Picture from the top of the SF Westin Saint Francis where the Blogher 08 Newbie Reception was held.
The primary reason I go to the BlogHer conferences is to meet the beautiful smiles of the bloggers behind the blogs I read. Best, I got to meet and hug some of my regular readers, and fellow fit/beauty bloggers whom many of you will recognize like:
- Zandria of Zandria.us
- Lisa of Workout Mommy
- Jennette Fulda aka Pasta Queen of Half of Me (We've met in person before, but this time I got to spend more time with her)
- Claire of 5 Resolutions to Transform the Fashion and Beauty Industries
- Sahar of Fat Fighter TV
- Jen of Semi-Charmed Wife
- Weetabix of Elastic Waist (I have absolutely sexy hair now because of her)
- Monique of Big Fat Deal
- Jessica Ashley, Editor of Healthy Living at Yahoo Shine
- Linda Sherman of It's Different for Girls
- Allese of Behind the Make Up (Allese is a regular reader who is just jumping into blogging and I'm spreading the word now although it's early because she's going to give a truly unique perspective on the illusion of beauty having worked in the modeling world.)
If I forgot someone, punch me and I'll update. I met many new people and discovered so many new blogs for me to add to my RSS feed.
How my panel went
My session "Coming Out Via Blog" about personal issues went well and we had a good turn out. There will be podcasts of all the BlogHer 08 sessions up soon, so I'll let you know when. Thank you all who came! My fellow panelists were such fabulous ladies, and I was really honored to share the stage with Sarah Dopp of Dopp Juice, JenB of Jen & Tonic, and Jess Howard of Drowning in Kids. And we were so fricking lucky to have the magnificent Susan Mernit be our moderator.
As a behind the scenes look, I will share that on Thursday at the speakers training, I had a medium panic attack. Something I have never shared on BISJ is that I also suffer from panic attacks and bouts of agoraphobia which started after experiencing date rape, and which are common challenges amongst victims of sexual assault. So, doing this speaking gig was especially challenging because not only was I talking about my bulimia experience for the first time in public, I was also dealing with some of my panic and agoraphobic issues.
The calm behind the panic
Now, the only reason I mention the panic attack is because the experience of it showed me how loving and understanding people can be when you are open about sensitive and embarrassing (from the sufferers point of view) things. At the speaker training after having my panic attack, I truly just wanted to run home and not do my speaking gig. I talked to Elisa and Jory, two of the founders of BlogHer, and they gave me the best pep talk ever. I felt kind of embarrassed for behaving like high maintenance, but I did feel much better after their boost and hugs.
Literally when my session was done, Elisa was around and asked me how things went. And at the closing reception Jory asked me about the session too. These ladies had so much on their minds with this HUGE conference, that I was truly shocked that they even remembered my panic and took the time to ask how I was after. Really, I fell in love with these two women, and it showed me what great character they have. As well, I told Susan about my potential to have a panic attack on stage, and she and I created a hand signal which would trigger Susan to immediately move attention away from me if I started to feel panicky. Truly, never under estimate the power of the simple act of asking someone how they are because it can make a big difference in someone's world.
I spoke to many of the panel attendees after, and it was wonderful to hear that my story and the story of Sarah, Jen, and Jess could help people. I would not risk having a public panic attack on stage for any other reason but to do something that I know could help others. The big theme that came out of the session was that having the bravery to come out on your blog helps others feel less alone, and again, that is why I love blogging, the power to comfort and help others on this journey we call life.
The sessions I got the most out of
The two sessions I got the most out of was "Turning Blog into Book" and "Women Entrepreneurs". I'm working on turning BISJ into a book, so that session was most helpful, and in the "Women Entrepreneurs" it was fabulous to just be in a room with kindred spirits who fully understand my pain and joys as a female entrepreneur and blogger.
Jennette was a speaker in the "Turning Blog into Book" to talk about how she landed her book deal for her book, "Half-Assed" the tale of how she lost 200 pounds. It's so cool to know a blogger who got a book deal, and because Jennette has become a friend now, I was was so incredibly proud and happy for her. If you want to help out a fellow fit blogger, buy her book. Amazon is a good place to go buy Half-Assed.
As well, Ani Babaian one of my former Microsoft co-workers and SEO specialist, and blogger of Live with Ani has a new book called, "The IT Girl's Guide to Becoming an Excel Diva" Ani has a talent for explaining complex technology in makeup metaphors. It really is a gift.
From a single childless blogger's perspective
The last BlogHer I went to was in 2006, and I have to say that I enjoyed myself way more this time because there was more content and variety. Jory, Elisa, and Lisa are making the conference better and better every year. The thing that could make the conference better is to have a better balance of topics that would appeal to single women with no children, or married women who decide to not have kids or don't have kids yet for whatever reason. The conference was very heavy on the parenting theme, and I would have enjoyed at least one session that was dedicated to the "fabulous and single."
There was one session about being childless and the blogosphere, and I didn't go, but from what I heard from those who did, the heavy emphasis on the mom themes at BlogHer was something that made many without kids feel a bit isolated. I was going to go to that session, but changed my mind at the last minute because I'm kind of feeling like an open wound on the subject right now. To be honest, seeing all the mom's bonding together at the show was a wee ouchie for me because a part of me does feel some fear that motherhood (the biological way) might not happen for me. I'm grappling with that possible reality now that I'm in my 40's but that's a whole other blog post.
Having been an event organizer myself, I can see the challenge in balancing content for sessions as well as garnishing sponsors. For an event like BlogHer, it is very easy to get companies who make mom targeted products and services to be sponsors because where else are you going to find in one concentrated area a whole group of mom blogging influencers.
Advertisers who are missing HUGE opportunity
Putting on my old marketing hat, the companies that need to get themselves in front of the BlogHer audience are the typically male messaged products which more and more women are buying themselves now like cars, tires, home improvement, insurance, and personal finance. I don't know why Home Depot or Lowe's is not all over the BlogHer conference. From a fit blogger perspective, I really think companies like Nike, Addidas, or any of the other fitness product companies missed out on a big opportunity. I also found it strangely odd that not one of the woman's magazines did anything at BlogHer08. Prehaps, that's because the web is killing their paper subscription business. (Update: My bad. Redbook had magazines in the conference bag which I didn't get so that's why I missed it, and Stacy Morrison Editor-in-Chief of Redbook was one of the keynote speakers. And there were some parenting mags, but I missed those because I didn't take any of the mom targeted giveaways. I guess I was expecting to see the likes of Allure, Lucky, Glamour, or even any of the bride, fitness, or Martha Stewart mags.)
What I found shocking is that there weren't any kitchen suppliers there like GE, Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, or OXO. There were soooo many food bloggers at BlogHer08, it was a target rich environment.
Michelin was a big sponsor, and I'm telling you more women will be looking at their tires because hey, they are paying attention to our needs. I recently had to buy tires myself, and I didn't have a clue. But after talking to the Michelin folks, I'm definitely going to look at them next time I need tires.
Until next year!
The closing reception at Macy's was absolutely brilliant because we got to sip wine and eat fancy hors devours amongst, designer shoes, bags, and lingerie. How wonderful to end the conference amongst pretty fun things with truly fascinating people. Thank you to everyone I met at Blogher 08 in San Francisco. See ya next year!