BlogHer started when a savvy trio of women started this ad network and online writing site for women over 5 years ago, with the intention of connecting women bloggers from all over the country. They have done an excellent job of that in 5 years. I have been with the network for over 3 years and have loved being associated with BlogHer. It has been a great opportunity for me to grow and learn as a blogger and being able to attend my first conference with them was a dream come true.
Being a finalist in the Knorr4 and getting an all expenses paid trip was also a dream come true. I couldn’t have gone if not for that and when I found out I was going, I squealed in delight.
All of the finalists stayed in the beautiful Omni Hotel, right across the street from the San Diego Convention center with a beautiful view of the bay behind it. San Diego is one breath-taking city. When I checked into the hotel, I looked out the window and saw this pretty courtyard. That’s the convention center behind those sail-looking structures.
Out the other window going into my room was this view. Not too shabby all the way around.
I thought I’d share my room with you on this trip too. The Omni is a very nice hotel with comfortable accommodations.
We were in the middle of the Historic Heart of San Diego and this street was bustling with restaurants, shopping and plenty to do.
Walking across the street, this is the San Diego Convention Center, a huge metropolis of space for so many conferences. At over 4,000 attendees, BlogHer took over a huge amount of the space.
I could get used to this view and that weather any day. I went from 95 and sweltering to about 75 and breezy/sunny. Yes, Californians love their weather and I can definitely see why! It’s certainly enviable.
Another look at the back of the convention center with a huge terrace.
BlogHer 11 had at least 100 sponsors and this is the banner going up the stairs.
Lowes was a big sponsor and had a nice area set up, complete with power tools.
Pepsi was another big sponsor and had a great space set up.
Check out the giant shoe made from Pepsi cans. It was a lot of fun walking through the Expo and checking out all the vendors.
Here’s an example of vendor row.
One afternoon, we got to see Giuliana from Giuliana and Bill. I somehow got hooked on watching their show to see what they are up to next. Anyone else? The cute girl on the left is Carrian Cheney who was one of the final 4 with me in the Knorr 4 challenge. Giuliana was very nice and friendly, fun to see a celebrity at the event!
Loved her outfit and shoes.
Do you know these 2 cute girls?! Famous craft/home bloggers Jen with Tatertots and Jello is on the left and Shelley with House of Smiths on the right. These girls are SO sweet and I enjoyed so much getting to know them. They were going to all these fun private parties that I didn’t have a clue about, but I had fun anyway. It seems when you go to a big conference like this that there are a ton of sponsor parties that you need invitations to. Since my trip was last minute, I didn’t get in on those. Shelley and I did get to attend a preview showing of The Help one evening along with a house full of other BlogHer girls and that was a blast too!
This is Rachel, one of my sweet friends from Birmingham, who was one of this year’s Voices of the Year for her blog post about the tornadoes in AL earlier this year. Rachel is a very gifted writer and I’m happy to call her friend. I’m so grateful that these young women welcome me into their circle of friends, even though I’m old enough to be (some of ) their mom!
Since I’m a middle-aged woman, I haven’t had the opportunity to see a flash mob in person (but at least I knew what it was)! One day during lunch, a flash mob broke out and a whole bunch of girls got up and starting dancing to a Lady Gaga song, preplanned of course. It was fun and energetic!
We did interviews right before the Knorr group announced the winners of the Knorr 4 cook-off and that was fun.
So, what did I learn at BlogHer:
- You can be yourself when you go to a blog conference. Even though you may think that everyone knows each other, they don’t. I felt like a little fish in a big pond at BlogHer, but still it was very fun and inspiring to be there. A whole bunch of bloggers in one spot creates a lot of energy and excitement. There are bloggers from all niches across the blogosphere and it’s fun just hanging out with those that “get” blogging.
- Don’t worry about what you are wearing. You will see all sorts of dress and fashion at a blog conference. The main thing is just to wear what is comfortable to you and you don’t have to try to impress. It’s more casual than anything else. Take comfortable shoes! You will be on your feet a lot and walking on the streets to and from hotels, so be sure and have on some comfy walking shoes. Flip flops are not ideal in that situation, ask me how I know?!
- All blog conferences this size will have a ton of sponsor booths set up. This one was huge, with at least 100 sponsors in the big Expo hall. Bloggers are encouraged to visit all the sponsors and fill up your bags with free goodies and coupons (swag bags). That is fun, except I didn’t have a lot of room in my suitcase for extras, so made sure I didn’t take too much.
- There are a TON of sessions at a big blog conference like BlogHer. You will feel like you are missing out because there is something going on all the time. You just have to pace yourself and realize that you can’t be everywhere at the same time. At any given time on the schedule, there were 10 sessions to choose from, so you do have to pick and choose which panels and sessions you think you might get the most out of.
- I only had time for Friday sessions and did hit 3 of them:
Bad Blogger Pitches (blogging and PR relationships)
Boomer Bloggers & Frugal Blogging – These were going on at the same time, so I split time between the 2 of them. It was interesting discussions, but the boomer bloggers were especially noteworthy to me, since I’m right in the middle of the boomer generation.
Peer Networking – Working together to Help all Boats Rise: There was some good discussion in this one, but overall I didn’t learn a lot of things that I didn’t know already.
I’ve read a lot of recaps on the BlogHer blogging conference and it’s always interesting to hear what everyone else thinks of a conference. Overall, I had a great time. I did meet a few new bloggy friends and reconnected with some old ones and that part is fun. To me, the relationships of blogging are the best part about it. A big conference like this can be totally overwhelming, but you have to connect and talk with others to make it worthwhile. Don’t be shy!
There are a lot of opportunities for networking too, from PR people, to sponsors, to book publishers. You just have to get yourself out there and meet and greet with a lot of folks, handing out business cards. I did some of that, but I’m not the best about marketing myself or walking up to strangers. I tend to stay in a smaller group and not get too far out of my comfort zone.
Saturday was spent in the Knorr cook-off, so I didn’t have any time for sessions that day.
There were a ton of sponsor parties that I didn’t get in on, simply because my trip was planned only a week or so before the conference. But, that was OK too, I still had fun. You can hit the BlogHer parties every night, where the loud music pulsates and lots of alcohol is flowing, but since that is not my thing, I didn’t hang out too long at the parties.
I’m getting a little too old for that sort of thing. Relaxed and serene is more my speed these days. Next year, BlogHer 2012 will be back in New York. Will I go to that one? I just might! Next time, I will be sure and get the scoop on what is happening before I go. I was definitely out of the loop on everything happening with sponsored parties and events and relied on my friends to tell me what was going on.
It’s a fun atmosphere with all those bloggers in one spot and I love New York City!
Have any of YOU been to BlogHer too? What did you think??
If the sound of a huge conference is daunting to you, that is exactly why the “home” girls decided to do Haven. It’s going to be smaller, more intimate with lots of time for connecting and chatting. And we hope to share information so you can actually learn something too! 🙂 I have found that friends in my niche are special kinds of friends and those are the ones I especially love getting to know.
Congrats to Lucky #99, Jessie C., who is the winner of the Apartment Challenge $50 Target giveaway. Enjoy!