|Reading at the LTYM Open Mic|
And I had an absolute ball.
Now there are logistics issues involved in every conference, but just like I wouldn't slam the organizers of something I attended for work online, I'm not going to talk about those issues here. I'll be filling out the conference evaluation, and if you desperately need to know my thoughts, I'll share them in a non-public way. Whining doesn't look good on anyone.
That being said, I also feel like some of the conference organizers and BlogHer employees have become friends. They even have a nickname for me. I know how hard they worked and are still working now, and I respect them too much to be negative when the overall experience brought me so much joy.
So, here's what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to dedicate these few days to thinking about how to take my blogging to another level. I attended Pathfinder Day's business track (you can see the slides from the sessions online), and finally crafted an elevator pitch:
I also realized that while the traditional paths to monetization may not be for me because of both my current job and my lack of passion for it, there may be other paths that I can pursue instead. So I'm making up a word: I want to "experience-ize" my blog. I'm hoping to find more opportunities for putting myself out there, whether it's writing for other outlets, or speaking, or podcasts, or video. I want to keep having new experiences because of this blog, and I think that I will. And if money happens to come along with it, all the better.
Which leads me to another aspect of this year's conference that I appreciated: in my opinion, the Expo floor experience was more manageable and the swag wasn't a reason to attend. Last year I felt really silly not trying to get more free stuff, and this year, it felt like less of a big deal. Sure, it's fun to learn about new products and see what might be an interesting new addition to your life, but I didn't feel pressured to participate or chase down party invitations, and that was a relief.
Now I read a lot of blogs. After last year's conference, I added even more to my blog reader. Then LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER added a whole new crew of people for me to follow. So I wasn't shy when I had the chance to approach bloggers I knew and admired, and enjoyed connecting with so many people. It's not like I'm in the same room with them every day, and so I made the most of every opportunity to chat. And taking those opportunities meant I had a lot of really meaningful conversations too. As it was BlogHer's 10th anniversary, there was a lot of discussion of where blogs have been and where they're going, and especially discussions on the impact we can have while handling difficult issues of race, gender, feminism, sexism, frankly, all varieties of activism. Those discussions aren't easy to have, but I felt BlogHer created a safe space where we could have them, so long as you participated with care and understanding. Every meal, every break, and even the late night hours in my hotel room with my roommates, was an opportunity for a deep connection to be made, and I savored them all.
Above all else, I was beyond thrilled to have my "found my tribe." This is something that is beaten to death in the blogging community, to find those people who get you, and yet now that it's really happened for me, I get it. There are lots of other people who I had fun with this weekend, but a huge thank you to Kimberly, Phyllis, Danielle, Lisa and Melissa.
And that right there? That's the hook. Yes, I'm going to quote Blues Traveler and say that it's the hook that brings you back, and those people and many more are the reason I'd want to keep attending BlogHer conferences. Because I laughed harder than I have in ages, cried real tears of emotion, had someone's back, challenged my perceptions, put myself out there and danced like a fool. There's even video to prove it, if you dig hard enough.
"I'm Enough" campaign (seriously, go watch it). Dinner with bloggers I've long admired. The ridiculously awesome "bitch you can hug" Kara Swisher. Hearing about creating your own personal Board of Directors to advise you in life. Kerry Washington's selfie. Cheese cake instead of cheese steak. It's tricky.
I'm really, really glad I got to go. Thanks to everyone at BlogHer that made it all possible. Hoping to get hooked again next year.