Shoot. Where do I begin? I am one of those analytical types that immediately wants to give feedback on things like a conference and have yet to get a feedback form, so I'll save that for another post ; ) I'm gonna focus on the FUN!
I had just given birth two weeks before BlogHer11 to my new blog and the first post was appropriately about my desire and decision to stay the night away from the family during the conference. Since I live local it seemed silly, but the closer it got to the actual conference the more I felt the need to soak it all in and let loose at the BlogHer parties... which I did! My youngest child is 2 and a half and his favorite phrase right now is "Mommy, I did it!" with arms raised up high in the air. Aside from staying in the hospital when I delivered my second and third child, it was the first time I spent the night away from everyone. Now let me go on about my take aways from this "Big Girl's Summer Camp" as Maegan of Beyond the Bandaids puts it.
First, the swag! I had actually called my favorite local morning radio show AJ in the Morning for the "Why you smiling" segment and gave a shout out about going to BlogHer, the fun and the swag I was anticipating... but still I had NO idea! I think some of the ladies basically made up for their conference pass in swag. That's what I call smart. I know someone who won an iPad! I think the trick is to hang around the booth long enough that you find out about all their little deals. After talking with someone for a little longer at a booth, she handed me a little something extra and said, "This is for the special people." I hit the expo right as I got in on Friday morning. But, where I really scored was going back on day two when everyone was more relaxed and I went into video mode. More on that later. Honestly, I haven't even gone through all the swag still, but the kids love all the cool kids stuff! After being away for a couple of days I made sure to come home bearing gifts. Some of my personal favorites were the Hotwheels toy cars for the boys, the Hallmark card I sent my daughter, and the Loews craft kits to create birdhouses! Oh, wait, the favorite one for me that I couldn't get over was 3M's Scotch Restickable Shapes which I can now use to hang my children's artwork on our stainless steel refrigerator. That right there is a small giveaway item, but life changing because I always felt like I didn't have a space to display their creativity properly. Come on, there is no better home than the family fridge to hang those precious works of art. If one wants to go to BlogHer for the swag, it's totally legit. Hit that up!
Second, the sessions! I did my due diligence and attended all the 3 sessions lined up on my schedule (I say that as if I planned them out with great skill. Nope. I'm bad when it comes to picking breakout sessions... I worry I'll miss something great, therefore stress over it and pick very last minute. For this conference it worked out okay. Next year though I'm doing my homework. I don't want to sound environmentally unfriendly but I can't get the whole picture via computer screen, I'm a touchy feely type that wants to flip back and forth between real pages). Every single session I attended was a panel. I guess this is a theme with BlogHer, I'm not 100% sure since this was my first. I totally don't mind having an expert get up there, put together some power point and feed me some of their tried and true tips. But, I get it, blogging is about community, a panel with a moderator is a community way to share knowledge. One I attended that was really good was about making a PR pitch. Coming from PR people themselves. I was grateful for their insight and took great notes - which I'll need to remember to take with me to the post BlogHer Tweetup I'm attending tomorrow. I learned it is really common for people to "bounce" in and out of sessions at BlogHer - hmm. That's too bad. I did it once cuz I was so not sure what to go to and once I decided I walked into the wrong one! But lucky for me another blogger I had just met and who had pleasantly waved me over decided it wasn't for her either. Haha! So although I hate that it is widely done, I am guilty of the same dang thing. Hypocrite. If one wants to go to BlogHer for the learning, you'll walk away having fulfilled on that.
Third, destination! Come on, if you've been to conferences elsewhere, this is just the best place to wrap education up with fun in the sun. Yes, I'm totally biased cuz I live here in San Diego, but seriously who didn't love how quick and easy it was to get from one party to the next? I'm really trying to push for the Signing Time Academy conference to be in San Diego next year, cuz if I have to travel to New York for BlogHer12 and travel for the Signing Time conference, somethings gotta give. I heard there were way more sponsors and way more parties last year when it was in NY City.... so of course I'm gonna totally go despite the huge travel expense. That's how the whole sponsorship thing comes in handy. I just hope that San Diego makes it in the rotation to be a regular destination, because truly it makes for a great staycation (I know Sugar Jones, you don't like that word). You know part of the reason I attended was for some "mommy me time", so if that's what's calling you to BlogHer, you're not alone!
Forth, the parties! I did my first party hopping ever! At first when all these invitations began to pop up for sponsored parties I thought what a shame that all this competition was going on... but there is no way that all 3,000 bloggers could go to one or even two of these parties, so the more the merrier! What I learned from Nicole who blogs at Red Lotus Mama is that I need to research these things in advance, find out what the objective is so I know if I'll gain anything out of it other than just another party or luncheon. Girl, you gave me the best post BlogHer advice so far! Having said that though, you can never have too many parties to go to, right? I know, I know, some didn't even go out the next night because they still hadn't recovered from the previous night! Is your inner party girl feeling neglected? Use that as your reason to go to BlogHer!
I don't know about you all but it looks like a lot of dang work to put that big deal together. I wouldn't wanna take it on but am sure glad for the women at BlogHer that do this! Can't wait for next year!
As stated earlier, more is to come when I went into video mode at the sponsor booths!
Did I miss a critical piece of the pie in why one attends a BlogHer Conference? I really want to know!