My bucket list includes becoming a published writer, so I thought it would be a good idea to attend BlogHer ’13 in Chicago this year. I had some reservations, as it is somewhat expensive what with the flight and hotel, and I worried that I would feel overwhelmed and discouraged at the conference. Add to that the fact that I would be rooming with a friend I had never met in real life, and my anxiety that I would be the Worst Dressed Blogger, or voted Most Likely To Act Like A Spazz In Front of Someone Important, I was a tad nervous.
My fears and reservations were all for naught; the BlogHer conference exceeded my wildest expectations. I’m going to break it down for you according to areas of importance:
- Educational: I attended only sessions about writing, pitching, and publication, as those were the areas I wanted to focus on. There was only one session that I didn’t find particularly helpful (I am too nervous to list it specifically, but feel free to visit the braver Alyson’s blog and read what she thought of that session here) and all the others offered practical and specific tips. I learned about how to pitch a nonfiction book proposal, how to query a magazine or newspaper, and techniques for essay and memoir writing.
- Networking: I met some of my favorite blog friends in real life, but I’m going to talk more about that in a minute. One of the most unexpected things for me was that I got to meet some of the “big girls” (I’m speaking metaphorically, this is not a commentary on plus-size bloggers) and even had the privilege of listening to them share their wisdom. I met published authors, magazine editors, and bloggers whom I have never read before who have never read me. This was, for me, one of the only opportunities to meet important people in my field in real life.
- Inspiration: One of the highlights of the weekend included the Voices of the Year Reception. Not only was it hosted by Queen Latifah, the 12 speakers shared incredibly diverse, entertaining, and inspiring posts that had been selected from over 3000 submissions. I will likely remember some of those speakers for the rest of my life. Additionally, we had the honor of listening to Guy Kawasaki, Gale Ann Hurd, and Sheryl Sandburg speak- all were extremely inspiring, and I admit that I got a lot more out of their interviews than I was expecting to.
- Socializing: Perhaps the most striking aspect of my conference attendance was the fact that I met some of my favorite bloggers in person. Before the conference, I wondered if they would be as I imagined them, and I worried that my initial response would be, “Wow. You are not what I thought you’d be.” (Or worse, that they would think that about me!) I managed to find “my people” first thing in the morning, and I wasn’t alone for even a minute of the remainder of the weekend. I felt like I truly knew these people; it was a combination of making best friends at summer camp and experiencing a class reunion. It was more like I was spending time with women I had known for a long time- because I have known them for a long time. If anything, it validated the fact that it is possible to form friendships online, and really get a grasp on who a person is, even though you haven’t shared physical space. I laughed with these friends, danced with them, overshared with them, drank with them, and sent inappropriate text messages to them when we were sitting next to each other during presentations. And when I left them, I was sad. I even cried a few times. It felt like summer camp ending. Or how it would have felt, if I didn’t detest summer camp with every fiber of my being.
If these 4 things are reason enough for you to consider attending BlogHer ’14, let me give you some tips.
- Find your tribe. Don’t go it alone. Before you leave for the conference, make sure you have networked with other bloggers in Facebook or Google+ groups, and even had private conversations with them via email, phone, or video chat. One of the things I was most grateful for was the fact that when I walked into the newbie breakfast, I had a pack of 6 other bloggers at my side. We accumulated more people from our online tribe, took over the whole table, and walked out of the breakfast early because we were too busy talking to each other to listen to the speech. It was empowering to be there with them, to feel like I belonged. While trying not to make myself cry, I will thank Kate, Carisa, Sarah, Katia, Deb, Jen, Julie, Natalie, Sandy, Norine and Jessica, and Pam for being my blog tribe. Who did I forget? Did I mention I’m still exhausted from the trip home?
- Don’t be afraid to talk to the popular girls. You might be surprised by how friendly they are, and how much knowledge and encouragement they have to share. Some of the most unexpected moments of my weekend included randomly bumping into Jen of People I Want To Punch In The Throat, Kim of Let Me Start By Saying, Leslie of The Bearded Iris, and Nicole Leigh Shaw. They were warm, welcoming, and wise. Oh wait, and witty. And white. Ummm…
- Have a plan for what you want to get out of your sessions. I had heard complaints that people “didn’t really learn anything” or attended a session where they already knew everything being discussed. As I said, there was only one session I attended that, while entertaining, wasn’t particularly instructive. I had a very clear picture of what skills I wanted to focus on, and I highlighted the sessions in advance to help prioritize and organize my schedule. I was a bit conflicted when choosing between a few of the Day 2 sessions, but after the first day, I had the added perspective to help me weigh my choices. Be as deliberate as you can.
- Don’t worry so much about what you’re going to wear. I went home with 4 outfits that I’d packed and never worn. I had intended to change into “evening wear” for the parties, and just never got around to it. I saw suits, dresses, jeans, shorts, skirts, and every type of shoe imaginable. The fact it, people just aren’t looking that much, and they just don’t care. I wasn’t self-conscious at all. I realized after the first day that there was a full rainbow of fashion choices, and I would fit into the spectrum somewhere. I didn’t even care that I was the lady carrying two bags with clashing floral patterns. People have better things to focus on, like how much free food they can consume in the Expo.
So there you have it- my BlogHer ’13 experience all summed up. In case you actually read this whole thing, having not succumbed to the glazed eyes of one who has read a few too many BlogHer wrap-ups, make a note that we have a special guest host for next week’s Finish the Sentence Friday, as I will be on a family vacation. (Oxymoron? Discuss.)
You can link up with Kristi of Finding Ninee in addition to your regulars!
Welcome Back to Finish the Sentence Friday!
Me from Mommy, for Real
Janine from Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kate from Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?
Dawn from Dawn’s Disaster
- Follow Your Hosts, If You Like, and Anyone Else You Find On the List!
- Make Sure to Read and Comment on at Least Two Other Posts.
- Share Your Favorites on Facebook and/or Twitter Using the Hashtag #FTSF.
- Link Up Your Posts Below with This Week’s Sentence Prompt.
- Hop around and have fun!
Next week’s sentence is: “I have a bad habit of….”
Really great tips and truly looked like so much fun. Hope to someday get to go in the future, so I love hearing all the stories, as well as the input here, too!!
It was well worth it, Janine- I hope you do!
Awesome post. And until I read this, I didn’t know Nicole Leigh Shaw was such a big deal. I totally hung out with her on Saturday night and she is super cool and does not act like a big shot!
I know- she totally doesn’t act like a big shot. But, she IS the blogger formerly known as Ninja Mom! 😉
I am still in BlogHer withdrawal…. yes, class reunion and totally fun summer camp all in one! And can I just say that I LOVE that you organized your thoughts about the conference by category? No doubt – we are kindred spirits! Miss you! xoxo
I am in withdrawal still, too! Yep, we are without a doubt kindred spirits, and I miss you too!
I loved hearing about your BlogHer experience. I would really like to attend next year. It sounds like a great big Girls Night Out!!
It was totally a big Girls Night Out, Betty! So fun!
You are SO right! And I’m so happy to be one of your Tribe! Even if we are separated by a few years! LOL!~
You are most definitely one of my tribe… even though I was too forgetful and conference-hungover to include your link- doh! And the age thing? Meaningless. 🙂
I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been wondering if it’s all worth it. I mean, I know it’s WORTH it. What SAHM doesn’t want a chance to socialize with adults, drink, and dance her ass off? But I wondered if I would get anything ELSE out of it, you know?? Thanks for convincing me. Hope we can both swing it for next year!!!
I’m glad you appreciated it, and I really hope we can both go next year- how cool would it be t meet in person?!
Not sure if I’m loving or hating all these posts about BlogHer! 🙂 Hoping I can put it on my bucket list for next summer and meet some of you wonderful other blogger ladies in person!
I hope you can swing it sometime in the next few years- it is so worth it!
Loved this! Awesome recap and I loved how you gave specific things for new people to think about for next year. Awesome!
Thanks Kate! Hope it is helpful to somebody!
How exciting! So glad to hear about your experience, and that it was fun, rewarding, and like the way summer camp is supposed to be, not the kind that you hated!
First of all, you looked awesome the whole time. If I could rock that look I so would!
Second, I’m so honored to be part of your tribe. I feel so lucky that I found you!
Finally, good tips. I am going to pin this one to the favorites board because I think people could really use your advice.
I definitely got more out of this year, but I have to say that going it alone and clueless last year was a great learning experience, too!
Thank you on all counts! I’m so pleased to hear that you don’t think I should be voted Worst Dressed. 🙂 And I am so thankful to have you in my tribe- you are just as incredible in person as I imagined you would be! Thanks for sharing this- I really hope it is helpful to someone!
Aw, shucks. 🙂
You wore two conflicting floral patterned purses? OMG!!!!!! I guess I was having so much fun with you I never noticed. It was so much fun getting to know you and having you include me in your tribe. Spener Underscore was cute wasn’t he?
I know- I should never have publicly shared that humiliating fact. And Spencer is SO adorable. It was a blast, wasn’t it?
thanks for the tips…One day I will get to go on a bloggy conference. I should have added that to my bucket list, lol.
It’s definitely worth adding to your bucket list!
What an absolutely fantastic experience!! I wish I could have been there and in one of those pictures with you!! RATS!! I am bookmarking this post so I can refer back to it next year when I am absolutely going to be there (I hope!). –Lisa
Next year- YES! Let’s make it happen…
I had so much fun with you and kate. it did feel like we’d known each other forever. It sucks to wait a whole year to see all of you again, but I’m terribly afraid that next year- I’ll be even more obnoxiously excited because I’ll want to see everyone again!!!!xoxoxo
Wasn’t it perfect? Sigh. So much fun. Miss you girls already…
Inspiring post Stephanie! Sounds as if this won’t be the last Blogher conference for you. How awesome to hook up with your virtual people for real.
(pun intended lol)
Thanks for sharing the pics too. You can tell you guys had a ball.
We totally had a ball… And glad you liked the post! Thanks for swingin’ by…
I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. (If I keep saying it, it will be true, right?)
But I’ll see you next year. 🙂
Yeah you will!!! Can’t wait…
Hi, thanks for the inspiration. You really had good tips. I glad you enjoyed the conference. I want to go too next year. I have to start blogging on BlogHer again. 🙂
It’s especially interesting reading about your experience this time, knowing that we were both that and that I was part of that experience as you were part of mine! I am proud to be in your tribe and to be considered a friend. You inspire me. I absolutely loved the advice/tips portion at the end. I wish I had read some it before going. I should bookmark this and use it as a reminder next year if I go. 🙂
I know- it is still kind of surreal that we were there together. And I hope we both return next year… xo
Wow, those were some very good pointers. Thanks for sharing them! I haven’t mustered the courage to attend one yet!
Glad you liked them! I thought if would be more overwhelming than it was- you can do it!
I had a really amazing and succinct comment in mind while reading this awesome recap of your most excellent time… but I lost it after hitting myself in the head with a brick for being too dumb and insecure to go to BlogHer myself and meet you in person. Sigh.
Stephanie! I am so excited to be linking up for the first time! I have finally gotten over my writer’s block about prompts! I hope I can do it again. I would really like to. Yay!
I’m glad you took the step to go, and got so much out of it!
You did forget one person…me, oh, wait, I wasn’t there. That’s right. 🙂 Maybe next year. It really sounds so great, Stephanie! I’m so glad that it was all of these things for you.
Sounds like you got a lot out of it and went IN with a great attitude, which probably made a big difference. I’m always sort of waffling between whether I want to spend my time and money on a blog conference or a writing conference. I’d probably go the blog conference route since I abandoned fiction over a year ago!