After purchasing my ticket six months ago, I waited patiently for August to come. All of this time leading up to BlogHer, I daydreamed about what it would be like to meet and mingle with other bloggers, share past experiences and learn from one another. In blog land this conference is a big deal, and when it practically came to my front door, I just had to get a piece of it.
My expectations were set a bit too high, and I think that’s where I went wrong. I naively thought I’d have a chance to meet more of the folks I’d gotten to know around the blogosphere and on twitter and that I’d come home feeling educated and empowered.
This was my first time attending any blogging conference. As someone who has worked exhibits in a past life, I knew only half of it. There were sessions, exhibits, suites, meals and private parties going on all at once. I found it overwhelming trying to squeeze everything I had planned to do when there wasn’t possibly enough time in which to do it. Logistics definitely played a part since private events were spread throughout the city.
I learned very quickly that it was much more beneficial to part with friends and go it alone to try and accomplish your own agenda. I’m embarrassed to say that I only attended a few sessions. Saturday seemed to have more learning potential, but I was late to the one session that I really wanted to attend. Not even room to stand.
BlogHer was a bit too much for a blogger’s first conference, in my opinion. If I had come from far away like many others did, that would have made matters worse. You can’t come to the Big Apple and ignore all of the excitement and must-see sites. I’m thankful that I live close enough to be able to visit when I’d like.
I didn’t feel like the Hilton was well-equipped for such a large conference. The elevators were overcrowded, the hotel was confusing to navigate, the beds were small and uncomfortable and the WiFi was spotty. The staff tried their best to help, I’ll give them that, but sometimes I couldn’t even connect using the high-speed cable.
The Private Parties
There were a ton of private events—way more than I expected. I was invited to attend three of them: Martha Stewart, Unilever, and Nate Berkus. At the Martha Stewart Event on Thursday, I had never felt so lonely in a crowded room. Thankfully, I made pals with Jeff, who was actually on the Martha Stewart blogging show that I attended back in January. It was hot and hectic, but also one of the more interesting and creative events I attended. Unfortunately, Martha Stewart was only there briefly before many of us were let in. Here are few photos.
The Unilever event was held on Saturday morning. It was a pleasure to meet with some of the PR ladies I’ve worked with as well as other bloggers and experts while experiencing Unilever brands. Unfortunately, I arrived too late for the pampering, but those who got there early enough were treated with hairstyling and other treatments.
Later that day was the Nate Berkus Launch party that I had been anticipating the entire time. Nate Berkus? Party? What’s not to love. I loved that the gathering was more intimate and that we all got face time with Nate and the show producers. It looks to be an exciting new show. More on this later, but enjoy this terrible shot of me and Nate.
The Television Celebrities
I was also able to get my photo taken with Bruce Jenner and Tamra Barney. I also got a terribly blurry snapshot of the Jimmy Dean Sun guy and I saw Naomi Campbell on the street but I didn’t dare pull out a camera.
The Overall Experience
Overall, BlogHer was a great learning experience for me. It provided the opportunity to finally put faces to the names, whether it be other bloggers or people I’ve worked with or want to partner with.
But for my immediate future, I’d like to focus my attention on smaller, more intimate conferences that directly relate to what I do and what I want to do. It was kind of like being a freshman in college, where you don’t necessarily know what your major should be, but you can get a taste of what’s out there, what’s possible. The sky’s the limit, really!
I’ll have more about the above events and photos with friends coming very soon! In the meantime, I’m going to be watching and reading about all of the sessions I missed!