My BlogHer adventure started on Wednesday night with a Megabus ride that took me from Atlanta to New York. Technically it was 3 different busses, but still…
I arrived in NY on Thursday morning and checked in to the Sheraton hotel room I would share with Danyelle with a Y aka The Cubicle Chick for the next few days.
I wanted to wait of her to arrive, but I was starving and needed food. Let’s just say food in a hotel in times square is expensive for what they serve. Really, $23 for some wings and a soda?! I should have walked a few blocks and found something else. ugh
Let the BlogHer Conference Begin!
Thursday was the pre-show to the main event. On day 1/2, The President of the United States of America greeted us via video conference. How amazing is that? How many conferences have you been to where the president has greeted your group? Mitt Romney was also invited to speak, but I guess his schedule didn’t allow him the chance to Skype us.
After the President spoke, I took my first visit the Expo Halls. Can I just say overwhelming. The expo halls were overwhelming to a large conference newbie like me. I now understood why people talked about swag and why they said to bring an extra suitcase. Wow!
Around 8pm, The People’s Party started and then we moved on to the Queerosphere party.
Man, day 1/2 was fun and exciting. The only mishap I experienced was towards the end of the night when a dude walked into me and spilled my pink champagne-like drink all over my twitter t-shirt. Either way, I was happy to be back in NY.
Day 1 – Friday
Friday was the first day of sessions. Let me just say that I’m glad I chose to go to the smaller sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about brands. I blog about them all the time, but I am not a professional blogger (meaning I don’t get paid to provide my opinion) so I mostly stuck to the personal blogger sessions. *Side note: Dear Brands, If you like how I write about your products, feel free to contact me* Ahem…ok, where was I?
First up – the Newbie breakfast. I sat in the verrrrry front of the room. Honestly, the room was too small for the number of newbies at breakfast. I was annoyed by the waitstaff person who tried to run me over because where she had to go was much more important than where I had to go. I was also annoyed by the bloggers who felt the need to talk while we were being welcomed to the conference and learning about the program. Some people will forever be rude. Whatever. On a positive note, breakfast was really good – thanks for the eggs and bacon!
At 9am, we attended to general welcome session that included speed dating. As soon as they started forming the lines for speed dating, I made my escape. With thousands of women gathered, I was overwhelmed at the idea that I would have to talk to them! Sure, I came prepared with a gazillion blog cards to hand out, but I guess I didn’t think I’d have to talk to people when I handed them out. HA! I’m so silly. I think I ran away to the expo hall until the 1st session began.
Session 1 – Blogging For the Love of It
When 10:30am arrived, I found my way to Blogging For the Love of It. The best thing about this session was hearing the phrase “Don’t lose your voice.” I like to think that I have a somewhat unusual blogging style. I think people who read my posts recognize my voice and it’s pretty consistent. I generally choose to write about light-hearted subjects – even when I am ranting.
Lunch Keynote Interview with Martha Stewart
At 11:45am Martha Stewart was our lunch keynote speaker. The one thing I can say about Martha’s products is that they visually please me, and I would love to create content that looks like her brand – clean, sharp, colorful, and simple. The lighting is also a big factor that attracts me to her brand. Hey Martha! Thanks for the iPad magazine subscriptions. I really, REALLY appreciate it. I also used the notepad from your booth for my first podcast production meeting.
Martha reminds me that I can do many things. I don’t have to choose one path and be only that one thing in life. She has taken many, many paths and she’s been successful at them.
Strategic Content Development Across Multiple Media
After lunch, I made my way to the Strategic Content Development Across Multiple Media session. Honestly, I went to this session to see Issa Rae. You know her, right? She’s the creator of the popular web series Awkward Black Girl. The panel was filled with humor bloggers, so it was right up my alley as I think I aspire to write my blog in a humorous and/or upbeat manner. Guess what?! I got to take a picture with Issa. Some might be like “whoopty doo”, but for me, it was a special step because I approached her and asked for a photo. I asked. You get it right? I generally wouldn’t go up to strangers and ask for stuff.
Table For One
For the last session of the day, I attended the Table For One session where we talked about single and childless blogging and why PR companies supposedly aren’t as interested in working with us. This session was justified in their concerns, and I’ll tell you why. When I went down to pick up my official BlogHer swag bag, I stopped at the HotPockets table to fill out their survey per the PR dude’s request. As I read the survey, it said something to the effect of “we want to hear from mom bloggers like you.” Well, I’m not a mom blogger and I don’t have a husband, so…me being me, I scratched through the word “mom” and filled out the rest of the survey. I was kinda agitated because just the week before, I’d purchased a family sized box of their products. I guess single people don’t eat or blog.
The Sponsor Suites
There were various suites set up by companies on the 42nd floor, so I went up there to check them out. I stopped by the Hershey’s suite and created my very first s’mores over a tiny open fire – all while sitting inside a hotel suite. I am still amazed by this because I thoroughly enjoyed it, and they worked hard to make us feel like we were on an actual camping trip.
I also stopped by the window with a view? Room. (edit: The company is called Out My Window) They had wine, cheese, and cupcakes at their gathering and I actually talked to a PR person and about the merits and disadvantages of using their service. Once again, I am proud of me.
Err…at this point I must apologize to my beloved Starbucks. I set up an appointment on Friday to view their new product on Saturday and totally forgot. Oops.
The Hasbro Party
Here’s where I veered from the official BlogHer schedule. I stopped by Voices of the Year Community Keynote, but didn’t stay long because my phone battery was low and for some reason I left my charger in the room. I went back to the room to charge my phone and the next thing I knew, it was time for us (me and my roommate) to head to the Hasbro party.
The Hasbro party wasn’t what I expected. I’ve never been invited to a conference private party, so when I walked in to a night club scene with life-sized games and toys, hors d’oeuvres, a DJ, a bar and lots of people milling around, I was thoroughly confused. I appreciate that I was invited, but during this conference I realized that I am not a party person. I was really, really hoping for a small room of board games. That goes to show how naive I was about the experience. From what I understand, 500 bloggers were invited to the party. I stayed the required time, received my goodie bag, and returned to the hotel.
SparkleCorn and Bed
At this point, I was back on BlogHer track and headed to the Hilton to see what the Sparklecorn party was all about. I tried to sit at one of the very few tables in the room, but people tried to talk to me. sigh. There was nowhere else to sit, so I walked around the room for a minute, took a picture of the unicorn cake, and went back to the hotel where I proceeded to get in bed and read a book.
Day 2 – Saturday
Oh god. Ohhhhh
I was so very tired. Sleepy and tired. Ugh
I headed across the street to the conference area for breakfast. As I was leaving my hotel, BlogHer tweeted to remind us that breakfast was continental today. Continental? Oh no. Not when all I really wanted was some scrambled eggs. I settled for some juice sat down at a far away table and pulled out my iPad.
Talking to Very Important People
While I sipped my pulpy oj and caught up on Twitter and Instagram, I was approached by Jenny Lauck, the Vice President of Influencer Services at BlogHer, and we chatted for a really long time. We chatted for so long that I missed the first session of the day. I didn’t mind missing the session. Talk to one person is alway preferable to being surrounded by large groups of people. After chatting with Ms Lauck, I visited expo hall until the 2nd session started.
Let’s pause and talk about the expo halls, shall we?
There were 3 halls set up – all of them filled with products and people and…stuff! Stuff like Kikkoman soy sauce ice cream, RetailMeNot.com, Cannon cameras, Best Buy, Trojan Vibrators, a HUGE Samsung display of phones, tablets, washers & Dryers, and cameras, Poise, Land O Lakes…the list goes on and on. Needless to say, I stayed away from the soy products. What was interesting is that I asked some of the booth workers about the contents of their products and they didn’t know. There was a rice pudding booth and I was willing to try it, but they couldn’t tell me the contents so I kept walking.
Back to the Sessions
The 11am session – My initial intent was to attend the Vlogging Boot Camp, pt 1 session, but when I got to the door, a very…uh…stern woman said I could not enter because the session was full. I was absolutely looking forward to this session, but I was not allowed to enter. At this point, I pulled out my conference guide to see what other sessions were being offered at this time. Initially I decided to try the When It’s Time to Spend Money to Market Your Work session, but after sitting there for a few minutes, I left and went to the Blogging into Midlife session.
I’m glad I went to this session because if I plan to continue blogging into the years to come, it’s great to know what obstacles beyond-midlife bloggers are facing. This session was smaller and I felt comfortable being there.
Katie Couric and the wench who was saving seats
Before I could enjoy the Katie Couric keynote interview, I had to find a seat. All I’m going to say is there was one very self important wench who was saving seats, and I let her know I did not approve of her tactics. That being said, I found another seat, ate my lunch, and listened to what Katie had to say. Katie Couric seems to be a pretty likable person.
The one interview I didn’t understand
The next keynote, Women Influencers as Change Agents with Soledad O’Brien, Christy Turlington Burns, an Malaak Compton-Rock, was rather interesting. It was interesting in that I didn’t really understand what was happening on stage. The person with the most personality was Christy Turlington Burns, and I understood her point of view the best. I was a little put off by Soledad’s interactions with her fellow panelists. I guess I was expecting her to be more personable, but she stayed in her professional tv journalist mode the entire time I heard her speak. As for Malaak, I am going to assume she had some serious thoughts happening in her head because she wasn’t really engaged in the interview. I hope whatever was weighing her down gets resolved soon.
The Last Session – How to Price and Value Your Services
I think I attended this session because my bubbly online twitter friend Cecily Kellogg was on the panel. This is the closest I came to attending a branding session. One thing I was reminded of while sitting in this audience was that not every blogger uses Twitter. The older ladies sitting beside me were complaining that they don’t use twitter and wouldn’t be able to get the links, so I took it upon myself to open the links in long form and put them in a note on my iPad so they could write them down on a sheet of paper.
Saying Farewell to the Expo Hall
One final trip to the expo hall. Yo! Bailey’s yeah, the liquor company whose mint chocolate chip liquor resides in my refrigerator even as I type this, well, they have a new line of non alcoholic coffee creamers. It was quite good AND they had cupcakes from Baked By Melissa! Thank goodness, because I always have cupcakes when I’m in NY.. I’m glad I got my fill.
Fare Thee Well, BlogHer ’12
After the closing session, in lieu of attending two other scheduled parties, Danyelle and I out and had dinner at a “greasy spoon” in Times Square. So, I had a million dollar BLT for dinner that night. With our stomachs filled, the only things left on the agenda were the Social Fiesta and the CheeseburgHer party. The Social Fiesta made me smile because even the servers were dancing as they mixed drinks.
After my quick stroll around the CheeseburgHer party, I headed back to the hotel for a little quiet time and rest before the long journey back to Atlanta on Sunday.
In the end, I had a great experience at BlogHer. I am no longer a newbie and I’ll know what to expect if I get the opportunity to attend BlogHer’13 in Chicago or BlogHer Food ’13 in Austin, TX.