“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:
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.
Don’t forget to enter and share my Platform Contest.
It’s for an important cause.