Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BlogHer '10

“BlogHer's mission is to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.”

- From "BlogHer: Life well said" website: http://www.blogher.com/

This past Saturday, I attended the BlogHer ’10 Conference. It wound up being a much better experience than I’d expected. Because it wasn’t a writing conference and my blog following and aim is small compared with other people’s blogs, I didn’t know if I really needed to go. Instead of investing in the time and expense of the entire conference, I decided to compromise and attend one day. I’m glad I did.

When I checked in, I received a swag bag. The bag itself was made to help women: www.freesetglobal.com. While it was nice to get a bunch of free products, it meant I’d have to schlep the bag for the rest of the day, plus get it all the way home. I wasn’t staying in Manhattan, but all the way in Jersey (Joyzee) City.

Next, I piled my plate with breakfast from the nice spread, and made my way into the “Grand Ballroom”. I was supposed to be meeting other people, but I failed miserably, sitting by myself for most of the time.

An announcement was made about a sponsor room, and when I had some free time, I decided to check it out. I couldn’t believe how many companies wanted to promote their wares to us. Attendees were getting their photos taken with milk mustaches, Hillshire Farms put on a cooking show, and people kept trying to hand me stuff. I got:

4 reusable shopping bags in various sizes (the one from White House/Black Market is my most coveted), a hanger from eBay, coupons, and a chocolate bar.

There was more, but I resisted. I entered to win some bigger prizes, and won a flash drive from Eggland’s Best. I also took a picture of a life-size Pillsbury Dough Boy. The strangest part was that Walmart and McDonalds were sponsors. In my manuscript The Mist Chasers, all of their stores and restaurants disappear. Every time I ran into Ronald McDonald, I felt a little guilty.

There were three sessions. The first was called “Where’s the Line of the Lie: Storytelling, Memoir, and Poetic License”. Part of the reason I wanted to take it is because my blog is personal. Besides, one day maybe I’ll write a memoir. But another reason was because Jenny Lawson was on the panel: http://thebloggess.com/?p=7821. Before the session began, I introduced myself since I comment on her blog. She invited me for a hug, and then told me my hair looked like Bettie Page’s, and, yeah, that made my day. Oh, the session was very helpful too.

The next session was entitled “The Evolving Publishing Ecosystem”. More details on this session in a separate blog. Stay tuned!

The last session I attended was aptly named “Humor Writing”. The panel members: Luvvie*, Jessica Bern ** (comedian), and Lizz Winstead*** (Daily Show co-creator) were hysterical. It was like I’d paid my conference day rate to attend a comedy show for an hour-and-a-half. There’s nothing better than laughing while learning.

Just like writing conferences, there were keynote speakers in the morning and afternoon. The morning keynote was for “International Activist Blogger Scholarship Recipients” and the Closing Keynote was about “How to Use Your Voice, Your Platform, and Your Power”. But unlike writing conferences, the food was really good because of all of the corporate sponsors. The Hilton did a good job. Because BlogHer was trying to be green, the cups were made of corn and the utensils were made of vegetables. Too cool.

When the conference was over, I met Lora Neely: http://www.afever.com/. We’ve followed one another’s blogs for many months. In fact, she may have been one of the first blogs I followed. I’ve always been impressed with the kind of work she does, and the kind of person she is. Meeting her in person didn’t disappoint. I also met her friend, Kristin Dunning: http://wellreadhostess.com/. We had so much in common, we thought we were long lost twins until we shared our dates of birth.

There were four BlogHer parties: A Green Affair, A Bloggy State of Mind, Sparklecorn, and CheeseburgHer. Sparklecorn had a unicorn theme and fun dance music. CheeseburgHer was apparently sponsored by McDonalds, and they provided free hamburgers in chafing dishes. I was relieved to see Ronald McDonald wasn’t in attendance.

At one of the parties, I also got to meet Anisa Mayhew and her husband. I’d written about her after she had a second stroke back when I had few followers: http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/2009/11/stroke.html. It’s strange to meet strangers when you’re invested in their stories, but they don’t know you. I said something about following their blog after the stroke and how great it was to meet them, and I’d heard their session had been good. Basically, babbling.

Although the conference’s size was intimidating for someone who’s shy like me, and most of the people (okay, all of the people I met) weren’t writers, I learned a lot and had a good time. I heard it’s in San Diego next year, so I guess I’ll miss the fun.

* http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/

** http://bernthis.com/wordpress/

*** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lizz-winstead

Don’t forget to enter and share my Platform Contest.

It’s for an important cause.



  1. I can't imagine ever going to something like that... Well maybe once, now, after having read your experience of it. Sounds like you had a good time. : j

  2. Sounds like you had a good time! I'd like to attend a conference like that someday. All the free stuff would drive me nuts; I have too much "stuff" in my house to begin with! ;)

  3. It's in San Diego next year? I'm totally going then. I like the idea of masses of people and free stuff. Plus I have a daughter who lives in L.A. This sounds fascinating and I appreciated your comment on my post about it too. It just goes to show how HUGE blogging is. And my publisher has to pull teeth to get some of the author's to even start a blog, or try social media, but truthfully, I think it's the best way to get ourselves out there.

  4. That sounded like a great experience. It was especially nice to meet people you interact with already - free stuff is good too.

  5. Wow! Freebies and prizes and themed parties!! Yay!

    Oh but seriously - sounds like you got a lot out of this conference. Best of all was meeting fellow bloggers too.

    I just read your earlier blog piece about how you discovered Anita Mayhew's blog when she had her stroke. I'm still reeling at how much her family went through. Big hugs to her!

    Oooh and you mustn't feel guilty about obliterating ronald mcdonald! LOL!!

    Take care

  6. Sounds like it was worthwhile, then. I'd go for the cheeseburger alone - now I'm starving! Glad to hear you had a good time.

  7. @ Alesa, I wouldn't rule out going again. It would be nice if I could find BlogHer Writers or BlogHer Teachers.

    @ Shelley, I have too much stuff too. I tried to be careful about anything extra I took, but it still wound up being a lot.

    @ KarenG, I sent you an e-mail link to next year's conference.

    If someone doesn't have something to say and isn't willing to comment, they shouldn't blog. So I can see why some authors are reluctant. On the other hand, I'd be willing to work hard to promote.

    @ Brigid, it was nice meeting Lora. I wish I had known more people who were going.

    @ Old Kitty, it was good to see Anissa but the stroke has left her in a wheelchair, and I'm sure she's still dong rehabilitation.

    Since I'm not a big fan of McDonalds I didn't feel toooo bad.

    @ Talli, I enjoyed the food at the party with the Jamaican beef patties more.

  8. See, this is why I'll never go to a conference by myself, because I just know I'll end up sitting alone for most of the time. I consider myself sociable, but what do you do until you get a comfortable chance to be?

    Seemed like a good experience. Although I wouldn't want to see Ronald McDonald either; he's creepy...

  9. Fun stuff! I'm so glad it was worthwhile - and fun to boot :)

  10. @ Amanda, it took until my third conference until I got sociable at NESCBWI. It takes a few visits for me to get to know enough people.

    @ Jemi, it was fun.

  11. I'm glad you had an awesome time and I appreciate you sharing a little bit about it so that I'm more aware of what it means... thanks for facebook :) and blogger of course!!

    Yay for your badass contest!!!

  12. I wish they had a conference like that in Chicago. That sounds like fun. And I'd like to take a humor writing workshop; it'd be a good way to get some new ideas. And I'd buy your memoir! :)

  13. "She invited me for a hug, and then told me my hair looked like Bettie Page’s, and, yeah, that made my day. Oh, the session was very helpful too."

    I love how you write about the truly important things .... it's why I keep coming back :)

  14. @ Jen, I didn't know what it would be like before I went. The Bloggess recommended going, and then Lora wrote she was going on her blog, so I decided to check it out.

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, you live in a nice big city, so I bet if it hasn't been there, it will be at some point.

    @ Clutterbug, I do try to stress the truly important things, so I'm glad you noticed.

  15. That was very brave of you to go to something like that on your own! I usually try to drag some poor unsuspecting friend or family member along with me. :) I'm glad you got to meet some new people and had a good experience.

  16. I'm envious of all these great events. Wouldn't have minded some freebies either and I like how they were doing a green theme too.

  17. @ Susan, I couldn't think of anyone to drag. The one person I knew was only going to the evening events. But sometimes it's better not to know anyone because it forces me to be social.

    @ Olive, want a Jimmy Dean alarm clock?

    The green theme was pretty cool, but they could've gone even further with it. Maybe next conference.

  18. Most of the people you met *weren't* writers? Who's doing all the blogging? Or is it just that you met the non-writers, like Ronald McD?

  19. Hi Theresa... what an interesting and fun summer you are having!

    Sounds like a great event. Wish they would do an event like that... like everyone else like the freebies too.

    Good on you for going alone.

  20. @ Lani, it was better than I'd hoped. I might go again sometime.

    @ Judy, I see your poing! They write their blogs, but they're not trying to get published. I met mommy bloggers who blog about being mothers, marketers, and those types of blogs. When I go to writing conferences, everyone is trying to write children's books.

    I don't think Ronald McDonald is a writer, but maybe being a clown is his day job.

    @ Barbara, when I got home, I wondered why I'd weighed my shoulder down for all of that junk. Want a Jimmy Dean alarm clock? Any takers?

  21. Sounds like a good time! I would have loved to sit in on the humor panel. I go to a women's conference every year which has nothing to do with writing or blogging, but getting away rejuvenates me, and there are so many wonderful women there.

  22. What a neat conference! I think it's funny how you ran into Ronald McDonald! I think he should read your book. :)

  23. I'm glad you had a good time. Every year it sounds like people walk away from that event which such mixed emotions...I;m glad your experience was positive.

  24. @ Vicki, it was definitely women-centered. 90% women to 10% men. And women could bring their families, have their babies in sessions, and it was a positive atmosphere.

    @ Aubrie, I should've slipped him my manuscript!

    @ Rebecca, I can see why they'd walk away with mixed emotions. If you're looking to network, it's not easy. And finding people with a common interest besides blogging is difficult too. While I found the sessions helpful, the keynotes were less so. But I only went one day.

  25. Something I really admire about you is that you get involved, you go to conferences, you DO things. I sit at home and read about them. Glad you went and shared some of your experience with us!

  26. @ Selena, I"m dragging you to the next NESCBWI, so you'd better be prepared! And you should commit to the WHOLE thing.

  27. How cool. Sounds interesting. How fun to meet all those people.
    Hope you are well.

  28. I've never even heard of this. How cool!

    I've seen you at writeoncon. Amazing, huh? My eyes are bleary from staring at my screen for almost 3 days, but it's worth it.

  29. @ Christine, meeting people sometimes makes me nervous, but it was pretty fun.

    Hope you're well too.

    @ Julie, I saw you on WriteOnCon too! I have some videos to catch up on. Since Wednesday, I haven't gotten to participate in any chats in real time.

    The blogosphere has been quiet since the conference started!

  30. Hi, I came over here after seeing your comment on The Bloggess's blog. I was going to say something about your Worcester - Wuh-ster thing on there but figured it would get lost. (And it's Wistah if you've lived there long enough. No Rs heah.)

    I went too, and had a great time. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself and that humour panel rocked. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

    P.S. - I ditched the Jimmy Dean alarm clock in the swag exchange room...there were a lot of them there. I wonder why....

  31. @ Major Bedhead, you are RIGHT. How could I put in the "R"? There are no R's on Long Island either. It's Awww there and Ahhhh here.

    If there's a humor panel every year, I'll always go.

    I thought my mother-in-law would want the alarm clock. She passed. What were they thinking?!

  32. ((((((((((((Theresa))))))))),

    In case you are wondering, that was a cyber hug. I sure have missed reading your blog sweet lady. How the heck are you? Your blog looks awesome x 1000! You have really changed it. School starts tomorrow....sigh

  33. @ VKT, thanks for the cyber hug. Same to you! (( )) How good to hear from you. I thought about you recently, wondering what you were up to. How was your summer?

    Good luck with your new school year. We still have 3 more weeks.

  34. It's pretty cool that you got to meet some of your blogger friends in the flesh.

  35. Hi Theresa .. me too - very shy .. and those events on your own can be very intimidating .. at least you met up with a few people .. and probably learnt quite a lot - looking back!

    I too hate - the bag of goodies as you arrive & then you've got them for the day ..

    Good to you for going though and sampling the experience .. Hilary

  36. @ Missed Periods, I've met four blogger friends, so far. I've liked each of them in person as much as in cyberspace.

    @ Hilary, I've been trying to be less shy, but at the larger conferences, I find I can't sit at a table full of people and introduce myself. But it's the point of going, isn't it? Maybe I'll be better next time.

  37. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun. How cool to meet people you 'meet' in blogging! That part about feeling guilty about Walmart and MacDonald's made me laugh out loud! I'm shy, too, and I would find a place and just watch people....

    I had no idea that the blogging world was out there so prominently. This was a fun read, I really enjoyed it. I was reminded of all the conferences we get to go to for teachers in daycare. I'll have to do a post about that sometime...
    hope the contest is growing!

  38. @ The Words Crafter, BlogHer is huge. They have a big yearly conference and smaller, more specific conferences throughout the year. Check out their website.

    You should write a post about conferences for teachers in daycare. I'd read it.

  39. Glad to get a perspective on BlogHer from a non-panelist. I always think about going, but then punk out at the last minute thinking my tiny little ol' personal blog is not a big enough deal to network about. Glad to hear that it did have its ups. I'll think about going next time.

  40. @ Eleanorstrousers, this year it's too far away so I'm going to skip it.