r's note: This is part two in a series of blogs I am writing about my experience at BlogHer.
Read Part I here.
For weeks leading up to BlogHer there were Facebook groups dedicated to getting ready for the big event. The women (and a lone man, I think I recall) waxed excitedly about the event, meeting up with friends, questions about New York and transportation.
The BadAlso in a running thread in the group: which parties people were being invited to, what people were wearing, how much swag people expected to bring back. Good or bad, I was all over it. For years I have watched the swag videos with envy as blogger after blogger would share their haul: jeans, nails polish, coupons, cleaning supplies, toys, electronics. I would be lying if I said that wasn't a part of wanting to go. I love me some swag and I realize that admitting it is a blogging no-no but that's the truth.
The UglyBUT the more I read the more anxious I was becoming...New shoes? New clothes? I was worrying about finishing projects at work and new duds were the last thing on my list! My anxiety hit an even higher level when it dawned on me that I was taking the bus to New York. Now I'm not above a bus but I was so anxious as I worried about getting lost, carrying too much swag (remember that time I went to Book Expo and had 85 pounds worth of books?) plus my vision of New York is colored by the countless episodes of Law & Order that I watch.
My nerves were SHOT!
Once I got to BlogHer, the trip was actually great. I had friends who let me stay with them and there was merely a trip up or down the elevator to get to where I needed to be. The clothes I over packed were not needed as there were several people who truly came as they were and were comfy and stylish (there were some fashion bloggers present who were dressed to the nines. I didn't feel pressure to step up my game but from their influence have only worn jeans twice this week).
Meeting online friends in real life
The GoodMost people that I met in real life were wonderful. Actually everyone that I met was really nice. I do admit to feeling so totally overwhelmed that I could barely manage an awkward "Hi" before I was dashing away to something else.
I was so excited to put faces to names and meet people I have only known through e-mails and other social media outlets. Again, if I was weird and aloof please don't think it's my norm. I mean I am a mess, worrying about what people think or that people will think that I am less than what I need to be. (No one thought anything like this).
The BadThis conference was like some version of Craig's Lists missed connections. Please to note: in the future make sure you plan a TIME and place to meet up with your online peeps. It took me days to track down Fadra (my second sister), Michelle from the Parent du Jour and I STILL have not met two twitter friends bitchylibrarian and winelibrarian.
The UglyOh! Mah! Gawd! The feeling of being lonely. The crushing feeling of invisibility in a crowd of people. Sure I had friends there and made more friends and even seemed to be having a great time but there were moments when I craved having that person that I could just be me with. The person who I didn't have to smile and grin and act like it was all good when I really knew I wanted to do other things.
I was fortunate enough to room with Brandi, Christine, and Jasmine and was able to share some of my feelings but really, really, really I was so overcome with a feeling of alone that I wanted to be alone to feel better.
The Expo HallHaving heard and read so much I was totally looking forward to the Expo Hall. I was eager to meet brands that wanted to work with me and, yes, eager to get that fabled swag bag of goodies. I was able to meet with brands and that was cool. What wasn't cool was the behavior exhibited by some who must have also seen the swag blog write ups and videos.
The People I ran into or observed were:
1) The Grab and Go: These are the people who mosey up to the brands with no intention of listening to their product information and would just, well grab and go. Which I dig because it sucks to get stuck behind
2) The monopolizer: I applaud people who take the time to listen to what the brands say. Having been on the other side of the table I get so annoyed when I have people only interested in grabbing whatever free thing they want off of my table. But I also get annoyed when people monopolize the time of the table host. Yes. We all love pudding but we don't need to hear about your kid's cat's affinity for pudding. Actually, that is probably a cute story but when you've been there telling it for ten minutes, all bets are off.
These people are better than
3) The pitch hustler: These are the people who ear hustle your pitch to the brands and then jump in and try to *borrow* your idea. For real. I dig that no idea is truly original but c'mon...you are not also a children's librarian who wanted to encourage your library kids to do (fill in the blank).
Let's not forget the
4) It's for a friend. I will not lie. I have oft asked for a second something because having a nephew close in age with The Bee means an inevitable feeling of mommy guilt when the other watched and observes what the other has. Does that mean that I am entitled to a second...? No but if its offered its cool. There wasn't too much bad behavior but there was the slick "oh! I need to get one for my friend even after the booth host will say no or the grab and go.
The SwagAfter BlogHer there were a few reactions from my friends in my social media groups who wrote about the event. There were a myriad of responses and posts and they ranged from how new bloggers shouldn't go to BlogHer (?) to how horrible people were in the expo halls. Let me try and word this so that I can help myself understand...WHY?
Why is it that one person's opinion becomes the voice of the "mom" bloggers? Why do people think that because they are so over the swag, the thrill of being approached by brands and that excitement that comes with new content or review items that we are less writers than they are? Who determines what is acceptable behavior? I'm not throwing shade on any one person but dang! For months I was inundated with what private parties were going to be happening, where the swag suites were, invite only exclusive events and I wanted in. I rationalized that as a newbie I may not be privy to all that was happening and I was fine with that but when I heard about the bloggers heading to this special party, when I saw the tweets about this exclusive event, I felt left out.
The GoodBlogging has thrust me out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn new experiences. Instead of my norm I am able to take part in fresh activities and discover things that I would have never been exposed to. The swag that was shred with me were things I NEVER would have thought to experience and I was grateful for the connections I made.
The BadThe immediate gratification of opening up a swag bag filled goodies is lovely, however as one of many of the bloggers NOT living in New York, getting home was a challenge. I would suggest offering bloggers coupons so that they are able to get the product once they are home.
The UglyI totally suffered from swag envy. I would see what so and so blogger had and think I didn't get that! I didn't see that! I would have loved to grab a few things for the library, The Bee, myself. I won't complain. I still got a great amount of things that will allow me content for a bit.
While it may sound like I'm whining and being a total wet blanket when it comes to the conference, I really did have a fantastic time. There was so much to see and do and I am excited to implement some changes in the blog, my blogging life and myself as a blogger.
Tomorrow: a miscellaneous hodgepodge of stuff that I need to still write about.