If you are following me on Twitter (@robbsutton), you are already aware of this, but last night I attended an Atlanta blogger meetup for the first time. Now…I have attended Tweetups and blogger meetups in the cycling industry numerous times, but this was my first meetup on blogging specifically. I found the group through meetup.com (great resource if you are looking for meetups related to anything. I am apart of a Boxer group on there too.) and starting watching out for a meeting that I would be able to fit into my schedule. The November meetup came up and it was on! I had last night free, so it was time to go and converse with other bloggers.

It was a really interesting night actually and not what I expected at all. After further thought, meditation and peering deep into the depths of my soul, it is actually a good thing that it was not what I expected. I’ll give you the rundown of what happened and then jump into that a little bit more.

First, if you haven’t gone to a meetup of some kind, they are a great idea. You get to network with other people that think a lot like you do and it is a great resource for ideas to grow your brand and your blog. You will be incredibly surprised what you can learn from the experienced…and more importantly…the beginners. Every now and then, we get stuck in our little blogging world that we forget there are a lot of different bloggers out there with different experiences. Meetups bring that to life in person.

When I got there, I was a little bit early, so I went walking around Atlanta with my Nikon D80 and grabbed a couple of shots of the city. I didn’t have my tripod on me…so long exposure, low light shots don’t stay in focus easily…but I managed to get one that was ok. Once I got to Gordon Biersch in downtown Atlanta, I was still a little bit early so I used that chance to check up on the blogs, Twitter and a couple other miscellaneous online stats. Yes…I am that blogging super geek that brings my MacBook Pro with me everywhere. Don’t hate.

Once everything got started, we sat in smaller groups at each table with a group leader that had topics we were going to discuss. Last night’s topic was content and syndication. Here are the cliff notes of my observations of the group and what was going on around me.

  • There was a lot of networking happening. One lady actually brought free samples of her cake (devinekakes.com) to pass around which I thought was pretty cool given my massive sweet tooth. Business cards were flying all over the place and bloggers were sharing their experiences.
  • Most of the bloggers there were beginners…and large portion of those beginners had barely even started writing yet. It really reminded me of the confusion I had as a beginning blogger which is humbling in itself. If you don’t remember where you came from…you can’t continue success in the future, so getting this reminder helped me out a lot. One of the ladies at my table hadn’t even written her first post yet, but she bought Darren’s Problogger book and was excited about starting…cool stuff.
  • There were a ton of different goals and niches represented. Everything from dating sites to real-estate. Last nights topic was around content (specifically beginner type information) but what I liked to listen to the most was how different bloggers were leveraging their blogs. Some were doing it just for fun while others were using it to generate free leads for their businesses. Either way…it goes to show you how diverse the blogosphere is. One guy is even writing about every date he goes on at niceguydates.com. I thought that idea was hilarious.

As I looked around the room, I saw a lot of different experiences and skill levels, but…the most important aspect was they were all bloggers looking to help each other grow their blogs for their intended purpose.

How was it different than I expected? It was not centered around making money on your blog. Granted…the topic of the night was content generation, how many times to post a week, where to get topic ideas, etc…but the focus was not around making a full time income from your blogging (a topic that most of us look at on a daily basis). The other thing that really surprised me is how much I have taken certain aspects of my blogging for granted. I have been able to work with some of the best bloggers in the business (Darren Rowse, John Chow, Yaro Starak, Michael Dunlop to name a few) and I have been interviewed on blogging more times than I can count…and that is not normal. I left last night really great full for the experiences and connections I have been able to make over the course of my blogging career.

I have been incredibly fortunate over the past 18 months. My blogs have allowed me to do and accomplish things that were only dreams before I started throwing words on a page. Now…I do believe that it is time to give back as much as I can locally as well. There are a lot of beginning bloggers that are completely lost (like we all were at some point in time) and they could use some help and networking to get started. The main reason I wrote Ramped Blogging was to help bloggers at all skill levels…so I need to keep attending meetups liket these to give back to the community that has given so freely to me.

I am extremely glad I headed over to the meetup and I am going to try to get more involved. Overall…great experience last night.