This was my first BlogHer conference, so let me share some of the things that I learned over the past few days.
My first day at BlogHer’12 started at HealthMinder Day. If you are a special-needs writer or blogger like me, you absolutely have to attend HealthMinder Day.
I attended sessions led by some outstanding special-needs bloggers, including Ellen Seidman, Julia Roberts, and Susan Senator.
Our sessions explored topics, such as Blogging about Your Special Needs Child, Becoming an Expert Advocate, and Overcoming Burnout: Replenishing Your Reserves. We learned from each other, shared our experiences, and yes we even cried during these sessions.
I also learned the importance of using humor to cope with people who stare at Angel when we are in public. I learned how important it is for me to take care of myself and to make sure that Angel is taken care of when his dad and I are no longer around. I am glad that we had these panels. I hope for more at the next conference because our community of special needs bloggers is growing.
By the second day, I felt like a BlogHer conference pro. I attended sessions that explored working with brands and pitching media outlets. I learned that I can do these things and still remain true to myself and my niche. I left asking myself: How can I effectively share Angel’s journey and highlight issues in the special-needs community?
The session on Leveraging Facebook and Twitter was an eye opener. I am now ready to utilize these tools effectively and grow my social-media presence.
The third day was my day to go tech. I attended the session on Advanced SEO for Bloggers. Mind you, I knew what SEO meant but I am hardly at an advanced level. Honestly, I am at the level below basic but I was up for the challenge.
My next session focused on Strength in Numbers: Forming and Using Online Organizations to Make Change. I learned a lot from some inspiring women on the differences they are making in the world through grassroots efforts and via the internet.
Lastly, I attended the session on How to Make an App. When I heard that it could cost between 80K and 140K to make a native app for my Web site, my brain shut down. I am not giving up on this but just shelving it for now. I did learn that most consumers of web content will soon be getting that content via mobile devices. I need to figure out how I can be on top of this growing trend and use it to share my message.
I admit that I left this session half way through and joined the session on How to Price and Value Services. I am glad that I did. I came out realizing the importance of knowing my worth and being able to quantify what I am offering.
- Bring business cards. If you are a blogger and do not have cards, get them now. You can get the fancy ones for networking and some cheap ones to drop in the fish bowls for giveaway entries.
- Get to your sessions 15-minutes early. They fill up fast.
- Attend the keynote addresses. Where else can you get inspired by speakers, such as President Obama, Dr. Pamela Peeke, Katie Couric, and Soledad O’Brien?
- Make sure you have a Twitter account. Twitter was the absolute best way to stay connected with fellow bloggers and to read highlights from various sessions, events, and speeches.
- Bring a bag with wheels to the conference. Why? There will be tons of swag and you will need somewhere to put it all without getting cramps in your hands and shoulders.
- Bring your phone, IPAD, or laptop charger. With all the data being consumed, these devices will die a thousand deaths and your charger will be a lifesaver.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Book a hotel room even if you live in the same city as the conference. Even though the conference was in New York and I live here, I could’ve saved a lot of time by not having to commute back and forth.
- Be social. I met some wonderful bloggers, brand representatives, and media professionals by initiating conversations. I surprised myself because starting a conversation with a stranger does not always happen naturally for me.
- Enter as many contests as you can. You never know, you just might get lucky like I did.
- Double check your conference booklet to ensure you received your free drink tickets. The Hilton drink prices were ridiculous.
- Don’t even think about counting calories. I do not remember the last time I ate so much great food but I have no regrets.
- Be ready to party.
My BlogHer’12 experience was wonderful and my preparation for BlogHer’13 Chicago begins. By God’s grace, I will be there.
Did you attend BlogHer’12? Please share your experience. If you did not, do you plan on attending next year?
I look forward to hearing from you.