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Observations From BlogHer '11: The Parties Vs. The Content

Closing keynote about Women In Media

I’m freshly home from BlogHer ’11 in San Diego after flying all night (hey, remind me not to ever, ever, ever do that again, okay?). My heart is full, my brain is overflowing, and I feel, as I do every year, recharged about the business of blogging.

I wanted to share my overall impressions while they are still fresh in my mind and heart. First of all, I thought San Diego was an amazing location. The weather was spectacular (how do you folks that live there survive all that gorgeous sunlight?), the hotel incredibly nice with great service, and the space at the convention center felt warm even though it was huge (I particularly loved the breakfast and lunch area because it had such a lovely breeze and didn’t get too loud while everyone ate).

But I noted something this year that has been an increasing trend at conferences: attendance at sessions was lower than I’d expect at  conference with 3,600 attendees.

My first year at BlogHer, in 2008, the sessions were PACKED. Women sat on the floor, happy to soak up the knowledge being offered about the business of blogging. I learned so much that I still carry with me today, and I never fail to attend several sessions when I’m at a blogging conference.

I find myself longing to wax poetic about how hard presenters work to put their sessions together, and how valuable the information is, and how spectacularly informed everyone that speaks on a panel is… but I think what I really want to talk about is the private events vs. the conference content.

The private parties and events may offer fun opportunities and swag, delicious food and entertainment, but they do not offer the thing that I find the most valuable over the long term when it comes to blogging: COMMUNITY.

I’m not going to be so rude or bold as to say, “Hey BlogHer attendees, you’re doing it wrong!”

However.

The increasing noise surrounding blogging conferences that is private, non-conference related brand events, do not, in my opinion, offer much in what I believe to be the foundation of blogging, and that is real life connections. I know many bloggers are eager to connect with marketers and brand reps, but here’s a not-so-secret truth about blogging conferences: those brand reps are attending the conference during the day, and they are much more accessible and able to make true and lasting connections when they are NOT in the middle of throwing a huge event.

Just something to think about.

I am eager and excited to attend BlogHer 2012 (in New York City again!) and plan to do my best to utilize the content being offered. I hope I’ll see many of you there!

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