Friday, December 11, 2009

Innovate or....?

I did some thinking in the
mountains this past weekend...


A few years ago when I was covering the luxury goods industry, I went to a conference at a famous Italian business school. The conference had a badly translated title - something like "Innovate or be Exterminated." It was meant to be a wake-up call for those Italian companies that sold luxury accessories which hadn't yet realized that China and India were moving into the market with a vengeance. Experts warned that these two countries were full of young, motivated and creative workers churning out designer bags and jewels (the real deal - not fakes) that were almost as good as those for which Italy's artisans are famous.

The idea of all this was to nudge the industry out of its complacency and let it be known that the glory days of the 1980s and 1990s - where a family company made up of papà (boss), mamma (secretary) and figlio (communications director) was the norm - were over. Where the average Italian luxury goods company had three employees (see above), the average Chinese or Indian company had something like 3,000. The experts went on to say that in Italy hiring was done within families whereas hiring was done in China and India based on who the right person for the job was. At the end, Italian executives filed out ashen-faced and too anxious to get festive at the post-conference cocktail hour.

I've been thinking about that "innovate or be exterminated" theme lately as it pertains to my blog. I've always seen this blog as kind of a public Web journal about my life in Italy, and I enjoyed the interaction with other bloggers who were more or less doing the same. In the last few years, the landscape has changed and suddenly I feel like one of the few who hasn't "innovated." I've never done book reviews, guest posts, advertorials, product plugs or the like. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above (for some people, their blogs are platforms for businesses they run, so it is absolutely understandable that they'd go that route) as long as bloggers give full disclosure. Nonetheless, suddenly I feel like I'm sitting at a long Italian lunch table yammering on about myself while everyone else is making business deals on their Blackberries. That leaves me feeling slightly uncomfortable.

Lately whenever I think about posting, I hesitate because I think "Oh, writing about that would be so 2006." Or if I see or do something cool, I just tweet it. Why write 300 words on that interesting art exhibit I saw when I can just tweet the link? Today, many expat blogs are slicker, more professional, more targeted, more focused and much less personal. So that is where I'm at right now. I'm thinking of ways I could innovate (or even start a new blog - I have a few ideas) while still being myself and not giving so much away that I feel like that girl - you know, the loquacious one at the lunch table who had too much vino rosso.

P.S. The fact that the publishing industry (as I've always known it) is dying does nothing to make me feel confident about a future where one can make a living writing. Career change suggestions?

18 comments:

Jessica of Hey, Mons! said...

Personally, I like your blog because you don't have any of that. I pretty much skip over the "other stuff" posted on a lot of blogs. I hardly ever read the Italy/travel blogs I used to love because they seem so fake and all business oriented now. Something was definitely lost. Do whatever you feel is right for you, but just know you do have at least one reader that likes your posts how they are!

J.Doe said...

I like your blog too.You blog about your personal experiences and observations living in Italy but instead of disussing only the 'Under a Tuscan Sun' Italy is a Wonderful Paradise glossy stuff like many other travelogues and blogs do, you make it seem real. Life there is not all positive or negative, and I for one love the reality that your blog brings.

190.arch said...

I like your blog as it is, don't worry too much about what happens around with blogs, blogs are not what they used to be and most of them have lost their spirit as a blog.
Some people says that twitter and tumblr are killing the real blog...
Anyway, I enjoy a lot reading your posts as they are : )

Cath said...

I really enjoy reading your blog too. As another expat who isn't really in love with the dolce vita (but doesn't really have the time or the ability to blog interestingly about it!) it is always interesting to read your take on Italian life.

amber said...

I personally hate all those blogs with all the bells and whistles and worse- FLUFF and find your blog much more interesting, much more thought provoking and I honestly wish you would post more!! Really, Jessica said it best.


I have faith that you can "innovate" without giving us all that other junk.

Kataroma said...

I love your blog - don't change! I was worried halfway through reading this post that this was your 'addio' - thank goodness it's not.

Personally I get really sick of the more 'commercial' Italy blogs which feed into that whole 'Under the Tuscan Sun' Italy stereotype. You've always kept it real which I really appreciate.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michelle.

I agree with everyone--don't change your blog, please! And like Cath, I'm also not in love with the lifestyle here (even if I always wanted to live here!). And I also don't have enough in me to create a blog and make my life sound anything but boring. Haha.

Did you ever consider becoming a writing teacher/instructor? Are you thinking about new careers for when you go back to the US?

franca

Anonymous said...

I'm all for the personal stuff too. I think it depends on what the purpose of your blog is. If it's supposed to be an avenue for money-making, then that's different, but the ones I love to read most are just outlets for personal expression. I like peeking in on peoples' lives and thoughts. Blogs like yours are the best for revealing the ins and outs of daily living in Italy -without commercial breaks! Per piacere, continua così!

Valerie said...

Don't worry about bells, whistles, and slick sites if that's not your style. Stay true to your own voice and feelings. I had an ad network on my blog for a while and dropped it because I didn't like how much space it took up; it seemed to overwhelm my blog and not feel like "mine" anymore. I don't like all the cluttered-up blogs I am seeing; it detracts from them, IMO.

Piccola said...

I agree with everyone else. Don't bastardize your blog. Sometimes simple is better. I like it just the way it is.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey there, I just remembered that I owe you an e-mail--I got caught up in the Thanksgiving craziness, but I will get to it soon! In the meantime, I just wanted to give my two cents and tell you that yours is one of the few blogs I still follow regularly-- and that is because it is about you and your life and not some detached book or restaurant review or a third person "guest" blogging. Keep it real!

Nancy

Anonymous said...

Michelle,
Maybe it's because your writing is polished, crafted and disciplined that your blog has an authenticity, bite and vigour. Are you a Scorpio?

A new career? A DJ? Film critic? PR? Biographer?
Art critic? Something critical!

Ah, poor you. I spent three years as a sleep deprived excuse for a human being. At last at the age of three my little laddie stopped waking up for night feeds. Those three years in retrospect have a very surreal quality. But, alas, yes- where's my hairshirt- I'd do it all again... well,I'm an Aquarian!
THANKS for your phenomenally brilliant blog!
Giana

Deirdré Straughan said...

I've done the commercial stuff (was heavily into it back when I was bored and underemployed; turned out it was good to learn for my current job), and keep it running now because it's in place and does bring in a bit of extra money.

But my blog has changed radically. For the many who come for the stuff about Italy, there's lots more I could say. But I just haven't had time, or, frankly, interest. That chapter of my life is closed now and I'm still too bruised to have warm fuzzies at the moment.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I agree with the other comments.

I enjoy your blog because of your voice/POV.

Jill said...

I know I am late here (I have been traveling) but I agree with the other posters and come here precisely to hear *your* voice. Your posts are always well-written, interesting and provide an honest point of view. My favorite blogs are those without "fluff" and I am always happy when I see you've added a new post. :-)

that girl in Italy said...

I'm a little late on this one, but I have to echo the other comments here. I personally *really* dislike all the fluff and guest posts, incessant recipes, plugs, etc. on blogs and skip them over. When I read a blog, it's to get to know a person's thoughts and their life experiences, not to hear them plug someone.

michelle | bleeding espresso said...

Your blog is your blog, so you should certainly do whatever you like...there's room for all different kinds of blogs and websites with all different motivations for having them--and none will ever please all the people all the time, so you best please yourself :D