BlogHer13 recap: struggling to find my place in the BlogHer community

31 July 2013

So. BlogHer. The biggest conference for women bloggers. Was it everything I wanted?

Eh? Maybe? Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations, so there weren’t too many ways it could disappoint me. And knowing that women think about BlogHer all year long and it is such a life changing and inspiring event for them, and here I am all “meh” about it… Felt like maybe something was wrong. Is it me, is it the conference?

Let’s break it down…

The Panels.
Like any conference, these were hit and miss. In one of the ones I wanted to hear more from the panelists, there just wasn’t time and it turned into an “everyone in the room gets to share their story” moment. Some probably loved that chance to share, but it’s hard to have a guided conversation when it’s 45 minutes of pass the mic. In others, I was face-palming with how basic the info was. But you know, for those new to blogging, there was some valuable information.

The Brands.
The expo felt small. However, there were some awesome brands there. And yes, I’ll definitely highlight them for you soon. To me, brands that were successful were ones that had knowledgable and friendly people in their booths. You need brand reps who are going to try to reach out and make a personal connection with the bloggers not just make a sales pitch. Brands who do that will create powerful alliances with bloggers. These are relationships not to take lightly.

The Bloggers.
So let’s be real. BlogHer has a reputation for being the “mommy blogger” network. In 2009, the last time they were in Chicago, this totally felt like the case. Most of the brands there even assumed everyone there was a mommy blogger. But it’s feeling less like the case. HOWEVER, I still don’t feel like I quite fit in to the demographics of BlogHer. 20-Somethings are not represented well, or really even at all. And most 20-somethings I talk to are curious about BlogHer, but don’t feel like it’s relevant so they’re not registering.

I was really happy that we went to the Voices of the Year event. While the 20-somethings were definitely not represented at all, I felt there were some great women that I got introduced to. I left the event wondering where I fit in to this community, if I fit in to this community. I’m just shy of 30 and one day, these women will be my community. At this point I’m just assuming I’ll age into the BlogHer community — I mean, nothing wrong with the women of the BlogHer community, but I do feel like an outsider looking in.

The sad thing is I think BlogHer can offer so much to 20-something bloggers. Many 20-somethings are new to blogging, they’re searching for a community and how to make their blog grow — the very thing a lot of these panels are talking about. 20-Somethings may have been born “getting” tech and new media, heck we’re defining it in so many cases… but it doesn’t mean we don’t need some guidance. Especially when it comes to building communities. Not to mention, so many brands we talked to in the expo hall wants to connect with 20-somethings. Our voice is important.

So will I go to another BlogHer? Maybe. Who knows. I can’t necessarily see myself flying out for it, but if it’s back in Chicago… maybe. However, for just a handful of the great brands I met and some of the fun memories with my 20sb crew, it was worth it.

You can also read a fun recap from Jenn about her experience at BlogHer

  • I had the same feelings when BlogHer was in New York last year. As a 20-something without kids and very little interest in monetization, I spent the majority of time just wandering around bored and lonely.

    I ended up going to a workshop on writing for sex bloggers which was pretty much the only reason I walked away from BlogHer with any friends or positive takeaway from the convention at all. That ended up being very fruitful for me because I got published in an independently published book and an indie e-magazine as a result of the connections I made there.

    But all in all, I felt very “meh” about the convention. I’ll probably go again if they ever come back to New York, but I won’t go out of my way for it.

    • Erini

      I wish I would have gone to the UnMarketing Manifesto panel — supposedly it’s about finding/defining success for those not looking to monetize their blogs… But clash in schedules, so I didn’t make it.

      I met some really great brands which totally saved the conference for me. Plus, hanging out with Jenn and Renee was great. But it was so blatantly obvious that we were a minority there. Which was so sad! So many brands we talked with want to work with 20-somethings!

      I just really wish BlogHer would invest in the younger generation of women bloggers. We’re just as important as any other woman there, we just want to feel welcomed and heard.

  • I’ve never been interested in attending BlogHer for all the reasons you mentioned. Plus it seems like all the attendees have been pretty “meh” about it in the last two years.

    • Erini

      I haven’t really paid too much attention to attendees the past few years. I only really notices the Nintendo parties, which they aren’t doing any more… But I can see that “meh” feeling being totally valid. But I also see so much potential with BlogHer. I think there were some really good things about this year, not all of them were executed perfectly, but the intention was there. I mean, when your target audience is women, that’s a broad topic to cover. (Pun not intended, but I’ll own it.) I think balancing women who want to earn money from their blog vs those who really just want a community… it can be hard.

      … And really, I don’t know of very many other blogging conference — especially not ones that are directly inline with my interests and goals. (I’m not saying BlogHer is that conference, but I guess right now it’s the closest I feel I have.) So I’m hoping they’ll at least be open to some dialogue and BlogHer can become that conference for women like us.

  • Thanks for the link love lady. And I’m totally with you on feeling “meh.” There were definitely some highlights (aside from the wonderful photo ops), but I do wish 20-somethings had a stronger presence. Of course, by the time the next BlogHer rolls around I’ll be a 30-something, but I still don’t feel like BlogHer is for me yet.

    • Erini

      You’re going to have to join myself, your once-a-year-friend Kim, and Tabitha for OMG WE’RE THIRTY drinks if we end up going next year. 😉

      Momo, who’s been womaning the @Blogher twitter account suggested that some of these topics would make good Room of Your Own panels. I’d love to talk with more 20-somethings, as well as women like us who are leaving our 20s, and start a dialogue with what we’d like to see from the BlogHer community.

      Also, you totally had some of the best photos of the weekend.

      • I’m totally on board if this becomes a Room of Your Own. And 30-year-old drink-ups sounds great to me. See you ladies next year!

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