11Jul

The Road to BlogHer 2012

BlogHerIt’s hard to believe that BlogHer 2012 will be here in a few weeks.  It feels like yesterday that I was in San Diego for last year’s convention.  Seriously, people, where does the time go?

I just re-read the post I wrote when I got home to get a feel of what I got out of BlogHer last year.  Here are some of my random thoughts that I jotted down:

I went armed with a schedule, a list of contacts to look out for and a plan.  I was also representing my company, so I had that very much in mind.  I received a lot of private invitations to events that were outside the convention center. I was honored to be invited to them, and as I made my schedule, I included them wrapped around all the wonderful BlogHer sessions I intended to go to.  I had every intention to do both, while representing my web site you’re reading now, and the company that I work for.  I’m a doer, why couldn’t I do it all?

When all was said and done, I realized that I had somehow left many of the sessions off my schedule.  I hadn’t heard so many of the fabulous women I had come to hear.  While I did enjoy meeting some of the most amazing women ever, I had somehow skipped several sessions they were speaking on stage at.

I felt like I’d gypped myself by missing a lot of the lectures and came back kind of disappointed.  But here’s the thing to remember when you’re planning BlogHer 2012 that will get you through the event:

YOU CAN’T BE EVERYWHERE AT ONCE.  You will always feel like you’re in the wrong session, at the wrong party there will be people somewhere else that you won’t be able to get to.

This year I’m going with less expectations of myself.  I know what I need to learn, who I want to meet.  I’m invited to less parties and I’m not representing my company.  I’m going as me, for me.  Oh, and to represent my new company, MamaDrama, which will be throwing some very cool events and sending bloggers to some very terrific shows (SPIDERMAN is one!).

A lof of my friends and colleagues commented on my blog last year, and I was given a lot of great advice and feedback that I’m going to put into use this year.

Like this by Liz at Mom 101There’s community, even in those parties.

She’s so right.  At my first BlogHer in 2010, I was completely overwhelmed.  The only women I knew were the women behind the site, Silicon Valley Moms.  I had no community then.  In 2011, I had a tremendous amount of community.  And maybe I wanted to celebrate them at BlogHer last year, and just be with them at some of the parties.  Nothing wrong with getting dressed up and going out on the town.

Jill over at Scary Mommy gave me this advice:  I just don’t think you can possibly do it all– for me, it’s about the people and that’s what makes it worth it. Connecting with people like you is really the best thing about it. (And, you didn’t scare me in the least).

She mixed up the sessions and parties and still felt like she was missing something.  That definitely tells you something.  This year she has a book to promote, so I’m sure Jill will be using the conference to promote it but this is her community.  I’ve taken lessons from her on how to embrace it and make it my own.  Community is key to success in this environment and there is no better place to solidify these relationships than BlogHer.  

Gigi at Kludgy Mom told me this:  I think Jill S. said it best in her comment above…there is so much to take in that it probably is impossible to come away feeling like it was “complete”.  She echoed my sentiments exactly. I had a fabulous time, made great connections, met my wonderful online friends, but still…I left wanting a little more.

Again, the same feeling seems to be echoed.  There is a lot to take in.  Study the agenda before you go, make sure you have an itinerary and schedule time to meet the bloggers you have been wanting to meet. 

Shari at Dusty Earth Mother honestly said:  Felt like I was trying to get a sip of water out of a firehose. But I still loved it!

BlogHer is like a wedding and will fly by.  Make it work for you.  Decide what you want to get out of it before you go so you make it work for what you need.

Tracey at Don’t Mess with Mama wrote:  Totally agree. It felt like it was all about the swag and parties. I actually thought some of the big brands were going overboard to woo bloggers. I really wanted more connections. The conference content was ok – I wanted more advanced tracks. A lot of the topics were about working with brands and PR – all about monetizing. I wanted to focus on blog content and connections with other bloggers. I’m wondering if a smaller blogging conference might be better for me.

After blogging for over two years, the swag no longer interests me, and I only want to meet with brands who have a mutual interest in me and I in them.  The exhibition hall is over-whelming and I have never figured out how to make unique conversations with the brands, with 3,000 other women having the same one. But again, I’ve learned this from experience.  I won’t feel bad or guilty for not leaving the conference with more or less business cards than anyone else.  But I have committed to jot down quick notes on each card that I get so that I remember facts about that person later.  Don’t just take cards to collect them, turn the contacts into something very real.

Jessica from Chaos and Love Shop was my last commentor, and she said:

This year was my first and I don’t think I “got” it at all before I went. I’m hoping to be more successful next year.

Me, too.  Well stated, Jessica.

Who out there in my readership land is attending BlogHer and what are your goals?  More importantly, will we meet?  Please comment below and we’ll get to some serious match-making.

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Comments

  1. I’m going! This will be first BlogHer and mainly I’ve just been stressed about childcare for Friday (Daddy has him Saturday, of course) and managing what that entails with my severely attached, still breastfeeding MANY times a day 17 month old…

    I’m so excited for the sessions that focus on writing – that’s what I’m zeroing in on. There are a few parties I’m hitting too, because I adore making new friends. I want to meet some of the MamaDrama people in person too! Basically there’s a lot to fit in!

  2. Hi Holly, Great advice and I will be there this year too for the first time (as an ambassador for Olioboard) but nonetheless on a mission to connect as well with as many blog-friends IRL as possible and learn as much as possible.
    After downloading the 100+ page guide I must admit I was a little scared.. so this was helpful.
    Hope to see you around the halls in NY next week xo J

  3. Nice prep for the event, Holly. And you’re welcome for my wildly helpful and intelligent comment :-)

  4. I am so overwhelmed by all there is to do yet I think I am going to focus on just what you are saying connections. I always find that making a few great contacts is more worthwhile than a thousand…but to make a few good ones – you have to listen and pay attention! (takes time and effort)

    • Rachel, that’s a great plan. I came back so fully equipped to help the brand I was supporting last year through my connections. It was HUGE for them, and for my new business that I was just launching.

  5. Really feeling like I made the wrong call in not making this a priority. Where/when is it in 2013???

  6. I’m sharing this post with some newbie friends of mine! Definitely remember feeling completely overwhelmed at my first BlogHer (Chicago 2009). Honestly, I’m not sure what possessed me to register for the next year other than it was close to home. I’m so glad I did, though.

    I get something different from each one, and usually it’s not what I expected. I absolutely agree that it’s helpful to consider your goals and come up with a strategy as long as you keep in mind that much like a birth plan, things don’t always go according to plan. Here I am at BlogHer #4, and I’m open to whatever the BlogHer universe sends my way. See you there!!

  7. Thanks for this Holly. I’m excited to be attending for the first time, too. I plan to focus on sessions and meet like-minded bloggers there.

  8. Great piece. This will be my first BlogHer conference. I’m nervous and so overwhelmed, I haven’t even looked at the schedule. After reading this, I will be sure to do so. Like the tip about making notes on cards and the varying comments you included, along with sharing your expectations and goals. It has all helped me to know a little of what to expect. Thank you.

    • Glad to be of any help. The more you plan, the better off you will be. I went in blind that first year and didn’t come out with very much but dizziness.

  9. This will be my first BligHer and I really hope to get some great insperation on how to turn my blog (which was just a hobby to start) into somthing less of a hobby and more of a job.

    • Kristin, if you know what you are looking for, look to go to lectures on that topic and set up meetings with like-minded people to use your time best.

  10. great info Holly. thanks for sharing. I’m heading to blogher this year as well. can’t wait.

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