Announcing: Room of Your Own Sessions at BlogHer ’11!
"The conference the community built" -- it's one of the most concise descriptions of BlogHer, and our favorite. Most of the sessions are crowd-sourced, to one degree or another, with a touch of curation around the edges. Even so, we know that after we’ve arranged the best imaginable conference program, those of you who are planning to come will see opportunities we haven’t. That's where Rooms of Your Own come in. Elisa described the process last year:
As outlined in our original Call for Ideas, Room of Your Own sessions have always been an opportunity for registered attendees to participate in the conference in a more active way. We already build the first round of programming from our call for ideas from the community, and this second round is a way for attendees –- who, after all, have the most stake in the conference agenda -– to say not only that that you think there's still a hole in the agenda, but that you are happy to fill it!
She goes on to say that we’ve played with this formula every year, "with two constants: The Rooms of Your Own reflect community interest and bring diversity to the conference schedule." (The first post describing what we fondly refer to as ROYOs is here, from Lisa, back in 2005; here’s another, from Elisa, in 2006).
The community interest element ain’t broke, so we’re not fixin’ it: The ROYOs you see reflect the topics most of you wanted to see added to the agenda. Popular ROYOs this year tended toward the monetize-and-professionalize-your-blog topic areas: from Building E-Products (all kinds, every aspect of the process) to Perfecting Product Reviews (from pitch letter to the ask and everything in between) to pulling off Great Blog Design ("great design is subjective -- except when it's not!") to Putting the “Professional” in Professional Blogging (pro tips from folks who've worked both sides of PR/marketing) and How to Create a Kick A$$ Proposal (proposing a campaign? sponsorship? a speaking engagement? ad revenue? consulting job? get in here!). It's an incredible line-up of sessions. Go forth, and make your blog better-faster-stronger!
New this year –- since we’re always evolving, based on what y’all are bringing –- are two things that emanated from the ROYO pool in one way or another, and warranted special attention. One is a Special Needs Mini-Conference, and another is a ROYO proposal-sourced Experience track.
Because so many people –- over a hundred -- have expressed an interest, we’ve set aside space and time for a mini-conference for bloggers writing about raising kids with special needs. It will kick off with its own lunch service when the lunch hour starts on the first day (11:45am - 1:15pm). Then it will continue on in the same space, through the first afternoon session (1:15 – 2:30pm). Check out the Special Needs Mini-Conference description for an overview of what’s sure to be a dynamic event.
Finally, a clear theme that emerged from this year's ROYO proposals was that folks don’t want to just breathe life into their blogs while they’re at the conference: they want to breathe life into their lives, alongside their bloggy friends! So we grouped five proposals into an Experience track. One focuses on Wellness of both body and spirit, another on bringing your written work From Page to Stage (wherever that stage may be!). Another provides you an opportunity to Live Your Dreams and Learn the "Single Ladies" Dance (need inspiration? ask anyone who witnessed Jenny Eckton busting a move at the Sparklecorn and CheeseburgHer parties at BlogHer ’10! we specifically scheduled this session on Friday so you can bust a move throughout the weekend!).
BlogHer Ashleigh Burroughs was shot alongside others at Rep. Gabby Giffords’ "Congress On Your Corner" event in Tucson; Sarah Manley wrote a post entitled "My Son Is Gay," about her boy’s gender-atypical Halloween costume choice and wound up finding the whole nation watching. In The Unexpected Viral Explosion, they talk about how their blog communities helped in getting them through their (still unfolding) life experiences, and how they tried to weather the storm in their inbox.
Last: Create a Vision Board provides you the opportunity to envision your bloggy dreams into reality. We’ve given it an overflow session, so that those of you who wish to keep on vision-boarding can do so after the first hour and a quarter. After all: BlogHer bloggers are big thinkers! Who are we to keep your envisioning hemmed into one session!
Thank you all for proposing so many incredible Rooms of Your Own! For those whom we couldn’t accommodate this year, please try again next time! This conference is a work in constant progress, and it is your spirit that animates it. Meanwhile, we hope you take advantage of every other opportunity you have, whether it’s the self-formed Birds of a Feather lunches on Friday, pre-programmed Birds of a Feather sessions throughout the weekend, or ad-hoc meet-ups you divine and Tweet out to your Tweeps. Let us know on this post, or Tweet us @BlogHerEvents anytime throughout the conference with questions or bright ideas, and we’ll do all we can to help you make whatever you can into a room of your own!