Wow! BlogHer14 is over and I feel like it’s going to take me a month to process everything I heard and learned there. All the “What to Expect” and “What to Bring” posts I read before the blog conference couldn’t prepare me for actually being there along with a few thousand other bloggers. It was great to connect with brands, meet new bloggers, and even have the chance to say hi in person to a few Canadian bloggers whom I know from Facebook groups.
When I heard about BlogHer14 at the end of last year, I knew I wanted to go. I’ve heard other bloggers talk about the benefits of attending a blog conference. This seemed like the year to jump in and take my blog to the next level.
Still, I didn’t know if we’d be able to swing it. My husband and I also graduated and moved this summer. He’s job hunting, so it’s been a year full of transition. Despite all that, I bought my early bird ticket back in February and waited to see… and it all worked out! I used Airmiles to get flights and found some room-mates through my Facebook groups and I made it to San Jose for BlogHer14.
Friday evening was spent at the BlogHer14 Expo in the “selfiebration,” which I felt very left out of because my old Blackberry flip phone doesn’t take pictures (or if it did, I couldn’t tweet them). I took a few selfies with my camera to tweet out later, had a massage and got my nails done at the Bridgestone booth. I also visited with lots of other brands and then managed to run into my roomies on my way out of the Expo.
Friday morning came early, with keynotes and sessions all day. Various bloggers shared their “10×10” (ten minutes about the past ten years). Danah Boyd said that being public forced her to be accountable. Shannon des Roches Rosa said ” is it so much easier to get through those rough patches when your blogging connects with people who get it, and who care.”
In the keynote, Jenny Lawson from The Bloggess shared her journey from blogger to author, including an embarrassing moment at a past BlogHer that led to meeting her agent.
On Saturday morning, our BlogHer14 keynote speaker was Kerry Washington. Now, I should mention here that a few years ago, if you’d asked me who starred in any of my favourite movies, I couldn’t have given you an answer (except for, perhaps, a couple LOTR actors). So while I knew Kerry’s name, that’s about as much as I knew about her. Now I want to check out her TV show Scandal and see what movies she’s been in. She was a fabulous speaker.
I could totally identify with her when she said she’s terrified of social media because she’s a very private person; she finds it’s a tricky balance to know what to share and what not to share. About acting, she said she’s never drawn to playing perfect characters because she doesn’t believe there are any; her job as an actor is to portray humanity (which is also true, I believe, of good writing–of the authors whom I appreciate and what I strive to include in my own novels).
On balancing work and motherhood, she said you need to be willing to ask for help, to admit when you don’t know something, and to have a community of women around you (yes!). The moment I love: a baby somewhere in the room cried and Kerry’s head snapped around like any mom’s in response. She was beautiful and inspiring and so down-to-earth.
On Saturday, we had a fabulous closing party hosted by McDonald’s. Michelle Sutter, whom I met last year at Bloggers and Brands in Vancouver, invited me to walk down there with her and a couple other bloggers. We got there early enough to grab a table and some food (and wine) before it got really busy.
We had front-row seats for the crazy dancing that ensued when Rev Run took the stage. I sat there smiling and once again feeling left out, because I’d never heard of Rev Run (yes, I grew up under a rock—but don’t worry, my hubby filled me in when I called him after the party) and didn’t know any of the songs he was playing. It was still a great people-watching opportunity.
I debated whether to take Koala Bear or not (does it seem childish for a 30-year-old blogger to bring her stuffie with her?) and finally decided YES. He hung out in the side pocket of my Lug shoulder bag, so that when I handed my business card to someone and they asked, “Why Koala Bear Writer?” I could hold him up and say, “Because this is my mascot.” I also found he was a comforting presence when I was feeling a bit lost in an airport or a bit lonely in the crowds. And he came home from BlogHer14 with a friend too:
And then it was time to try packing and catching some sleep before waking up on Sunday morning to head to the airport again. Now I have laundry to do, a lot of brands and bloggers to follow up with, and a house to clean.
Have you ever been to a big conference, blogger or otherwise? What’s your favourite BlogHer14 memory?