I just got home from the grandmommy of all blogging conferences, BlogHer14. I could say a million things, but I’ll limit myself to just these few words.
I’m $till Standing
I’ve been blogging since 2008, and I’ll be damned if some silly “business” (and I use that term loosely) fallout will destroy me, or keep me from blogging. In fact, since the demise of Generation Fabulous, my readership is at an all-time high. And I’ve already made more money in the past six months than I’ve ever made before in a whole year. I just didn’t make that money from blogging. Which is fine by me. I prefer it that way. And apparently so does my growing audience of readers.
Despite some stomach flutters on my way to San Jose, I was happy every single minute of the entire conference. Besides looking and feeling more fabulous than a 52-year old woman has a right to—it’s incredible what working out and eating right can do for you as opposed to sitting on your ass all day jerking everybody off in the daisy chain that is today’s social media–I loved seeing so many old friends again.
Maybe “old” isn’t the right word when you consider friends like Alexandra Williams from fitandfun.org who can still do this.
And having my dance card freed up recently made room for so many new friends.
On my first night in San Jose, I met Dawn Quyle Landau from Tales from the Motherland. We had a great time getting to know one another. (That empty nest can be a mean bitch, can’t she, Dawn?) And I adored finally meeting Molley Mills from A Mother Life—she and I are fitbit aficionados…
and Linda Roy (pictured below) and Lance Burton from Lefty Pop.
There are so many others, most of whom I can’t remember right this moment. This is why I HATE mentioning anyone on my blog. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by excluding them. Just know that if we met and shared a story or a laugh together my old, addled brain is thinking warm thoughts about you right now.
Never Say Never. Except This Time.
It’s probably a bit premature to say this, but unless I have a real and present financial reason, I don’t think I’ll ever go to another BlogHer again. This isn’t because I didn’t have a great time–I did–I had a spectacularly great time–but because it’s one pretty damned expensive girls’ weekend that just doesn’t live up to its hype anymore. Not for me, anyway. Don’t get me wrong. I am very grateful to the founders of BlogHer for putting on this party, year after year. And I hope and pray that my comments don’t make me seem ungrateful. It’s just that I think I’m over it.
Going a couple of days early and hanging out with Julie Chenell DeNeen from Fabulous Blogging was the best part of the whole damned week. Next time, I’ll just plan on a little trip with her, and skip the conference.
When I found out she’d never been to San Francisco, we ventured into the city together to see the sights. She wrote about our adventures here.
Once the conference started, it was obvious that her community, The Bloppy Bloggers, was the group to belong to this year. That girl has got it going on. Plus, she doesn’t snore. And she understands when you ask her to get out of bed in the middle of the night, after a long day of networking and conferencing, to take pictures for your “How to Make Jello Shots in a Hotel Room” tutorial. It was a win-win-win!
Thursday, July 24th
The Pathfinder Day session I attended on Thursday was a complete waste of time and money. I wish I could get a refund. The two authors who spoke on how to get your book published were pretty awful. Why bother having these sessions at all when the panelists don’t know anything about how to find an agent? (They both shared with us how “lucky” they were and how agents just found them. That’s helpful!) And do I really need to spend two hours of my life listening to what two adult people who aren’t my kids did in junior high? Seriously?
The Pathfinder Day lunch was great. The prime rib was perfect. But I couldn’t bring myself to go back and listen to those two yahoos talk about their sophomore year in college, and how they are just so fantastic that agents and publishers are tripping over themselves to publish them, so I cut out and went to lunch with Nancy Hill from Reason Creek, Carol Cassara from CarolCassara.com, and Kim Tackett from Fifty-Fifty Vision. Now, that was time well-spent!
On a sad note, I did lose my water bottle that I got from my trip in March to the UNFoundation in Washington, D.C. It was bound to happen eventually, but I’m going to mourn the loss of that water bottle for a long, long time, may it R.I.P.
Friday, July 25th
Friday morning’s keynote speaker, The Bloggess, was delightful. It’s obvious why she’s so successful. She’s charming and funny. And she makes mental illness look like something we should all aspire to. I loved her.
As usual, I’m lame as hell when it comes to getting pictures at these things of myself standing next to celebrities, but Dawn Landau got one.
I’m pretty upset now that I didn’t stand in line and get The Bloggess to sign my boob like she did for so many of my friends.
I was going to tell you about the morning session I attended on Friday, except I can’t remember what it was. I could go refresh my memory by looking it up, but I think the fact that I don’t remember anything about the session, or what I learned there, or who the speakers were, is the review that matters. Take from that what you will.
The other session I attended was about how one goes about joining a non-profit Board of Directors. The moderator, Cherylyn Harley Lebon, of harleylebon.com, and speakers, Martha Rebour, Shot@Life, Morra Aarons-Mele, of Women Online, and Shivani Garg Patel, from Samahope were all very well-informed and engaging. I learned a ton. My takeaway? I’ll never have enough money to join a non-profit Board of Directors.
But it was fascinating hearing about how the other half lives. And I learned a lot about how the world actually words, which is nothing like what my poor parents, who were raised in the housing projects in Louisville, Kentucky, taught me.
Last year, after feeling like I’d missed the entire damned conference whoring myself around to get party invites that—except for one that resulted in a now infamous pair of Louboutins—turned out to be a big, fat waste of my dwindling life, I vowed that this year I would not attend one outboarding event. BlogHer made it easy-peasy for me to keep my promise by doing whatever it was they did to make sure there weren’t any (that I knew about, anyway).
Sadly, the parties that did happen this year were very different compared to previous years. It is obvious that things are seriously changing for Blogher. What this means for bloggers and the future of BlogHer remains to be seen, but I suspect that the days of football field-sized vendor halls, and the ginormous bags of swag, are over. The once-legendary room drops this year consisted of two mirror stickers, and one tiny cupcake made out of lentils. Take from that what you will.
I did like the mirror sticker though. Here’s the selfie I was supposed to take with it.
This sticker and picture are meant to promote a self-esteem project being done by a band called The Mrs. Here’s the song they performed for us. I like it.
Saturday, July 26th
Saturday, I slept in. What can I say? I’m old, and I was tired.
This meant I missed Arianna Huffington’s keynote breakfast speech. The irony of this is that later I heard that Huffington’s #1 piece of advice on the secret to success that she dispensed to the bloggers, who’d dragged themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn to hear her speak, was to get more sleep. As always, I’m ahead of the curve.
So now I’m just going to say out loud what everyone else was saying in whispers. Having Arianna Huffington speak at BlogHer is like having Darth Vadar give the pre-battle motivational pep-talk to the Federation on the eve of the battle of Endor.
Thank you, Arianna Huffington, for making your millions off of the work of writers who you don’t pay. Brava! Well done!
Huffington spoke about the future of something called the social web, or some such thing. Even without a crystal ball, or hearing her speak, I predict a future where thousands of writers from here on out can expect more non-payment for their work. Excellent job, Arianna! How about a standing ovation?
Can you see me rolling my eyes from where you’re sitting?
But Enough About Arianna Huffington
I attended TWO sessions on Saturday, BOTH of which I remember. YAY!
The first was a session about what to do when it is time to change the direction of your blog. This was informative and helpful. I definitely enjoyed the speakers, Ana Flores, Latina Bloggers Connect, August MacLaughlin, Girl Boner, Carrie Forrest, Carrie on Living, and Melanie Feehan, Melanie in the Middle.
Changes are coming for me and my blog. In light of my piece on labor pain that I wrote for Scary Mommy, which was shared almost 42 THOUSAND times on Facebook, it is obvious that I’ll be writing more about that topic in the future.
The Future of Personal Blogging
The most important session I attended during the entire conference was on the future of personal blogging. The discussion leaders for this 2.5 hour session, billed as a “Mini-Conference,” were A’Driane Nieves, from Butterfly Confessions, Elan Morgan, better known as Schmutzie, and Kristen Howerton from Rage Against the Minivan.
I know people keep saying that personal blogging is dead, but they are dead wrong. The standing-room only crowd that showed up for this session proves that personal blogging is very much alive, if maybe not quite so well now that it is infected with Ponzi-scheme-ism and Amway-itis.
But with any luck, maybe the fact that brands have finally figured out that throwing huge sums of money at bloggers at blog conferences is a pig in a poke will mean that crappy ad-copy masquerading as blogging will die the death it so richly deserves. At least one can hope.
On Saturday night, after the last official party, Julie and I hosted a little party of our own. No brands sponsored us, although Jello should send us a check, I suppose. Lots of people showed up. Jello shots were slurped. A good time was had by all.
Here’s Tammy Bleck, from Witty Woman Writing, Me, Julie, and Aussa Lorens, famous hacker, ninja, hooker, spy, bidding you adieu from our FABULOUS hotel room bathroom on the 7th floor of The Fairmont in San Jose.
Good times, BlogHer! I’m going to miss you.