Just like it took me a few years to work up the courage to start Jet Lagged Kerry, it took me a couple years to work up the courage to attend my first BlogHer conference. I had heard about it around 2014 and knew it would be an awesome resource for me as a blogger at some point down the road. But I always made excuses: I wasn’t where I wanted to be as a blogger yet, I’ll go next year, it’s too expensive, it’s too far away, yada yada yada. But the best way to convince me to do anything is to convince me I’m getting a good deal, and in the beginning of 2017 I got a notification that the conference tickets were on sale for half price. So naturally, I finally bought a full conference pass for BlogHer ’17 in Orlando, Florida!
In case you’re not sure what the heck I’m talking about, BlogHer is a huge conference that takes place annually in the United States, bringing together female (and a few male) online content creators, social media influencers, entrepreneurs, and writers in all forms, to name a few. The idea of being around so many people who were doing what I so seriously wanted to do was… incredibly intimidating. I finally realized in the beginning of this year that my lack of self-confidence had been what stopped me from going all those years before.
What I didn’t realize until I actually arrived at the conference was that I was absolutely not alone. There were SO many bloggers there who were just as new to the scene and as unexperienced as I was. Full disclosure: it was terrifying for me to walk in to the conference alone every day. But I was right about one thing three years earlier – it was an AMAZING experience and it taught me so much about blogging and myself. Here’s a couple things I learned from that weekend that I feel like all BlogHer newbies need to know:
1. Like I said, it’s not just blogging stars and professionals
Blogging newbies, blogging pros, social media influencers with no blog, regular people with no blog, teenagers, retirees, journalists, entrepreneurs… and the list goes on. There was no reason for me to be so intimidated because I definitely wasn’t the only woman there with no idea what I was doing or what to expect.
2. You can survive the ENITRE weekend with just these 6 things
All you really need is a sweater, water bottle, notebook and pen, a stack of business cards, and a smart phone.
3. If you’re really excited about going to a specific session, get your butt in gear and get there early
Chances are there are a lot of other people excited about that one too, and taking notes while standing out in the hallway where you can barely hear what the speakers are saying is no fun.
4. A smile and a friendly attitude goes a LONG way
I’ve found that there’s no better way to conquer my social anxieties than by being really friendly. At BlogHer, I managed to make a lot of friends just by sitting next to someone and being nice.
5. While we’re at it, there’s no better way to create conversation than by asking people about themselves
Here’s my standard list of questions that I asked over and over at BlogHer: Where are you from? Do you have a blog? If so, what do you blog about? If you don’t have a blog, what do you do and why are you here? Is this your first BlogHer? What did you think about [insert BlogHer session/key note name here]? By the time/if I got through this list, the conversation was flowing on its own, generally. However…
6. Everyone is there for their own reasons, and don’t take anything personally
Everyone has difference communication preferences, and everyone is at BlogHer for their own reasons. Some people aren’t great and making conversation, and that’s alright – respect their space. Alternatively, if you hit it off with someone and they decide to go in a different direction than you, that’s alright too!
7. Take in every experience that you can
Saturday was the last night of the conference, and I was exhausted. I planned on just going back to my AirBnB instead of going to the closing party. But I reasoned with myself that I’d go for one drink and then leave – and I’m so glad I did. I ended up meeting some AWESOME ladies and had an absolute blast with them!
8. But at the same time, remember to take care of yourself
I felt guilty about leaving early on day two of the conference, but I was just so tired. Making connections, having conversations, and walking all day wore me out. The best option for myself and for everyone else in that moment was for me to go back to my AirBnB and take the night off. Sleepy, grouchy Kerry wouldn’t have been able to take in any more information or interact well with anyone! Trust your gut, and know when you just need to take care of yourself.
In all, the weekend was an exhausting but amazing experience. What I learned motivated me to throw everything I have in to my blog. I have already decided that, not matter where it is next year, I’m going. An added bonus? My mom is going to come with me next year!
Have you been to a BlogHer? Or do you have any questions about my experience? Let me know in the comments below!