BlogHer is an organization for (mostly) female bloggers. The annual conference moves around, but this year it was held two blocks from my apartment, so I had to go!
Although I've been blogging since December 2006, I don't really consider myself a blogger. Well, maybe that's a little untrue. I don't consider myself a blogger in the talking-about-my-life sense. Although I do talk about my life here...but it's mostly my artistic life. Oh, I don't know what I'm talking about now. I'm rambling. And I think that's part of the reason that I went to BlogHer 2012. I'm having a bit of a blogger identity crisis. I was hoping that BlogHer 2012 would help sort me out.
And the answer is that it did and it didn't.
- It's 3 days. But one of the days is limited to a small group of participants. I did not attend on that day.
- There were 5,000 attendees -- mostly women, but a few men too.
- There are a lot of sponsors offering product samples and information about their product/company. Most of these sponsors are catering to the "mommy bloggers." It was a lot of food and health stuff. There were exhibit halls where sponsors had booths and gave away samples. I was not the target demographic and stayed away from most of the booths and demos.
- The conference definitely catered to beginning bloggers. Most of the panels I went to were geared for basic level skills and knowledge.
- Much of the conference is geared towards sounding awesome rather than being awesome. Having lunch with Martha Stewart sounds good in a tweet, but I had some issues with the organization and facilitation of the event. That said, they've been doing this event extremely successfully for many years and probably don't really care about my opinion.
- People get dressed up. Boiling hot August days and women are in full makeup, hair, heels, dresses -- the whole thing.
- Most of the bloggers I met were food, fashion, or mommy bloggers. There were some political bloggers, and an infintesimally small number of craft bloggers.
- Blogging is big business. And women bloggers have a powerful voice. The reason companies like Johnson&Johnson were there with a huge suite and a big booth and lots of giveaways was because they know what a powerful voice we have.
- Be nice to everyone you meet. You never know who you're sitting next to. That's not really something I learned, it's more something that was reinforced for me. I can't tell you the number of deeply unfriendly women who were at this conference. I found the lack of social graces staggering. This was a networking event, after all.
- I really like Katie Couric. Believe it or not, I have not had that much exposure to her. She was the lunch time speaker one day and I left that lunch feeling vastly inspired. She's a wonderful example of a smart woman who has been through a lot in her life (lost her sister and husband to cancer) and keeps coming back strong. Most of all I admire her mixture of intelligence and relatability. It's something I aspire to.
- When you're a speaker, speak with passion and give concrete examples. My favorite panels and my favorite speakers were those who were geeked out about their topic. You know the type -- filled with knowledge and bursting to share it. And I very much appreciated the speakers who gave concrete examples of how they approached the topic at hand. This provided me with a road map.
- My blog is super niche. I eat, live, and breathe art and craft blogs. So it was a little bit shocking and humbling to realize that almost no one else at BlogHer 2012 felt that way. I'm still not sure why that is. I think it might be because there's less money in blogging DIY. But that's clearly not the only reason.
- I need to hire someone to help me sort out some of my website issues. I'm very proud to say that I have built my blog and website 100% by myself. (If you understood how little html I know you'd be very impressed.) However, I have reached the point where there are some things I want to do and need to do, but my technical knowledge has been exhausted. If you have any recommendations for someone to work with, let me know!
- I'm an analog girl. I brought a notebook and a pen, not an iPad and not a laptop. I think I listen better when I'm scribbling notes rather than typing them. I know I do better at organizing my thoughts in a notebook. Here's my favorite scribbled note from the conference: