What I Really Thought About the #BlogHer12 Conference

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Last week, I attended my first BlogHer conference in New York City. A couple of caveats about my experience: 1) I only went to the conference for one day; 2) I was wearing my favorite accessory – my 9 week old baby girl. I’m sure these factors greatly affected my experience, but I’d like to share my perspective anyway as it was a day with both wonderful highs and frustrating lows.



Con’s:

- It’s crowded.: And I don’t mean crowded in the normal sense of the word. It was insanely crowded! I know the craziness is part of the experience, but you really need to be prepared to take on a football player persona to get through the crowds in one piece. I do not get overwhelmed easily at all, and I do think that protecting my little girl in her Ergo carrier was at the forefront of my mind, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe a larger venue would have been helpful.

martha stewart- The educational sessions are nothing special.: I thought the presenters in the sessions that I attended did fantastic jobs, but the information was nothing that you couldn’t find yourself online or by talking to some helpful blogging friends. For some reason, I expected that the sessions would be on another level than the ones that I attended at other blogging conferences, but they were not extraordinary. This is not a negative comment about the conference itself; it’s more a comment about my own – and maybe many other BlogHer newbies’ expectations. That said, I would like to warn future conference goers that the sessions do fill up before the start time, and if you stop to talk to someone for too long, or in my case change a diaper, you are likely to be shut out of the session you plan to attend. The rooms were way too crowded, and I thought the sessions were unnecessarily interrupted with people trying to come in who were then chastised by the session bouncers who promptly kicked them out.

- If you are a niche blogger, it may be hard to find brands that you really want to connect with.: As a green and natural blogger, I didn’t find as many brands that fit the category as I had hoped for, but I was SO happy to meet the green and natural brands that were represented there.

Pro’s:

blogher babyTHE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE: This is why you really choose to go to BlogHer. The people are awesome! It is so fun to be surrounded by thousands and thousands of people who share a passion with you. I promise you this: No matter who you are – introverted or hyper social, twentysomething or grandma, happy-go-lucky or cynical – you WILL find people like you there. You don’t have to try hard to find them either. Likeminded people will recognize you from your blog or some aspect of your involvement in the online world, or they will notice something about you, or simply really need some companionship at the moment; no matter what the reason, your people will find you so have no fear!

The conference staff members were awesome, too. They were friendly, helpful, and seemingly everywhere, so you can get help or advice at any moment.

blogher12Also, it is such a special experience to meet in real life, or see again, the many lovely people who inhabit your online world on a daily basis. As bloggers, we can often feel solitary or doubtful about our purpose in blogging, but spending face to face time with your online people will rejuvenate, inspire, and calm you.

You don’t have to worry about trying to do it all. Whether you make it to the private parties, attend any educational sessions, or find the people you wanted most to meet up with, you will still learn, you will still connect, you will still make memories. There will be highs and lows, and it will be a crazy experience, but the small moments will make it worth it.

blogher conferenceBlogHer is not about the expo hall or the celebrity appearances or the educational sessions. It’s the bonding session you have with the women in the Lactation Lounge, it’s the dear blogging friend who wipes the snot off your baby’s face and carries your bags for you, it’s the woman you meet from the other side of the country who seems to have the same life as you, it’s the kindness that nameless women show you when a weary grimace passes over your face, it’s the single story from a brand representative that inspires you to want to be better than you are… These were the kinds of moments that made up my BlogHer experience. And although my BlogHer wasn’t the experience I expected, it was the BlogHer that I needed, whether I realized it at the time or not.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan August 9, 2012 at 6:27 am

What a great recap. I feel the same way – about the conference being about the people! Glad you were able to get something out of it.

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2 PragmaticMom August 9, 2012 at 9:13 am

Your baby is so gorgeous! Sorry to have missed you at BlogHer but I think it was so tough to actually meet bloggers which is shame. I felt the same way about the sessions after being shut of two I really wanted to attend. The crazy thing was that there were rooms 2x the size with a handful of people for some sessions. They clearly did not correctly predict which sessions would be popular though presign up would have fixed that.

Will you go next year? That is the big question for me. If you do, I will be sure to try to find you to meet you!
PragmaticMom recently posted..Olympic Chapter Books & Non-Fiction For 4th Grade & 2nd GradeMy Profile

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3 Winnie August 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

Enjoyed reading your review. I enjoyed myself as a whole, but the crowds were overwhelming at times (like the luncheon outside Martha’s keynote..that was oppressive to me..). I was shut out of two classes I wanted as they were full (people on the floor all the way to the door…) One class I stayed an 1 propped up against the watercooler until I couldn’t take the heat of the people. Made me sad. BUT, I LOVED Thurs. Pathfinder day. It was so much less crowded, smaller size, and the class was together for the day and it felt just right to me. I am a new blogger, so I am not advanced, so the classes at time were over my head, but that is ok, I got the info so I could follow up at home. I am hoping at a convention center in Chicago there will be more “walking” around room, and not so oppressive…The class rooms larger…I felt as long as I had a “seat” I was ok.
Your baby is darling. I love the personal interation you had with other moms. So nice to read.

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4 Good Girl Gone Green August 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Can you email me the picture of us? Yours looks so much better than mine. I am going to post my pictures hopefully by next week! LOved meeting you in person! ggirlggreen@gmail.com
Good Girl Gone Green recently posted..BlogHer Meets GreenMy Profile

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5 Kelley Johnsen August 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Thank you for your review. I have thought about trying to attend conferences like this and just not sure what to expect. After reading your experience I might try to attend next year. :-)

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6 Erika @NAMAmmaSTE August 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm

And now I wish I’d gone! :) I didn’t go because I knew it wouldn’t be the same as last year when I was able to go without a baby and I stayed for the weekend. I loved your thoughts on why it was great even if it wasn’t what you expected! It’s really good information for the future for me. Next time I’ll try to go no matter what the circumstances just to reconnect, with as few expectations as possible. Also, I would have *loved* to meet you!

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7 Sarah August 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I think I saw you because I remember your cute ergo (and baby, of course!). I agree with you about the crowds and the sessions. I did feel that even though we’re niche bloggers, we found each other there. Loved that part.

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8 Sarah August 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I’m so sorry we didn’t get to meet at BlogHer! I had some of the same feelings, but overall I found the conference experience to be very inspiring. The huge number of brands promoting so much stuff was very overwhelming.
Sarah recently posted..BlogHer ’12 Conference ExperienceMy Profile

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9 Alysia August 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Your last line summed it up for me too. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I needed. I met the most incredible people. That’s the memory I’ll take with me.

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10 Lauren@Hobo Mama August 10, 2012 at 6:33 am

So interesting to hear your take! I had been hoping to get there but at the same time wondering what I’d get out of it. You pretty much summed up what I figured — the people are the important part.

I didn’t realize how crowded it would be, though. I’m sure I’d find that oppressive. Here’s hoping next year’s less of a crush and that I make it!
Lauren@Hobo Mama recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Gentleman pirateMy Profile

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11 Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction August 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

I’d love to go to Blogher someday, but I always feel like it is only for the “big” bloggers and with my humble little blog I’d feel out of place. Every year though I get envious of everyone who has gone and who had such a great time.

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12 OneMommy August 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Part of me would love to attend a conference some time… but I am pretty quiet and I freak out in really crowded situations. I’m thinking something a lot less attended would be called for for me! But, I have heard how great all the people are…

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13 Erika @NAMAmmaSTE August 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

@OneMommy I’m the same way, but I went past year and loved it! Something about the atmosphere made me feel at ease with ppl right away. Or there’s blissdom, which I’ve heard is smaller.

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14 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama August 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

Reading your review I’m relieved I did not go this year. Crowds are not my forte, and I would have been carrying a nursling, too. But I still hope to go next year!
Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted..Our School Is Everywhere!My Profile

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15 Mandy Kauffman August 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

Thanks for sharing! I always wondered what these conferences were all about.

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16 Empowermint August 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm

This is a great review. Thanks! I have actually heard friends talk about BlogHer but your review is my first real birds eye view of the conference. Were you able to find out when is the next conference? I sure do hope that you may post it here in case. Thanks!

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