If you know me, or if you feel like you know me because you’ve been reading Suburban Scrawl for a while, you already know that one of my most highly-anticipated weekends every year is Blogher Annual Conference weekend. I have attended five of them so far–Wow, time flies! Five??–and this July will make six.
Over the past six years my Annual Conference experience has evolved. In 2009, the event took place in Chicago. I had been blogging for two years and wasn’t really sure what to expect at a blogging conference but since I could take the train rather than fly, I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m so glad I did! Not only did I learn some great information at the sessions and walk away from the weekend more inspired than ever to write, but I also spent time with some of my favorite “invisible friends”, as Jim calls those I have met online. (For the record, my MEETING an “invisible friend” in person makes it so that Jim cannot call her “invisible” anymore.)
In 2009 I met my sistuh-from-anuthuh-muthuh for the very first time. She’s completely the OPPOSITE of invisible.
In 2010 the conference was in New York City. That year I was very interested in working with brands, so my focus was on the sessions that provided helpful information about that as well as meeting up with sponsors at the expo hall. I ran my first 5K, while wearing a tutu. Everyone was. It was an experience I’ll never forget. (The natives didn’t even blink when we ran through the streets dressed like that!) It was also my last 5K. I despise running.
2010 was also the first time I saw Momo walk around with a napkin stuck to her forehead–on purpose–because she was so sweaty. It was not the last time I saw that. Also, I have a picture but will post this one instead. You’re welcome, Momo.
2011 took us to San Diego, Land of Perfect Weather And Margaritas. More bonding, more time in the expo hall. It was one of my favorite years. I even worked out with Bob Harper. Yes, THAT Bob Harper, from television’s “The Biggest Loser”. Here’s a picture of my friend Lisa and me with our new BFF, Bob.
In 2012 we were back in New York City. President Obama spoke to us via live video feed. Politics aside, it was pretty incredible to have the leader of the free world spend a few minutes talking directly to US.
Last year the conference was back on my home turf in Chicago and I was part of the social media team so I got to experience it from behind the scenes (a totally amazing thing in itself; the work that goes into the conference and the teeny, tiny amount of people doing it is something most people probably wouldn’t believe.) We enjoyed keynotes by Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, among others.
No matter what my blogging goals have been in any given year or what activities filled my days at the conferences, my favorite thing at BlogHer hasn’t wavered: Community.
In addition to meeting my “invisible friends” in real life (IRL), I added to my community, my tribe, by meeting people who weren’t previously on my radar. Whether this was done via the annual “BlogHer Speed Dating” portion of the Welcome Breakfast, “Birds of a Feather” lunches, in sessions, or just in passing somewhere onsite, I have met some fantastic people because of the conference.
The other way that Community figures into the conference is in the building of the event itself. Do you have an idea for a session? Submit it and you may be selected to bring it to life. Do you have an idea for one of the parties that makes up the annual Party Plan? Submit it and you may be selected to create that celebration for everyone. The VOTYs (Voices of the Year Community Keynote) and the PhOTYs (Photos of the Year: new for 2014!) are voted on by the community. Community is strong at Blogher conferences, and it’s EVERYWHERE.
From July 24-26, the conference goes home to where it all started: Silicon Valley, California. BlogHer is celebrating its tenth annual conference and I couldn’t be happier to be there to revel along with everyone else, reflecting on the history of blogging in general and my own personal blogging history.
This year, we’ll be eating up every moment of the VOTYs and PhOTYs of course, as well as the unbelievable keynotes: Tig Notaro, Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), Arianna Huffington, and Kerry Washington. (I mean, really? What a line-up!)
Naturally there will be a huge variety of sessions presented by fantastic speakers for all levels of bloggers, an expo hall bustling with activity created by the sponsors who make the conference happen, fun officially sponsored events (like “Evening at the Expo”, progressive parties, and the third annual fashion show), and LOTS of “invisible friends” you can turn into IRL friends just by smiling and saying hello.
For a limited time, BlogHer is offering a 25% discount on conference passes. If you’re suddenly thinking, “Hey! I want to be a part of it all!” you can CLICK HERE to be whisked away to the page where you can claim that discount. Don’t wait: passes are limited and the hotel blocks are starting to fill up. Get on it, and then let me know you’re going so I can look for you!