4 Tips on How To Get the Most out of BlogHer '14
I’ve written about BlogHer before—many times, actually. This year will mark my 3rd BlogHer conference in a row… so I feel like I pretty much have a good grasp on it by now.
This year I signed up to be a part of the BlogHer Buddy System. Basically I will be a mentor to a mentee and answer any of their questions before the conference. If they’re cool, I’ll also meet up with them there so that they have a friendly face waiting for them. I threw this out there on Twitter and had a couple other people contact me with their questions, so I figured I’d put all my best advice into a blog post for anyone else who wants to know the deal about BlogHer.
#1 Be Comfortable
Without a doubt, the hands-down most asked questions I’ve gotten are about clothes, shoes, and whether people will hate you if you wear yoga pants. Here is your HONEST answer: You can wear whatever the hell you want. However, please keep in mind that there are people out there who judge you for what you are wearing.
You don’t have to buy an entire new wardrobe, shove yourself into Spanx three sizes too small, and hobble around in six-inch heels if that’s not your thing—but I would suggest kicking it up a notch from your "hanging around the house" clothes. You’re going to be meeting people for the very first time. You’re going to be in a ton of pictures. You may run into Kerry Washington or The Bloggess between sessions… dress like you give a crap!
The first year I went, I was a bit casual and wore Bermuda jean shorts and a cute top and sandals. I looked okay and was comfortable. Looking back on it, I’m glad I retired those shorts…
My second year, I wore a couple of my favorite summer dresses and skirts and felt much more confident. Even if I did kind of match the upholstery on the Laz-Z-Boyz outfits.
This year, I’m planning on a mix of day-to-night dress options for official events and skinny jeans for exploring the area. I also always pack my most comfortable yoga pants/pajamas for hanging around my room and decompressing in between activities.
On the subject of shoes: Go for comfortable and a bit cute. There is usually a TON of walking between the hotels, conference rooms, expo hall, etc. If your shoe is too high or rubs just a bit, you’ll be miserable by the middle of the first day. Don’t buy something new (I know, I’m insane) and wear something that you KNOW will make it through a 12 hour day. Believe me, you’ll thank me!
#2 Be Interested
Don’t skip the conference sessions. Look at the schedule before you go and pick your top two favorites per breakout session. You’re paying a lot of money to go to this conference; don’t skip the meat of it because you want to make another round of the expo hall. If your first choice is totally not working for you, grab your stuff and quietly exit to check out your second choice.
Introduce yourself to EVERYONE. When you’re looking for a place to sit down at lunch, find a table where people are awkwardly staring at each other… these can be YOUR people. If everyone at the table is already taking animatedly, they probably know each other so it can be hard to break in if you’re shy. Ask people questions about themselves and their blogs. Get their business cards so you can check them out later and follow them on all forms of social media.
Map out your game-plan. The Expo Hall is AWESOME. Truly awesome. If you want to just run around grabbing freebies like Supermarket Sweep, you totally can. However, if you really want to make some good connections with brands, allot enough time to stop by and really talk to the people there. I have made some incredible connections in the past that resulted in some sponsored posts and giveaways throughout the year. If that’s your goal, put in the time and effort to make it a reality.
#3 Be Open Minded
If you walk into the conference with a chip on your shoulder and a stank face… yeah, nobody is going to like you. If you are shy, that’s totally okay. We are BLOGGERS; most of us have a shy streak and are a bit awkward until you get to know us.
It helps to try and make some connections before you go. Check out the BlogHer Buddy System if it’s your first time, make some connections on Twitter by following the #BlogHer14 hashtag, and/or check in with the official BlogHer Facebook group. Email your current contacts—bloggers and brands that you’ve worked with if that’s your thing—and ask them if they’ll be there so you can meet up.
Here’s another important one: Don’t be an Asshole. Will some people act like its summer camp by dropping their bags, squealing at the top of their lungs, and then running across the room to tackle another woman?
Yup. And that’s totally cool. For some of us it IS like summer camp where we get to see friends, leave the kids and husband at home, and finally let loose for a few days. Instead of being the person who is too good for it all and rolls their eyes, join in on the craziness!
Also, in the keep-your-attitude-in-check area, let’s talk about the Expo Hall. There is a LOT of free stuff being given away. I’m sure you’ve heard all about the "swag" and how ladies go freaking crazy over it. Frankly, I go a bit crazy over it too because I LOVE free stuff. Especially cool free stuff. Some ladies may stumble out of the Expo Hall every single day with tote bags filled to the brim. Don’t judge.
I see so many snarky comments about how pathetic it is that these woman are all about the swag and I’ve been dying to say, “SHUT the poop up.” If someone wants to go in and get so much stuff that they have to buy another suitcase, that's their prerogative. Maybe they’re reviewing the stuff and then donating it to a shelter, maybe they are having a giveaway for their readers, or maybe they just want to keep it all for themselves. Who cares? It makes them happy and doesn’t affect you at all! So, let’s ALL be a bit more open minded and leave the cattiness in middle school where it belongs.
#4 Be Prepared
Packing for BlogHer is pretty much like packing for any other trip you might take, but there are a few things you should be sure to bring:
Camera device: This can be an actual camera or your iPhone, just as long as you can whip it out at a moment’s notice when something awesome happens.
A list of people you want to meet up with : This can be bloggers you follow, brand reps you work with (or would like to work with), sponsors you want to talk to, speakers you want to chat with, etc. Just do it before you leave so that you’re not disappointed when you get home and realize you totally forgot to say "hi" to your favorite blogger.
Business Cards : You must, must, MUST have blog business cards. You’re going to use them when you meet with other bloggers, to enter contests in the Expo Hall, to give to potential brand contacts, and more. You can get a pre-designed template online and just plop in your information, or design them on your own from scratch. No matter which direction you go, make sure you bring at least 150 of them with you!
This year I also made this adorable button to clip on my conference lanyard, so that people know who I am. Cute, right?!
A notebook (or laptop or iPad): You’re going to want to write down a ton of notes, so use whatever you are comfortable with. Some people have their full laptops with them, but others (like me) just bring an old school notebook. I actually don’t even bring my laptop with me anymore, because I never have time to open it!
Room for Swag: Even if you are one of those magical unicorn people who doesn't like free stuff, you’re still going to want to leave some extra room in your suitcase just in case. Usually BlogHer provides a tote bag of some sort when you check in, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a collapsible bag that you can load up for the trip back home. In addition to the swag in the Expo Hall, sometimes there are also brand gift drops to your hotel room, and goodie bags of awesome stuff given out at official sponsor parties.
A Mini Blog Description: The number one question you will be asked is, “What do you blog about?” Before you go, think up a one or two sentence statement that describes your blog and have it on the tip of your tongue. Believe me, it’s much better than stumbling around and just randomly shouting out words like, “um… pregnancy complications… got laid off… dog died… but FUNNY. Crap.”
Here’s my example:
"Pocketful of Joules is a lifestyle blog and I write about everything from fashion, DIY tips, toddler challenges, family travel, and product reviews. I’m usually pretty upbeat and silly and am totally obsessed with marshmallows."
Now it’s your turn: Do you have a BlogHer question that I haven’t answered? Let me know in the comments and I’d love to help if I can. If you’re attending BlogHer this year, please let me know. I’ll be flying in to San Jose on Wednesday afternoon and leaving incredibly early on Sunday, so I’d love to meet up!
If you will be representing a brand at BlogHer that you think will be a good fit for Pocketful of Joules, please email me so that I can add you to my schedule!
Lastly, if you are one of my awesome readers in the San Jose area… let me know and maybe we can do a coffee or wine meet-up while I’m in town.