I went to my first BlogHer conference in 2008. I was SO nervous! I’d pretty much at that point in my life only gone to a couple of conferences and those were not business or professional at all; I wasn’t sure how to behave, what to think, how to meet new people…
But I had a blast. I went back in my blog and read my BlogHer post, and this is what I had to say about why I loved it.
I feel thanks to BlogHer filled up. Brimming with energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Blogging means more to me than ever, and BlogHer actually clarified my relationship to blogging in ways I didn’t expect. It’s like blogging and I went to dinner and had a long talk about our relationship and then came home to have hot, hot sex.
That’s what BlogHer means to me. It’s about reconnecting to why blogging matters. Of course, all blogging conferences do that for me to some extent, but BlogHer is special. The air is just charged with energy. Every year, it fills me up.
I will admit that things have changed since that conference in 2008; it was during that next year that the relationships between brands and bloggers really cemented, and the conference in 2009 was vastly different. Many bloggers were sponsored as individuals, and you couldn’t turn around without someone trying to hand you swag (I was actually followed into a bathroom stall at one point by a blogger determined to make me take a t-shirt). In 2010 in New York, the brands had it figured out and that’s when outboarding became a huge issue; I remember the dismay I felt when I saw a huge bus in front of the hotel whisk bloggers away from the conference when I knew a great keynote was about to happen.
Last year in San Diego was magical; the constant sunshine, the conference sessions… it was great. Admittedly, reading in the community keynote at BlogHer was a defining moment for me, as it has always been my very favorite part of the conference hearing a group of bloggers share from their hearts on stage the words I’ve only read on the screen is, simply, the most amazing thing ever.
This year I feel, well, frustrated and a bit worried. I have found myself wanting to grab new bloggers and direct their attention away from just the expo hall and off-site parties to the conference schedule, jam packed with ridiculously awesome and useful content. I know that this year the conference sessions will offer a professional track that can really change perspectives and help bloggers drive more traffic to their sites and after all, brands want bloggers with high traffic numbers, right?
Obviously, BlogHer is a different experience for everyone, and as a blogger that falls heavily into the “memoir” category in my personal blog, I tend to gravitate to content more than brands anyway and I am trying not to stand in judgement of those that would rather spend their time making connections in the expo hall.
But at the heart of the hype is this: your blog. The little place where you come to share your tips, your tricks, your stories, and your trials. Without your blog, there are no brand parties. There is no swag. No reviews or giveaways or packages in the mail. The cornerstone of all of it is your blog.
This is why I want you to get the most out of BlogHer! There is no other place in the world where you will find more tools of the trade that you can apply to your blog than in the sessions at BlogHer. There is no other place where you can find a quiet corner with someone you admire and have a life-changing conversation that covers everything from the best stat tracker to the heartbreaks and joys of life.
As a BlogHer veteran, I’m going to plead with you: before you board that party bus, look at the conference schedule. Make sure you aren’t missing something that will give you the ability to stand above the pack, instead of crushed in a small room offsite with too many bloggers all trying to capture a brand’s attention.
Because you and your blog matter, and I can’t wait to meet you. You’ll find me in the sessions, and on the dance floor at Sparklecorn.