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BlogHer 10, the not funny post

August 17, 2010

Oh my good lord people, I have been trying to get this post up since 9 am. Which, coincidentally, was also when I realized Lilly had opened up their fantastic twice a year sale. 2.5 HOURS later, I was practically in tears and there was a facebook lynch mob on their way to the Pink Palace. Hooray for unorganization and a server that can’t support a ginormous sale.

Anyhoo, if you want to read something funny about NYC head here. Otherwise, join me in a cocktail, it’s after noon, and enjoy my serious, frank analysis of BlogHer. Doesn’t that sounds grand? (If you’re here after the Lilly sale, you need a cocktail…or three…or twelve.)

So between being exhausted from NYC, our travel misadventures, work, school starting and heading down to Auburn to help with rush I have been crazy busy and slacking on the posting. I promise I have some VERY funny posts up my skirt but LOTS of you wanted a no holds barred report on BlogHer so voila.

I must admit, in addition to being busy, I actually wasn’t sure how to write this post. I came home from BlogHer defeated and overwhelmed-both unfamiliar emotions for me.

Before I start I should probably clarify, for those of you that don’t know, for nearly 6 years, before I quit, I was an event manager for one of the ten most recognized brands in the world. And? I was really good at it. BUT that does make me very critical of conferences because I know exactly what it takes. Did I mention I was really good at it?

So I guess, from the get go, I should state that I expected more. From all I had read and all I had seen I expected this to be the end all be all experience from which I would emerge like Venus from the sea crowned queen of the internets with all sorts of handy tips, millions of new readers and people flinging money at me, plus a book deal. Not much, right?

I honestly don’t think NYC was a good location. It’s expensive. There’s too many ways to get there, traffic stinks, hotels have super slow elevators, there’s really too much to do. If you want a city type place that’s affordable, Vegas is always a good bet. (San Diego is crazy expensive for conventions as well. The last show I did there, the “show discount rates” for hotels were around $400.)

From the beginning I was irked-registration hacked me off. WHY mail people badges if they still have to wait in line to get your badge holder and conference tote? (Note: there will be additional posts on swag and parties-otherwise this would be the longest post EVER.)

And then I was upset about the swag room drops. Unless you stayed at the Hilton, you couldn’t get them. Despite the Sheraton also being an event hotel-you weren’t eligible if you stayed there.

I didn’t feel as though things were well laid out, the exhibit hall was a little hidden, you couldn’t even see a map of it until you were on-site and only a few random signs announced what hours it was open. If I were an exhibitor? I’d be pissed. The exhibit hall also wasn’t really open at times when OTHER things (sessions, lunch, etc) weren’t going on. There absolutely wasn’t ample time to do everything you wanted to do/see.

The newbie breakfast and one keynote we attended were no bueno. They kept announcing things like, “wow. Sorry there weren’t enough seats. We weren’t expecting this many people.” I mean, really? REALLY? You sold tickets, right? So you knew how many people to expect. And it wasn’t just a little short. At the newbie breakfast, there were probably 100 people sitting on the floor/standing around. The keynote that morning was pretty much the same thing.

And this, while not BlogHer’s fault, about drove me insane and had me tempted to beat someone to death with a soggy croissant. People that attended these things? Were just sitting around talking. So you couldn’t even hear what was going on. When I say talking, I don’t mean occasional whispering, I mean full on not even trying to be quiet conversations. IF YOU WANT TO TALK AND NOT LISTEN, LEAVE SO THE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO CAN LISTEN. There were PLENTY of places for people to sit around and chat.

The sessions were not what I expected either. They weren’t really as good as they were described. I think I expected more of a how to. Not a wide open panel with no direction that is pretty much all audience questions. Well, not all audience questions. Some people like to raise their hand and stand up and talk aimlessly just to talk. I’m all, “SHUT UP-I don’t know who you are I want to hear what The Bloggess has to say.” (Amazing feat of self-control that this never happened.)

I went to this session. The Bloggess was one of the panelists and I expected it to be AMAZING. I really expected it to be more instructional, the topic was Poetic License: where’s the line or the lie. I was jazzed-I wanted them to say hey you shouldn’t do this or here’s how to deduce your own line, here’s some advice on how to best do this type or writing, etc. No such luck.

The next session I attended was about the evolving publishing ecosystem. Again, I expected more of a how-to. Like in light of how things are changing here’s how to contact agents, how you should do query letters, way to hone your craft and best present yourself. It was more about things to do to promote yourself once you were published and lots of whining.

I also attended the session on humor writing. Which was hilarious-seriously, I was in tears. But I didn’t learn anything. I expected more tips and examples-it was part of the writing lab. Don’t you do stuff in labs?

So for the classes I expected a more instructional atmosphere, not just random bullshitting. The classes also had space problems. Some were overflowing and some were empty-because they don’t make you register for sessions. Honestly, I see both sides of this but it’s hard to accommodate and plan when you have no idea who’s coming.

Other than that, the food was okay. There were drink tickets which drive me insane. (You can at least offer free beer and wine and have people pay for mixed drinks. We also had one guy give us shit about water from a pitcher.)

BlogHer also had people standing around, I assume their purpose was to answer questions. Trouble was they didn’t know ANYTHING. No clue on water stations, exhibit hall hours, timing, etc.

I didn’t meet nearly as many people as I thought I would. It was also harder to meet up with people than I expected. Some people, despite saying they wanted to meet up, weren’t super enthused about it once you did. Some people were assholes and acted like they had no idea who you were-despite you commenting, and them responding/commenting on your blog-pretty regularly.

I’m not shy in the least and will talk to a rock and I had a hard time so I can only imagine how people that are even slightly shy felt.

There was also no real sense of community. I expected more of a we’re all in this together attitude. But really it was a lot of one-upping. Especially in the Mom Casting waiting room. (There will be a whole other post on that also. I had fun but it was…interesting. And I can have fun in a cardboard box. While talking to a rock.)

I expected to leave with the warm, fuzzy feelings of an awesome church camp retreat (I’m Episcopalian-they ARE awesome) but without all the God stuff. Instead, I left questioning my blogging, my writing and wondering why I even bother. (This is totally not fishing for compliments, just saying how the conference made me feel. I’ve since regrouped .)

So…would I go again? Yes. I almost think you have to go more than once to get anything out of it. The first time is a wash-you’re just trying to figure it out. Do I think it could be an awesome, educational event? Yes. They just need to work on their execution.

Tomorrow I’ll post about parties…stay tuned.

(Also, please click the juggling chick and follow the link and click to vote once in awhile. And if you don’t like me on fb? You should. And suggest to your friends. When I get to 500 fans, giving away a $100 Amazon gift card. And if someone you referred wins? You get a $50 one. Thanks loves.)

© Amy Lloyd Mayfield and Amy’s Blam, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Lloyd Mayfield and Amy’s Blam with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 9:27 AM

    I had exactly the same feeling of discontent at last year’s BlogHer (which was my first). I, too, judge conferences through a former event planner’s eyes and their organization for event planning S-U-C-K-S {however, this year was MUCH more organized then last year, isn’t that scary?}…

    I went this year with adjusted expectations and while I had a good time seeing my bloggy friends, I won’t be going back next year. I have much more fun and learn a lot more at the smaller conferences (Blissdom, etc.) that I have attended.

    great post!

  2. August 17, 2010 1:07 PM

    Awesome post. Clearly, the best thought out, leave emotions out of it post.

    This was what I expected you to deliver, and you went beyond.

    Perfectly put. For an event this size, you’d expect to leave impressed, right?

    Right.

    This was fantastic. Am RT’ing it.

    I knew you ‘d do BlogHer justice. I like how you are open to try again next year. This makes you so open minded about your review.

  3. August 17, 2010 1:08 PM

    Great summary! While I feel I got a lot more out of the conference than you probably did, I think you gave such a great, fair, review. A lot of it was overwhelming, but I’ll be back next year ready to dive in with both feet. 🙂

  4. August 17, 2010 1:10 PM

    Thank you for this post! My twinge of jealousy for not going is starting to whither away. I can see how it still might be beneficial to go (and I may go next year, especially since I know a ton of people in SD) but all the things you mentioned would have made me go insane. I hate it when conferences are unorganized and I HATE one-upping. I had assumed that it was nothing but a blogging love-fest. I’m starting to hear otherwise (not just from you). At least if I do go next year, I’ll make sure I don’t have super high expectations–one million new readers and a book deal 🙂

  5. Jenny permalink
    August 17, 2010 1:13 PM

    Wow! Sounds like they could use you next year 🙂

  6. August 17, 2010 1:33 PM

    Everyone has a different experience at these conferences, and it is good to hear from someone who had some issues. You mostly only hear from the insiders who have a great time because they know everyone — or are the ones throwing the parties. Even the BlogHer organizers must realize that there is always room for improvement. I hated the hotel. It was sterile and very unfriendly, and didn’t help create a community atmosphere. Hoping San Diego is more intimate. That said, it is the once a year opportunity to meet your peers.

  7. August 17, 2010 1:35 PM

    Glad to hear an honest take. I will say I am surprised about the lack of ‘teaching’. Glad you would go again though. Can’t wait to read your other posts!

  8. August 17, 2010 1:37 PM

    Hey, thanks for making those of us who stayed home feel better! Once I get good at talking to rocks, I might try BlogHer. (I’m actually a little shy @ those kinds of things!)

  9. August 17, 2010 3:51 PM

    I’m not even close to ever attending one of those things, but I follow the chatter on twitter. From all accounts, it was the end all be all of blogging. Kind of made me nauseous to tell you the truth.
    So you’ll understand why I am loving your blog post. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wish you’d had a better time, but I’m glad to hear someone be completely honest about the goings on at the big event.

  10. August 17, 2010 4:51 PM

    I also appreciate your honesty. I keep reading all these “fluff” posts and also the other end of the spectrum: I was crying because nobody talked to me. All were full of emotion, but didn’t really talk about what it was like. This is a fantastic post for someone looking forward to going next year in SD.

  11. August 17, 2010 5:30 PM

    We were in similar sessions…humor was fabulous, but I agree nothing organized regarding humor writing. I liked The Bloggess session, mostly because I wanted to see her in person and she didn’t disappoint. In fact I think you were sitting one person down from me in the front row of that session.

    I had a similar feeling about the event. It was not what I had hoped but it was my first BlogHer and I think my expectations were unrealistic. I did feel some of my sessions were very helpful and well run, for example the Photography session, “How to take great pictures”. Others weren’t great, I walked out of the Monetization session feeling it was not what I had hoped.

    I am hopeful next year is better and I am more realistic and prepared. Thanks for sharing your experience, excellent post.

  12. August 17, 2010 7:31 PM

    I’m sorry that some of it wasn’t more positive for you. I look forward to reading some of your additional posts. I think your perspective seemed fair and reasonable.

    Glad to have you back 🙂

  13. August 17, 2010 8:38 PM

    Interesting commentary on the convention. Like Jenny mentioned above, maybe you can give some consultation to the event planners for future sessions. Hopefully next year they will be more organized and take your advice about the location of the event. The classes that you attended sounded like they had the potential to be amazing; many of the titles really piqued my interest. I hope to one day attend one of these events; no worries, I will be the other one chatting with the rock…

    Hope to meet you one day! Thanks for the candid review.

    ZippyChix4

  14. August 17, 2010 9:17 PM

    I know I can count on you for the real scoop. From all the bloggers I really respect in the blog universe, I hear this same thing. It’s really not everything it’s cracked up to be. As an even planner, I give your perspective even more credence.

    Thanks for giving us your insightful take on things and girl, if I ever go, (which probably won’t happen, I’d rather opt for a writer’s conference), I will find you and we will wear our heels together as we walk down the streets of the city, looking for trouble wherever we can find it.

  15. August 17, 2010 10:14 PM

    Who’s in charge of this thing? Writing so fabulously is one thing. Organizing is another. Sounds to me like you’ve got a year to get these folks to get it together. I love your writing.

  16. August 18, 2010 6:34 AM

    About the keynotes: At other conferences that I have been to, the keynotes are scheduled at a specific time, separate from everything else, including meals. By holding the keynote almost during the meal time, and in the same room, with people sitting at round tables rather than rows facing the stage, BlogHer was just asking for people to pay more attention to their conversations than to the keynotes.

    About the sessions: I was a speaker on a panel on Saturday. The format of the sessions was intentionally loose in structure. The moderators met with the group on a conference call and exchanged emails in preparing questions in advance. However, the instructions from BlogHer were that audience participation was the most important thing and to encourage questions throughout the entire panel. I agree with you that a little more structure and education would be nice, and I expressed that in the online survey BlogHer has for the conference. I also think more care should be taken in choosing accomplished moderators who can lead a panel well.

    About the unfriendliness: I had a very different experience than you had. For one thing, I was there with my friends, so I didn’t actually spend much time alone until Saturday afternoon. However, we talked to everyone we met, stood next to, sat next to, waiting in line with… and, with only a few exceptions, everyone was friendly (you included!). I can’t think of a single explanation for this difference in experiences. I am glad you’ll be going to the next one and I hope you have a better time.

    (This was my second time at BlogHer.)

  17. amberpagewrites permalink
    August 19, 2010 9:11 AM

    Can I just say that I really wanted to text you and meet up, but once I got there and saw all the people, I started thinking, “well, they probably have better things to do than talk to me.” In other words I got totally shy and closed myself off.

    I agree with 90 percent of this—although I did manage to really connect with a few women. I was afraid to be too critical in my posts, because my employer helped pay (and they read my blog, damn it), so I have to be PC.

    I hope the peeps at BlogHer read your post and learn from it. Because you are right on (but I don’t think I’ll go next year. It was just…too much).

  18. August 19, 2010 12:52 PM

    I thought I was so prepared for BlogHer. I had attended 4 other conferences in the last year. I felt ready to go. Boy was I wrong. I was overwhelmed and emotional. It was just soooooo big.

  19. August 19, 2010 8:02 PM

    Oh Amy, I’m just reading this now. Wish I bumped into you. We could have had a good laugh. I try to focus on the positive aspects of the conf, like meeting a handful of quality people, but I agree with your assessment 100%. Thing is, I kind of expected it. I won’t bother putting anyone down but I was definitely shocked by how dismissive a few bloggers were. It was a good wake-up call. Blogging is just like business, without the salary and bonus LOL!

  20. August 21, 2010 2:11 PM

    My expectations were pretty low. In fact, the main reason I went was to see my blogging babe friends and meet some new ones – like YOU! Which I am so glad 18 texts and 3 Tweets later I was finally able to find you! But I get what you’re saying and agree with most of it. That’s why we have TwitHer in February. It leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy – PROMISE.

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