The day I was supposed to leave for Nashville to go to Blissdom, a blogger conference in Nashville, NYC got 19” of snow. Flight cancelled that day, and then that night, and the next morning, afternoon and evening, until the only flight available was Friday morning at 6:30. And the whole conference ended Friday night at 5. So what did I do? I woke up at 4am, hopped in a taxi with Beccarama, and hightailed it to the airport to hit Blissdom for the day. And you know what? It was worth it. Because here’s what I learned.
10. Flash Mobs are AWESOME. At the “State of Blissdom” talk, we heard Alli Worthington and Barbara Jones, the conference organizers, talk about blogging from the heart, the brain, and the home. (We also heard from Her Bad Mother, and Velveteen Mind). That they did it dressed like characters out of The Wizard of Oz was just a quirky bonus.
Then we had the keynote, from @unmarketing, Scott Stratten (more on that later). When it was all over, Barbara tried to make an announcement, but the music cut her off. Why? Because someone had organized a flash mob. The fact that women from around the country had figured out how to make this work, that they had bonded together to make it happen…well, it really restored my faith in the blogging community. It really is a community – one willing to go the extra mile to do something fun and fabulous, and not at all easy to pull off. All just because. I loved it.
9. There’s such a thing as a Nun Conference – OK, so maybe it’s called Catholic Campus Outreach, but what I saw in the ballroom adjoining Blissdom’s was basically a conference of nuns, checking out the latest in habits. I found it ironic that they where there, since the last conference I attended, CES, also had a conference that was held simultaneously: a porn star conference. Couldn’t be more opposite a crowd. And I liked having the nuns around a whole lot more.
8. Community Counts: I think that had Blissdom been a humongous conference like Blogher, with it’s 1500 attendees and 4 bazillion sponsors, I might not have gotten so much out of it. Too much to navigate, too much to see, too overwhelming – certainly for one day. But Blissdom is a streamlined compact conference of approximately 650 women. So instead of being overwhelmed, I was welcomed. When we finally arrived at the hotel, I tweeted that I’d made it at last. And people I’d never met tweeted back welcomes. Thanks @chambanalaura and @temysmom. Community- not anonymity. That’s what got me blogging in the first place.
What I loved about Blissdom was the overwhelming sense of community I felt there. I connected with former SVmom-ers I haven’t seen in years, like Kim Modolfsky and yes-she-has-another-book-coming-out Megan Francis; I had a little tweet-up with @hollyhaman. I ate lunch with a young, newbie blogger who never said so, but probably thought I reminded her of her mother. It felt warm and welcoming, and not clique-y. And it reminded me that that’s why I blog. That’s what blogging does: brings me a far bigger community than I could ever get in this city of 12 million. And far more intimate, in its own weird way.
7. Women Rock: The only panel I was able to attend was Advance Monetization is Not for Whiners. And you know what they talked about? Making your own opportunities, creating good karma by sharing the wealth, being faithful to your voice and vision…and not whining about not getting opportunities, but simply putting yourself in a position to get them yourself. They talked about kindness, and supporting each other. Show me a man’s conference where they talk about that stuff. I dare you.
6. Southern Women get Glammed Up. While the East Coast women I knew wore muted tones and natural looking no-makeup makeup, the Southern gals at Blissdom glammed it up big time. Big hair, big jewels, big smiles. And, New York snob that I am, I thought I’d find that tacky. Instead, I thought us faux natural New Yorkers looked like plain Jane’s in comparison.
5. Delivery matters Scott Stratten’s keynote was a riot. He was charming and funny and informative, and I was tweeting him like crazy. But the truth is, he didn’t say anything all that Earth Shattering. You are your brand, relationships matter, put out quality work, engage your readers. But the WAY he said it all was inspiring, and affirming, and made me feel like blogging again.
4. When it Comes to Sponsors and Swag: Less is More I knew this already. But I’m kind of hoping some other conference organizers read this post and take heed: a manageable number of good, involved sponsors beats a boatload of who-the-hell-are-these-people sponsors any day. If you’d asked me before Blissdom if I’d ever eat at a Red Lobster, the answer would have been an unequivocal no. Too low-brow for snooty New York me. But there was Red Lobster – not one of a bazillion sponsors, but one of a handful, and there were the lobster rolls they were handing out. So I tried one. And you know what? It was good. Mind changed. I will use my swag-gift card (I don’t know how much it’s for) and go there. I’d even pay for it myself. Similarly, I don’t know that I ever would have tried Freschetta Pizza – which was surprisingly good and un-frozen pizza-ish, but that’s what was for dinner Friday night, so I did. I might not have noticed Lisa Leonard Designs in a bigger space. And Hallmark makes just about the best paper plates ever. You can put your own photo on them. How awesome is that? I don’t know that I would have noticed that detail in a humongous pool of sponsors.
Lots of crappy swag= bad. Small amounts of swag you really want = excellent.
3. There’s Such a Thing as a Bible Blogger. And there are a lot of them. Living in NY, you’d think we’d have a lot of diversity – and we do. Ethnic, sexual orientation, socioeconomic. But we don’t have a lot of (at least not open) Bible Bloggers. I loved meeting a whole breed of bloggers I never knew anything about.
2. Barbara Jones does an eerily good Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. (see #10, above)
1. It’s not (contrary to my previous post) time for me to stop blogging. Almost missing Blissdom because of the storm, made me realize what I was missing. I like these people. I want to stay in this community. Being at Blissdom made me realize that – not just am I more than my stats – but I’m more than myself. I’m part of something bigger and more important. Something that empowers women, gives us a voice. We will be heard!!
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