Y’all – I survived BlogHer’13. As a newbie! Who was by herself! I think I should get a reward – or at least a big slice of chocolate cake.
There were so many things that I learned from the conference – from how to interact with fellow bloggers to writing tips to understanding what a sponsor expo is all about. The list is endless.
If I had to narrow it down to just a few lessons, however, I think I would start with these things:
I needed a lot more business cards than I thought.
Prior to the conference, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with the business cards that they told me to bring. Luckily, the conference attendees’ interactions addressed my confusion shortly after the start of our morning.
Since most bloggers are introverts, we were in company throughout the weekend. This led to an interesting dynamic upon meeting each other. After, on average 2 minutes and 26 seconds, my new blogger friend and I were out of things to quickly chat about and thrown into that awkward stance where we just sort of stared at each other – not really knowing anything definitive about each other except that we both have blogs.
Insert business card.
“Here’s my card!” Go read about my entire life – all feelings, emotions, successes, and the time I cried because it looked like I had cellulite in a picture – and judge me behind your monitor. K, Thanks! Bye!
Then, repeat 963 times.
Good thing I only brought 20 business cards. Ugh.
The sponsor booths are cool!
For a while, I thought about not even venturing over to the sponsor expo section of the conference. I don’t pursue many sponsorship opportunities for my blog. This derives from both my own feelings of the experience I want my readers to encounter and, also, my naïvety that I was not enough of a ‘big deal’ for the sponsors.
Let me say that I am so glad that I ventured into the sponsor expo! Not only was it an amazing experience for an individual (hello Folgers Recharge station!) and all the other fun booths with free samples and unique activities including Ulta’s Beauty LOLs where you videotaped your most embarrassing beauty mistakes (too many to mention for me)! I also learned, upon speaking with the representatives, that most brands do not care about your number of followers or readership levels, but that you are connecting with your audience. Very cool! I am not entirely sold on all the sponsorship opportunities, but I am definitely open to ones that fit well with my blog brand. “What is your brand, anyway?” you might ask. TBD? TBD forever?
There actually are famous bloggers and better bloggers and more important bloggers than me, and most of them attend BlogHer.
This is silly, I know. But, it’s undeniably true. Overall, everyone was super nice and intrigued to meet each other and learn about the others’ blog. There will always be those, however, who come across as interested in finding someone more important to talk to or just avoiding ‘newbies’ at all costs.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a perfectly normal mentality. It’s kind of like when you take sports lessons and they split students up into Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Each student is taking lessons for a different reason and hoping to gain various skill sets from the experience. (Except, we were all thrown into the same conference hall and, upon first glance, it was difficult to discern who was in which “track.”) Regardless of the awkwardness, I was inspired and fascinated to meet bloggers from various levels of experience, perspectives and genres.
The use for the business cards, the benefits of the sponsor booths and the latitude of the bloggers out there are all things that I am grateful for learning – but they didn’t surprise me. The most unexpected thing I learned at BlogHer occurred in the midst of the chaos of the conference.
I’m not sure if it was while Sheryl Sandburg spoke of “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” or while Ree Drummond talked of writing the most ridiculously weird, nonsensical blog posts ever or when I was surrounded by bloggers who were way more talented and successful than me – but it hit me suddenly that there was an undeniable feeling that I was exactly where I needed to be.
Even though I traveled for hundreds of miles via car and bus, even though I still read back on past blog posts and squirm and even though I have little idea where this blog is actually going. Even though I sometimes doubt myself, even though I’m often too tired at night to write a post or *heck* respond to a comment, even though I was in Chicago essentially alone, I felt like my attendance at this conference was IT; the absolute right thing for me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt in the right place – whether in your work, or your relationships, or your family life – or your friendships, or at the coffee shop, or just in the middle of driving around the town.
But it is an amazing feeling.