I’ve been blogging for several years. Despite having years of experience, I’m still a pretty small blogger in a really big pond. One way I’ve heard over and over to grow, both myself and my blog, is to attend conferences and make connections. Big conferences aren’t in my budget right now but I’ve followed along with conference hashtags and social media accounts to learn what I could from those who attended.
Over the years I’ve heard so many good things about the BlogHer conference. For me, attending a conference would be about connecting with other bloggers that I can learn from as well as connecting with more brands to share with my readers. BlogHer is a perfect fit for this. In 2017, BlogHer decided to hold it’s conference in Orlando, FL which isn’t far from me. It seemed like a sign. I’d applied for a campaign to help promote the conference in exchange for a ticket to attend myself. (This is commonplace for conferences – not all attendees have paid to attend. If you’re looking to attend but it’s not in your budget, check out things like volunteering or reaching out to a brand to see if they’ll sponsor your ticket to attend.) Sadly I wasn’t selected for the campaign and because I had several friends attending, I was looking forward to following them on social media to see what I could learn.
Each year the location of the conference changes. There are pros and cons to this. Because it’s always moving, it’s not the same people always traveling to attend and there’s always an excuse to check out a new city. On the other hand, because it’s always moving, it’s hard to make plans and budget for things like lodging and travel. They do announce the location for the next conference early enough, but it can still be an undertaking to attend if it’s not near where you live. This year the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek hosted the event and the resort was amazing.
One Email Can Change a Lot
About a month before BlogHer, I got an email that at first I didn’t believe. It was from someone working on the BlogHer conference who offered me a ticket to attend. I was overjoyed and so thankful for the opportunity. As reality started to settle in, I started to think about how to afford lodging and travel and everything else associated with the conference. I can’t tell you how many times I had written my email to decline the invitation because it just wasn’t going to work out. A lot of praying and with some blessings from friends, I was able to make it all work to attend! (Disclosure: while I was offered a ticket to attend, I was never asked to write or share about my experience at the conference.)
In addition to the conference, BlogHer holds several events for various sponsors. Many of the spaces are invite only but there are some spots left open for interested attendees who didn’t get an invitation but they go very quickly. As these events began to be introduced, I got even more excited about the conference. Just a couple of days before I was ready to leave for the conference, the BlogHer folks announced that Walt Disney World was inviting a (very small) handful of bloggers to visit Pandora. While I was beyond excited for the possibility of this event, I didn’t have high hopes that I’d receive an invite. In a sea of 2,000+ attendees, what made me special enough to stand out? Invitations went out for the event and I set a reminder to make myself available the day the few remaining spots open for attendees to try and grab. Imagine my shock and surprise when one of those coveted invitations wound up in my very own inbox without me even having to fight for one of the remaining spots!
Many of the attendees very delightful and it was great getting to know some new folks during the conference activities. One morning in the elevator I met one of the sweetest people ever and by the time we’d reached the ground floor, we were planning to enjoy breakfast together. Because I’m pretty quiet and shy, I was proud of myself for jumping out of my comfort zone and making an effort. Even after several weeks of leaving the conference, we’re still sharing group text messages.
BlogHer brought in the best of the best. Serena Williams. Chelsea Clinton. Cat Cora. Carla Hall. I could go on and on. So many powerful, smart, respectful women taking time to speak with social influencers. Certainly an inspiring part of the conference. Many of the speakers made themselves available at different points during the conference to speak with attendees which was also very nice.
Would You Go Back?
Yes! Without any hesitation I would attend another BlogHer conference in the future. I feel like this is a conference where you’ll certainly see a return on your investment. It might not be immediate and in your bank account, but the experiences, lessons, and connections you’ll make will be priceless.
Have you attended a BlogHer event before?