Last week I attended my first blogging conference: BlogHer12. What happens when you bring nearly 5,000 mouthy broads together to talk about what they do? You get a very loud room, for starters.
BlogHer.com is a media company created by three savvy women, to help bring together and showcase female bloggers. It’s the largest community of women who blog, boasting 40 million unique visitors per month. The BlogHer.com site is a guide to the latest news and trends for women in social media and a publishing network of more than 3,000 blogs.
Each year it’s in a different city, but this year the 9th annual BlogHer conference was in Manhattan so it was a perfect opportunity to check it out without a huge commitment.
I loved everything about it.
I met interesting, smart, like-minded people who were eager to talk about many of my interests. I attended lectures where I got practical, business, and technical tips on how to improve my blog and get more people to read it. And I got a free vibrator!
While many bloggers were old-timers and knew how to work the conference, I was a rookie and wanted to experience as much as I could so I was moving nonstop, taking it all in, and making mental notes to share. I roped my blogger friend, Sandy (read her peachy parenting blog here) into going with me and she was an amusing ally in this most excellent adventure. Read on for details……
— Bloggers don’t shut up! From the Newbie breakfast to the keynote speaker at lunch, to the crowded exhibition halls, it was sometimes difficult to hear because there were so many ladies chat-chat-chatting. One the plus side, everyone I met was friendly and outgoing and I had no problem striking up conversation with strangers all day long.
—Bloggers are swag hags! I was amazed at the elaborate setups companies had– carpeting, leather couches, music– and some set up entire stores inside the expo. Reusable bags were the most popular giveaway– I got at least 6– but they were doling out everything from water bottles to fake nails to stationary. You could eat and drink for free too– I had delicious cupcakes, cookies, and pretzels, and washed it down with a margarita. Other businesses offered manicures, massages, and beauty consulting. When Martha Stewart spoke at lunch, she offered free digital subscriptions to all four of her magazines for a year! In exchange for the goods, the vendors want bloggers to write about their products and scanned our conference tags which gives them our email and blog information so they can follow us to see if our blogs can help their social media strategies.
—Social media experts don’t necessarily know how to engage people! I went to several lectures led by people on a panel speaking about branding, social engagement, and media pitching who were so boring, we walked out. Some of the content was ok but the delivery was blah and they didn’t get the attendees involved.
—Bloggers like their salad! The crowds were so large that at both breakfast and lunch, there were no fruit, vegetables, or drinks left by the time I got to the buffet. The food– as you would expect at a conference of this size– was not great. You would think that with all the foody blogs out there someone would step up but alas, I had to settle for a tuna sandwich.
—Bloggers made me laugh and cry (it was better than “Cats.”) The Voices of the Year presentation was amazing. More than 1800 bloggers submitted posts for review in various categories, then BlogHer chooses 110 winners and 15 get to read their posts out loud. There were stories about parenting, death, poverty, identity, and politics that moved me and several hilarious humor bits that made me laugh until I cried. The talented and absorbing writers made me want to run to my computer and get cracking. I was also inspired hearing the international activists speak. These were four women– who BlogHer sponsored to attend the conference– who risk their lives every day by blogging about their opposition to government and/or society standards in their developing countries. Hearing about how bloggers from Haiti, Sudan, Philippines, and Zimbabwe have evoked real change in women’s lives in their countries reminded me of the power of new media.
—Bloggers are a random bunch! I exchanged business cards with many strangers and I was shocked at the wide array of topics people blog about. I figured I’d meet mostly mom, food, and beauty bloggers but I also encountered these:
littlelunchnotes.com – creative, adorable lunch notes to put in your kids’ lunchbox every day, using beautiful paper, jokes, and pictures.
madeinusachallenge.com – great buying resource as it highlights products made in the USA and companies that make them.
frugalflip.com – tips on how to live on a budget in a big city.
—Bloggers are influential. Nearly 5,000 sharp, driven women (and a handful of men) got themselves to New York to be a part of this conference. Each blog can reach hundreds to millions of people. That translates to huge business opportunities for companies who want to get a product or message across to media-savvy people using a modern platform. President Obama opened the conference with a 15-minute address –via internet of course– talking about the importance of women’s issues in this election and creating positive role models for young women like his daughters. Martha Stewart was the keynote speaker Friday and Katie Couric spoke on Saturday. Those are some pretty heavy hitters. Bloggers get respect!
Overall the conference was well-organized, informative and fun. I made great contacts and learned a lot. One of the tips I took away was the importance of a blog Facebook page. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s up so you can become a CarpoolCandy.com Facebook fan!