On Tech Tips and Tools For Navigating #BlogHer12
Last year at BlogHer, I attended almost every session, party and keynote. I made it early for yoga, was up late on the dance floor. In between, I got to know the Expo Hall from front to back. But I wasn't an attendee. As the official photographer last year, I got to see it all from behind a camera lens, and like seeing the wizard behind the curtain, I was given the opportunity to see how it all comes together. This year, returning as an attendee and a speaker, I feel like I come with the benefit of all that those five days taught me.
FACT: It is probably impossible to see everything, meet everyone and do all you want to do at BlogHer, but there are tech tips, tricks and tools to help you along he way.
One look at the agenda, and you may find yourself torn between attending two (or three) sessions that fall in the same slot. Having split coverage of the sessions with my co-shooter last year, we each had roughly 10 minutes per session, and there were so many times I wished I could stay where I was and hear more. But I also was aware of the cameras filming and the transcribers at the front of the room. The sessions live beyond the hour and fifteen minutes they take place. Beyond those rooms filled with creative energy and laughter and inspiration with the VirtualCon (here's a link to last year).
You can't attend every session, but you revisit them later online. Find the sessions that you think will be most beneficial for you to be immersed in live and in person. Where do you think you might connect with others? Always know that the rest of the panels are being recorded for you to enjoy later.
Think of it as BlogHer to-go.
FACT: Technology is your friend if you can make it work for you. Otherwise it’s simply more work.
Last year, I saw attendees using everything from the latest tech tools to pencil and paper in sessions. It’s all welcome. But having the shiniest new laptop or the latest iPad is only of value if you are at ease taking notes on the gadget du jour.
Are you comfortable enough with your iPad to take notes during the sessions? If not, perhaps consider a Zagg case or a bluetooth keyboard. Does your laptop have enough power to get you through the day? If not, make sure you have your wall charger on hand, and if possible, bring one with a long cord so you can have some flexibility in finding an outlet. Bringing a portable power strip is another plus. With so many attendees charging their gear, the supply of outlets won’t always meet the demand. A power strip means you might find someone who’ll share an outlet already in use (and make you popular, too).
If you opt to type, I think Evernote is a great free cross-platform app, for laptops, tablets and smartphones with the ability to sync across your systems. What you type is saved to the cyber-heavens and you can access it from anywhere.
RULE: Don’t worry about what you think looks cool. Whether you’re using a keyboard or college ruled paper, bring what works well for you to record what inspires and informs you during the sessions.
From cameras to computers, people will be schlepping a variety of things from event to event. Security issues can be a reality at any large event and you might not feel comfortable leaving things in your hotel room. Make sure you choose a bag that can hold your stuff without bringing you down.
I can't say enough good things about Kelly Moore's camera bags. I use the extremely versatile Mimi bag - if Marc Jacobs called Canon to create a camera bag, this would be it. It has an iPad sleeve, room to hold a ton of photo gear, but with it's repositional and removable dividers, you can configure it to be a tote for just about anything. Add the comfort of a great shoulder strap and the ability to be worn cross-body, it made it possible for me to carry 20 pounds of camera gear for five days last year.
From a small purse to a tote, cross-body bags will be your BlogHer best friend as they help balance the weight of what you're carrying while keeping hands free.
BLOGGING ON THE GO
If you plan to blog while at the conference via an iPad or smartphone rather than your computer, take a look at your site platform's mobile options for posting. Like note taking during the sessions, make sure you’re comfortable writing outside your comfort zone before you arrive. Maybe do a post or two before pre-conference just to get comfortable with the layout and image uploading. I recommend bookmarking a free photo editing site like PicMonkey.com for your laptop or checking out apps for your phone. On the iPhone, I’ve been a longtime user of Camera+, and also like having Phonto and PicFrame which are available for IOS and Droid devices.
YOU’RE IN CHARGE
Since power outlets can turn into hot commodities during a conference, so it's best to make sure you have all the peripherals you need and a some backup. I could not have made it through 18-hour shooting days at BlogHer without using the Mophie Juicepack for my phone. It literally made it possible to go a full day texting, tweeting, DMing, making notes and taking photos without the need to worry about the battery making it from sun up to Sparklecorn. That said, it's smart to keep a charger handy.
FACT: While at a social media conference, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the blog paparazzi.
We all get self conscious about having our photos taken. We all worry about an image we hate ending up on Facebook or Instagram. But you can take some control. First, choose whether people can tag you on Facebook without your approval in your Privacy Setting under Timeline and Tagging. The image might be online, but you don’t have to have it on your Wall and in your photo stream identifying you if you don’t love it.
RULE: You can ask people you know not to include your handle on twitter or Instagram, but with all the photo documenting that that takes place, expect that your image could pop up places.
At the end of the day, the photos you worry over are the ones you might regret not being part of a few months post-conference. Keep in mind that you’re at BlogHer to be part of a community. One that celebrates you.
Enjoy yourself. Immerse yourself in the information that the panels provide - walk away inspired and with resources to help you grow. Remember why #BlogHer12 exists.
Once upon a time, three smart and fabulous women decided to create an event for women on the web to make URL friends IRL ones. To spend two full days gaining tools to make you a better blogger and evenings to unplug...or at least to unwind. We live busy social media lives, but sometimes we need a bit more of the social part.
RULE: If the idea of going to #BlogHer12 involves some anxiety about all the people or what to wear or who’ll sit next to you at lunch, it means you’re human. And it means you probably have another thing in common with the stranger sitting next to you at the newbie breakfast or a Room of Your Own session.
Now, go download the truly fabulous BlogHer ’12 app and start planning!