narratives. I don’t think we’re blogging.”
Haddad is not a hardcore blogger.
“I am a fan of bloggers. I am a fan of their creativity,” she said. “I admire writers. I want to be a better writer so I hang out with them hoping some of it will rub off.“
Haddad also has a slew of sponsors that back the event including Tech Ranch, Neuro, Lonely Gourmet, Writers’ League of Texas, Dirty Dog, Yelp, Fit Club Austin, BuildASign, Beanitos, Mass Relevance and Firecat Studios. Neuro offered up passion in a bottle, a red punch that quickly got snapped up.
Roanna Flowers, known on Twitter as @LegsMagee, didn’t need to drink bottled passion. She has her own for blogging. She writes the LegsMagee.com blog about her life and times in Austin.
Every Sunday, she dedicates an “observation day” on her blog to go to a different part of Austin and write a poem, take pictures or write about her observations.
“I like to get away from the computer and get away from the smart phone,” she said
Magee has been in Austin for six years and works as a project manager at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. Just like exercise, she sets aside 30 minutes every day to write.
“It’s just part of my routine, the same as working out,” she said.
Christine Cano came to BlogathonATX for inspiration and motivation. It’s her first time attending the event but she had heard quite a lot of buzz about it. She’s been blogging for two and a half years. She pens FormFittingFashion.com about fashion and style. She really liked the session by Lauren Modery on “Branding Yourself Online.”
“It’s about being honest about your blog and your writing,” Cano said. “Your audience doesn’t want something cookie cutter. They want you to be yourself.”

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