Well, here it is. My BlogHer 2012 recap. I suppose many of you are sick of these, and mine is coming a little late. But I want to give an account of my time in NYC in hope that it will be helpful to someone who is considering going in the future.
I’m going to skip writing about the hotel (which was nice), the loooong lines for lunch (which we skipped out on and instead enjoyed at Chipotle and then Lindy’s), and the official parties (which were all in an awkward L-shaped space and VERY loud but did have free booze).
Let me start by saying that BlogHer was big. Huge. Colossal. And just not because it was in NYC or because there were nearly 5,000 in attendance. BlogHer made it clear to me that blogging is big business these days. President Obama addressed us on Thursday via live video conference. Martha Stuart and Katie Couric spoke during lunches. And brands went all out at the dozens of off-site parties. People were there to WORK. IT. and to take advantage of the plethora of marketing opportunities. All weekend, I kept thinking about how big it was. I felt so small. And so out of place being a non-monetized small blogger. I suppose that’s the thing I think it’s important for BlogHer newbies to know: that small bloggers are welcome, but that (at least in 2012) BlogHer seemed to me to be mostly about PR. All weekend there was this energy all around – women vying for success.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Who doesn’t want to be successful? If you are interested in how to polish your branding, how to use twitter and pintrest to drive traffic to your blog, SEO, html, or how to make an app, BlogHer is the perfect conference for you. Unfortunately for me, I went to focus on my writing, and only a few events seemed to really do that well. Cecily really says it better than I ever could here.
There has been talk of bloggers being cliquish. If that’s even a word. Yes, bloggers who were familiar with one another hung out together. They probably roomed together, ate together, and attended parties together. I know my roomies and I did just that because we felt more confident and secure. But you know what? Every blogger I introduced myself to was friendly. And 90% of them were also more than just polite. They asked about my blog, my history, my hometown and really listened. I shared a cab on Thursday with Tamera of MomRN, Jenny Ingram from Jenny on the Spot, and another blogger whose card I didn’t get and whose name I can’t remember. I feel terrible, because she was really kind – and her life/music blog sounded awesome. These women didn’t know me from Eve, but were kind enough to include me in the ride to Social Luxe (which is a whole other story) and remembered me when I bumped into them later in the weekend.
I quite literally stalked Gina from The Feminist Breeder down in the Expo Hall just so I could thank her for her post about oversupply. She was genuine and kind and I may have done that awkward happy skip away from our meeting. Let’s just hope she wasn’t watching. I got to hug Katherine Stone from Postpartum Progress again and dance with her at Sparklecorn. She came over to our little foursome periodically to check on us like a proud mother hen. I made new friends in the Serenity Suite, a quiet place to get away from all the calamity and to have great conversations. And Fadra Nally from All Things Fadra was exceptionally kind at Social Luxe on Thursday – taking a genuine interest in my blog and encouraging me in my attempt to mingle at a party where I knew absolutely no one.
And then there were the PPD mamas. I’m going to make some folks really jealous, but I have to tell you that Yael is just as warm and comforting in person as she is online. We sat together in the Serenity Suite Thursday evening and she made me the absolute best cup of tea I’ve ever had. There’s something about her that looks straight to your soul and really sees you for who you are. Her aura is stunning. It was so nice to meet Ivy in person instead of just on Facebook, and to hug Jenna (Frelle) every time I ran into her. And she was everywhere. That girl has got some conference stamina, let me tell you!
And my roommates. I’m convinced there have never been five strangers sharing a hotel room as considerate as we were of one another. They are the reason I spent much of the conference not at the conference…and I don’t regret it one bit. We had lunches off-site, held mini panels in our hotel rooms, Skyped with Story, Lindsay, and Yuz, shopped for luxurious soap at Sabon, and discussed everything from blogging to kids to relationships to sex. I felt truly heard…seen for who I am by these women, and I feel so lucky to have gotten a little girls getaway with them.
Jaime, you are so beautiful and passionate and kind. A’Driane, hugging you in person will be the highlight of 2012 for me. Truly. Amiyrah, I wish we had gotten more time to hang out. You worked your butt off all weekend and I was in awe of you. And Melanie, I am so very glad to have you as a new friend. I think we’re kindred spirits.
All of my best BlogHer moments were small, intimate meetings. Whether it was with old friends or new ones, the time spent with people, making deep connections – that’s what I wanted to really get out of BlogHer. I feel like I managed to do just that, but that I had to miss a lot of the conference to do it.
Would I go again? Maybe. It would depend on the speakers, the sessions, the prospective roommates. I have a feeling a smaller conference like Blissdom or Type A Con might be more up my alley. But I don’t regret attending BlogHer 2012 one bit. I found some great new folks to read and follow. I got some awesome free stuff. And I learned so much about the blogosphere and where I see myself fitting into it (or not fitting, actually).
I pushed myself , stretched my comfort zone wide open, dyed my hair pink, and thrived. Thank you, BlogHer for the memories, the experiences, the toilet cleaner. Most of all, thank you for my friends.