Last October, when I saw that BlogHer was coming to Orlando, I decided to purchase a ticket. Even though I’ve heard a lot about BlogHer, I had truly never wanted to go. Honestly much of what I had heard was negative. It’s too big. It’s too hard to get into the sessions. Too much exclusivity with the invite only sessions. But being so close, I decided to find out for myself.
I arrived a bit late on the first day, registered and headed to my off-site hotel. Unfortunately, I missed the opening keynote. This was the first clue that maybe staying off-site wasn’t the best idea after all.
The next morning, was the newbie breakfast. What should have been a great opportunity to connect with other first-timers ended up being a bit of a miss. Most of us seemed a bit shy and hesitant at our table. If given the opportunity again I think I would have tried to make more of an effort to get out of my comfort zone.
The sessions on the first day were great. But if you don’t get into sessions a bit early, you will be sitting in the back of the room. This really isn’t a big deal but I prefer to live tweet sessions. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible in the back of the room. Not enough space to have a larger laptop out. I personally use live tweeting as a form of note taking so this was a big issue for me.
The special sessions are great at BlogHer but the exclusivity can be a bit of a put-off for first timers. As a longtime blogger, I totally get the reasoning behind why it is invite only. (there is also a first come, first serve lottery selection more on that later) Brands know who they want to work with on certain things. They select who to invite based on the criteria they are looking for.
I got into a few of the special invite only sessions. One by invite and a few more through the lottery selection. (for lack of a better description) The way the lottery worked was this: At certain pre-announced times the registration for sessions opened up. with over 2500 attendees there were a lot of people attempting to register for these sessions. There were a lot of disappointed attendees when all was said and done. I only attempted one of these and I got in. But it was quite nerve-racking.
Throughout the conference, I noticed that a lot of people were alone. As first time conference goers, it can be a scary place, Everone was waiting to be welcomed, not knowing that they all felt the same way. This was a wakeup call for me. Time to get out of my comfort zone and talk to more people. Not easy as an introvert with imposter syndrome. I guess this just comes down to how to make the most of a blog conference. I’ll figure it all out by the time I’m 100 (maybe).
I made a few new friends and I saw a few great old friends too. Most notably I met Kirsten from lowcountrysocialite.com and Jacqueline from sincerelyjacqueline.com Check out their blogs, why don’tcha?
Overall, I really enjoyed my first BlogHer. But would I do it again? MOST DEFINITELY!
But I will make a few changes next time:
I’ll stay on site.
It’s very convenient to be able to pop up to your room during a break and when you get overwhelmed. It’s also easier to meet people when you are in the conference hotel.
I’ll focus on the conference and ONLY the conference.
It was much to hard to switch gears between the conference and playing tourist with the family. I found I couldn’t successfully play both roles. One took time from the other too often.
I’ll step out of my comfort zone more.
It is hard for me to talk to people I don’t know. I really need to work on this more often.
If you get the chance to attend BlogHer, GO! At least once. You won’t regret it!