What do you do after a blogging conference? You blog about it, of course!
I am still a little bleary eyed after this weekend in New York, where I did double-duty covering the conference and celebrating the birthday of a best friend. Below I give my (newbie) recap of BlogHer 2010.
I was so impressed with the organization of the entire conference. As I rode the escalator up to where the conference was held, I just remember thinking how clean and shiny everything was. Though I have nothing to compare it to, I think the Hilton was a great venue for this event, and the organizers did a fantastic job. There were large signs everywhere letting you know where you were supposed to be. And, as I was checking-in, I was in line behind Mrs. Potato Head… which was pretty freaking cool.
As I made my way around the conference, I recognized so many faces from blogs we follow and Twitter avatars. That was kind of a weird phenomenon. I have to admit that I was a little nervous going into the conference, especially having heard that some have found it to be so isolating, but I was pleasantly surprised. I met a bunch of incredible people; in sessions, in the hallway, at the exhibit halls, in the elevator, in line for Starbucks, and waiting for the caterers to bring out more Diet Pepsi… Can you tell caffeine is a common theme here? Everyone that I spoke to about xtra xtra was really receptive, and that was truly encouraging.
I only wish I had more time, as there were plenty of people I never got a chance to chat with and people I would have loved to chat with more. I thought I would inevitably run into my Boston area blogger friends, but there were many I never saw. It all went by so quickly.
But hey… there’s always next year!
- Pack light- The first day of the conference, I showed up so over-prepared. I had a gigantic bag that carried everything from my heavy laptop to band-aids to xtra xtra lip balms and t-shirts. With all that, plus the materials issued by the conference, I looked -and felt- like a pack mule. I didn’t even end up using my laptop because the Wi-Fi was so overloaded, and I ended up leaving two bags with the hotel baggage check. The second day I packed much lighter, used the internet on my phone, and was much happier.
- Stay at (or very close to) the conference hotel- I stayed about 30 minutes away from the hotel, so when I got there, I was there for the day. I had pangs of jealousy when fellow bloggers tweeted that they were going upstairs to drop off stuff or take a quick nap during the breaks. Being able to run upstairs to recharge and get ready for the parties was another bonus that those staying close to the conference enjoyed. I honestly believe I would have lasted later and partied Cheeseburgher style if I was staying closer to the hotel.
- Put your Twitter handle and your cell phone number on business cards (and bring a ton of them!) - Business cards are probably the most vital item that you need for a conference like this. I am due to make a new version of my business card and realized the importance of including your Twitter handle and cell phone number. Your Twitter handle is important so those that you just met can follow you right away, get in touch with you during the conference, and reference you in their tweets. Your cell phone number is important because you won’t be back to your home or office line for a few days, so this gives new contacts the ability to get in touch with you right away. I ended up writing these things on all of my remaining cards.
- Don’t underestimate the preparedness of the conference organizers- The conference organizers had set up charging stations for cell phones and computers, had plenty of space set up for you to sit down and take a break, and were just overall on top of their game. This lets the conference goers stress less and pack less.
I got something out of every single session I attended and I found the panelists to be funny, informative, and intelligent. I learned a ton that will help us with expanding xtra xtra; this includes tips for networking, refining our elevator pitch, pitching to potential advertisers and PR professionals, ways to build our brand, encouraging user engagement, and utilizing new sites and services that I had never heard of.
One note: What you heard is true. You do need to get there early. I missed one session on the first day because it was absolutely packed.
My favorite session by far was Grief, Loss, Tragedy and Community on the Internet. Though I went with the intention of gaining expert insight on the obituary section of our site, I was just enthralled with the panel that was presenting. I could really relate to these ladies (and Peter) on a personal level. I was crying within the first five minutes, then laughing so hard that I was crying… It was just really inspirational and moving.
I am bummed I missed out on the Dear Abby 2.0: Giving Advice in the Blogosphere, because I’m sure it was hilarious. I also wish I was able to attend Creating Tangible Change: How to Move People to Action and Social Media is Bringing Sexy Back to Branding (the one that was overwhelmingly full.)
If you weren’t present, I suggest you check out the Voices of the Year selections. I can’t even begin to pick favorites. I thought they were all fantastic.
The closing keynote featured a powerhouse of women. Marie Wilson, Gloria Feldt, and Simran Sethi encouraged attendees to use their voices to create change. This was a wonderful selection of speakers who were truly inspiring.
Sponsors and Swag
After all of the swag craziness that went down in 2009, I heard (or rather read in several blogs) that this year was much tamer in terms of free stuff. But believe me, there was still a lot of it! It was cool to relive my childhood a little with My Little Pony and Play Doh.
I had great conversations with some of the sponsors and PR folks. I discovered new brands and companies like Macaroni Kid and ShopStyle, and I caught up with a few that we had already been following like ThredUp and 1800Flowers.
I came home with a lot of stuff, but I was able to donate a Play Doh kit, Mr. Potato Head, and Weebles to the shelter where I volunteer–the kids were psyched!
A Few of My Favorite Quotes
I left BlogHer feeling motivated and enthusiastic. I enjoyed the sense of camaraderie and have a great appreciation for all the hilarious, inspirational bloggers that I met. We look forward to working with our fellow bloggers in the future as xtra xtra expands.
Till next time,
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