What Someone Who Didn’t go to BlogHer13 Learned from BlogHer13

@2Wired2Tired won $10,000 from Windex at BlogHer2013

This year, BlogHer, the largest women’s blogging conference in the world, fell on my kids’ camp visiting day. It is the one day in seven weeks I get to see my kids.  And, since my kids are teenagers, it’s also one of the only days my kids are totally, completely happy to spend an entire day with me.  I wasn’t going to miss it.

So for the first time in four years, I did not go to BlogHer.

It was weird.

Even though a large number of my East Coast blogger friends didn’t go to Chicago for the conference, my Twitter stream was filled with all-BlogHer all the time.  Instagram was wholly taken over by shots from the parties, people winning $10,000, and blogging friends with semi-celebs. Facebook was rife with shots of bloggers smiling, arm in arm.  Across all of my social media channels, bloggers were giving each other shout outs and praising the event.

I felt left out.  FOMO to the max.

But then I started really looking at the tweets and posts and pics.  And I noticed something; no one (well, hardly anyone) was tweeting content.  I saw lots and lots of tweets about brands.  I learned that Shark makes floor cleaners – don’t call them vacuums, Windex can build a house on a convention floor, Lean Cuisine has gone healthy, Folgers packs ’em in at the lounge, Hasbro  and American  Girl both throw one heck of a party, and bloggers, evidently, are extremely fond of vibrators and lubricant.

I learned that people got coupons, and chocolates, and energy drinks, and Bitty Babies.  I learned that Aveeno and Lubriderm and PediaCare are all giving bloggers free stuff. That Coca Cola cares about my Health and Wellness.  Really?

In other words, BlogHer seemed, at least from the streams I saw, to be all about the brands. Which I guess makes the brands happy, but it made me kind of sad.  Cecily Kellogg, Uppercase Woman, wrote of her experience at BlogHer this year, that it reminded her that “bloggers are storytellers.” She goes on, telling bloggers “whether you write about products, fashion, politics, feminism, sex, or like me, just your one small and beautiful life, you are a storyteller.”

And I agree with her. It’s just that so much of the story has been clouded by sponsored posts, and swag and blogging for bucks rather than blogging to tell a story, to reveal the small truths, to feel welcomed and warmed by a community of like-minded women.

When I look at the sessions offered this past weekend, I see Marketing, and Tools of the Trade, Monetization, Activism, Politics, Work-Life balance.  All topics that seem useful and interesting, and rife with tweetable moments.  But I didn’t see a whole lot of tweets from those sessions.  I saw almost none.  Because when bloggers become more about business than anything else, they know that tweeting advice for other bloggers  will get them less free stuff than tweeting about the great new recipes you can get from the Eggland’s Best newsletter. (For a terrific take on swag and blogging and how to deal with it all, check out this post by Kim Moldofsky.)

Look,  I write posts for brands, I tweet brands ,Just this weekend, I got a loaner car from Dodge to drive up to visiting day, and I tweeted about it all weekend long.

So it’s not that I don’t “get” the brand/blogger thing, I do.  I even participate in it.  But from the point of view of someone who wasn’t there, BlogHer seemed to be ONLY about that.  And that’s a bummer.

You might argue that I can’t possibly know what it was really like.  I wasn’t there, after all.  But perception matters.  And from an outsider’s point of view,  BlogHer – and bloggers – seem to be all about free stuff, parties, alcohol, and lots and lots of lubricant. (In addition to the alcoholic kind.)  That’s not the blogger I want to be perceived as.  Do I want to get some kind of remuneration for blogging?  Sure I do.  Sometimes.  But what I want more is being in the blogging community.  Sharing, supporting, and learning together.

I wish I’d seen more of that.

I’d love to hear from people who were there who did feel the love.  People who learned, and shared more than a free cup of Folgers. Was it really all about the brands?  Or do we, as bloggers, need to think about what we put out there about the conferences we attend, to let people know that we aren’t just in it for the swag – we’re in it because we are, like Cecily says, story-tellers?  Because in truth, we are a community of women: finding our voice, and sometimes, only sometimes, lending that voice to brands we can believe in.

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Comments

  1. says

    I really, really hope you’ll check out my twitter stream (@cherylstober) and the post I was compelled to write on Saturday night instead of partying at the conference (http://www.busysincebirth.com/2013/07/i-need-to-remember-this.html). It was my first BlogHer, and I’ve sat on the sidelines for years (been blogging since ’07) because I don’t do any work with brands or even have ads on my site. I felt like there was going to be nothing for me to do there. But last year, I saw a few posts about how amazing VOTY was, and I realized that the writers I respected most were still going to this event. So I went, and I had an amazing time. I pushed my limits a bit, attending two parties on Thursday night. I toured the expo hall, but didn’t tweet or Instagram much of it (though the Shark guys were hysterical and compelling, my family owns a Shark, they’re based in my town, etc etc). But mostly, I went to sessions. I saw the same core group of people again and again, because they went to sessions too. It’s a smaller group than in years past maybe, but a worthwhile group of people nonetheless. I was very disappointed and hurt that one of my blogging idols was only in town for an event, and after I said I wasn’t invited (she was a host), I got no further contact from her. But I was elated that Cecily, Dresden, Ann, Heather, Ellie, Stacey, Alexandra and many other “high profile” bloggers took the time to get to know me. I spent two chunks of time laughing hysterically with great people in the Serenity Suite. I became even closer to my one local friend who attended the conference with me. I met tons of other bloggers like me – newer to the scene, but determined to make an impact.

    I totally get missing BlogHer for visiting day – my daughter came home from camp the Sunday before, and I wouldn’t have missed that – but I hope you’ll be there next year. Yes, there’s a lot of brand focus, but if you want to find the rest of us who weren’t there for that, we’ll be back next year too.

  2. canape says

    It’s possibly because each session had it’s own hashtag this year. Many content tweets are under those and not the #blogher13 so they wouldn’t be drowned by the sponsors.

        • says

          Wow. That’s cynical! I mean, I know they want tweets. But from what I know of the BlogHer women, they also really do want this to be about the people who attend. Maybe it’s just gotten too big, and in trying to keep in functional, they’ve lost some of what made it special. I’m sure they can find a balance between business and blogging. I wonder if charging bloggers more so that sponsors would have to pay less would work. But I somehow doubt that — everyone,it seems, wants more – but not too many are willing to pay for it. Hence the BlogHer organizers’ dilemma.

  3. says

    I wasn’t there, and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I love the brand stuff, but get enough of that in NYC – too spoiled to travel on my own dime for it. And sadly, I feel the same way about conferences at this point. I’ve never left a conference without having a great time, learning a lot, and getting inspired. But is it worth the money and the time away from home? Not for me, not any more. The inspiration gets lost in all I have to catch up on from the travel. The things I learned don’t get implemented because they’re in line behind the 75 amazing things I vowed to do after past conferences. Definitely a problem with me – not the conferences. But the result is the same: I was home.

  4. says

    I didn’t go this year either… mostly because I didn’t see the value for the money I’d be putting out (on my own dime). For me, brands are great, but if I don’t learn something for all my money, then it wasn’t worth it for me. I’ll definitely go again, and I’m hoping it will be back in California next year, but traveling far for conferences is probably out for me.

    • says

      I think that at this point, for me, inspiration is great — but I want info. Real info. Though seeing friends and reconnecting is awesome…sad to say, with the expense of it all, and time away from work/family — it’s no longer enough.

  5. says

    I liked this even before you linked to me 🙂 (BTW, it’s like Mold of Sky). I missed you and many other friends this year. Like Amy noted above, as I’ve evolved and gotten more immersed in the business of blogging it’s harder to leave the office and my work even though I always have a good time at conferences. I barely tweeted, but then again only had an expo pass. I deigned not to play the blogger games of “post this on your Twitter/Instagram/Facebook” aware of how quickly that takes over my feed and how it reflects on my online presence (or brand, if you will). ANd really, what was I going to win?

    The private events I went to were BlogHer-sanctioned (maybe that’s a newer thing?). II was not invited to many large parties and other outboard events even though I know the organizers. Honestly, even though I’m not really interested in those things or swag-laden events, I admit my ego pipes in “what about me? Why wasn’t I invited?” What can I say? I’m human.

    The best times for me involved being with small or smallish groups of people whether catching up, engaging with a brand in conversation or whatever. It’s impossible for BlogHer (or any organization) to be all things for all people, especially when talking 4-5K people.

    I feel sad, that BlogHer is not what it once was and it’s no longer *the* gathering for so many of my online friends, but the conference isn’t the only thing evolving, we are too.

  6. says

    I agree with your post. Most of my sessions were largely empty, I only went to one with a full room. The entire experience was extremely disappointing compared to the ones I experienced in 2008 and 2009. I enjoyed meeting people (mostly at the “evil” outboard events) but I wish I could have actually learned something.

  7. says

    My plan when I attend a conference is generally to pack as much in as I can because I’ve never been sponsored and I’m there on my own dime. So for me, that means trying to find the right balance of learning, socializing, getting out into the town and meeting with brands I think I may connect with. Swag is nice, but it’s never been my end goal (let’s face it, getting it home can be a total pain and not worth the hassle). I see both sides of the private party issue but lean toward not wanting someone to tell me how I can and can’t spend my time away from home.

    There’s all this talk in our community about ROI. Well, the BlogHer I’ve seen (admittedly from the comfort of my home) seems to no longer have anything *I* would consider significant enough ROI to go. I think these conversations need to happen and I hope that BlogHer can ‘find it’s way back’ to what it used to be. Or, maybe they need to make changes and evolve the way the social media space has evolved. I’m not sure what the answer is but unless the 2014 BlogHer conference is in a location I can commute to easily, I’ll be an observant again next year.

  8. says

    I hope we can get you back next year! I came over here from Kim Moldofsky’s Facebook page, and both as a speaker at the conference and a BlogHer employee, I like to think that folks are so engaged in the content of the sessions — taking notes and asking questions — that they don’t have a whole heck of a lot of bandwidth to tweet during 🙂 I certainly found that to be true of my Pathfinder day students from Thursday. There were some tweets during the session, but folks mostly were focused on what was happening in the room. As a session leader, that’s what I really want to see!

    • says

      Well, Susan, I think that the comments here really do reflect what you say: people made lots of connections. and over on my Facebook post, someone else talked about mostly seeing pictures of people connecting. Not people posing with swag. Which, once she said that, I realized was true. So – this is one time I’m glad my intuition seems off. There was more going on than bloggers swopping up swag.

  9. says

    I admit it – I had a wonderful time in Chicago at BlogHer this year. I’ve been going since 2009 and have realized that the conference is, in large part, what I make it. I would say this about many other conferences as well.

    This year, it was important to me that I re-connect and have quality time with many of the people who make my online world (and by proxy) my offline one a better place. This meant setting actual times to meet with people. I also wanted to meet new people, forge new relationships, learn from people around me and create opportunities that benefit my business. True, this was a tall order, but it happened. So many of my learning moments happen in the hallways, at the end of the day, during a quiet lunch and yes, offsite. And I don’t always share the value on social media, but it is there.

    I don’t attend Blogher, or any other conference for the swag. I never have. And while I know people do, and I certainly did see a lot in my streams from the parties – what I also noticed were a lot of people enjoying time together. There may have been a hashtag attached to the picture or Instagram – but the PEOPLE were connecting and I didn’t see a lot of swag itself..

    Additionally, I did also see tweets, Instagrams, etc for the VOTY, Sheryl Sandberg, Guy Kawasaki and the Fashion Show… I spoke on a panel – we had about 35-40 people in the room. From what I understand, our turnout was similar to many others – but there were LOTS of options. I think attendees could choose between 14 different tracks. Because I was interested after reading your post, I just counted the Twitter interactions during our panel that included me- 25. However, not all included the BlogHer hashtag as we also had our own.

    For what it’s worth, my personal community is bigger and more lovely now than it was at this time last week. I consider that valuable. 🙂

    • says

      This is exactly the kind of comment I was hoping to get: that my “not there” perception was wrong. That Blogher is still about the connections and the people – more than just the STUFF and the brands. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful, complete response to my post. Maybe if Blogher doesn’t fall on visiting day next year, we’ll meet there!

      • says

        I skipped BlogHer last year and didn’t feel like I missed anything. Because it was in Chicago and I live here, I attended many private events but not the conference or expo. My first BlogHer experience in 2010 was amazing. I learned so much and met so many wonderful bloggers who I am still friends with today. San Diego 2011 expo seemed like a hot mess and very underwhelming and the only sessions I thought were worth my time was the Geek bar. That’s because so many people no showed it was basically a one one one session with instructors. That was worthwhile for those that showed up, probably not so great for the speakers. The biggest complaint I hear about BlogHer are about the sessions. Here’s the thing….when someone attends a session on a specific topic and then goes to a private event where another blogger gives her more tips and tricks in 10 mins on that same topic, that’s a problem. Sure the swag is nice but not what draws me to any conference. Plus….many of the expo brands have no idea how to talk to bloggers. I can’t tell you how many times I have approached a brand at BlogHer to ask how they work with bloggers and they have no idea or give me a card of someone that is not there. How is that connecting? I see how using dedicated hashtags for each session could “seem” like a good idea, but everyone should have also included #BlogHer13. No wonder so many people feel like they didn’t missed anything – they never saw any of the content because like you, they were only aware of the conference hashtag.

  10. says

    I didn’t go this year either. But my guess is the reason that people didn’t tweet about the sessions is that from my experience, the sessions at blogher have never been very good. I learned more at a one day Type A conference than I did in three years of blogher.I really do think that the only good thing about Blogher is the networking opportunities.

    I have found most bloggers I’ve come across to be very helpful, which is another reason that I don’t think that they would not tweet sessions just to keep what they learned secret. I just don’t think they learned anything worth tweeting.

  11. says

    I am also here via Kim’s blog, I had a very positive experience at BlogHer again this year (my second annual conference). I went to sessions (I didn’t miss one) and even Pathfinder Day. So I was all about learning as much as I could and connecting with other bloggers, those that I *knew* already online and some that I didn’t prior to meeting them there, and hanging out/spending time with friends.

    I did go to one unofficial party on Thursday evening, which I had mixed feelings about, knowing it was considered “outboarding” and realizing I was supporting that practice in this one instance. I had fun and found it interesting, but had no desire to go to others. I also went to some sponsored events on Tuesday evening and Sunday morning, but those were before the conference officially began and after it ended.

    I went to VOTY again and the Fashion Show (which I missed last year) and both were highlights for me. I walked away from both feeling so inspired by what I heard and saw and empowered, that my fellow bloggers were given the opportunity to have their voices heard and others given the chance to get glammed up and walk the runway (an experience very few would ever otherwise get). I had little interest in the fashion show last year, but this year I had 3 friends who were in it and I have to say, it was awesome to watch them challenge their comfort zones and rock it. Each of the three speak very positively about their experience and highly recommend it, if given the opportunity.

    Anyway, I am still working on my wrap up post, but thought I would add my two cents here. I don’t envy what Jory, Elisa and Lisa are dealing with here. I admire them trying to have a conversation about it, as well as you and Kim for adding your perspectives. I am still in the process of writing my wrap up post, but it will be an overall positive one about BlogHer`13 and everything I learned and the amazing bloggers I connected with. It will not be about brands or swag.

    Also, I did tweet, a lot and tried to use #BlogHer13 and the session hashtags as much as possible. So if you check out @BereavedBlessed you may see some more of the balance you were looking/hoping for.

    Finally, here is a link to a video that I made with photos/highlights set to music from my BlogHer`13 experience. I feel it captures my and many of my fellow bloggers’ experiences well and you might enjoy seeing it: http://bereavedandblessed.com/2013/07/blogher13-suddenly-i-see/

    • says

      Thanks so much. I guess the bottom line is: BlogHer is what you make of it. There have always been Swag Hags at BlogHer — in the blogging world at large. And fine for them. I’m glad to know that they haven’t taken over, though. Nice to hear from so many that it wasn’t what I perceived from afar…at least not for everyone. Loved your montage. Looks like you had fun fun fun!

      • says

        You are welcome Nancy! I agree about BlogHer being what you make it. I am glad you enjoyed my montage. I did have a wonderful time! 🙂

  12. says

    For me it is all about the people. I met Facebook friends in person that I only knew of on-line, I reconnected with various friends from blog trips all over the country, and I got to dance my ass off at Cheeseburgher. Yeah, I like swag, I like to make back the cost of my trip, and I also like to meet brands so i can enjoy some blog work for the next year. But it is the people, I got to connect with some dad bloggers for the first time, strengthen old friendships, and make a lot of new ones. As much as Blogher seems to be headed downhill, for me it was like being on a 3 day high, and that is from the bloggers, my fav people in the world!

  13. says

    Hi Nancy, just a few comments that may help give context.

    Having 14 tracks may have been going overboard, but the goal was for a) Sessions not to be overcrowded like they were last year and b) To make sure most kinds of bloggers could build an individual path that was meaningful to them.

    Having session-specific hashtags was in response to community feedback that it would be easier to filter/follow the conversations that way (especially with the aforementioned 14 simultaneous conversations going on).

    Also, there’s a lot of hashtag hijacking that goes on on the main hashtag that is VERY difficult to contain. We actually advise official sponsors to create a custom/unique hashtag if they want to ask attendees to tweet anything. Also makes it easier to track. Some follow that advice, some don’t, and some attendees add the main hashtag every time anyway.

    You remind me that we should go add the panel-specific hashtags at the top of each live blog transcript!

    • says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I hope you took this post in the spirit in which it was intended: not as a criticism of the event (I wasn’t there after all), but an honest to goodness query about what it really was like, since from a non-attendee’s POV, it seemed to have changed dramatically from years’ past. I hope, too, that you’re encouraged by the responses here. I know I was. Most people here and on FB (where this discussion also went on) had a great experience. If it’s not during visiting day next year…I’ll be there. (though visiting day was pretty awesome.)
      I can only imagine what it takes to plan something this ginormous — so many sponsors, so many bloggers, so many women with so much to say about everything. I’m impressed that you joined in this conversation – I imagine you’re swamped and drained after last weekend — and that you’re all continually tweaking the conference to make it better.
      Congrats on building a strong, women owned and run business. I’ve got one too. And I know it’s no small feat to grow it as you all have done.

      • says

        Hi Nancy, and of course! We would never have survived to produce nine annual conferences (so far) if we weren’t willing to listen to all the feedback, big and small, good and bad 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, and yes reading the recaps has been very motivating!! Last year there were almost 4,000 post-BlogHer posts, of which about 100 were negative in tone. It’s easy to fixate on the negative ones, but it’s really not fair for me to do so…I’m working on that aspect of my nature 🙂

  14. says

    I never heard of BlogHer before this. I definately want to look into this and make my own judgements. Maybe those that were negative in tone weren’t thought that by everyone? I think it is important to make one’s own choices first!

  15. says

    I so enjoyed this post! Good old fashioned storytelling, that’s really what hooks the viewers! You can glitz it all up with prizes and advertisement, but if a good story isn’t told, it probably won’t be viewed!

  16. says

    A friend (who lives near the site of the conference in Chicago) recently told me I should join the BlogHer bandwagon, but I saw that they do not accept Word Press blogs. Thank you for being honest about what you discovered. For now, I hope to keep my writing separate from all that commercialism. For now 😉

    • says

      Hi there. Nancy is right that being in the network and going to the conference can be two totally separate things, but also; We don’t work with WordPress.COM blogs, because WordPress prohibits monetizing those blogs via outside networks. We do work with WordPress.ORG blogs when the bloggers self-host, because then they’re allowed to work with whatever outside revenue sources they want. Hope that helps.

      • says

        I’m a new-ish blogger with just 23 posts to my name. Thank you for this revelation about WordPress.com. At the moment I do not self-host. My thoughts right now are a conflict between no ads (yup, I’m one of those annoying people who want to “share”) and maybe some ad revenue in the future. I’m leaning toward no ads at this moment… I had heard of BlogHer prior to launching my blog, but since following a blogger who attended the event, I got to know a lot more about the Conference’s sessions. As well, I connected briefly (and started to follow on Twitter) with a blogger who was representing the caregiver dept of AARP. So there was a remote benefit I gained. Maybe I’ll get to attend some time in the future.
        Having been on the other side of the conference curtain with a previous employer, I know how much passionate work goes into the planning and executing. My kudos to all.

  17. says

    I don’t know about BlogHer thing but I must say you made the right choice ! Children are always the first priority ! I loved reading this post it was touching my heart I don;t know for what reason ! Love you 🙂 xx

  18. says

    I see BlogHer great for small business networking, learning blogging skills and just connecting with other women.

    …which I must confess, when I connect with other women outside of my job, (which is not blogging at all), it is about bicycling. I’m not kidding. Blogging is just another communication and marketing vehicle to me –with enormous flexibility and staying power.

  19. says

    I attended BlogHer in NYC despite a warning from a businesswoman I admire who had gone and who had heartily disliked it. I found it bizarre and exhausting and would never go again.

    As a journalist I am beyond dismayed by the “swag hags”. The two things I enjoyed in NY were hearing some of their bloggers read aloud and hearing Katie Couric and Martha Stewart being interviewed. As for meeting people…every single woman I met told me “I’m a mommy blogger!” — and as someone with no children, I had zero interest in that point of view. No doubt, there were women attending who I might well have enjoyed meeting, but it was such a zoo I couldn’t even find a comfortable or quiet place to have a conversation…

    • says

      Swag hags arent exclusive to BlogHer. Many an industry event is filled with open handed (or mouthed) attendees. And I hope that you don’t dismiss anyone’s point of view simply because she has children. I have been writing professionally and otherwise for more than 25 years. I’ve ghost written books, scripted TV specials, and penned numerous essays for magazines both literary and otherwise. I am also a mother. I hope that doesn’t somehow make my point of view uninteresting to those without kids.

      • says

        That is not my point. If someone ONLY writes about being a parent, great. That’s not material of interest to me. A conference of 5,000 women could be better organized to attract and connect bloggers with interests beyond that. In my experience, it did not.

        And anyone who purports to be a journalist, as many bloggers now do, is someone who needs to understand and maintain a clear set of ethics — not stuff everything portable into their handbag and think this makes them a writer. It makes them gullible and greedy, a handy shill for a brand.

        I’ve been writing professionally just as long. This is not a credential contest. I found BlogHer a total waste of my time. Sorry that doesn’t fit the prevailing squee! narrative.

      • says

        I went to another event on social medial tools in Vancouver. Lots of bloggers and others swinging around content management terminology without understanding deeply that there are other better tools for content management than a blog platform. I was underwhelmed.

        As I said earlier BlogHer is great for people needing network, etc. But honest, it’s better I attend a conference for information management professionals where blog technology is only 1 of several (and it’s a simple tool) technology tools for managing content.

        I am a formally trained librarian and have been in the electronic world professionally for last 25 years. So BlogHer would be purely for socializing.

        I should add professionally the library community in North America is 80% women since they do annual surveys of us. Just to make my comments relevant to BlogHer.

        Yes, there are mothers, non-mothers (it’s in conversation, not on survey form)…and we don’t talk about parenting in our work content. Being a children’s librarian doesn’t mean you have to be a mother… you focus on children’s literacy across different learning spectrums and craft of story telling, book selection, challenge of Internet distractions. 🙂

        As for the swag, yes, we occasionally get swag if we visit a vendors booth just like other conferences. But it’s quite different….not a commercial circus that I sense at BlogHer and one has to be smart if one wishes to be chased by a vendor with sales call afterwards.

        Now if you get a bunch of men talking exclusively about Blogging…a good example maybe Word Camp panels that may have predominantly men in some cities…is it about parenting?

        I don’t think so. So change the misperception of BlogHer.

  20. says

    Love this post! I just bought the new windex push-up touch up cleaners this weekend and love them. Makes cleaning so much easier and takes less time because when you clean between the cleaning spent take as long and isn’t as messy

  21. says

    Not surprising to learn that financial interests trump the reason most start blogging in the first place. I hear it all the time…..”If I could only make a living, blogging.”

    I have ads on my blog, and sells t-shirts and guitar related products, but have no illusions that blogging would ever be a serious income. Then again, for the most part, I don’t blog, I only post the licks/solos and songs I am relearning after a couple strokes.

    Not much content for people to sink their teeth into unless they want to learn the same pieces I am relearning….

  22. says

    I have to admit, I’ve never been to BlogHer. I chose to attend a day at the Midwest Writers Workshop instead. Most of the posts I saw were vanity pics of the bloggers with other bloggers. I’m more interested in honing general writing skills than monetizing my blog. As a blog reader, there are many blogs that I don’t visit anymore because they are so junked up with advertising that makes the site run slow and distracts from the post.

  23. says

    There are writers who blog and then there are brand bloggers. They’re from two different planets. I must say, I find these conferences to be rehashes of sorority conventions.

  24. says

    You have no idea how very much you inspired me with this piece. I have been debating about 2014 blog conferences lately. And definitely have Blogher on my list. I will say this. I do follow tweets for Blogher and other blogging conferences. Like you…I’ve been looking for information on sessions, speakers, content. And I haven’t really been able to find much material of value. Yikes. Your piece has given me so much insight. I agree with you. Brands a grand. But, I’m interested in building a solid community. Thanks for this!

    • says

      So glad to help. And I will say this: the general consensus is: BlogHer (or any blogging conference) is what you make of it. If you choose to make it about getting free stuff from brands and tweeting about it, fine If you choose to spend your days in sessions, great. What I will say, is that BlogHer has always been, for me, about getting to meet people I’ve only ever known virtually. And taking virtual friendships into the real world.

    • says

      So glad to help. And I will say this: the general consensus is: BlogHer (or any blogging conference) is what you make of it. If you choose to make it about getting free stuff from brands and tweeting about it, fine If you choose to spend your days in sessions, great. What I will say, is that BlogHer has always been, for me, about getting to meet people I’ve only ever known virtually. And taking virtual friendships into the real world.

  25. says

    Yikes, I am a brand new blogger (1 week old). I randomly came across your post on WordPress and it definitely grabbed my attention. What attracted me to blogging is the ability to use your editorial eye and not be beholden to advertisers the way magazines seem to be with all these pr puff pieces. I had no idea this is the route blogs are going too. Glad I don’t have to rely on blogging for an income, I can see how it would be a difficult choice to make. Great article.

    • says

      Thanks for reading. Don’t worry about commericalism on blogs. It is absolutely up to you if you want to write about products, write sponsored posts, or just write what you like. Good luck in the blogoshere. Don’t get discouraged. The more you write, the more you comment and link to other posts, the more people will read your own blog! Have fun!

  26. says

    Funny I should happen upon this post right about the time that I find myself increasingly perplexed and frustrated because I am trying to ‘be a voice’ for many who aren’t ‘heard’ and yet every time I turn around I see more and more traffic on other blogs that are telling me about the great Mocha Lotta Whatever they had that morning while throwing in a quip about wrangling a two year old into his shirt.

    And at the SAME TIME I’m jealous because I am not just a blogger who wants to be an influence and make a difference …I’m still a writer (author at that) who wants to be noticed. I don’t go to things like ‘Blog Her’ because I don’t know about them (or I’m not ‘cool enough’) to be invited. Wait…is this high school? No…I was ‘cool’ in high school. 😉

    I wish somehow the two worlds could collide. That I could maybe make a buck for the non-profit while being both encouraging, possibly at times witty, and maybe influencing someone not necessarily to buy a coffee but to change make a positive change in their life.

    Blessings
    Shannon

  27. says

    Yes, BlogHer’13 focused on brands, but I can honestly say that I spent more time talking with other bloggers and attending workshops than navigating the expo. This is what I will say about Twitter: I’m sure plenty of bloggers can attest to the fact that at the Expo, the different brands offered free samples, products, and in some cases, cash prizes for a mention on Twitter. I think since brands pursued this strategy more aggressively than last year, it showed through social media.

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