Tuesday, July 30, 2013

You went to BlogHer '13 and all I got was a bunch of lube?

BlogHer 2013.  What is it?

Kate made this darling badge.  I heart Kate.
First off, if you are not familiar with the woman-owned and operated blogging platform known as BlogHer -- and you write a blog . . . and are a woman -- I suggest you get to know it.  BlogHer is a blogging aggregator that features hundreds of blogs written and designed by women for the purpose of sharing and promoting blogs with a massive audience.  It's easy to sign up and once you do, you have the opportunity of being one of the featured blogs of the day.  I've held that honor twice and am angling for space in the BlogHer Publishing Network, which PAYS for blog posts.  Applications and your first born child are involved in that process.

Okay, so now you kinda know what BlogHer is.  Onto the BlogHer Conference.  What is that all about?

BlogHer has been convening a two-day conference since 2009 in different cities across the U.S.  The company features speakers who provide advice and inspiration (or irritation, depending on your perspective), and break-out panels, round table discussions, and writing labs for the over 4,000 bloggers who attend.  Oh yeah, and there's an Expo full of corporate and nonprofit booths peddling their wares and hoping to make connections with bloggers who might scratch their back if the bloggers scratch theirs.  In other words, I came back with a ton of swag.

I won this plant
By far the most popular booth was the Trojan "Wheel of Pleasure" game where bloggers spun and won prizes such as lube, and more lube, and different colors of lube.

But I don't need anymore lube . . . 
Probably the best question for me at this point is: Why did I go to BlogHer '13?

Initially, I hoped to learn a bit about technology and design, maybe network with other bloggers as much as my cynical and introverted self would allow, and meet the women with whom I've become friends through blogging over the last year.  Those were perfectly reasonable goals.  I did meet some lovely women and have a two-inch stack of business cards to file.  I also attended two excellent break-out sessions, one with journalists/bloggers Tracy Beckerman from Lost in Suburbia and Rosalind Cummings-Yeates from Farsighted Fly Girl about pitching to newspapers and periodicals and another with Jen Phillips April, social media trainer, about rockin' your social media.  Meeting my online friends Chris, Jen, and Cindy, and spending time with the ever-wonderful Kate was also worth the price of registration.

Me + Jen + Kate = Yay!
The Voices of the Year Awards was another highlight of the conference.  Overall, the women were good writers, had excellent stage presence, told funny, moving, and important stories, and were well-deserving of their recognition.  Here, I'm going to point you to two of my favorite posts:

1. Raising Colorado: DIY Is Full Of Danger
2. Ann Imig from Listen To Your Mother and Ann's Rants (can't find the link, but I adore her)
3. (I lied, 3 faves) Life with Roozle's I Got Saved at Jesus Camp

You may have heard (or not) that Queen Latifa hosted.  She seemed completely confused about what she was doing and why she was there for the entire event, but she was very enthusiastic.

Other speakers included Ree Drummond, the hilarious and impressive creator of The Pioneer Woman  (Her story of success is inspiring because it was unexpected, plus she seems genuine and charming.), Sheryl Sandberg (The Lean In lady -- jury is still out on this one;  I liked her better the first time around when she called herself Gloria Steinem and wasn't pulling in six figures), and Gale Ann Hurd, producer of The Walking Dead, Aliens, and The Terminator.  I'd link to the famous names I've dropped, but Google can find them, no prob.  I'd rather highlight the names you may not have seen or heard of before.

I'm just giving you a run-down of the conference because it was a lot to take in, in a short amount of time.  Also, I perpetually felt like the awkward new kid.  And I had sincere moments of doubt -- Why AM I here?  I want to write and publish my writing and EVEN GET PAID for my writing, but I'm not so sure about putting an ad for Pillsbury or Jamba Juice on my blog and I certainly don't want to do product endorsements.  I'll ho a little, folks, but I do have some dignity.

My thoughts are this: I'm not sure if I'm heading to BlogHer '14.  I'm just not sure.

Now if Wild Ophelia chocolates returns with their free bars of exotic chocolate (Um, Beef Jerky Chocolate?  Yes, yes I will try that.), I'm in.