As you might remember, for about a month and especially the week prior to my first ever BlogHer, I was quite the hot mess mentally. I was overthinking everything. I wasn’t necessarily nervous about going to the conference and being a newbie because I am not a newbie. I have been blogging for over 4 years and I was mostly having some anxiety about whether or not I would live up to what people were expecting. I know it sounds so high schoolish when I say it out loud. It is. High school is exactly what the anticipation of my first BlogHer felt like. Luckily, it was nothing like that.
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I am lucky because I have the good fortune of knowing a lot of people online and even more fortunate that they extended invitations to me to hang out in person. I will always be forever grateful for Tracy Beckerman for inviting me to a dinner on Wednesday night with a wonderful group of men and women that are not only funny, they are some of the most wickedly down-to-earth, awesomely humble rock stars I have ever met.
I was afraid that even though we’ve “known” one another “forever” online, they were going to take one good look at me and ask “Who the fuck are you?” Surprisingly, they did not. Each one grabbed my neck and hugged my genuinely and pulled back with a knowing smile and instead of feeling like an overwhelmed newbie, I felt like I was at a reunion, returning to my blogging home. I mean these people GET.ME! They.Really.Get.Me and let’s be honest, they know more about me than most people who I see everyday. I don’t give people I know the url to my diary. It doesn’t happen. That set the tone for my entire experience. It only took one hug.
Then my roomie showed up; the phenomenon that is Jenni Chiu; Vlogger Extraordinaire and wickedly awesome wordsmith. She got in late Wednesday night. I was asleep but promptly woke up when she walked in. The first thing I saw was her smiling face (now that I think of it, she was probably laughing because I was most likely snoring like a boss). She hugged me like a long lost sister and we talked into the wee hours of the night. We were instant best friends and it only took one hug.
Sure, there were parties, events, dinners and meetings but it all boiled down to one thing for me; being myself and leaving myself open to getting to know a whole lot of amazing women. Putting faces to voices, seeing the knowing in their eyes, people who know all your secrets and still read you and want to meet you is a beautiful thing.
There were a lot of awesome people and amazing things. I won’t name them all because honestly, I don’t want you to be jealous of all the fucking amazing women I got to spend 5 days in Chicago with. My experience is not your experience and yours is not mine and I am sure you had your own amazing women you spent your 5 days with.
But I did learn a few things:
Don’t over pack! Dear Lord, did I ever. Seriously, you don’t need to take 15 outfits for 5 days. And don’t pack more than 3 pairs of shoes but pack loads of undies because these are some funny people.
Unless you are photography blogger, leave your ginormous DSLR at home.
You do not need your laptop. I am a pen and paper kind of gal.
Bring lots of water.Lots.Of.Water!!!
Take more photos! I got so wrapped up in meeting people that I completely forgot to capture the moment in photos, which is good because they had my full attention but bad because now, I have no photos of their gorgeous faces.
Do not attend everything you are invited to. Honestly, I was triple booked every day all day long. I had to miss a lot. Pick what is a good fit for you and your blog and then focus on a few more intimate gatherings. Believe me the conversations that I had with women in the middle of the night in hallways and lobbies were awesome.
Swag is nice but it is NOT the reason to attend a conference. I prefer hugs and smiles, long conversations with new old friends over anything else.
Don’t drink too much. There were a lot of people trying to summons their liquid courage; it ended with dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld, slurring to complete strangers that you love them and crying in the bathroom. I don’t recommend it. I hear the morning after hangovers were epic.
Go to VOTY! It is the most important part of BlogHer. It is what we are all about; the writing. I hope.
Wear comfortable shoes!!! 5-inch heels have no place on the expo floor. Well, unless you are one of those awesome broads who has no feeling in her feet and can do that sort of thing. I, myself, have a tendency for my feet to mutiny and hyper-extend. Even in wedges, I wake up with punishing Charlie Horses in the middle of the night.
Give feedback! Don’t be a complainer, give BlogHer constructive feedback. For instance, I feel there should be an even more advanced track for bloggers who have been doing this for a long time. I also feel that a couple of my sessions that I really looked forward to, fell flat and were disappointing because the speaker didn’t focus on her topic. That was frustrating after a paid all that money to learn something particular and the speaker failed to share her knowledge in a helpful way.
Don’t be afraid to join the conversation. Say hi! None of us bite. I think by nature most of us are a little bit introverted (we work online from home, we are not the most outgoing people) but I swear, I will hug the shit out of you if you come up to me and tell me it’s nice to meet me, you read me or you follow me. Just ask Nicole.
Embrace the fan girl. We all have one and we all are one, on some level. We write online. For me, I write completely openly and honestly because, in my mind, I am alone on my computer but that actually creates a connection with my readers (your readers) as I found out this past weekend. So when a fan of your work comes up to you and squeals and squees about how great you are…grab that girl and hug her out do.not.give.her.the.blank.stare. If you do, you are the asshole in this scenario, not her.
Take time to make people connections, it is NOT all about the swag, or how many “famous” bloggers you can meet and cross off your list (even though FULL DISCLOSURE, I did go completely FAN.GIRL. on Ree Drummond. It’s embarrassing but I may or may not have completely body checked her when we were going into VOTY. Sorry Ree!)
Be yourself!!! OMG, the best thing said to me at the entire conference was a blogger who told me that I was completely the same person online as I am offline. I hope that was a compliment. Either way, I am taking it as one. Of course, she may think I am a complete asshole online:)
Bottom line is BlogHer is for connecting; faces and voices with blogs was the connection I wanted to make and I did. I tried to see everyone I promised to hug and if I missed you, I am sorry. I honestly, loved meeting each and every one of you, even the woman who said hello, threw a card at us and ran away. Come back! I don’t bite. I might hug you hard and kiss your cheeks but I do not bite.
Thank all of you who I met for making BlogHer an unbelievably amazing experience. I feel renewed in my blogging. I don’t feel like I am alone in a room anymore because I know there are people out there, connecting with me and to my story and they care. All this started from one hug.
What was your greatest take away from BlogHer13 or any blogging conference you have attended?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]