This year I attended my fourth BlogHer Conference, this year a lot of things were expected to change. I think many bloggers expected this change for worse, although it was advertised to be for the better. Since I am sitting in an airport on my way home and everything is still very fresh I wanted to share my thoughts about this year’s conference.
Things did change A LOT in some aspects, but mostly a lot is the same as previous years.
First, I love to go to BlogHer, I have several reasons I attend but the top one is to network. I am interested in building relationships with brands and working with them as an ongoing basis, this is important to me and it is beneficial to my blog. I also group networking with other bloggers in this category because I love my bloggy besties, and they help me to build my blog, give advice, and are some of the best friends a girl could ask for.
I feel that BlogHer has really let the attendees down over the last few years and this actually made me second think going this year.
BlogHer for me is a combination of BlogHer events and what they would refer to as “Outboard” events. Outboard events are parties hosted around the conference location that are not official BlogHer events and are unrelated to BlogHer. You do not need a conference pass to attend these parties and most of the time, these events are invite only, or First Come First Served for tickets.
In between 2010 and 2013 BlogHer came down really hard on the hosts of these outboard events, bloggers with sponsorship, and even PR reps that are attending the conference but not exhibiting at BlogHer. I know that it is in BlogHer’s best interest if these brands do become officially apart of the conference. But as a blogger that tried to attain sponsorship for BlogHer, it seems that brands are almost fearful to sponsor bloggers attending BlogHer. Maybe this is because they do not want to deal with the wrath of legal from BlogHer if there is any miscommunication or accidental breaking of a policy. (Example, my roomie got a nice letter from BlogHer shortly before the conference telling her she needed to buy a more expensive pass because she was sponsored… but she was not sponsored- she did a review of business cards that she brought to BlogHer.)
As an attendee, I loved attending the outboard events, it was added fun to the conference and an opportunity to connect with new brands, or meet up the the PR Reps that I have been working with. I was sad to see A LOT less of these events this year, and I hope in the future that these brands do try to become an official BlogHer Event.
I attended an event this year that was an outboard event last year- the hosts commented that it was not hard at all to attain the status of being an official BlogHer Event. Hopefully more brands will follow suit and we can bring back these awesome events to this conference.
I am also sad to see so many “one and done” brands in the expo hall and as sponsors for BlogHer. This makes me think that BlogHer has burned some bridges over the years. As someone who organizes events, you should be building the amount of exhibitors every year. Those that participated last year should be SO happy that they want to participate next year, that is the responsibility of the event host to ensure their exhibitors are happy.
Last year, many bloggers- myself included- were disappointed that in the Expo Hall many booths did not have PR Reps present. This year, that was NOT the case. I stopped at almost every booth in the Expo Hall and every one of them had a PR rep there, or they were able to give me a time to stop back so I could chat with the representative for that company. I am happy to see this change. I look forward to networking in the Expo Hall so that I can make connections, if there isn’t a representative there- I am learning about a product but not making a connection, so that is not cool. With a Blogger Outreach or Social Media Rep in the booth I can learn about what they are looking for, learn about what they are promoting this year, and how we can team up together. I am very excited about many of the connections I made this year and look forward to working with these brands.
CLASSES- Many people attend blogging conferences to attend classes and expand their knowledge on blogging. This is not why I attend BlogHer and unless you are a blogging newbie, you will probably be disappointed with the classes at BlogHer. I did not attend any classes this year, I had an Expo/Networking pass, so attending classes was not even an option for me. I did chat with some bloggers that attended classes this year because I do think this is important to know how the classes are. I heard the same thing that I hear every year #1 the classes are too crowded and #2 the classes are not beneficial to them because they are beyond the Blogging 101 stage. Keep this in mind when you are weighing in what you want to get out of BlogHer, if you are expecting to learn a lot from classes- you might be disappointed.
It is not all a waste when it comes to learning though. When you are attending BlogHer you are going to conference with professional bloggers, many of which this is their full time job and are extremely successful at it. I learn A LOT about blogging, social media, how things are changing, how to adjust to these changes, tips for growing, tips for working with brands, advice on which brands to connect with that will fit my blog… and much more all from my peers (other bloggers) at conferences and events. It is great to hear about what is working and not working for other bloggers, nothing about blogging fits into one cookie cutter class so it would be very difficult to teach a class that would fit all bloggers. So talk to other bloggers, learn what they are doing and if you have questions, ASK- I love to help other bloggers and I think most bloggers are like me. We are all in a community together and we need to support each other
Keynotes, as always I heard the Keynotes were awesome! I have attended several Keynote Speakers at BlogHer over the years and they really are great presentations and great speakers. Normally, the lunches provided are really great. I heard that the meals this year were delicious but hit or miss on being filling. I heard from several bloggers yesterday that they were starving because lunch was only a teeny salad. I personally do not depend on the meals BlogHer provides and didn’t even have the option to this year since I had the Expo Pass, but I know there are attendees that depend on these so that was not cool. Yes- If you have a Full Conference Pass there are meals provided and this does help with the cost of the conference. (and normally the meals are really great, and delicious!!)
BlogHer- as with every conference is what you make of it. If you have a bad attitude and throw a tantrum over silly stuff… you will be miserable and you will make those around you miserable. So put a smile on your face, drink an extra cup of coffee, get a good night’s sleep, and be ready for 3 days of complete GO GO GO- organized- fun, networking and learning. I will say I felt like a party pooper this year since I was in bed early each night, but I have that horrible First Trimester Tiredness thing going on so I really needed the rest and I missed some of the late night stuff. But- by going to bed early, I was able to be well rested in the morning and had a GREAT time at all the day time events.
The big debate- will I attend BlogHer again? I get this question A LOT and my answer is this- I have no idea. There are several things that come into play with if I attend again: location, cost, sponsorship for me, sponsors that are present… and of course what is going on in my life and if I am able to go. So I will not make that decision until I find out the majority of the answers to these questions. But hopefully I will see all my bloggy besties next year at BlogHer