Where I bare my soul about BlogHer…

 I’m finding this BlogHer recap post a bit challenging to write. Perhaps because I am running on fumes at this point—four nights with little sleep.  That would be the easy answer. The more difficult answer is that there were things I loved about BlogHer and other things, well, that were kind of disappointing.

Let’s talk about love first.

The main reason for my being at BlogHer was to accompany my fabulous author to various sessions, her booksigning, and steer her in the right direction if needed. This part was great. I love to get a chance to hang out with my authors and what a treat to be with a rockstar at BlogHer and see her get recognized by many of her blogging peers.

Speed Dating, BlogHer-style was another favorite. The BlogHer founders did it a little differently than last year and I think made it that much more effective. They had us all line up in two big circles around the room—an inner and outer– facing each other with the instruction that only the inner circle would rotate counterclockwise at one minute intervals. With 1,500 women, the circle went around the entire circumference of the Sheraton ballroom.  Then for about 30 minutes, we had one minute to talk with the person facing us until they told us that our minute was up and the person would move on. I was on the outer circle so I basically stood in one place and waited for new faces to greet me every 60 seconds. It was really fun, albeit a little manic, and gave me an opportunity to meet a wide array of bloggers and other marketing professionals I would not have otherwise gotten a chance to meet.

I also really enjoyed spending time with my colleagues who are a bunch of funny, smart and just downright cool women. Having my own “posse” there made navigating such a huge event that much easier—even though it was still overwhelming.

I have to admit that there was something very awesome about meeting and/or seeing all of these amazing bloggers whom I’ve been following in one form or another for the past year. It really felt like I was seeing and in some cases, meeting, celebrities – even if few would have recognized these women outside of those ballroom walls.

 Now for the mixed feelings.

The sessions were a mixed bag and part of that was due to poor planning on the part of the BlogHer folks.  Do you think it makes sense to put four of your most popular bloggers on a panel together and put them in a tiny room in the corner of the basement? It gave new meaning to standing room only. People were sitting on the floor, in corners, jammed in the doorway, and practically on top of one another. It was hard to hear and really difficult to connect and caused a bit of competitiveness as people fought to get through the doors and gain the best view.

Another complaint is related to the sessions that didn’t deliver on what they promised. For example, should we really be talking about Google alerts in an Advanced SEO session? If I’m feeling unchallenged then you know there is a problem.

With that said, I did find some sessions valuable including a Beginning SEO session lead by Kelby. She was very knowledgeable and I picked up some great tips so thanks to Kelby for that. Also very helpful was the session on getting the word out about your blog. All three panelists were fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable so thanks to Jen, Annie and Jessica for your savvy sense (even if I had to sit on the darn floor again – growl).

And, naturally I attended the “Online Safety for Your Kids” session where my author, Lenore, joined a talented panel of women and added just the right amount of humor and fact-based savvy while addressing a host of issues and concerns related to kids and the Internet. 

 I would love to be sharing more of my great knowledge from all of the sessions I attended, which brings me to complaint #3. Can we please make this a three day conference? With an average of six sessions going on concurrently on TOP of the helpful Geek labs (where one can polish up on their social media skills), it’s impossible to even scrape the surface of everything being offered — not to mention all of the random giveaways (read: SWAG) and other distractions going on concurrently. A three-day conference would allow the attendees to experience so much more –visit more panels, have more time to spend with each other (as opposed to drive-bys which is what a lot of it felt like to me).

From a professional standpoint, I did walk away with more blogging and social media insight than I had going in but I know I could have come away with that much more if I’d been able to sit in on more sessions.

 The part that kind of sucked.

This was my first year attending BlogHer as an actual blogger. So even though I was there in a professional capacity, there was a part of me that felt a bit vulnerable. Sure, I could have not even mentioned that I’d started a blog, but, what good is that? If I wasn’t going to feel comfortable telling people I have a blog at a BLOGGING conference, well, I might as well just shut down and call it a day.

I even went so far as to create new business cards to *advertise* myself if the opportunity were to arise. And, of course it did.  Repeatedly. After awhile I got used to explaining that while I was at BlogHer for business purposes–and what that business was– I also had a blog. Most people were very nice and we went through the exercise of exchanging cards.

As I mentioned in the Love part above, it was exciting to see and/or meet some big name bloggers – at first. After about a day of being there it felt a bit like there was a hierarchy at play – the popular bloggers and everyone else. I didn’t fully realize that some of the bloggers that I’d been following religiously (and commenting on their posts regularly) were the most popular bloggers. But, once I got to BlogHer it became clear. And, while I realize, of course, that they don’t owe me a thing : What am I to them but just another reader?  I can’t help but think that it’s all of your readers and commenters that MAKE you popular. If not for us, where would you be?

It made me even question if I wanted to do this blogging thing if it’s all about popularity. I started blogging because I wanted to write – not to be popular. I thought if I ever got to a place where even a few people were commenting that that would be significant. And, if anyone ever came up to me and told me that they loved my blog, I’d be thrilled and gracious. But, I guess, like with any celebrity – after you hear it a few thousand times, it just gets old.

Regardless, this little undercurrent of elitism left me a little bruised but also the wiser. And, while this certainly isn’t my main take away from BlogHer 2009, it saddens me that it’s a take away at all.

4 Responses to “Where I bare my soul about BlogHer…”

  1. A.) SO nice to get a chance to meet you last weekend.

    B.) I totally agree with you on all of it–lots of inspiration and LOTS of disillusionment. In the end it made me happy to be just little old me with my little old blog. Never having been one of the “cool kids” in my life, I’m pretty content with my tiny little corner of the world. It’s about the writing, not the stats. 🙂

  2. talesofanunfinishedmom Says:

    It was great to meet you too, Sarah!

    I’m glad that we share some of the same feelings. I was starting to think that maybe I was just being oversensitive. 😉

  3. Without seeing a picture of you I am not for sure when I met you. If you have a lot of business cards I am sure you will be the same way. LOL I enjoyed reading your post about BlogHer. You are right about the hierarchy.
    I asked to take a picture with 2 other really tall bloggers at a party (having no idea who they were..I just knew they were both taller than me and at 5’10” that is unusual!) and they were both very nice and I had a fun picture. I came to find out at least one of them was a very popular blogger. I read a couple of blogs about people hoping to meet her and thinking they would never get close to her. Heck…if I knew that I probably would never have considered asking for a picture. Isn’t that dumb?
    But over all it was a great time and I loved it! Forget some of the typical drama stuff any time you put 1500 woman and free gift bags in front of them….

  4. I, too, had to revisit that question – why do I blog. And if I were just a blogger, not a marketer and a blogger, what would I gain from this conference? (I’m not sure that I would gain much…)
    I’m glad you went though, it’s always nice spending time with colleagues that I never have the opportunity to socialize with!

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