I recently live-blogged a 3-day conference. Gearing up for the event, I posted here about the equipment I was bringing as well as musings about the dynamics of live blogging. While I’ve live blogged parts of events and have Power-Twittered a conference before, this was my first full-scale, solo, multimedia live-blogging project for a client.
The live blogging was a success. In fact, the client was caught up in the excitement of seeing posts showing up literally in the middle of sessions with quotes and commentary about the topics discussed that they finally “got” what a blog could be.
Everyone at the conference was fired up to see images from the sessions and events and video clips of themselves or their fellow conference attendees waxing philosophical about the conference proceedings.
Here are my key lessons from the three days. For anyone whose work will take them into the realm of live blogging, I hope these prove helpful.
1. Two bloggers are better than one.
I would never recommend live-blogging solo unless the event you are covering does not have concurrent tracks. Deciding which events I should cover was the responsibility of the client, however, it soon became apparent that it would be useful to get coverage of more than just one of the concurrent events. Luckily, one of the client’s staff members stepped up to the plate and asked to blog so we were able to cover two of the three tracks. I did try to jump out of a session once in a while to hit a third one but found my coverage became a bit disjointed.
2. Multimedia can trump words.
Once I realized the other blogger was good at summarizing the content of sessions, I began focusing more on capturing images, video and audio. While I did try to grab quotes and key points from sessions, I found that once I captured something on video in particular, that just seemed more effective – and more accurate – than writing something. At first, I worried that I might be slacking, however, the results of using multimedia was the clincher to the blog’s overall success. People just didn’t realize what was possible until they started seeing video on the blog.
3. Problem-solving is truly on-the-fly.
In order to get video clips on the blog, I had to think on my feet. The WordPress set up didn’t accommodate anything over 8 MB, and the video clips all exceeded that. I hadn’t discussed any optional image or video hosting solutions with the client before the event because I was under the impression that their set up would be sufficient. Suddenly, I was stuck in the middle of the conference without the ability to upload my growing archive of video. So I made an executive decision and began uploading the video to my Flickr account as a stop-gap measure and embedding it on the blog.
I also wanted to present a set of images as a slideshow. Slide.com immediately came to mind. While not the most elegant slideshow solution, it worked in a pinch. We’ll be replacing that slideshow with a more professional one created for Flickr and adding additional slideshows to the blog.
4. Editorial processes go out the window.
I think we made some people nervous when they realized there would be no editorial approval process for our posts, and it wasn’t until the first series of posts went up that everyone realized that we were documenting the sessions, not editorializing them. I think we also ruffled some feathers because we hadn’t gone through “proper channels” before running with off-site solutions such as Flickr and Slide.com. Without on-the-fly decisions, however, the momentum of the blog would have been brought to a screeching halt. When live blogging, you need to be able to reach for all the tools available, even if just as temporary solutions, to keep things moving forward.
5. Gadgets can get in the way.
I spent the entire conference often with a recording device in each hand and another one or two on the table in front of me to to mention my always-open laptop. Sometimes, I had to just put everything down and just listen. Or I found myself reaching for my notebook and a pen to hand write some notes – the old-fashioned way. With a gadget in hand, my brain was looking for ways to use it. In order to truly hear and absorb what was being said in a session, I had to step away from the technology.
Live Blogging for Dollars
Live blogging is a great way to document an event, build excitement around an event, and provide a multimedia experience for people who cannot attend the event. And it is also an excellent skill to add to your Web working repertoire, one that takes well-rounded knowledge of not only blogging but multimedia production and the fine art of capturing moments and quotes without creating an intrusion.
For this job, I charged a day rate for my work. For live blogging, you could also charge hourly, however, make sure your hourly rate is high enough to cover the multi-faceted work. Or you could do it per project.
Have you turned live-blogging into a new revenue opportunity? What have been some lessons you’ve learned as you live blog events?