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

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