I’m considering a name change for my blog. As The Bunny Rambles has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Even though I did daily recaps of my time at BlogHer I felt like I had one more post to write. This is that post. A little bit of everything else running around in my head after I returned home…
Now that I’ve had over a week to process BlogHer I realize I’m not feeling much different about the experience than when I first left. I’ve read a ton of other recaps and in some cases I feel as though I was at a completely different event. I didn’t see much in the way of rudeness or greediness. (But that might be because I wasn’t looking for it.) The Hilton was fine. Nothing great, but nothing horrible. I only had issues with the elevators when I was going up to the suites on the 42nd floor. (I think the elevator issues started on the 34th floor and we were on the 25th.) We can all agree it was hot. (Yes, I’m from North Carolina. Yes, I’m used to the heat. One difference: in North Carolina we like air conditioning.) My BlogHer memories are filled with shiny pictures of me and my new friends. (Seriously, packing an entire suitcase of face powder for next year…)
There was a ton of discussion before this year’s event about the ethics of private parties. I went to private events. I’m OK with that decision. BlogHer had 130 official sponsors. Some official sponsors also sponsored private events. Even BlogHer itself had private events if you consider the special breakfasts and lunches with limited space. I tried to show respect to BlogHer and the #BlogHer12 hashtag but not using it when I was talking about private events. If BlogHer was having difficulty procuring official sponsors because of the private events I might change my mind. With the size of the expo that didn’t seem to be the case. (If it was a challenge I’d love for BlogHer to let us know.) For now it feels like official and unofficial sponsors can peacefully coexist as long as everyone plays nice. Private events and official sponsors got two different BlogHer experiences. You could pay a little for a party and reach 300 bloggers. You could pay a lot for a sponsorship and reach 5000. It’s their call.
There are some things I’ll do differently when I visit next year in Chicago. I took my DSRL and Bluetooth keyboard. Both never left the room. Even though it took me hours to pack at the ends of BlogHer I won’t be bringing an extra suitcase. Swag finds you – you don’t have to find the swag. I had to leave behind a handful of stuff that I would have liked to bring home just because I didn’t have enough room in my luggage. (I brought a carry on bag, my largest suitcase and a tote that counted on the flight as my personal item.) Even so, nothing left behind was worth the expense of checking another bag or shipping home.
I didn’t attend a single session, not counting the two official breakfast events I did attend. I had multiple sessions circled on my schedule that I wanted to attend. Many sessions ended up being standing room only. I decided to skip those for other events and time in the expo. My decision was made easier when I found out that each session would be made available online. I’ve already read through each transcript for the sessions I had circled plus a few extras. (I’ve even made a few changes on my blog because of what I’ve read.) Would I have had a different experience if I had attended those sessions in person? Maybe. I’m still happy with what I was able to take away from the transcripts. I’ll also add that next year I still plan to purchase a full conference pass. I like to leave my options open.
So was BlogHer worth it? I’ll talk numbers, even though that’s not my style. I probably spent about $800 to get to BlogHer. (I’m including the ticket itself, the flight, transportation while there, hotel and a few odds and ends.) I’m not including things like clothing (even though I bought a few things with BlogHer in mind) just because those items and tangible and have value to me outside of the conference. Did I get $800 worth of value from BlogHer? Absolutely! I could talk about swag from sponsors or gift bags or the phone I won. Those items might come close to making up the $800 right there. But I’m not talking about those things. I was able to make some brand connections for my blog. I’m still following up with sponsors, they’re still following up with me. It could be next year before I have even a rough idea of what brand relationships I’ve formed. Those connections are valuable to me. What was really priceless about BlogHer, though, were the “in real life” friendships I made. There’s simply no other opportunity to meet so many people you know but have never met in one space. It was too big for me to meet everyone on my list. (And I’m still heartbroken over a handful of missed connections…you all know who you are!)
At BlogHer 13 things will be different. It’s a new place. Different locations mean different logistics. There will be different people there. There are a lot of unknowns. One thing I do know? Next year in addition to meeting new people I’ll be hanging out with old friends.