Confession: I was really nervous about attending BlogHer last week.
I’ve been to plenty of other blog conferences. But the timing or logistics or both of BlogHer have never worked out before for me to attend.
And my little introverted self was mostly okay with not going in past years, due to the sheer size of the conference. I’m not sure what number is accurate: I hear anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 tossed around for this year’s attendees, but in either case, it’s MUCH larger than the other blog conferences.
Plus, more than any other conference, I’d heard about DRAMA. Bloggers who were rude, who snubbed others, who went crazy over swag.
So I was very anxious about attending BlogHer. But I decided to go, just to have the experience and because so many bloggers I knew and who I wanted to meet were going to be there. And really, while I love all the blog friends who live in my computer, there’s nothing like getting to meet(or see someone again) in person.
Now that it’s all over, would I go to BlogHer again?
Pros: Because of how many people are in attendance, this is the conference where I had the chance to meet (or see again) the most bloggers. BlogHer brings so many people together from all over that I met people who haven’t attended other conferences. In addition to seeing those on my “must-meet” list, I also met people completely new to me.
This was the highlight for me and enough of a reason to return another year. I’d list everyone I loved meeting, but this would turn into a monster-length post if I even tried. I was moved to happy tears more than once by getting to meet another blogger.
Cons: There were so many bloggers at the conference that I didn’t get to meet, including some I really wanted to. But with so many people there and with how spread out everything was, it’s impossible to meet everyone at the conference and of course it will happen that you’ll miss someone you’d hoped to meet. I’ve found this happens even at smaller conferences though.
If there were bloggers there snubbing people, I didn’t see it or experience it. Then again, I’ve been to enough conferences that I get that bloggers want to spend time with their friends and I don’t look at it like they are excluding others, but just spending time with people they only get to see once a year.
I did have one awkward encounter, but whatever. Five thousand women and one awkward moment? Pffft. Plus I’m so CLUMSY that I had a moment in front of a few bloggers when I’m pretty sure my face was flaming red from embarrassment, but unless someone got video of that moment, I’m going to pretend that wasn’t me and we’ll speak no more of it.
Pros: There are more brands at BlogHer than at other blogging conferences. SO many people to talk to and such a wide variety. In addition, there are private off-site parties with additional brands(these are not affiliated with BlogHer, however I did attend some that I was invited to that were a fit for my blog: the Sweet Suite which had so many toys my boys would love, the Lifetime event which was so smartly branded and enjoyable, Yoga with Yasso, and the Disney events were my faves). I learned about some new brands and products and came home with some goodies.
Cons: Now the next few weeks could prove me wrong, but I felt like more of the brands in the expo hall just wanted us to fall in love with their products and gush about them to our audiences more than they wanted an actual relationship with us(C’mon, brands, prove me wrong and email me). I felt like it was the brands who had off-site, unofficial parties who seemed more interested in keeping in touch afterwards. This was the impression I got at the time and would be happy to be proven wrong.
Pros: Wow, did I come home with a lot! A lot of useful things(though this was intentional- if I knew it wouldn’t be used, I either didn’t take it in the first place or gave it away). Though my absolute favorite did come from wins I had in the expo hall: a Roomba from BestBuy and a bag of goodies from Universal Orlando(which I’m hiding from my boys and going to surprise them with when we head to Universal later this month for Family Forward).
Cons: If you grab up everything you see, you’ll end up with way too much and things you won’t use, but if you’re thoughtful about what you take, this won’t be an issue. I didn’t see any of the infamous swag-hags, though I heard a bit about it on twitter, with the ULTA swag bags. I was off getting a meal when those were given out because I’m like a toddler getting cranky if I go too long without food, so I didn’t witness that personally. That was probably the only swag I missed out on(other than the prizes being given away) that I had a greedy little moment and wished I’d gotten it, because I do love me some ULTA. But even with that love, I wouldn’t have shoved or grabbed to get one and am happy that I didn’t witness any of that.
Bottom line on the swag: if you are going to BlogHer just for the swag, you are doing it wrong.
I was extremely pleased not to see any of the behavior I’d heard complained about in past years. And while there are probably posts out there this year that talk about the bad, after experiencing it myself, I realize that with that many attendees, there will be people who have bad experiences(this happens even at the smallest conferences) and that it’s usually those negatives that get more attention: people tend to retweet and share those OMG-that-was-bad-and-just-listen-to-this types of posts more than they share the oh-that-was-so-fun types of posts. But just because the negative can seem the loudest, it doesn’t mean that it’s the most representative of everyone’s experience.
I’m glad that I went and experienced it for myself. And yes, I will go again another year.