Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Hook: A #BlogHer14 Recap

Reading at the LTYM Open Mic
Well, I'm back from my second time attending the annual BlogHer conference. I expressed some self-doubt in my last post, and I think it was good for me to get that out of the way, because by the time I got to San Jose, I'd managed to let go of a lot of it. I knew what I wanted to get out of my time there, and I made sure that I did get it.

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:
My name is Cheryl Stober, and welcome to Busy Since Birth. I focus on providing moments of "me too" connection and encouragement to fellow working parents, in all their capacities. My crazy-busy life has led me to say, "I'm having it all--at the exact same time."
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.

Other highlights? Getting my hair stroked by the LTYM New Cities Mentor. Hugging one of the BlogHer founders. Being called the wrong name by the founder of LTYM. :) Reading at the LTYM open mic and promoting the heck out of the show. The 10x10 presentations. Getting hand massages. Seeing Phyllis read at Voices of the Year. The writing lab I attended. The Mrs. Band and their "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.


  1. LOVE!!! Yes yes yes to all your highlights and finding out tribe! That was pretty awesome!

  2. Yes to finding our tribe which only enhanced the weekend beyond dreams!

  3. So glad I got to meet you! And you did a great job at open mic for sure! Hope we can chat more next time! :)

  4. You know what you are? You are my lobster. I'm so happy you enjoyed the experience and made your conference great! This made my day!

  5. Hooray! I love your elevator pitch and your path to "experience-ize" your blog is fantastic! The goal of Pathfinder Day was for everyone to find the path that works for them - I'm glad you were able to see something that appealed to you. I'm excited that we got to meet and I can't wait to keep in touch!

  6. You quoted Blues Traveler and now I love you even more than I did before I read this. "Hook" is something I listen to almost daily: it's one of my favorites!!!

    I'm so glad we got to meet and I enjoyed stroking your hair in real life rather than via email; it's easier that way. :) xoxoxo

  7. This is a great recap, Cheryl! So thrilled to be part of your tribe and to have had this experience with you. You are amazing. I love your goal to "experience-ize" your blog (or yourself through your blog). The conference is what you make of it, and you made it awesome. Xoxo!

  8. I'm so glad I got to meet you. I love to read the updates where people got so much out of the conference. And you really did do a great job reading at the open mic.

  9. Let's hope the comment elves will let me post today... What a great post! And, a great honor for me to be your conference buddy once again. xxoo

  10. It was SO good to finally meet you in real life. And so awesome to have you on the open mic stage!


  11. I love your elevator pitch. I am still working on mine even though I am not sure who I will be pitching to! It was a good exercise to get me more focused. I am glad you enjoyed BlogHer, I did too!