Remember when a hashtag was a pound sign? Tweets, Vines, Snap Chats, Instagrams, YouTube and Pinterest oh my! So many forms of social media and so little time to learn new tricks.
I took a chance on Blogher ’14. I had no idea what to expect from a blog conference. I have been going to medical conferences for 30 years. Medical conferences are regimented and all about learning new techniques, reviewing the latest research and taking home practical knowledge to implement in practice.
Blogher ’14 was none of those things. It was closer to a convention in my mind. Lots of cheerleading and motivational celebration. That’s not a bad thing, it was fun. The keynote speakers were fascinating celebrity bloggers who have written books, started multi-million dollar news and advertising blogs, used their blogs for freelance writing and advocacy. I mean Seriously Famous Bloggers.
Blogging is big business.
The core program was dominated by inspirational speeches about Blogher’s history and it’s bright future. I was surprised by the depth and reach of bloggers. The potential for growth in advertising revenue for bloggers alone was mind blowing to me. The multiple layers of social media platforms to reach out to consumers was staggering. I had no idea before the conference, how much power bloggers have as advocates for changing our world. Women bloggers are weighing in on advertising campaigns. What works and what doesn’t work? They are influencing what, why and when consumers buy products from automobiles to kitchen appliances, every hour of every day, from their home computer or mobile device. Advertisers are reaching out to bloggers as experts and influencers. They are looking for content, brand promotion, reviews and traffic. Executives from EBay, Twitter, and Huffington and Blogher were there in full force. AARP and Midlife Boulevard recruiters were listening to and engaging blog writers, looking for content, advertising affiliates and market influencers. Major corporations like McDonalds, Merck, Bayer, Go Daddy, Hair Infinity, Lysol, and many others sponsored parties, swag, free mani-pedis, and free technical advice all in an attempt to attract bloggers who drive Internet and mobile marketing and sales. There is big money in social media advertising. Who knew? As I said, I knew none of this before Blogher.
Women Bloggers are changing the world.
I was especially fascinated by women bloggers who are changing conversations in politics, swaying politicians, setting agendas and getting seats at the tables of progress. Hilary Clinton answered tweeted questions for Blogher recently. That’s some political influence. In my field of women’s health, there are influencers talking about sex, addiction, abuse, lose, psychiatry, wellness and illness. Good or bad, Big Pharma is definitely using social media.
The Upside: I gained an understanding of the industry, I was motivated to improve or shall we call this paralyzed by feeling inadequate, I’m not sure how this will play out. I met two recruiters who would like to take a look at my medical essays. Bonus, Blogher knows how to throw an after hours party.
The Downside: I misunderstood the focus of this particular conference and I was disappointed that it wasn’t a “learn how to blog” conference. The cost was reasonable for me but may not be a good use of money for new bloggers on a strict budget. Spend your money on a “learn to blog” conference and go to Blogher when you have an extra $500 plus travel expenses to spare. There is a real danger of coming away feeling very small and insignificant as a blogger if you compare your work to the veteran uber bloggers. Yes, I did this. I’m an overachiever even when I’m being irrational and overly self-critical. It’s kind of like comparing yourself to an Olympic athlete when you only play pickle ball at the local rec center. (Note to self: There is no comparison between a newbie blogger and the veteran star bloggers. Most bloggers are more like you and YOU ARE ENOUGH!)
Bottom Line: Go to a Blogher convention to network when you have a firm plan and a following.
I would suggest that if you want a “how to” conference that you find a conference that is specific to your area of expertise; i.e. food, photography, writing or memoir and confirm that the agenda meets your personal needs. Go to sites like Blogher, Midlife Boulevard, Foodista and the Huffington Report to see what others are writing, tweeting, instagraming, vining (video), pinning and talking about. Content is King. If you are passionate about your subject, have a genuine voice, have a truth to say, want to influence politics or industry then you will find your people and thrive in blogging. Be kind and sincere. Reach out to other bloggers and bring others up with you by commenting and liking.