Monday, August 5, 2013

Chicago Takeover: BlogHer- The Conference

Day Two/Three of BlogHer- The Conference

I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into- the blogging conference "newbie" that I was. It was a packed two days, with educational sessions (with sometimes up to 14 different options during one time slot), keynote speakers, meals, and more.

Luckily, all of the agenda information was included on the conference website ahead of time, and I had mapped out the sessions that I was interested in attending. Also, they had a specific BlogHer'13 app for your mobile devices. It was one of the best apps that I've ever used, and it kept me on schedule and organized all weekend. My only complaint? The location of the event/session often wasn't included in the agenda item. Otherwise, I found it user-friendly, and full of information and ways to connect to BlogHer'13.

Friday kicked off with two separate breakfast sessions. I attended the BlogHer Newbie Breakfast, since it was my first time at the conference. My advice? Skip it and attend the regular breakfast. It was less about navigating BlogHer, and more about how to network and be friendly. Pretty sure that I know how to give a good hand shake and make small talk.

After a Welcome and Kickoff from the BlogHer founders, and blogger Pioneer Woman, it was off to the sessions.
I stuck mostly to the Marketing and Monetization track throughout the conference, with a stop in Interest & Identity.
Overall, I was able to glean some information from each of the four sessions over the two days. However, I often found myself stuck somewhere in the middle of the Beginner and Advanced tracks. If I attended a Beginner session, most of the information was something that I already knew or was implementing on my blog. If I attended the Advanced session, I was gaining more information, but yet it didn't always apply to what I'm currently doing with my blog. Where is the "Intermediate" track for bloggers like me? That's my biggest piece of feedback for the BlogHer organizers. I'd love to see more sessions geared towards those of us that have been blogging for years, but yet aren't doing it "professionally" as a full-time job or using it to make money.

Overall, I enjoyed Day Two more. We had several great speakers throughout the conference, but my favorite was the panel of speakers during lunch on the second day.
Majora Carter, Lisa Donovan, Brit Morin, and Randi Zuckerberg were all fascinating to listen to, and their career paths were inspiring.

I also really enjoyed meeting other bloggers throughout the conference. Everyone was always so friendly on the shuttle bus, during meals, and in the sessions. I even sat next to the creator of Butt Paste on the bus. He was a charming gentleman, who told me the story of owning his own pharmacy for 25 years before creating this butt paste for use with his kids (and now grandkids). However, I didn't feel that people were genuinely interested in connecting to make friendships or blog connections outside of the conference. Was it me? There were business cards exchanged, but I doubt that many any will actually follow my blog now. I certainly added a couple to my blog roll:

- Mom a la mode
- The Martha Project
- Go Sweet & Skinny
- I also encourage you to check out the bloggers that were honored at the Voices of the Year (some of them were so moving, so funny, so inspirational)

A couple of celebrity highlights from the conference were Queen Latifa hosting the Voices of the Year...
...and actress Wendi McLendon-Covey (most of you would recognize her from the movie Bridesmaids) who hosted the Fashion Show.
Overall, I do feel like the conference was worth the steep price tag. It was an experience that I won't forget, I learned some new techniques and tips for blogging, I met/heard from some cool people, and I walked away inspired to do more with my blog. Some things that you can expect to see as a result of this conference:

- Bite Buff Blunders (I'll prove to you that I really can't cook as I start to actually document my screw ups in the kitchen)
- Recipes, using as much product from the West Side Market or local farmers markets as possible (this blog may sound like "R" and I don't eat at home often, but we really do and "R" is a wonderful cook)
- Saved Google maps with my favorite restaurants, brunch locations, etc. that can be easily shared when requested
- Bite Buff Pinterest account (coming soon)
- Bite Buff Foursquare account (coming soon- I'll be leaving tips all over town)
- Sponsored posts from brands that I want to share with you (don't worry, I'll be selective)

So, that was the biggest piece that I took away from the conference itself--- inspiration to better my blog, do more, put more of myself into it. I hope that you'll like the new features. For any other bloggers out there that are considering attending BlogHer or another blogging conference--- Go For It!

The last couple of posts about Chicago will be all about the food. Ahhh, the food...


Jen @ Why CLE? said...

Very cool! I'm definitely thinking of attending BlogHer14. Thanks for the tips and feedback.

Heather said...

It should be exciting to start using your new kitchen!!

Beth @ CraveableCleveland said...

Excited to see what you cook! More excited to see next post, about Chicago's food though :).

Holly said...

Enjoyed your feedback and tips! You should Tweet your post to BlogHer so they hear your feedback too.

TheNextMartha said...

What what what? Thank you.