A few weeks ago I attended the 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference held in Kansas City. If you’re not familiar with the FAI, one way to describe it is a South by Southwest for the Folk community. It is a 5-day gathering of like-minded musicians who love great songwriting, performing and storytelling without pretension or bombast. There are 2,400 registered attendees from 18 countries, 75 exhibitors, 150 panels & workshops, 200 juried official showcases, and over 2,800 private showcases. This was my fourth FAI, and I believe the best one I’ve been to.
My favorite feature of the conference is the nightly private showcases held on 3 floors of the Weston Crown Center hotel. Attendees are able to travel from room to room from 10:30 at night until 3 am (or longer) in the morning, experiencing talent that would make the judges on The Voice weep with joy at experiencing such beauty, but embarrassed for never being exposed to it.
As it is with most conferences, there is a trade show held during the day, where you can find peddlers of some the finest instruments in the world, booking agencies looking to find their next star, or any number of musician related services. One company I talked to was a music instrument rental website, called Sparkplug. Their concept was revolutionary; an Airbnb for musicians needing instruments. Say your band lives in Minneapolis and you get a last minute booking to open for an act that would give you great exposure in Austin; and, it’s the next day. You don’t have time to drive down, and flying all your gear is cost prohibitive. You simply jump on Sparkplug and search for instruments and amps that you would need from local Austin musicians, and pay them a “rental” fee. I find this brilliant on so many levels. Musicians have a natural tendency to want to help one another. They typically don’t feel the need to “gouge” their peers as they have a kindred connection. The gear, typically, has been taken care of, not a rental piece that has been schlepped to dozens of shows without the care that is given by a single owner. Plus, it is a great way to earn a little extra revenue. Most musicians would love to see their gear do some good and make a little money. I know I’d like to profit from my massive bass amp taking space in my basement.
So then I thought, maybe a similar concept could apply to content writing? What about a community resource that allows bloggers to connect with other bloggers and help each other get more exposure and shares? If you write content like me, and have to come up with new topics every week, sometimes being able to get ideas and concepts from outside your bubble can be refreshing and necessary. One website I came across that seemed to fulfill this need is Blog Engage (http://www.blogengage.com). According to their About page, Blog Engage is”a blogging community where all bloggers submit their latest blog articles for exposure, backlinks and traffic. All articles submitted are sent to the upcoming page where users read and vote on the submissions. When articles receive enough votes they become published and are then found on the Blog Engage home page.” There’s a one time fee of $29 that allows you to post as many blogs as you want for a lifetime. Another great benefit is their syndication service. Blog Engage enables you to reach new audiences, and generate new traffic by syndicating on reputable websites, which in turn also creates valuable backlinks. These backlinks improve your ranking when search engines like Google analyze your blogs’ relevance.
Blog Engage is a great way to get to know a vast number of established bloggers, and of course direct more traffic on your blog. But the key is engagement. Blog Exchange suggests that you should submit your work often, as well as interact with other bloggers and critique their work. Much like the musicians of the Folk Alliance International, Blog Engage understands that sometimes the best way to get the help you need, and boost your career, is to seek out people with similar goals and challenges and help each other out.