Ten Items (More or Less): BlogHer Bullet Points

If I were to link to all the BlogHer’09 recap posts out there – and you know I’d do that; I’ve done it before, when I haven’t even been there myself – I would never get any of my own impressions about it written up to share. There are a few things I’ll mention here that I’ll expand on in subsequent posts, but I thought I’d start the ball rolling with some BlogHer Bullet Points.

The BlogHer 2009 Conference is Held in Chicago
(not my photo – thanks to BlogHer PicApp)
  • Conferences are tough on introverts – or for this particular introvert, at any rate. Conferences with a high degree of extra-curricular socializing surrounding them are particularly tough, especially when you’re attending them for the first time, on your own, and haven’t really pre-arranged to meet up with anyone. Extra-curricular socializing in venues that don’t encourage genuine conversation – like noisy, poorly-lit cocktail parties – is especially challenging. I opted out of a lot of it, and bailed early on some of it. I have learned to respect my limits, and sometimes I just needed to back off and head somewhere to read.
  • But if one of the attractions of a conference for you is collecting freebies (I just don’t like the word “swag”), the really impressive, big-ticket stuff is more likely to be at the parties. The BlogHer conference itself has many sponsors, of course, and they had plenty of stuff to give away in goodie bags and in the Expo Hall (which was rather like a small-scale trade show), but some of what was at the parties – especially a few of the RSVP-required sponsored events – was truly worth coveting. Or so I heard. I wasn’t at most of them. I have no complaints about what I decided to bring back home, however, and my favorite souvenir wasn’t a swag item at all – after hearing her speak on a panel, I got Veronica of Viva la Feminista to autograph an issue of Ms. Magazine in which she’s featured.
  • Despite not being a big partier, I did meet some pretty cool people – I (mostly) wasn’t a hermit, and I actually did go up and introduce myself to a few bloggers, in addition to Veronica, whom I’ve been reading for a long time. I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to say hello to these impressive women, and was quite gratified to learn that they knew who I was, too! (Commenting and linking, y’all – people do notice it, and it has benefits!)
  • Even more gratifying, if slightly weird – bloggers who made the effort to seek out and meet me! (Yeah, a few people actually did that. After nearly two and a half years in the blogiverse, it is very nice to learn you’ve made an impression.)
  • Being active online has actually helped me become a bit more outgoing in person, I’ve noticed, but I’m still not great at party small talk, chit-chat, and quickie “networking” activities. I like to be able to have actual conversations with people, and that did happen, but not as much as I might have liked. It was good to have the opportunity to get to know my roommate, Magpie, better, and spend some time with some of my fellow Moms Blog contributors, who came from all over. More name- and link-dropping to come later this week…
  • There were some pretty good conversations outside the conference, too. After well over a year of reading and frequently commenting on each other’s blogs, it was a lot of fun to go off-campus on Saturday and meet Mike for lunch on his home turf (I thanked his wife @JennChi on Twitter for loaning him out, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet her too! Mike has already blogged about our meeting). And if you ever have to kill a couple of hours waiting around in an airport, you cannot have better company than Anna Lefler (Beth Kephart, you have permission to be envious :-D). She can’t stay away from bookstores either.
  • Speaking of bookstores and reading, this trip gave me a fine opportunity to get to know my Kindle. I am officially in love with it, and almost halfway through reading Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz on it.
  • I was lucky enough to meet up with fellow book-centric bloggers Sassymonkey, TexasRed, and Beatrice, who all were subjected to my Kindle praises. If you’re a book-focused blogger who was there and I didn’t get to meet you, please leave me a comment here to say hello – and I’m very sorry I missed you!
  • OK, though, enough about all the people for a minute…this was a conference, right? What about the programming content? I’ll discuss that in a post of its own in another day or two, but in short, I felt that I attended a pretty good sampling of sessions and panels from across the board, and got something worthwhile from every one of them (even if I didn’t exactly like what I heard – there seems to be pretty strong sentiment that good writing isn’t really enough to draw readers to a blog anymore, and that makes me just a bit sad).
  • As far as content goes, though…book bloggers and BlogHer planners, we need to talk, because book blogging doesn’t even to show up on the BlogHer conference radar, and I think this is a big mistake. I pitched a “Room of Your Own” session for book bloggers – it didn’t get the votes. We couldn’t even get a dedicated table at one of the “Birds of a Feather” lunches. BlogHer is a conference focused on women bloggers, and an awful lot of women are blogging about books – and influencing readers and book buyers. We’re worth more notice than being lumped in with “entertainment” or “review” bloggers, although we do review (and, hopefully, we entertain). I think there’s a vicious circle going on here, unfortunately – book bloggers won’t come to general conferences like BlogHer if they don’t feel that there’s something meaningful there for them, but if they don’t come to the conferences, the organizers won’t consider them in program planning. 
  • BlogHer’10 has already been announced and opened for registration. I’m not sure I’ll be going.

More to come in the next couple of days…and if you have any specific questions about BlogHer’09 that you’re wondering about, please leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to address them!

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  1. Had I been there, I definitely would have sought you out. 🙂 I'm not exactly a prolific blogger, so I doubt I'd get much out of BlogHer (even less if they don't show the book bloggers any love!), but it sounds like an interesting time. I'm looking forward to reading your posts about the programming – I'm curious as to what was actually covered.

  2. You know, I really don't understand BlogHer. It would be good if you did a post explaining what it was and how it works. I know that they aren't accepting advertisers/bloggers any more (it's closed or something like that). But, it would be neat to understand this more.

    Also… I want you to know that I don't think anybody really likes to make small talk. I think that inside each one of us there is that person that would just rather avoid it. I, too, would have had difficulty attending large parties alone.

    At least you got some good "swag."

  3. I don't think that book bloggers aren't on BlogHer's radar. I mean, I'm saying this as someone who writes about the books blogosphere for them and has for the past three years. They are aware of the book bloggers. Absolutely. But…if we can only name four of us that were there should they really have a book blogger Room of Our Own? Books and blogs (or books to blogs) have been covered in some form at BlogHer the last few years. The only way that there will be a dedicated session on book blogging is we bring all our friends and demand it. It's what the mommybloggers did. I keep saying that book bloggers could learn a lot from mommybloggers and this is one of those areas. They showed up and stood on their chairs and said, Hey! What about us? We're here! I'm not saying we shouldn't have a Room Of Our Own session at all, I'm saying we need to bring the numbers to it.

    A Novel Menagerie – That is the BlogHer Ads network, which is currently closed (they open and close it at different points). Anyone can participate on BlogHer.com.

  4. Savvy Working Gal – It's partly due to being a bit overwhelmed and feeling out of place in the social whirl, although that actually might not be so bad as a second-timer. But there are a couple of other reasons that have little to do with BlogHer itself, which will be held in New York City next year. One is that I'm considering going to Book Expo America (BEA), which will also be held in NYC a couple of months earlier. The other is that we're thinking about a family vacation next year – to NYC (and DC). I don't want to overdose on the Big Apple, and I doubt I could (literally) afford to anyway!

    Jessi – And I'd have loved to meet you :-)! I have a programming post up tomorrow, which includes a link to the full agenda; you can check that out to see about some of the sessions I didn't go to.

    Sheri (Menagerie) – I got decent swag, this is true. 🙂

    Sassymonkey has addressed some of your BlogHer questions in her comment above, but I think there is going to be a follow-up post on BlogHer and book bloggers…

    TexasRed – Right back at you!

    Sassymonkey – I know, thanks to you, that book bloggers ARE indeed on BlogHer.com's radar; they're just not really part of the conference. And I very much agree that it's on us to get on the conference radar. I wouldn't have pitched the Book Blogger ROYO had I realized that there would be so few book bloggers attending – you're right that the numbers aren't there to support that. (I'm still kind of bummed about not getting a Birds of a Feather lunch table, though, since there did seem to be support for that online.)

    Between your comment and Sheri's, I think there's a follow-up post in the works!

  5. Nice set of bullet points. Interesting about the book bloggers – there are a lot of them, but yeah, they don't seem to be at BlogHer.

  6. Serena – Unfortunately, no, but I hope next year we'll be able to change that! (That was Thursday's post. I know you're getting caught up :-).)