BlogHer 14 Recap. Is this the End of BlogHer?

by Chloe Jeffreys · 95 comments

in Blogging

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. Blogher Review

I’m $till Standing

Unlike years past–Blogher11, BlogHer12, BlogHer13–where I sort of wondered what the hell I was doing going to BlogHer, I absolutely had an agenda this year. A very personal agenda.

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.

Alexandra

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…

Molley-A-Mother-Life

and Linda Roy (pictured below) and Lance Burton from Lefty Pop.

Linda Roy

Aussa Lorens (photobomber), Me, Linda Roy

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.

The Recap

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.

Julie and Chloe

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!

Jello shots

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.

Dawn Quyle Landau and The Bloggess

Dawn Quyle Landau and Jenny Lawson

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.

Partay!

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.

I am Enough

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.

Cha-cha-changes

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.

Scary Mommy Stats

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.

Jello Shots

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.

Jello shot party

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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy August 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

Have to say, I really enjoyed reading these adventures and although I didn’t attend, it sounds like a conference that as you said, really speaks to newbies.
Most conferences are structured to take in the starry eyed “wannabees” and deliver to the “not there yets” but I was able to interview Elyssa Camehort Page earlier this year and found her to be very generous with her comments and transparent with her success.
Chloe, your writing is like going on an adventure without having the hassle of wondering whether the bags you packed are over the weight limit. Much enjoyed your insights and experiences at BlogHer 14
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Jennie Goutet July 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

This was funny. 🙂 I never thought about HuffPost not paying as being a bad thing because I was grateful for the exposure as an unknown writer. Same thing for Queen Latifah, but this gives me something to think about. I missed Arianna because someone told me just as I was about to enter the conference centre that my leggings were see-through, so I rushed through breakfast and then left to fix it.

I really wasn’t planning on going to another BlogHer, but I had so much fun that I just might. I never expected to make money off of blogging (except maybe the first month back in 2009 when I was naive). If I make any money at all, it will be from my books, not my blog. But it is a lot to shell out when I’m just a spectator, so I would only do it if I make enough from writing to justify what is essentially a really fun girl’s weekend. 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys July 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Hey Jennie! There’s no doubt that it’s a fun time. I had a terrific fun time. Much better than last year when I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to be all things to all people and feeling like nothing. That was a terrible time.

You are obviously much, much smarter than I am. I fell for the game hook, line, and sinker. I’m just a sucker, I’m afraid. But if I had a dime for every time I overheard “But I need to find a way to start making money doing this.” I’d have enough for a Caramel Macchiato. Not even kidding. There are so many people in the space who’ve now invested a shit ton of money in this thing and are wondering when their payday is coming. Sure, I know people making some money. But real money? Money you can retire on, money? Not many. And the ones I do know aren’t going to BlogHer, or won’t be going back.

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Laura @FitMamaLove July 29, 2014 at 10:19 pm

It was nice meeting you at BlogHer! Interesting take on the events. It was my first blogging conference ever, so I have nothing else to compare it too. The best part for me was meeting so many other bloggers. I did feel like I learned a lot, but the Saturday sessions for me were a bust.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 11:16 pm

I can see where a first-timer would get useful content out of it. And I did, too. With the exception of Pathfinder Day and that one session I can’t even remember, I got something out of everything I did. I think I’ve simply outgrown Blogher. But I did enjoy meeting you very much. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
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Elan Morgan July 29, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Thank you for being at our session! I loved being there, and personal blogging is most definitely not dead, if we have anything to say about it 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Your session was the best, Elan. It was the most worthwhile use of my time at the conference itself.
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Sandra July 29, 2014 at 7:28 pm

BlogHer’14 was my second, and likely last, BlogHer conference. I thought the keynotes were solid. One of the three sessions I attended was beneficial. I met a group of incredible, smart, diverse bloggers who I will be friends with for a long time to come. On the other hand, the expo was pathetic. Seriously, they were shilling pills to make your hair prettier, nail art to help meet your goals (one of which was listed as Get Married), and Samsung and Cuisinart were evidently there only to sell product, not to collaborate with bloggers. Top off with the lack of cold beverages, the very weak coffee, and tiny, pathetic meals. I’m glad I went, but if it weren’t for the keynotes and some great new friends, I’d be regretting my investment.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Sandra, I hope they are listening. While I’m reading many glowing reports on other people’s blogs, I think the truth of what I heard from the mouths of attendees is being reflected here in these comments.

Many bloggers are afraid to say the truth about these conferences on their blogs. There is this belief that fawning all over the conference is somehow going to lead to a big payday in the future. I’m doubtful. I think the payday, if it ever did exist, is over.

Vendors do not seem to understand that bloggers are not there to buy products! Bloggers go into the vendor hall hoping to make contacts and create business relationships. The big problem I see is that bloggers, and plenty of vendors, have no idea how to use blogging to authentically promote a product.

I attended one of the private invitation-only events. The organizers were huddled in a corner talking amongst themselves and ignored every blogger walking into the room. We got started almost an hour late because Voices of the Year ran over. We got one announcement and the organizers went back to talking amongst themselves. They did their presentation, and gathered their stuff and it was over. It was weird.

I’m thinking that company must have spent upwards of $100K to be there. For what? They can’t have gotten their money’s worth. I doubt they’ll ever go back.
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Kate Canterbury July 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Sad I missed the Jello shots. Way different conference this year and like you though I got stuff out of it, I don’t know that I will be back.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Kate, you were a highlight! I was so happy to see your bright and smiling face. Sorry about the jello shots, too. It just happened, and then it was happening, and then it was time for bed. I kept thinking security was going to show up if one more person came.

Hopefully, I’ll see you somewhere again. But unless I can make some money, I doubt it will be at another BlogHer. I’d rather just rent a beach house and invite friends.
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Darcy Perdu (So Then Stories) July 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Awesome recap! I laughed so hard at this: “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?”
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Really Pathfinder Day was the only real down point. And I heard great things about some of the other sessions. I should have just asked to go to another session.
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Sisters From Another Mister July 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Silly girl … of course you have to come to a conference!
Was so very sad to pass on my ticket for Blogher this year, but since i remain a #wishfulwidow – it was not to be 😉
My life is so very enriched for the friends i have made, and i head off after counting down the days to meet with them again. The alternative is hosting dozens and dozens of people at my house and being a planner and doing lots of work and organizing … and instead, i fly alone, a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other … counting the minutes til i can hug and squee and connect with my tribe.
Yes, i would love to make money, yes, I need to make money … but the money spent heading to be with my friends outweighs all it would cost me to preserve my sanity on the couch of some strange person who would never really get me 😉

but the Huffpo snark? bwahahaha …
and Jello shots – ummm, yes please.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Oh I don’t know, honey. It’s not much of a fun, frolicking girlfriend weekend if you are wondering who you can trust, and having to smile at people you don’t dare turn your back on. That’s no way to live. Not if somebody isn’t paying me. Life is just too short for that.

The reason I blog is for the fun of it. I had hoped that Generation Fabulous would be a fun way for me to get out of bedside nursing, but then it became far worse than nursing ever could be. And it was costing me a small fortune.

And let’s not overlook the fact that I finally made it high enough up the food chain that I’ve gotten a good glimpse behind the blogging for business curtain. I simply don’t like what I see. I’d rather be a nurse. Hell, I’d rather do just about anything else than have to blog for a living if it means having to kiss ass all day long. I’m just not built for that. Nope, I’ll leave ass kissing to the professionals.
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Erica D. July 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm

“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.”

You hit the nail on the head with this. For the amount of money we spend to go to BlogHer, I expect to make major connections with a ton of brands…and that just didn’t happen this year. There was none of the vendor fun that I usually come to love from BlogHer. That part of the event was a dud in my opinion.

Such a shame that your Pathfinder day sucked, mine last year was pretty awesome. I just felt like the content of this year’s conference, besides the keynotes (Huffington & Washington were great, so were most of the 10×10) was not as great as year’s past either.

I’m hoping that the “new normal” for BH will increase next year, or I fear I will not get out of it as much as I possibly can like the year before in Chicago.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Well, exactly, Erica. It cost me around $1,000 to go to BlogHer this year. And I didn’t have to buy an airline ticket.

I am left wondering if BlogHer is still a legitimate business conference, or a well-heeled hobbiest show for mommys with money to burn. I’m okay either way. But don’t tell me it’s one, when it really is the other.

Personally, I found the inclusion of Huffington very curious. Are we supposed to want to be like her, or what? Is she a blogging hero? Jenny Lawson? Yes. She’s a blogging hero. But a woman who has made her fortune from not paying writers is not any hero of mine.
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Julie Danis July 29, 2014 at 7:02 am

Chloe,
So glad I met you at my first BlogHer two years ago. Wish I could have gone this year since it seems like we won’t meet gain at BlogHer15. (I was wondering if I would ever go back and now I have more to wonder about.) I do hope we can meet somewhere for a Jello shot or two someday, though. Thanks for the vicarious visit to BlogHer14!
Julie

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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Julie, I was so glad to have met you in New York. And I dearly wish I hadn’t been so busy running around last year in Chicago like a chicken with my head cut off. I’d have truly loved to have spent more time with you.
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Kate July 28, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I always felt incredibly envious that in Europe we only have one blogging conference (usually in Berlin) and that it’s not such a widely known event. However, after reading this it seems maybe blogging conferences are past it anyway and I am better off looking forward to “the next thing” in place of conferences.
This was a really interesting read, particularly for someone who hasn’t attended a conference for. Thanks for sharing :).
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Kate, I suspect that there are problems on both sides of the aisle.

Brands KNOW they need to engage with social media, but they don’t know how. So they throw a bunch of money at a conference thinking they’ll get a lot of cheap advertising from it. I don’t even think they know what they want from bloggers, just that they want them to “do something”.

What brands don’t realize is that when I write something for them I’m putting 16 years of my online reputation on the line for them. I’ve been building my audience, in one form or another, for 16 YEARS. I’m not selling that for $50 and some hand cream!

But then I look ungrateful for the free stuff I’ve received if I’m stingy about my praise, or less than effusive about how AWESOME and WONDERFUL it all is. Or worse if I don’t write about it at all.
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Donna Freedman July 28, 2014 at 10:17 pm

On the GOMI post I suggested that people consider the Financial Blogger Conference. It’s geared mostly toward people who write about personal finance but some of us aren’t strictly PF. Programs about writing, SEO, brand development and the business of blogging could help writers of all genres.
Learn more about the programs at http://www.finconexpo.com.
Myself, I write about money. But I also write about whatever comes up/gets my attention/pisses me off. And as a fellow 50-something, would love to see some, uh, SEASONED writers there.
I make a little money from my personal site, but not as much as I would if I ran sponsored posts. Just not my thing. I do all my own writing, and make my real living writing for other sites. The idea that Huffington Post pays nothing really irritates me, and I know from personal experience that even bigger sites will try to get you for as cheaply as possible. I no longer play that game — but then again, I’ve been writing for 30 years. Some newcomers will write for free just to get noticed.
If it’s kosher to post URLs, here’s a piece I wrote on that very subject:
http://donnafreedman.com/2013/09/29/writers-stop-undervaluing-your-work/
(And if that’s not kosher? Edit it out and send me a virtual slap.)
Glad to have found your site. I’ll bookmark it.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Donna, thanks for commenting.

I do believe there are more valuable conferences out there for the business blogger. I suspect that smaller conferences that focus on a particular niche are the way to go these days.

For myself, I’m going to start looking for more serious writing conferences. I think that’s where I’ll likely find what I’m looking for. I have very little interest in writing ad copy for brands.
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Melanie Shebel July 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Wow! This looks like a blast. I’m a bit (okay, a lot more than a bit) jealous that I didn’t make it to BlogHer this year. I will so be there next year, though. This was a fantastic recap. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys July 29, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I was a great party, Melanie! I did have a blast, and I did come home motivated about blogging. That was very worthwhile. I just don’t think I can afford it anymore.
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Beth July 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Thank you so much for this…you have voiced/confirmed all that I had already suspected. I shall catch BlogHer via YouTube, and blog posts of attendees like yourself. The money that I would have spent towards BlogHer 15 will be better spent elsewhere…like on cheap wine.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Invite me other, Beth. I’ll be having some extra money for travel next year since I probably won’t be spending it attending blogging conferences anymore.
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Gracie Frick July 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Still have yet to try a jello shot, but yeah, I agree with your assessment of BlogHer. I think my favorite session was Tig Notaro’s stand up set and interview.

I was planning on going to the Birds of a Feather Mid Life Mini-Con, until I saw someone leaving the room, and mouthing, “that’s just a clusterf*ck!”
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Tig Notaro was really phenomenal. She was excellent. I definitely enjoyed her routine very, very much.
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Gracie Frick July 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I downloaded “Live” her nominated comedy album and listened on the way home, vacillating between balling my eyes out & laughing. Amazing perspective on dealing with adversity.
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Ariel July 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I’d heard of blogher conferences even before I started blogging this year but I didn’t realize there was a push to make it seem writers could make a living from blogging. I always thought logically it could only happen to a small percentage. Your post is really well-written and an interesting read on how it’s all changed!

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Thank you, Ariel! I appreciate you dropping by and leaving a comment. Honestly, when I look back at the posts I wrote after BlogHer11 I think the writing was on the wall, even way back then. I wondered then if brands would get their money’s worth. I think the fact that I haven’t seen a major brand attend in any big way two years in a row is telling. This is what happens when a new and uncharted, and uncontrolled, industry springs up overnight. Brands know they need to be online. They realize the power a blogger might have in getting their message out there. But how to harness that in an authentic way is not yet understood very well.

Add to that, greed, and what I suspect might be outright lying by some people trying to make themselves look way more important than they really are, and you have the recipe for a perfect mess.
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Me July 28, 2014 at 4:38 pm

It looked like you had a nice vacation with a conference in-between.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm

You got it about right.
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Jack July 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm

And to think you didn’t take a picture with me. Damn, I am hurt and sad. Ok, I am not because I skipped Blogher…again.

But it sounds like it was fun.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm

If I went to a conference and you were there and I didn’t see you I’d be so upset. This would have been a “What the fuck, JackB, ain’t I good enough for a hug?” recap.
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D. A. Wolf July 28, 2014 at 4:07 pm

With Chloe on deck, no need EVER to attend a conference! You hit all the highlights!

Wait… Let me amend that. The one reason to attend is to see you (and your jello shots). And maybe those Louboutins.

LOVED your summary of the state of affairs… (And cracked up!)

xo
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I so wish you’d been there, D.A! Now that would have made it a party to remember. But for a serious writer, there was nothing there for you, I’m afraid.
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Martina P Callum MD July 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Great post! Maybe 3 or 4 times attending Blogher is all someone needs. This was my 1st Blogher event. With most conferences some of the most popular and informative events are packed or even conflict timewise with something else. As a newbie…I enjoyed most of it and managed to accomplish something that is quite difficult to do while venturing out alone into cyberspace and that is networking…meeting the veterans! I am in awe of some of the women I meet. The veterans keep us newbies motivated. I love your spin on the event and your honesty..who knows maybe in 2016 I’ll write a post saying I should have used my money for trip to Majorica!
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Martina! I’m so glad you found me!! I loved what you were saying over on the Life Reimagined Facebook wall. I could so relate to your struggles and insights.

I think you are right. Last year, I was a speaker at BlogHer and had an absolute blast. This year I went for a variety of personal reasons and I’m very happy I did. It was exactly what I needed to do. But I just can’t see why I’d go again unless I’m being paid to go. And maybe that’s just the cycle of things.

Once upon a time I was a homeschooling mom. I loved homeschooling. But then my children grew up and I was done with homeschooling. I also discovered along the way that many of the things I’d been taught to believe about homeschooling was not actually the way things work. I was disillusioned for a time, but I came out of that wiser.

I certainly hope that this post didn’t come off as though I am against Blogher at all. I love blogging. I’m just damned skeptical about it as a business model. Nobody is going to make a living writing sponsored posts, or being a shill for brands. It’s just not the truth. Unless you are using your blog as a platform for something else, I think it’s delusional to think you can make a living off of it. If that makes me a meany in the space, then that’s a label I can live with. At least it’s honest.

So nice to meet you, though. I look forward to seeing what you do with your blogging career. Let me know what I can do to help you.
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Tart July 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Found you via GOMI
Entertaining recap!
As a blogger & Instagram user, I hardly every read any blog anymore.
I love Instagram & follow favorite bloggers there, but never read their blogs!
I don’t even blog anymore.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Welcome!!! This is the first time anything I’ve written has been shared on GOMI. I was shaking in my boots when I saw traffic coming from there. But I see that I’m far from alone in my skepticism and critique of the blogging industry.

One thing I did not put in this post is how many times (and it was A LOT!) people who I know who are fairly big names in the space said, “But I need to figure out how to make money from this.”

What people do not seem to realize is that it is very easy to make yourself look successful online. It is very easy to make it look like you are making money when you aren’t. And even if you are making some money, the money you have to spend to position yourself so that you can make it (attending conferences, etc) erases the profit.
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Carol Cassara July 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I laughed and nodded throughout this recap. Love you, missy!
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Stephanie Bernaba July 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I didn’t make it this year, but I do enjoy sampling the “It Changed My LIFE!” vs. “Save Your Money” debate that follows each year. All that aside, your summation was well-written, sharp, and funny. I enjoyed learning about your point of view.
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Denise July 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Wow, this is the 2nd post I’ve read that makes me feel good about staying home. It’s a good thing I didn’t go and have to see Ariana… That person stuck in a knife in the back of Patch.com, a great local journalism site. AOL was working some magic, hiring local journalists, who PAID freelancers to do articles. Then they hired her for a bigillion dollars and suddenly there was no budget for freelancers. Soon enough…no budget for staff either. Now Patch is a sad little shell of itself…that’s open for community member to place posts for free.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Shoot. I remember Patch.com. How sad. It was truly breath-taking to see so many supposedly intelligent women writers gushing over a woman who has almost single-handedly ruined writing as a legitimate career path. What are people thinking? The gushing over Arianna Huffington coupled with the stampede to stand next to Khloe Kardashian left me baffled, and wonderfing, WTF?
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Julie Chenell DeNeen July 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

There are so many reasons why I love this post. I had such a great time, and your snarky analysis is just so…perfect. You rocked BlogHer my dear friend! xoxoxoxox
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Back at you! You made this conference for me. In every way.
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Tammy July 28, 2014 at 10:12 am

Chloe, so sorry I missed you during the conference but thrilled to hear that it was a personal success for you. I will always remember getting ready for bed, putting on my pajamas, taking off my makeup, then prancing through the streets (a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do) to join you and Julie in Jello shots. A night to remember! Note to self: never walk the streets in your jammies without a bra or makeup. Someone at some point will take a picture of you. Damn if it isn’t true. Where is my paper sack? Oh, that’s right, it was beside the jello shots! Buahahahahahaa! Good times, my friend.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

The test of true gorgeousness is when you can show up to a party in your pajamas and still be the prettiest girl there. I so enjoyed talking with you. You are one smart cookie. It’s a loss for everyone that you were not selected as a speaker this year. I might go again if you speak.
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Beverly Diehl July 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

I really appreciate all of you who go, so I don’t have to.

I’ve always had scheduling issues with BlogHer, so while I miss the networking (actually, I’m all about the jello shots), I’m not likely ever to attend.

Blogging is changing… LIFE is changing, all the time. Glad for those who got something out of it, and loved your recap of it.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Beverly, glad to go and do the research for you. I did have a great time. But I also would have had a great time renting a beach house with some friends and hanging out and chatting. I learned more about making money from blogging by sitting next to Tammy Bleck while downing jello shots in my hotel room. That was worthwhile. The rest? From a business perspective? Not so much.
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A Pleasant House July 28, 2014 at 9:57 am

THIS is what I’m hearing from EVERYONE thru the grapevine. BlogHer may be over. At least you had a good time and connected. The Jello party looks like my cup o’ squiggley. Missed you all.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm

BlogHer has to do something different. Clearly the brands aren’t going to pony up the big bucks anymore for nothing. I think it is interesting that I can’t recall one single BIG brand that has ever made a big presence two years in a row. It seems that BlogHer can get the dates, but can’t manage a marriage.
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Judy Lee Dunn July 28, 2014 at 9:31 am

Well, this was just about the most honest, refreshing (and humorous) review of a conference I have ever read. I, too, have become jaded when it comes to conferences. But I am a practical girl and want stuff I can actually use/apply when I return home. (Once at one of the myriad teaching conferences I attended, we were all given Native American Rain Catchers (similar to those twirly wand thingies) and encouraged to close our eyes and make our biggest wish (ala Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz). Just didn’t cut it for me.

I have always thought that the people one meets, the networking that happens, is the most valuable part of a conference. I have made some amazing connections.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

The people were everything, Judy. I wish you’d been there. And I did come home with seriously useful takeaways. But they were ones I intuited myself by reading in between the lines. It is very difficult to really know much about the business of blogging when so few people are willing to actually give you dollar figures. Is blogging a business? I still can’t really figure it out. At this point, my feelings is, no. Not for most people.
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Kristi Campbell July 28, 2014 at 8:52 am

Well done, Chloe. I have been trying to find a way to write about the HORRIBLE experience I had at the special needs mini-con on Saturday afternoon. The thing is, I got something out of it once the moderators stopped talking because the bloggers there were awesome. But I’m really angry and sad about something one of the moderators said to me. Guess I just need to suck it up and write it already. I LOVED LOVED LOVED meeting you in person. You’re fabulous and awesome and gorgeous. xoxoxo
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Kristi, I heard about that session and that there were many unhappy people. I don’t know what happened, but I hope it gets ironed out. That community is so necessary and powerful.

It was so fun hanging out with you. I think JelloHer14 was the best part of the entire conference for me, too.
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Kate Canterbury July 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Kristi, I didn’t go to the minicon because I was not in the space. Would love to talk to you about it. Theguavaliciouslife @ gmail

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Gunmetal Geisha July 28, 2014 at 7:35 am

Thanks for the honest assessment, all of which I echo, having been there too. I wasn’t there for Pathfinder, but I heard about the author and the panel’s so-called “advice.”

As for your Jello shots, they got progressively stronger, which was very effective whether by clever design or happy accident!

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I wish I could say there was a method to my jello shot madness, but, alas, no. Mixing them up in an ice bucket, without any real measuring or stirring implements, resulted in an inconsistent batch, I’m afraid. I’m just glad nobody was driving after downing them. That would have been bad.
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Emily July 28, 2014 at 7:15 am

Thx for this recap Chloe…I was supposed to go to my first BlogHer last year, but had to cancel at the last minute. This year, the timing didn’t work (although ironically as I write this, I’m not far from where the conference was held – I’m in napa with my hubby). I’m still curious about what it’s like to go, but I can see that the best part is meeting and hanging out with bloggers I’ve been wanting to meet IRL. Maybe next year if it’s on the east coast…otherwise, I’m all for doing a retreat (as Julie suggested) with fellow bloppys….
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I’d have rather been hanging in Napa, too!

I think it’ll either go one way or the other. BlogHer will reassess its priorities and present a better conference, or it won’t. Either way, I think I’ve learned all I need to at this point to make my own decisions for myself about whether or not blogging can be a full time job for me.
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Kim Tackett July 28, 2014 at 6:40 am

Hey Chloe, thanks for the shout out. I would love to connect with you again…cuz I gotta say, I agree with you. This was my first BlogHer, and while I am not sorry I went (also, only a 1.5 hr. drive for me, so lower investment), I won’t go again. It was interesting, but weird. The best parts (for me) were the parts I made up myself (wine in my room with new friends, a 3 hour dinner at Arcadia with a new friend, doing Open Mic). And I swear, two minutes before I read your piece, I was wondering why no one asked (especially Guy K) Arianna about her model of building her business on the shoulders of other bloggers. Excited to keep reading your work…
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Meeting you was a highlight, Kim! Your photography is breath-taking. I’ll be working again in the area and meeting up with Carol for some more chit-chat in the future. I hope you can come.
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Florinda July 28, 2014 at 6:33 am

First off, I’m so glad you were the first person I ran into on my first evening at BlogHer! And secondly, I share so many of your thoughts on this conference that I suspect you’ll be generously quoted/linked in my own recap. I suspect that this was my last BlogHer as well.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Florinda!! You are one person I should have mentioned in this post. Please forgive me. My brain is so tired and I was trying like crazy just to get the words out before I lost them forever. I am so glad to have seen you. That was a highlight. Hope to see you again, soon!
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Florinda July 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I forgot to say in my first comment that I am totally in agreement with your comments re: Arianna Huffington. I COMPLETELY fail to understand why the Huffington Post is such a draw. For that kind of “exposure,” there should be payment–in dollars. Don’t most of us already have our own blogs where we can write for free?

And BTW, you are getting some quote/link love in the post I have going up on my blog tomorrow, so stop by!
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Mary Anne Payne July 28, 2014 at 5:50 am

You crack me up and love love the honesty ! Julie Deneen is the bomb – not sorry I missed it but really sorry I missed the Jell-O shots!
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Julie and the jello shots were the best part of the entire thing. And I do wish you could have been there. We had a great time!
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lora July 28, 2014 at 5:05 am

Chloe – Thanks for the recap. Since I moved to Europe, I am so out of it ( in good way) that I didn’t even remember that BlogHer was happening. I am glad to hear it is the same and since I too have attending many years of conferences, I know that there is not much else to listen to at a conference that an be helpful. There are two types of bloggers: Entrereneurs and hobby bloggers – You either do it for fun or do it for money. You can mix it up but why do that when you get so much more doing it the way you enjoy! You look great BTW!!! XOXO
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Hey Lora! So nice to see you. I am sure there are those who are making money from blogging, but from my vantage point the # of hours one must spend to make anything ruins quality of life. I’m very fortunate to have a way to earn money that I now enjoy. That leaves me free to say what I want on my blog. You can’t buy freedom like that.
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Beth Ann Chiles July 28, 2014 at 4:39 am

Thanks for the great recap. I kept seeing status updates from BlogHer and it was great to read an honest (and funny!) summary of what you experienced. I am such a small time blogger but hey–we all have our audience and niche, right? I agree that the friendships made through blogging are the most valuable part of this whole experience and it is something I am unwilling to give up. Ever. 🙂 Thanks for the great post—I lift my jello shot to you. Wait…it’s only 6:30 am…..maybe a bit early for that. Lifting my coffee cup!
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Hey Beth Ann! It’s never too early for a jello shot! Well, maybe 6:30am is a tad early. But I’ll take the coffee. I can’t believe I’ve gone four years in a row and still can’t really figure out what’s going on there. I’m slow though, I’ll admit that. And I have a very rudimentary understanding of how the world really works. The business world, anyway.
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AlexandraFunFit July 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Dang, I’d love to have a post get 42K likes. We had one go over 1K once and thought we’d hit it big! Anyway, this was my 1st and probably last BlogHer. I enjoyed myself a lot, but it didn’t achieve my business goals (although I will try to turn my contacts into paid work). And your point about Ariana is well taken. She pays in … wait for it … exposure. And I like free swag, but I could buy myself all that stuff for less than the price of the ticket. The closing party was super fun. And I need a better facial expression in that impossible yoga pose!!
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

It was so fun to hang with you, Alexandra! You are an inspiration.

I agree that it was oodles of fun, but for a thousand bucks I could have had oodles of fun and not gotten this nasty blister on the back of my heel. I also could have avoided finding out that grown women would actually stand in line for hours to shake hands with Khloe Kardashian. Khloe has gorgeous hair, and appears to be much smaller in person than the tabloids make her out to be. But who the hell is she, anyway? What is her importance in blogging? It’s just baffling.
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Linda Roy July 27, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Like you, there was at least one session I completely drew a blank on when it came to trying to remember the topic or what I’d learned. But there were still some valuable takeaways over the course of the weekend and the best by far for me was the Future of Blogging. There were definitely high points, but I can see a decline in the quality of the conference overall. And you get a standing ovation for your Ariana Huffington remarks. Right on. Loved seeing you and hanging out. You and Julie throw a great party and you make a mean Jello shot.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Meeting you was a high point, Linda! I’ve always loved your irreverent voice. Your Thanksgiving post should be required reading for every women in the world who thinks getting up at 4am means a damned thing.

I wish you and Lance all the best on LeftyPop. I love the site and what you two are doing with it.
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Molley@A Mother Life July 27, 2014 at 11:33 pm

That was my boob! I have been so excited to meet you and the event by far exceeded expectation. It was my first Blogher but I was a little underwhelmed except for the friends I got to pinch in person! But I will totally have to walk the length of Central Park daily for a month to just walk off the bacon I ate. #getstepping #fitbitfriend
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Chloe Jeffreys July 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Molley, I went looking for a picture of your famous boob, but was unable to locate it. If you’d like to send me a link of your signed boob I’d love to include it in this wrap-up.

I’m going to order the pretty little fitbit color bracelets so I can expand my fitbit wardrobe. And I was delighted meeting you. It’ll make taunting you on fitbit a lot more fun now.
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Dawn Landau July 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Don’t see myself getting tired of that picture of me and The Bloggess… just makes me smile. She was so gracious in person, funny and playful. If I liked her a lot before, I’m a bigger fan now.

This being my first time, like Lance, my experience was a bit more positive. However, you know I was entirely disappointed with the same publishing Pathfinder session… suckyville. The highlight for me was the people– you people. Making wonderful new friends and visiting with “old friends,” who I actually hadn’t met… and the sharing them, as we did for dinner that last night. I came away realizing I’m even more clueless than I thought, about so many things… but I’m very clear on the connections I made. True blue great! Thanks for taking a chance on a stranger, and then sharing your sparkle. It was fantastic!
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm

You, my dear, were well worth the price of admission. I was so glad for the time we got to spend together. That was worth going for. Which is why I can’t say for 100% certain I’ll never go again. But at this point it’s just a lot of money for nothing for me.
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Aussa Lorens July 27, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Oh you are so feisty, I love it. Your bit about Ariana Huffington cracked me up. Well… A lot of it did.

I have a draft of a post I’ll be writing about BlogHer as well… Overall it was a kick ass time with very little to say against anyone (other than one particular individual who charged us $150 to hear about how prolific and lightning-strikeable they are) but I think I would be much more enthusiastic about a huge blogger meetup without the actual conference. It was the people that made this such an amazing weekend.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Aussa, I can’t wait to read what you have to say.

I think many people feel they have to gush all over BlogHer in order to make it in the world of blogging. But I’ve yet to see ass-kissing actually work out as a business model for anyone. Not to say that I haven’t seen–and don’t continue to see–a whole helluva a lot of ass kissing in the blogosphere, but does that brown nose actually make anyone a living? Does anyone become a famous writer because they kissed up to someone they thought could get them somewhere? I remain skeptical.

Writing good content that people want to read is still the way to go, regardless of the ass standing in your way demanding your lips.
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Anon July 27, 2014 at 10:17 pm

It sounds like you’re describing Mom 2.0.

Fluff & self importance. Hooray mommy blogging!

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Chloe Jeffreys July 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Yeah. I’m afraid the bloom is off the rose.
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Lance Burson July 27, 2014 at 9:59 pm

It was great meting you and getting a hug. I was afraid I would miss you and you were so high on my list so seeing you twice was special.

My experience, I guess since it was my 1st time, was the opposite. I was energized and blogher was the writing intervention I needed. I got a lot out of the publishing and freelance sessions on Friday. I also liked the social media advertising one on Saturday.

Truth is, other than bad food, I liked almost everything. I’m convinced I can get arianna to pay me. Lol.

Thanks for being even better in real life than you are online.

I’m writing a 4 parter starting tonight on my experience.

Great post, though. Hugs

Lance Burson

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Chloe Jeffreys July 27, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Lance, you were also very high on my list. It is always fascinating how different people’s experiences can be. I think I’ve just been too many times. BUT I will say that I am re-energized about blogging. I came home and wrote this, right? So it was not all a loss, by any means.

The one thing I did take away from the book publishing workshop is that I need to stop attending workshops and just sit down and write the damned book! I’ve reached the point now where it’s just procrastination stopping me. That, and fear.
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KTP July 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I would read that book.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm

You are so sweet, Kim. Maybe someday I’ll write it.
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