I went to my first ever web conference today.

I know, working on/with the web for over 10 years and it’s taking me this long to get out and meet people!

I met some fantastic, funny and smart people, not to mention some friends who I’ve been talking to online for as long as I can remember. I got to meet the utterly wonderful @missrachilli who introduced me to everyone she knew (which was basically everybody); I briefly spoke to @KirstyBurgoine who I’ve known of for as long as I can remember but never met despite living about half an hour away from(!); chatted with @snookca who is a bit of a hero of mine and whose blog I’ve been reading since 2006, possibly even earlier; @laurakalbag who is as pretty in real life as she looks on t’interwebs; @dafyddbach who deserves a medal just for associating himself with anything government ;) and who’s work with and on gov.uk has changed some of the ways in which I approach projects … the list goes on.

Two things I really took away from today’s conference though:

1. It’s impossible to maintain any anonymity when you attend a web conference – if you’ve ever wondered what I look like, prepare to see my face in about a zillion of the conference pics in the upcoming days.

2. That there doesn’t need to be two of ‘me’.

One thing I’ve always really struggled with, especially as a long-time blogger and earlier adopter of social networking (compared to some anyway) is how to keep my professional and personal lives separate. It was important to me as an employer that I didn’t do or say anything to affect the reputation of my boss, his company and the people I worked with, and as someone with no shortage of opinions the easiest way to do that has been to a) never mention work in any detail and b) keep who I work(ed) for private for quite a long time.

After going freelance, I continued to struggle with that balance between personal and professional, and having lost so-called “friends” and followers because I dared talk about boobs or poo or any number of unsanitary child-related things (which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and I’m fine with that) I decided to reinstate my “professional” account @JemTurner

Except, @RobertMills‘ talk on ‘tone of voice’ today and how you present yourself and your business through your tone made me realise that I try and be uber-professional through @JemTurner and that’s actually really hard to maintain, doesn’t come off well because it’s not who I am, and ultimately that makes me NOT tweet at all.

This was further underlined by the talk later on by @Joel_Hughes, who was discussing the mistakes he’s made since he started freelancing and that journey onwards from that. One of his slides, talked about how your business IS personal. Long story short, in which I would just massively stroke Joel’s ego anyway, I’ve come to realise that actually… I can be the mum who wipes butts in the morning and creates awesome websites after 2pm. I can be a great web developer without undermining the fact that I am a parent. I don’t have to hide either one of ‘me’ because those who don’t like it, those who vocally object? They’re probably just assholes anyway.

I don’t know how I will go about merging my two separate identities & no doubt it will start with some sort of re-retirement of @JemTurner, but I do know that I built my reputation on being just ME and nothing can or should change that. Even if I do talk about poo occasionally.

Comments

  1. says

    I think so much of your “brand” is based on being a parent at this point that I honestly wouldn’t even TRY separating the two. You’ve build these amazing initiatives like WAHMweb, which is BLATANTLY a parent-centric project, that it seems to simultaneously promote a WAHM lifestyle while shying away from exposing people to your WAHM life. I think you should TOTALLY embrace it. I think it aligns both with your personal M.O. and brand, and if those two things can work in harmony you will be nothing but a most incredible success.

    I’m really proud of you and what you have accomplished in the last few years. I don’t mind the poo-tweets and whatnot even though it has almost no relevance to my life (other than that I love your family, specifically!), especially since it is so intertwined in the ways in which you’ve really “come into your own” since Izz was born.

    I find you to be a perfect example for women who think having a child is the end of being your own person, because you’re complete proof that being a mother isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it also isn’t a sign that you’ve sold your soul to the patriarchy. It just makes you a wonderful, multi-faceted individual, just like anybody. And I definitely don’t think you should hide that. :)

    • says

      You’re so right, of course, re: WAHMweb and that hadn’t even really occured to me.

      It was funny, I actually went to the conference yesterday with the plan to not mention the kids once. I didn’t want to come across as “that person”. And yet people were asking ME, people were talking about MY LIFE and it was like… oh, I’m allowed to be a mum today too :)

  2. says

    So pleased you came and I did finally manage to meet you (albeit briefly)!

    I’m really pleased you took so much away from the conference. Brand identity is always something I struggled with as well, mostly because when I went freelance I gave no thought to whether I was even going to need a brand and I didn’t realise at the time but I was already well known through twitter.

    Now, with my involvement in Shropgeek every one knows me professionally and personally as a total geek that also happens to build websites! I gave up trying to fight it a long time ago and just roll with it now :)

  3. says

    One thing I’ve certainly noticed about musicians is that they are letting their professional and personal lives merge too. Years ago, we wouldn’t be seeing the same type of Facebook sharing that we see today!

    I think you talking about poo is fine. As long as the professional tweets aren’t completely drowned out by tweets about poop, I think that you’ll be just fine.

  4. says

    I had the same thoughts about personal VS business, which is why I decided to tweet everything from the one account rather than set up a new one for the work side of things when I went self employed. Although I do tweet/blog about the struggles of juggling personal life and work, which can sometimes feel a bit of an odd combo for a ‘professional’, but I still think that having a personality is way more appealing to people who might potentially want to work with you.

  5. says

    I have that problem..my personal stuff, my web stuff, and the company I work for’s stuff. Mostly I’m leading a triple life, and it gets incredibly awkward, especially as I’m friends with some people who hate certain companies with a passion.

    Re the meeting people thing – I’ve gone to about 15 of these kinds of things, and it takes a while to learn who the genuine people are and who the bloodsuckers are. It’s sad that the industry’s like that, but some people are only out for what they can get. Don’t drop your guard too fast :)

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