I will be the first to admit that I went to BlogHer '11 with little expectations out of getting anything out it. All I knew is that I had fellow bloggers that I wanted to meet a mere six hours away, so I had to be there. Even though that did happen, I got so much more out of my time in San Diego that I expected. So here is my experience as a BlogHer newbie.
Since I had little expectations out of this conference I purchased the Expo Hall and Party Pass. This allowed me to browse the sponsors and brands in the Expo Hall, and attend all the BlogHer sponsored parties. I highly recommend other BlogHer newbies do this in the following years. I got a complete feel for what the conference would be like, and I had absolutely no stress. By not putting myself on a schedule of sessions and whatever else was planned, I was allowed to walk around, talk, and just generally enjoy not feeling rushed. I got my feet wet, and next year I plan on jumping completely in. I know what I'm in for, and I know I can handle it. And yes, I am already planning for next year (which is in NYC)!
Also? The Expo Hall is freaking fantastic! I spent time there all three days. I went to the Evening at the Expo on Thursday, spent most of my morning there on Friday, and before I left yesterday morning I went back again. I'm so glad I spent so much time there, because I got new experiences out of it each time!
On Friday I went by one of the board game booths, and was coaxed into a game of "Happy Feet" with another blogger. We played. I won. And then we got to talking. I soon found out that the blogger sitting across from me was none other than "Cop's Wife" whom writes Nerdy Apple Bottom. We talked about her blog post that went viral, and it was such an awesome conversation. I learned a lot from her, from privacy problems to being influential. Our conversation also reminded me that becoming a noted blogger doesn't always have to do with being "the perfect blogger;" sometimes it just happens.
On Saturday I stopped by the Expo Hall before meeting fellow single mom blogger, Singlemama CC, for lunch (more on that later!). I went and browsed some booths tucked back in a corner I had yet to get to, and I'm so glad I did!
The first booth I stopped by was Healthy Women (www.healthywomen.org). One of the reps and I got to talking about their website, and the types of bloggers they are looking for. While I tend to focus mostly on single parenting, I also touch on my anxiety disorder. I was really excited to learn that there is a site that can help in my research. I was even more excited with the idea of contributing to that site one day, if I'm ever given the opportunity. I would love to market myself, and help other women, when it comes to the topic of anxiety and how misinformed the public is about it.
Next door to Healthy Women was Paper Culture. This is a company that uses recycled paper for all of their stationary and wall decor, and plants trees in return. If you've been paying attention to me on Twitter, I have casually mentioned starting a side business decorating kids' rooms. I have had so much fun working our new house, that I want to keep doing it. When walking by Paper Culture I saw their sample products and thought, "OMG! SO FREAKING ADORABLE!" I talked to one of their reps, and mentioned that once I was done decorating the girls' room I would be launching a blog for the business I want to start. In response to our conversation she gave me a $50.00 voucher to order and review some products. I'm so excited for that opportunity! I'm even more excited to find yet another company to cater to my decor ideas!
One of my last stops was with CC. We were instantly drawn to a Best Buy booth that had some gorgeous handmade jewelry spread on the table as their temptation (aka swag). We learned that the bracelets were made by women in India who were part of Best Buy's Women's Leadership Forum (WOLF). As the rep explained how their blogging platform works I was extremely impressed. It's something I definitely want to look into and participate in. I would love to be a contributing blogger, especially to such an awesome project and cause.
So here is what I learned at BlogHer '11:
- For a newbie, start out small and plan for bigger the following year.
- Be open! You may not see yourself as marketable, and then find out you are!
- Next year I am getting professional pictures done.
- I will also be sporting "Single Mom: Who Am I?!" apparel.
- It's okay to walk around dropping your business cards into a million fish bowls and tweeting about products because you want to win an awesome giveaway.
- BlogHer is not all about swag, but the swag as generally pure awesome.
- It's perfectly acceptable to show up as you are, not how you think everyone expects you to be.
A single parenting blog by Jenni Conner
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