I am a very lame photographer so any photo with me in it from BlogHer will be in someone else’s camera. Will add pics when I get them.
Last summer I attended BlogHer for the first time. I came away from the weekend with a boost of creativity, plans and priorities. I had a vision of where I wanted to take my blog and how I was going to get there. I have to say, the people I met and the contacts I made were invaluable and upon reaching many of those goals I had set, I was hungering for this year’s BlogHer conference in New York.
I was a little skittish about the roommate situation since all 3 of my original roomies backed out on me. I can’t fault them: for one the financial burden was too great (New York is FAR), for another the fact that she was pregnant and feeling less-than-wonderful was completely understandable (me having had 3 horrendous pregnancies) and the third has this fabulous new job (completely envious) and couldn’t just drop everything to get away. I get it. Still… what was I going to do?
Turns out I seem to be one of those people who are just lucky in the roommate department. TerriAnn is one of those types of people who is so wonderful and giving… we poured over our schedules and tried to go to as many things together as we could. She got us all into Iconix and we had a blast there. She was also my buddy in line for the Hasbro party… if you were there waiting in 100 degree temps with us, you understand… it was miserable. My other two roomies came down from Toronto. While I knew TerriAnn online before meeting her in New York, I didn’t know Fahima and Marie at all before they walked into the hotel room. But… I just love those milk-a-holic Canadians. Don’t ask, but I’m pretty sure there is a video floating around somewhere.
So I had the roommate situation figured out but the rest of the conference was… meh!
The New York Hilton was apparently host to the BlogHer conference a few years ago… back when there were probably about 2,500 LESS attendees. About 5,000 people were at this year’s conference and it was TOO MANY! The crowds were ridiculous, the sessions overflowing and there is no reason why someone needs to wait for 20 minutes just to find space in an elevator. The convenience of having the conference IN the same hotel was nice for sure, but last year in San Diego there was SO MUCH MORE ROOM.
So let me give you a run-down.
Sessions: I have to say the ones I went to were fabulous. But then again, I might be a little biased because I had friends speaking on the panels. But… I get bored easily and was happy to hear some useful information for a change. I did hear from some other bloggers that the sessions they attended were the same old, same old… boring and really more geared towards a very beginner blogger. Since the claim was that 50% of the attendees were beginners, I guess this might have made some sense. But… I think the programming crew for next year needs to get on the ball and develop some sessions for those of us who have been around the block a time or two. Just saying.
Speakers: Other than Ricki Lake, I wasn’t really into the speakers last year. This year, I was actually pleasantly surprised to hear Martha Stewart speak. I am NOT a huge Martha fan (I know, please don’t unfollow me) but I think she came across as professional and approachable and actually, nice. I didn’t see any of the rumored meanness or conceit that surround her. I think prison mellowed out dear Martha. Plus… I have to say I really LOVE her office products at Staples. Seriously… I buy them. I also heard Katie Couric speak. While she is a barrel of cuteness, there always seems like there is something off about Katie. I think she tries too hard to be liked. It isn’t working. I don’t know… I guess you can’t please everyone.
Food: Sorry, but the food situation was less than desirable. Same exact stuff for breakfast both days and lunch sandwiches that were a little dried out and tasteless. (The food last year was WAY better).
Parties: I didn’t get to the conference parties that I went to last year. Honestly, I was just too dang tired after walking around in the New York heat all day. I did go to CheeseburHer however. They were out of cheeseburgers. Need I say more?
Expo: I’ll just say it plan and simple…. the Expo last year was MUCH better. It was all in one place where this year it was spread out into several different rooms. The brands that were there last year seemed so much more willing and excited to talk to us about their products and about what we do and how we can work together. This year, all I noticed were brands pimping their new products (without so much as a discount coupon to give) or PR people who acted like you were interrupting their tweeting time when you asked them a question. So disappointing.
So, on the plane home, I sat and pondered. I had a good time and was glad I got to meet some amazing bloggers I had desperately wanted to meet in person, but in the grand scheme of things… I felt a little dejected. One of the bloggers I met wasn’t so wonderful. I don’t feel like I made ANY brand connections. I don’t think I learned anything new that would kick my blog up a notch or two. I missed my blogging friends who weren’t able to come this year.
But… not everything was dismal. I actually had fun in New York, a place that I’ve always kind of hated. I learned more about Canada than I ever wanted to know. I made some blogging decisions that are kind of scary and kind of exciting and nothing that I would have expected during my plan ride TO New York. I learned that sometimes the direction you are heading in isn’t the direction you SHOULD be heading in. I learned that things that I never had dreams of doing were suddenly pushing their way into dreams.
And I learned that a blog post of over 1,000 words is probably too much for one person to sit and read through. Stay tuned. I think I’m going somewhere new and unexpected.