What Sort of Person Attends a Blogging Conference?
Back in 2010, when I started my little blog and was quietly following some other blogs, I started hearing a lot about BlogHer. I looked into it and found this great community. I started interacting with some other members, signed up for my own account, and eventually had a couple of my posts featured or syndicated on their website. I joined the BlogHer Book Club and got to review a couple of books. It was all very exciting, and it was my first introduction into blogging as more than just a hobby.
After a while, I noticed a lot of the bloggers I regularly read were talking about a conference in New York. I was amazed at the number of people -- from all over the country -- who were making plans to go to this event. Curious, I kept up-to-date through various posts on BlogHer, and on the blogs I read. People were writing posts about what to wear, what events to attend, who would be speaking. It was very exciting.
After the conference, there were even more posts! I loved reading the recap posts about favorite sessions attended, and the pictures of blogging friends meeting face-to-face were amazing. I found myself only slightly jealous. But a conference for bloggers? Surely that's somewhere I don't belong.
I watched via the internet (especially Twitter!) as the bloggers I was getting to know attended the conference again in 2011 (San Diego), 2012 (New York), and 2013 (Chicago). Each year I found a good excuse not to go. San Diego was the closest the conference got, but a blogging conference just wasn't for me. It's for people who make their blog into a business -- people who do reviews and are brand ambassadors and have tens of thousands of pageviews every month. It's for the bloggers who get hundreds of comments on every post.
New York was too far to travel, but by Chicago, I was actually starting to feel like I might want to attend the BlogHer conference. But, again, it was too far to travel. The cost of the conference pass, the flights, the hotels... plus I'd have to find somewhere for my son to go while I was there. It just wasn't possible.
When BlogHer announced the 2014 conference would be in San Jose, I really wanted to go. I may not get many pageviews or comments, and I might not be a brand ambassador or interested in doing a million reviews a month, but I was certain there was stuff for me at this conference. There are sessions focused on writing, editing, getting a book deal (!!!). There was a session on freelancing that I was intrigued by. San Jose is only about a 4 hour drive from where I live, 20 minutes from where my parents live. No flight required, and I could crash at my parents' if need be. My son could stay with them. I could make this work.
But I didn't have the funds when early registration opened. So I figured I wouldn't be able to go.
Then, last month, I noticed a lot of tweets about another discounted conference pass. I'd been working for Lifehack.org for a while and had some of that money tucked away. I could justify the cost for the conference if it was my editing money. I spoke with a friend who had attended BlogHer (multiple times) and other blogging conferences, and she encouraged me to attend. It would be worth it. She was sure of it.
On Twitter I happened to see that Robin of Farewell Stranger was selling her ticket at the early bird discount because she was unable to attend. I bought her ticket and made the commitment.
I was going to BlogHer.
As it got closer to July, I found that my emotions were still mixed about going. I still don't see myself as a blogger on scale with the other bloggers attending. I still think it might be a little weird that I'm going to a conference on blogging, when there are plenty of specific writer's conferences that I could attend instead.
But, the truth is, the sessions aren't the only reason I'm going.
I'm going to meet my friends.
I have made so many friends through blogging, and they live all around the country. I don't know that there will be another opportunity like this to meet so many of them. So far I've only met a small handful of bloggers who live in Reno or the Bay Area. And each time it's been a wonderful experience. This will be like that, but on a larger scale.
I'll be rooming with Erin Margolin, who lives in Kansas and I met once when she was in San Francisco for The Gay Dad Project. I'll see Lizz Porter from the Bay Area, who I've met on a couple of different occasions and have developed a real friendship with. Mandy from In Mandyland, who I worked with at Write on Edge and is a fellow Bannerwing Write Club member, said she might drive up just so we can meet. JC Little will be there! Alexandra, Greta, Yuliya, Cam, Jennifer...
I can't help it. I'm excited.
I've never been to a conference of any kind before. I keep looking over the sessions schedule over and over, trying to nail down which ones I absolutely have to attend. The one on blog monetization I can skip, and the one on video isn't really up my alley. I'd like to attend the visual voice one because JC is speaking, but it probably won't help me overall. I'd rather attend Be Your Own Editor, or The Freelance Lifestyle, or Getting Your First (Great) Book Deal. There's also a mini-con on the future of personal blogging that I'm finding myself interested in.
I still find myself worrying that I won't belong, or that people will think I'm weird for attending. But, when it comes down to it, I do think this is going to be a great experience for me. And I really need to stop caring what other people think so much. Seriously.
Are you attending BlogHer this year? Let me know so we can meet up!