GeekGirlCon is one of my favorite conventions to attend and participate in. It is where I got my start as a panel moderator back in 2016. However, my first time serving as panelist for a convention. I found the experience extremely valuable and it was great to have the responsibilities of organizing off my shoulders.
The topic for this year’s GGC was “Creating Content: Contributing to Pop Culture websites.” When I thought about the topic initially, I considered how valuable it would be to talk about the craft of creating content. Specifically, crafting nonfiction content about pop culture properties. Social media and sharing platforms like YouTube make it easy to get ideas out there but many outlets still reflect the gatekeepers of the geek community.
Namely, they promote the voices of writers and content creators who are cis-het-white-men. So, I considered how important it was to have a panel like this, giving advice to budding critics and creators, that specifically amplified voices from here at WWAC—myself and Kate Tanski as panelists with Amanda Vail as moderator— and Black Nerd Problems‘ Leslie Light and Laura Wheeler as panelists, because both sites create content that speaks to, and from, the non-mainstream voice. Furthermore, I was excited to get to serve alongside such talented folks from platforms I admire and get to be part of.
As the newest contributor to an online magazine on the panel, participating as a panelist was an excellent chance to share my experiences and learn from my colleagues. Some of the things we talked about were: what sort of online presence should you have as an online content creator, when should you be expect to be paid, where do editors get involved, and, a great one from the audience, how not to fall into a research hole.
I won’t go into the answers to those particular prompts here but reflecting on the experience of participating our discussion made me consider the nature of writing about about pop culture more generally. Our answers really reiterated the importance of the who, what, when, where, why, and how of creating pop culture content. Questions that every creator should consider, particularly for non-fiction content, such as:
Who are you to be writing this piece?
What is this piece actually about?
When would it being released?
Where is the audience of this piece?
Why is this particular work important?
How are you making this piece (is it an article, a review, a listicle, a video, or a podcast)?
These general questions—and there are many more—are key because they hone your non-fiction writing and allow the work to reach the widest and most appropriate audience. Furthermore, refining the answers to those questions and keeping those answers concise will improve pitches (which should always be less than 300 words) and creations alike.
Overall, I loved serving as a panelist. Navigating the waters of pitching, or choosing to maintain your own platform, are difficult to do alone so getting to give advice, as someone in the process of charting their course, was a fantastic experience. I was honored to speak alongside such experienced co-panelists and in front of such a supportive audience. Five out of five, would do again.