Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BlogHer tips for newbies & what I would do differently next time

Last week I gave you a recap of the BlogHer'12 conference in New York City. Since it seems that many of you are planning on attending next year in Chicago, today I bring you my list of tips and things I wish I had done differently.
BlogHer12 tips, BlogHer tips, newbie tips BlogHer
BlogHer conference pass
My pass!
1. For the love of all that is holy, EAT
I heard so many people say that there is plenty of food everywhere and you'll be so full you'll never have to worry about paying for a meal all weekend. Well? Either there was a lot more food last time, or all these people live just fine on a sparse salad and luke-warm hors d'oeuvres. That's not me...ever. And definitely not at 33 weeks pregnant. Even if you're attending a handful of parties in one night or have sessions all afternoon, make time to get food. You never know what events will have food worth eating. And whenever you are presented with food that looks good? Shovel everything possible in your face. You're welcome. On too many occasions I was wandering around like a ravenous Pregaurus Rex in search of my next meal. Not how I wanted to spend my time.

2. Less can be more
I scheduled a lot of parties, sessions, and events and I found myself running from one to the next. I felt like I could never sit and relax no matter where I was because I was always thinking about when I'd have to leave. Confession: I got caught up in the excitement of snagging invites to all of the coveted private parties, so much so that I never took time to focus on whether said parties were a good fit for me. I blog about parenting, babies, and pregnancy, so why was I trucking my giant pregnant belleh almost a mile away to talk/learn about household cleaning products and homegoods in which I have absolutely no interest? Next time I'll focus on the few parties and events that truly make sense for me and my blog.

Froggy & the Mouse
Stephanie and me
3. Think about transportation ahead of time
Whether it's from the airport/train station to the hotel, or to various events and back, map out the locations and decide what is your best way to get where you need to go. If you decide a cab is your best bet? Find some buddies going to the same place at the same time and split it. Don't attempt to walk everywhere, especially at 33 weeks pregnant. It's just not comfortable. I walked more than a mile from Grand Central to the Hilton when I first arrived and I just about collapsed when I reached the hotel room. Not smart.

4. Talk to people
Even if this is out of your comfort zone, initiate a conversation with the person sitting next to you in a session, at lunch, or even waiting for the elevator. I didn't do enough of this. I was so {physically} uncomfortable and busy trying to get to my next event that I didn't take advantage of all of my opportunities to meet new people. Next time I plan on being much more talkative and outgoing.

Business cards, QR code
Business cards - fun fun fun!
5. Make the most of your alone time
Don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Again, this might be out of your comfort zone (it definitely was for me), but you'll be much happier with your experience if you focus on what it is that you want to do. Don't go to parties and sessions that might not interest you all that much just because your friend is going. You could likely end up resenting the fact that you just tagged along to something boring instead of going somewhere else fun, by yourself.

6. Set aside some time to sight see
Unless the host city is your hometown, try to come in a day early or leave a day late so that you'll have some time to explore. I didn't do this, and really wish I had. I lamented this fact as I rushed through Times Square to head to a party; there was no time to stop and check out all the crazy blinking lights. I didn't have any time for shopping or visiting museums, either. I was super jealous of Stephanie's Instagram feed of all the amazing places she went and things she saw.

7. Comfort is key
Wear whatever you are comfortable in; there is no dress code. Some people chose to be all fancy while others were in jeans and sneakers. Really, no one is paying all that much attention. Those sparkly 5 inch heels might be cute but no one cares that you're wearing them and you're probably just going to end up with blisters. I handed out many a blister band-aid to friends sporting heels ;)

McDonalds, CheeseburgHer
My CheeseburgHer hat!
8. Buy your pass early
When registration opens on September 1st, BlogHer offers early bird pricing, which this year was $198 for a full conference pass (as opposed to the regular $298 pricing). On top of that, for the first few weeks of the early bird pricing, there was also a 20% discount code! I haven't heard whether they'll be doing the same this year, but if they do? That's around $160 for your ticket. If you find that you can't end up going you can sell/transfer your ticket to someone else. Come May of this year, there were so many people looking to buy tickets bought at the early bird price, so you probably won't have any problem selling your ticket if plans change. I wish I had bought earlier, but luckily snagged someone else's {cheaper} one. Some details about passes: the full conference pass includes access to all sessions, breakfast and lunch, as well as the expo and parties. There is also an expo/party pass that doesn't include sessions and meals. It was $100 cheaper than the full conference pass this year, I believe.

9. Be selective on the swag
You are going to get tons of stuff. Bringing along an empty suitcase is a great idea, and even then it might not be enough to fit everything. I left behind almost half of what I received (I either gave it to friends or left it in the Swag Exchange that BlogHer sets up) and I still ended up with all of the below. Do you really need 5 stuffed animals? Can you pass on tote bag #8? I wish I had been a little more discerning, but I guess it's nice to know I'll never need to buy grocery bags ever again. Also? 6 sippy cups was probably overkill.

BlogHer12, free stuff
Some highlights - OnyaBaby carrier, Applecheeks cloth diaper, WeeUrban sleepsack, nursing cover, Waterbabies doll
10. Don't judge
People blog for different reasons. Don't judge or be condescending towards those who might have different goals than yours. BlogHer is for all levels of bloggers - for those who have no desire to make money from their blogs, to those who earn their living through blogging. Embrace and celebrate all - don't be a jerk :)

What questions do you have? About these points, or anything else BlogHer related? I'd love to help!

Thanks again to my wonderful sponsors Itzbeen and Simple Wishes for supporting my trip, and to Séraphine Maternity for keeping the baby bump in style ;)

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