Greetings! If you’re not a blogger or you’re not going to the BlogHer Conference and don’t want to read about bloggy things, might I recommend you travel down a rabbit hole of random and ridiculous by reading about that one time I went skiing and didn’t listen to my mom? (Even if you are going to BlogHer…and you haven’t read that-and the subsequent two posts–go forth and enjoy when you’re done reading about BlogHer).
Some of my bloggy friends have LOTS of questions and since I’m now a veteran, I have some answers…so I figured you might want answers, as well. In no particular order…Here are your BlogHer Conference questions answered.
The Expo Hall
Can I bring my kids? Do you have to buy them a ticket?
While I don’t have kiddos of my own, I did a little research for you. Tiny humans are totally welcome, according to BlogHer. Of course, if they’re walking and talking, I believe they need a conference pass (or an expo/networking pass) to play. Conferences in the past have offered childcare, though I couldn’t seem to find any information for this year.
Do you know how much the expo hall and party pass is?
$149 gives you access to all expo hall stuff and cocktail hours/parties, but not breakfast, lunch, speakers or sessions.
Is the expo hall really fun?
I loved being on the expo floor. Not only did I get to try out all sorts of tasty snacks (My favorites last year were Love with Food, Keurig Brew Over Ice, SodaStream, and Kozy Shack pudding) play games, meet cool people and interact with brands, but also I got to meet with a lot of sponsors and brand reps that I got to work with over the past year.
Do you spend a lot of time (on the expo floor)?
Last year, I did. I got to meet Travis Stork and interview him, courtesy of Simply Saline. I was able to network with a variety of PR professionals and brands that led to sponsored posts, product reviews and other things that are helping me to monetize my blog.
Should I bring a laptop?
I brought my laptop last year and didn’t open it once. I also didn’t blog during the conference. All of my social media-ing happened on my Android phone and that worked out perfectly. This year, I’m traveling for 9 days, so I’ll bring my small laptop (it’s seriously TINY) for use in the hotels and my tablet and phone will do everything else.
Should I bring my fancy camera or is my phone enough?
I’m totally a fan of my fancy phone because it does most of what I want it to do. That being said, I finally have a camera that I love and bought specifically for blogging, so I’ll probably bring both.
Does everyone sit around with their laptops open?
Some do. Some don’t. Are you the type of person that needs their laptops to take notes? If not, stick with a pen and note pad. Type up details later if you are so inclined. You’re not going to want to cart the heavy stuff around. If you have a tablet or phone, that’s likely to be enough.
I heard the internet can be spotty with so many people trying to use it.
I didn’t have a huge problem with that, but I was also using my phone for most of my internetting.
Are the parties really fun?
I think a lot of the parties are what you make of them. Go with your people and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, or even better, to introduce yourself to other bloggers. I didn’t talk to many people outside of my comfort circle, and I missed out on opportunities to meet up with and hang out with bloggers like Lisa Newlin and Kate Whine Hall.
Did you love the official parties?
Some of them. I didn’t go to all of the official parties, but I really enjoyed a few. Expo on Thursday night was awesome with appetizers and beverages, a small crowd and some of my favorite bloggers. One of the Friday night parties we went to was totally stellar with lots of fun activities.
Do some people get way too drunk?
Probably. I didn’t last year, nor did I really see many people stumbling…but there are always a few.
How do you know if you should accept an invitation to a party or not?
If it’s something you’re really interested in, accept. If you’re not sure, wait it out and think about it. You don’t want to over-book yourself and miss lunch…
Do you stay for the whole party or just pop in for a while?
That depends on the party. Some have speakers and agendas, while others are more come-and-go as you please type parties.
Is it hard to eat in time to get back to the classes?
So lunch is a part of the agenda, and the keynotes are during breakfast and lunch. You should have PLENTY of time to eat those meals. Bring snacks if you get that 3 PM drop in energy, because dinners are not part of the conference, so you may be waiting a while to eat. That being said, make sure you take care of yourself and eat enough to get you through the day. One of my biggest problems was over-booking myself last year and not eating enough so that I was beyond HANGRY by the time the evening festivities rolled around. So if you’re like me, plan the con around your dinner not the other way around.
So dinner is on your own?
I better pack snacks then.
Me too. Om nom nom.
Take Care of You
Do you find yourself exhausted at one point and just hide out in your room for a while?
Definitely. That’s why I opted for the hotel that was attached to the conference hall.
If I leave early and don’t stay out until 2 am will I be a total loser/old lady?
Nope. Some people revel in the party all night conference attitude and others are ready for bed by 10 pm. There’s no one right way to rock this place. One night I was up until midnight. The other night I was asleep by 10:30. It’s your conference. Make of it what you want.
General Conference Tips
How do you keep track of parties and sessions and events?
I used my Google calendar to arrange my schedule.
Should I blog about the conference while I am at the conference?
You can. I’m sure your bloggy friends at home would love the play by play, but you may miss some of the fun if you’re busy writing about it.
Do you stay in touch with new people you have met at the conference after the conference?
Isn’t that what this is all about? For me, the best part of blogging conferences and networking with other bloggers is meeting new people who really fit into your tribe. I’ve started attending a lot of events in the Chicago area and I love running into other bloggers that I’ve met and followed.
I read to skip the classes and mingle with people because that’s better for your blog than the classes are; is that true?
This TOTALLY depends on the workshops and how they relate to you. If it sounds like information you already know? Don’t go. If it sounds like something you don’t want to know about? Don’t go. If you want to learn about the topic or improve yourself on the topic, then go. I didn’t go to many of the sessions, but this year there are more that appeal to me. So you may see me in a session or two.
Does going to BlogHer make you a better blogger or is more about seeing people you are friends with?
I think everything we do makes us better bloggers. Whether we’re actively attending workshops or reading new bloggers to get some inspiration or meeting your blog friends for hilarious blog fodder, you’re going to get something out of this conference to improve your blog.
If you’re not really into brands or doing product reviews, is it worth going to BlogHer? Will you make other types of connections that will make it all worthwhile?
I think so. Last year, I stayed in a little bubble of bloggers I knew, but ventured out a smidge. I wanted to network with brands and see where that could take me, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities for bloggers who don’t want to monetize with brands. If you’re an artist or Etsy seller, showcase wearable products. Design a bag on Zazzle with your art that you can carry your stuff in. Make friends. Exchange business cards.
Is voices of the year something I’d want to miss part of?
I think it really depends on you. I also think that last year I had a very unusual experience because Queen Latifah was REALLY late and they wouldn’t start without her. And I had missed lunch. And I was starving. And crabby. Beyond Hangry. So you might see me there. With a snack pack.
Should I really pack an extra suitcase for all of the free stuff? Will it really be that much stuff?
I don’t want the bloggers who hate girls who love free stuff to hate me…
But that’s what I’m doing. (I’m also going to be in San Francisco and Sonoma the week before the conference and bringing home souvenirs, so there’s that.)
Do brands ask you to do reviews, etc at the expo or is it more like they take your info and get back to you later?
Some of the brands will ask you to use social media at the expo, but for reviews on your blog or sponsored posts will likely be later.
Did you see any artsy-type brands at the expo, last time?
What to Pack
What should I wear?
Seriously–BE comfortable. You can look professional and be comfortable at the same time. There was a point one day last year where I had worn a strapless bra and was so miserable that I hid behind a wall in the expo hall, pulled it off, and continued with the rest of my day. I’m a fan of cropped yoga pants with nice shirts, skirts and comfortable, but clean and adorable, sandals most of the time. (I wear yoga shorts and crops under skirts for fear that I’m going to fall down and show everyone my lady bits.)
What about shoes?
I bought several pairs of shoes from brands I know and trust in order to be comfortable while still looking cute and showing off the pedicure I’m going to get…I made you a little Amazon widget with the shoes I’ll be sporting. (Yes, I’ll get a teensy tiny affiliate commission if you buy them, but they’re really awesome shoes.) I swear by Merrell and Naturalizer. The Bare Trap shoes aren’t as supportive, so I had to add arch support to keep them comfortable.
Should I wear a fancy dress to the cocktail parties?
I ended up wearing dresses and outfits that could easily transition from day to night. Some people were wearing jeans; others wore dresses. I still say stick with your comfort zone.