My BlogHer '11 Diary – Day One

For women-who-blog, the BlogHer Conference – held annually since 2005 – is a sort of social media mecca. It’s a once a year, three day event at which female bloggers ranging from The Supahstahs to brand newbies gather together with a wide range of sponsoring brands to learn, network, make deals, score swag and yes, even have some grown-up fun.

This year’s BlogHer Conference is taking place in San Diego, starting today (Thursday, August 4)  and running through the rest of the weekend. The event is slated to draw 3,500 (!!!!) women bloggers from all over the country, along with a high powered list of sponsoring brands. Even though I’ve been blogging since 2002, and despite the fact that I work in digital media professionally, this year’s BlogHer will be the very first one I’ve been able to attend live and in person. I’ve wanted to get to BlogHer Conferences in years past, but the stars just never aligned logistically/financially. So I am really psyched to finally be attending this year, especially since I was selected as one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year for 2011.

Because this is my first year attending BlogHer, and because I know that many bloggers who aren’t attending this year, or who have never attended before are curious to know what the Conference will be like, I’ve decided to bring y’all along for the ride with me via what I am calling “My BlogHer ’11 Diary,” which I will be publishing here at MomCrunch throughout the event.

So without further ado, I give you… My BlogHer ’11 Diary

Day One – Thursday, August 4

Well, it’s about to be midnight on Thursday, the first day of BlogHer ’11, and I should be checking into my San Diego hotel about now. Alas, however, a funny (actually NOT so funny) thing happened on my way to BlogHer.

I’ve spent the last five days on Pawley’s Island in South Carolina, vacationing with my family. The plan was for me to fly out of nearby Myrtle Beach International Airport late this afternoon, arriving in San Diego late Thursday night. However, after my husband dropped me off at the airport terminal with a kiss and headed back to the Island where our kids and the rest of our family remained, it became clear pretty quickly that there had been an error in booking my flight.

When I attempted to check in with the airline’s desk, I was informed that I’d missed my flight… BY 24 HOURS!

Yes, apparently the travel agency had somehow booked my flight from South Carolina to San Diego for the late afternoon of August 3 rather than August 4, even though they had not booked me into a hotel until Thursday evening, as we’d discussed. I’m not sure where the travel agent thought I would be staying that first night when she booked my flight for Wednesday and my hotel accommodations to begin on Thursday, but that’s a discussion for next week. For today, I found myself standing at the airline desk inside the Myrtle Beach Airport being told that my flight had left the day before, and with my only means of transportation now headed back to our family’s rented beach house 30 miles away.

(Yes, yes, YES, I know I should have double checked BOTH the flight info and the hotel info on the itinerary she emailed me after we spoke on the phone to confirm everything, but when I saw the hotel info was what we’d discussed moments previously, I stupidly assumed that the flight was as well. Her error in booking, mine in not reviewing her work carefully enough. But anyway…)

To make a long story short, after being told that I would not be flying anywhere that afternoon, I called Jon and asked him to come back to the airport and get me, I re-booked the flight for early, early Friday morning (at a not insignificant cost to me – again, something to discuss with the travel agency after I get back from BlogHer), and I am now back at our beach house tonight, ready to be up and out the door at 5:30 am to go BACK to the airport to fly to San Diego.

So yeah, BlogHer ’11 has started with a bang for me already. But even though I am not yet physically present at the event itself, it’s not too difficult to keep up with what’s happening with the 3,000+ attendees who HAVE already made it there. In fact, it’s pretty easy to follow BlogHer happenings in real time via social media, and on Twitter in particular.

Until this year, I’ve been one of the non-attendees watching and reading the incredibly active BlogHer hashtag on Twitter to keep up with the as-it-happens news and gossip from inside what is arguably the premier digital summit for women.  Although this year, those who were unable to attend BlogHer themselves can keep up via a special “Virtual Con” mini-site sponsored by P&G, I suspect that the real conversation around what’s taking place minute to minute at the event will still be found in Twitter traffic. In addition to the hoppin’ #BlogHer11 hashtag on Twitter, the other really active, real time social network for BlogHer attendees this year seems to be the photo sharing network Instagram, where BlogHer conference-goers are using the same #BlogHer11 hashtag.

If the Twitter and Instagram feeds are any indication, much of what appears to be going on at BlogHer tonight is good, old-fashioned party hopping. BlogHer Conferences are kind of famous for the parties they spawn, both the Conference-sponsored, open to all sorts of parties, as well as a wide variety of invitation-only soirees that take place during the Conference, both on-site and off.  For many BlogHer attendees, being invited (or not) to one or more of the various private parties thrown by different companies, agencies and brands reflects how influential particular bloggers are, and how likely certain bloggers are to land partnership and sponsoring opportunities for their work. If that’s the case, I am clearly low-blogger on the totem pole because I won’t be attending a single private event during my time at BlogHer. Why? Because I wasn’t invited to any. Of course, this doesn’t bother me one single bit because, you know, I am an adult, right? And this isn’t sorority rush or anything…and y’know, I really didn’t even WANT to be invited to any of the parties that all the rest of y’all are going to be attending because I will be back in my hotel room, ummmm, washing my hair. And anyway, I can just look at the photos of how much fun you are having on Instagram.

Yeah…so… ;-)

There you have it: Day One of My BlogHer ’11 Diary. And now I need to shut down Ye Olde Laptoppe and grab at least a few hours of sleep so that I can get up early enough in the morning to actually GET to BlogHer, thus ensuring that my next BlogHer ’11 Diary entry is actually written from California, rather than once again being written thousands of miles away from the actual event, on the opposite coast.

NEXT UP – DAY TWO:  Will Katie actually make it to BlogHer ’11? Or will her next BlogHer ’11 Diary installment come to you live and direct from the roof of a farmhouse somewhere in Iowa…? STAY TUNED!

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