Reflections From BlogHer’11

I intentionally said “from” instead of “on” because I’m not reflecting on BlogHer’11. Perhaps I’ll write a little about my experience; what an amazing experience it was. In fact, maybe I’ll ponder a little bit about that here as well. But there was more that struck me and has kindof stuck with me since going to this convention, which is, I believe, in its seventh year, than what one might expect.

Truth be told, I hadn’t even heard about BlogHer until about three weeks before the actual event. I had just been scoping out upcoming events at the convention center and trying to figure out how to get some extra business into the restaurant. I love blogging. There’s no doubt about that. But I most certainly don’t do it for money. Hah. I wish. I’ve always blogged just for the sake of writing, I’ve blogged as a replacement for journaling where I don’t have the time or the knuckle-power to do what I want to do, I’ve blogged as an outlet for the professional writer in me who never bothered to (nor ever had the confidence to) create something publishable. I’ve also always figured that I’m not good enough to be a professional writer, not smart enough, witty enough, engaging enough, candid enough…honest enough. Really, this blog is and has always been honest. But there’s a lot that I don’t put in here simply because I have no idea who’s reading. I’ve often contemplated starting a whole new, completely anonymous blog that I would tell no one about. But I just haven’t. And I probably won’t.

(Yes, I know. I start sentences with the words “I”, “But” and “And” way too often. But I don’t care. And that’s that. It’s my stream of consciousness and probably a big part of why I’m not the professional writer that I’ve always dreamed of being.)

Item I Learned #1: “Blogger” doesn’t necessarily mean just “Writer.”

I know I already talked about my discovery about other bloggers in a previous post. I realized that in order to call oneself a blogger one does not really need to be a great writer. Here’s one thing that I discovered at BlogHer’11: a LOT of the bloggers are stuff-schleppers. Granted, if I were offered the chance to be paid or given free stuff for writing about products for my thousands upon thousands of readers, I would. I think. I do love the idea of writing about products that I love as a supplement to the meat and bones of my writing (I mean, I did do that when I was a magazine editor, even when I really didn’t like what I was writing about).

I met a lot of women who started out blogging for the hell and love of it, like I do, but then they found a niche, collected readers, and became sponsored. That obviously hasn’t happened for me, and although I passed out my business card to many women at the show, I wasn’t 100% committed to the thought of any strangers reading my shit. But I air no dirty laundry here, and I try not to be too negative, so what’s there to hide? Nothing, I suppose, except that I have tons of photos of my precious little baby here, vulnerable to being lifted by who-knows-what kind of crazeballs weirdo. But the stuff-schleppers were pretty cool.

The first blogger I came into contact with was La Jolla Mom, whom I met at the SDBloggers event at the restaurant. She has a reputation for being a big-time blogger because she has a bunch of followers, so I asked her for advice before buying my ticket. (I also asked if she knew where to find a discount ticket, but she couldn’t help me there.) She basically told me that there were no longer discount tickets, but that the seminars weren’t really all that terrific so I wouldn’t be missing much if I just got the exhibitor pass.

The second blogger I met, who subsequently introduced me to many other bloggers, was The Eco Chic. She held a blogger meetup, called #HauteGreen, at the restaurant, to which she welcomed over 50 guests. It was all “green” women writers, most of which write about the whole cloth diapering phenomena. I can’t believe that there’s really all that much to say about the subject, but that’s what several of these women’s blogs are about! I kindof glommed on to the poor thing like a parasite, following her tweets and accepting her invitation to a “decorate-a-dildo” party. (Mom, don’t ask.) I had a couple of awesome pics of a king-sized bed laid out with about 2oo rubber wieners, but then I had to delete them when May brought my ipod to me with one of the pics on the screen. (oops.) Anyways, The Eco Chic, whether she intended to or not, became somewhat of a BlogHer mentor/Sherpa for me, and she introduced me to several other really cool women. This leads me to the next point:

Item I Learned #2: I’m not the only person who is insecure in my writing

One girl that The Eco Chic introduced me to, She Thinks Media, seemed a little aloof to me. She had a mysterious air to her of someone who was nice, but who really didn’t need to make any friends, let alone a tagalong like myself. Not that she made me feel like that, but I made me feel like that. I’ve always been insecure and had a bit of an inferiority complex, so, not only am I surprised when someone talks to me and invites me to things like TEC did, I’m not surprised when people don’t really pay attention to me. I always assume that people find me uninteresting, unworthy…just “un” anything that I want to be. But then, tonight, I read this post and this post from She Thinks Media’s blog, and it dawned on me that she is insecure, too. She is approachable, normal, human. I couldn’t believe it! She seemed so cool, so confident, so…I don’t know…strong.

This leads me to the next item I learned.

Item I Learned #3: It’s really easy to meet people at BlogHer, even if they’re single-serving friendships, and the biggies are mixed in with the littlies.

I had no idea that Jane Lynch and Ricki Lake were at BlogHer. I knew that the CEO of PepsiCo was there because they did a whole panel with her. And I knew that there were some big names there. But pretty much every time I sat down – to eat, to drink, to listen to a seminar, to tweet (yes, I tweeted throughout this whole thing!) – I met someone new. I met some people who hadn’t even started blogging yet, but who were interested in trying. I met people who blogged about the most mundane of things (think avocados), but mostly I met mommy bloggers. And for some reason, I found each of them very interesting. I think my favorites were Mommy Shorts, It’s Fitting and the Eco Crazy Mom.

It’s Fitting and Eco Crazy Mom were both gals who I kindof befriended…meaning, they were at the above mentioned Haute Green Bloggers event and I talked to them a few times. They remembered my names. I found them interesting. I kindof hope to keep in touch. Mommy Shorts was a different story. She was a very unassuming gal whom I sat next to for one of the luncheons or something. I got her card, she got mine, but I remembered her mentioning that she’s having a baby/celebrity lookalike contest and she thought it would be funny if I entered May as Richard Simmons after I showed her a picture of the ‘fro. So I looked her blog up later and found it to be funny, witty, and basically the story of my life.

That’s the thing about reading other people’s blogs; you start to feel like they’re your friends, even if they’re not only really not your friends, but they have thousands of other people reading their blogs who feel exactly the same way. It’s like when I heard that Brothers & Sisters was being cancelled. I was heartbroken, feeling like a kitten left outside to starve, neglected, discarded. I know it’s pathetic, but when you watch a show for season after season, you start to feel like you really are a Walker. It’s kindof stalkery (which takes me back to why I’m not so sure that I really want a whole lot of readership here). Anyways, Mommy Shorts is a blog that I will definitely follow.

Which leads me to another thing I learned.

Item I learned #4:  There’s a whole society full of a close-knit, online social circles.

Everyone I met seemed to know someone there, if not a whole gaggle of other likeminded bloggers. There were cliques everywhere. People being invited to private parties all over the place (not me, except for The Eco Chic’s beneficent invitation mentioned above). People exhibiting body language akin to the women on Sex and the City. Even though it was really easy to meet people, it wasn’t really easy to meet people who wanted to hang out for longer that whatever situation we happened to find ourselves in. Everyone seemed to always have had someone to meet, somewhere to go. I kindof felt lonely, just like every other time I find myself in a group setting. I felt like I’m an outsider. But when I asked random people, “Hey, how did you hear about that party?” they pretty much always answered with the same, one-word response: “Twitter”. Even though they seemed so close-knit, they really only knew each other online.  Hubbs would totally snicker at this, but as I mentioned above when talking about my newfound stalkerdom, I can totally relate. I just haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet.

(Note: Really, I have, sortof. There are a few blogs that I’ve followed since the beginning of this blog. I just stumbled upon them, really. But I have read them for long enough to feel like I know the writer. I had one blogger friend who, over a year ago, stopped writing her blog as suddenly as I had discovered it. I had read every post that she had written and then suddenly, she was gone. I felt betrayed. I emailed her to ask her what the heck had happened. Was she ok? Did something terrible happen? Was she mad at me, personally, so she stopped writing alltogether? I know this sounds pathetic, but this is the kind of pathos that can manifest if one’s not careful how she treads in the blogosphere. Her family had discovered her blog. Her honest, brutal, heartbreaking blog. And that was it. Enough said. But ever since I lagged in my blogging I totally stopped following the others. I have to admit, though, that it pleases me greatly to see, now that I’ve started blogging again, that they have been equally as lackadaisical as I in the blogging department. Only, I don’t think any of them read my blog. Ho-hum.)

Um, I got a little distracted there, so I’ll move on.

Item I Learned #5: There’s a lot of swag (shit I don’t need but I’m happy to grab for free) at BlogHer, all of which’s donees only give you in the hope (expectation) of you being a big-time blogger with lots of followers who will blog about their “enter name of product here”. I had so much crap hanging from my shoulder that I needed a massage to work out the pain in my neck (but no, I didn’t get one). I scored on Chap-Stick…and baby medicine…and OMG Dr. Scholl’s custom orthopedics that actually made my Chucks even more comfortable and made my feet hardly ache at all by the end of the day. But did I really need FOUR vibrators? (Well, maybe…) Did I really need little things to wipe off the face of my ipad? Did I really need a sling-shot-esque squealing monkey with a T-Mobile cape around its neck? No, I didn’t. But they will (or have) all come in handy. In fact, May and I played with the monkey for like 40 minutes straight, and she giggled and squealed the whole time.

Item I Learned #6: There are some really good ideas out there. When I was stuck in line waiting for those custom orthotics from Dr. Scholl’s, I talked to a fellow mommy blogger whose baby is about the same age as May, who has been blogging for a shorter time than I have, and who, unlike me, is sponsored. I think. I asked her about her blog and she confidently told me that it was basically things that she wants her daughter to learn. Life lessons. It’s kindof her legacy. She writes advice for her daughter. It dawned on me that I don’t really know why I write this blog. I mean, it has always been for myself, for the reasons that I mentioned when I first started this post. But, if the internet never crashes, or WordPress never fails, or the world doesn’t implode by the time that May wants to learn about me if – god forbid – I were to die or something, maybe I should have something here for her to read other than my rambling thoughts. (By the way, if you’ve made it this far through my rambling thoughts, bless you. You’re a martyr…who has too much free time.)

So that might be my take-away from this whole thing. It won’t be that maybe I should start trying to get more people to read my blog so I might actually get free stuff one day or even…gasp!…get paid for this hobby. Maybe I should actually try to write something that might make May a better person some day. Something that might make her think, “hey, Mom’s got some great advice.” I have a whole lot of that stuff to share with her. In due time.

Item I Learned #7: Be yourself, because you’re here for you, and nothing else really matters.

When researching BlogHer and trying to figure out what the heck I had gotten myself into, I read a lot about “what to wear at BlogHer’11” and “advice for newbies”. Thank goodness I have a head on my shoulders and wore flip-flops and Chucks. I saw a lot of girls in heels and dresses, but if my feet hurt, I can only imagine how theirs felt. And unless you’re trying to gain a bunch of new readership, there’s really no reason to act like you’re cooler, smarter or more important than you really are. Sure, I may have felt invisible, but I would have been faking it if I had acted any differently. And so what if I pretended to be more influential than I am in order to get free Philosophy swag? Huh?

Note: This baby’s too long. I’m not even going to bother proofreading it. I doubt any of my 3 1/2 followers even started to read this 2500-word post.

3 thoughts on “Reflections From BlogHer’11

  1. Yes, I read it – all of it! And I commented too. So there!!! PS – if you link to someone’s blog they usually get notification that there is an incoming link ;)

    I’m glad our paths crossed and lead the Haute Green group to your restaurant. I felt the whole time that I was planning a party at a friends house. When I found out you were interested in social media and blogging and wanted to come to BlogHer I got all giddy! I love sharing the web with people who love to write. I never started out with the confidence that I could actually write. I don’t use punctuation correctly – I don’t always use the correct phrases or words – I’m an English teachers worst nightmare! But I found something I was passionate about and turned it into something very cool.

    Last year I walked into my first BlogHer and hid in my hotel room trying to find at least one person that I knew on Twitter. I ended up walking (running) out of the hotel in almost tears to call my best friend back home and tell her to come pick me up because I was all alone in a sea of 3K+ people who all knew one another. But I decided to break out of my insecurity and say hi to someone else who looked as lost as I was.

    Now people turn to me for advice but I have to tell you I made up my own rules and ran with them. There is no wrong or right in blogging – I think that’s why I love it so much!

    I’m glad you came and I’m glad you had such a good time. If you really want the ‘educational’ type conference you need to look into some of the smaller conferences. I went to Blissdom in Jan/Feb this year and learned SO much my head was going to explode. I don’t have time to fully implement all I learned. BlogHer is more of a big party but it has it’s place – it’s an initiation of sorts.

    So will I see you in NYC next August???

    XOXO – Calley

    • We’ll see…I’d love to go again, especially in NYC! It’ll feel more like a party if I keep in touch with some of the great gals (including you!) that I met. I’ll have to see if I can find some of those smaller conferences that you speak of.

    • Oh, and by the way, thanks for telling me about what I understand to be called a “pingback”. As far as I know, no one’s ever linked back to my blog (except myself) so I had no idea that this happened! And I felt like I was helping a friend plan her party, too! And, I’m really glad to hear that you were in a boat similar to mine a year ago…it makes me feel a little better. :)

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