BlogHer Conferences: Why I Go and What I Get from the Experience
A good friend of mine recently began blogging about marriage and asked me a few really great questions about my BlogHer conference experiences. These are great questions to ask if you're considering going to BlogHer, have already purchased your tickets and are experiencing anxiety, or just want to know what to expect. Of course, this is only my personal experience -- everyone's experience is different, and that is the beauty of such a diverse conference.
Here are her questions and the answers I gave in an email:
How many times have you attended?
This will be my third year -- 2010, 2011, and this year.
Are you still in touch with people you met there?
Yes, mostly on Twitter although I do also stalk their blogs :-) You actually meet SO MANY bloggers there that you can't follow them all closely. I find it's easiest to follow almost everyone I meet personally on Twitter. I make a Twitter list for it because I can't keep up with my 600+ stream of everyone, but I'm selective about whose blog I put into my Google Reader because my RSS feed gets OUT OF CONTROL otherwise.
What have you gotten out of 1) the conference as a whole 2) specific educational sessions 3) any other part of the experience?
1) conference as a whole -- overall, encouragement to keep going and the inspiration that what we are doing is worthwhile, and that we all have something to say. It's like being all pumped up and warm and fuzzy. Oh my goodness, Voices of the Year is so amazing every year. It's when bloggers who have been selected get up to read their winning posts. You laugh and cry and get angry. It is awesome.
2) that said, I have also been encouraged a lot by the various sessions. I have typically picked topics I already knew something about but wanted to know more. I loved "Loving your Small Blog" in 2010. Last year, I went to a bunch of sessions that talked about how your social media influence impacts how you work with companies because I was being paid to go on behalf of a social media company (the one I worked for at the time). Hearing what big brands and big agencies thought of bloggers' social media influence and then knowing the philosophies of the company I worked for was a little eye-opening. This year I am excited to be able to pick my own sessions again. You basically get out of it what you want to get out of it. Some people actually go and avoid sessions altogether, they go just to socialize and drink. That is not what I do, I like the sessions. I have also been pregnant or nursing both times so I couldn't really socialize much (too tired, squirmy baby with me). I would recommend looking at the conference agenda list to see what is out there. In addition, if you want to learn things like photography and managing your site and tech stuff, they have Geek Bar which teaches very nitty-gritty stuff.
3) I am not going to lie, it is a great opportunity for me to get away from my kids for a weekend! Well, except last year when I brought my baby. But not only am I getting some "me" time, I am also getting some time with other people who understand what I do. I don't have to downplay what I do ("Oh, it's just that sometimes I blog...") or explain what I do ("Oh, Twitter says that she might have croup!... what's Twitter? Um, just some friends... who blog... that I talk to... on my iPhone...nevermind"), or any of the other things I feel obligated to do when I talk about blogging in a non-blogger environment. It's great to be in a group of people who understand when you say "Hold on, I have to upload this to Instagram - thank goodness it also posts to Twitter and Facebook because that totally saves time, amirite?!"
Why would you recommend it to new bloggers or first-time attenders?
I would recommend it to anyone who is wanting to connect and learn about and from other bloggers. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to really kick off their blog as a "real effort." I would recommend it for women, in particular, because it is very empowering even for a small blogger like me.
How did blogging change for you after you attended?
On a super practical level, my blog traffic goes up after each conference, haha! But honestly, as long as I stay connected with most of the people I meet, it stays up for the most part because we tend to link to each other and maintain relationships. It has also given me more opportunities for PR (reviews, free products). Which, since I do not get paid, is the closest I get to making money off my blog right now. But mostly, it encourages me to keep going even though I am a very small fish in a big pond.
So that was my summary to a blogger who has never been.
Do you have any questions I could answer? Will I see you at BlogHer 2012 in NYC this year?