BlogHer 2016 was a bastion of both happiness and predictability.
Remarkably, 2016 marks my 14th year of blogging. Sometimes I can hardly believe it. But at BlogHer 2016, I really felt it – in ways both good and bad. The good: Walking up and down the halls, I ran into a lot of familiar faces and brand reps; people from all over whom I’ve seen at conferences over the years. Lots of smiling, excited hugs and selfies. The bad: A tipping point has hit — blogging is not what it used to be. We live in an economy of “influencers” now and straight-blogging doesn’t seem to mean much anymore.
Why I Really Loved BlogHer
- I know a lot of people! And it was AWESOME to see them. I prioritized hugs, hugs and photos.
- My tribe. I am part of a “Blogger Tribe” and a lot of them were also at the Conference. I was at my happiest with these women.
- Hewlett Packard. When Chris Lam (What I Run Into) texts you and says “come over here,” all you should reply with is “Okay.” In this instance it meant I got to spend time in the HP suite, which was absolutely lovely, and I got to take home my very own HP Deskjet Compact All-in-one Photo Printer. I AM SO EXCITED! I never get invited to the “cool kids” table at blog conferences so this was a massive treat. The HP reps were so wonderful, and I am very grateful.
- Mayim Bialik and Tig Notaro. There were a lot of celebrities present at BlogHer. These two were my favorite. They are smart, talented, provocative women who are worthy of the term “role model.”
- My smart friends on panels. Seeing Xenia (Raised by Culture) talking about politics and social media and seeing Anne teaching people about Pinterest marketing was wonderful. I only had a few minutes to spend at Tiffany Romero’s media kit workshop but I still learned a ton in that short time. I mean, I know my friends are the smartest, but now a few more people do, too.
What I Didn’t Like About BlogHer
- Greedy swag hoarders. There I was, listening to a very smart woman from the AdCouncil talking about all the causes bloggers could potentially align themselves with, when a blogger interrupted to whisper to me “don’t worry, I’m not cutting in, I just heard there were free shirts here.” I find that sentiment and motivation to be far too present at blog conferences.
- Believe it or not, the biggest trainwreck at the Kim Kardashian keynote lunch was not a Kardashian. It was the mismanaged lunch preparation and the behavior of incredibly rude, tacky bloggers fighting over plates, which were in short supply.
- I loved Tig Notaro’s event — we got to watch the pilot episode of her new Amazon series, “One Mississippi.” But it took 20 minutes to figure out how to stream the show. Did no one think to put it on a DVD? Or do a test run? And she was in the room. People were snickering at the horrid tech as I was slumping down in my seat, embarrassed to be there.
- The Expo Hall. Dear lord, what happened, BlogHer? This used to exist in a convention center, now it exists in a ballroom. With some really unappealing, unrecognizable brands, might I add. Even more sad, less than halfway through Saturday, some of the brands had packed up and gone home.
What Was Predictable About BlogHer
- Cliques. I saw a few posts and tweets about unfriendly people at BlogHer 2016. It’s a heartbreaking truth. I learned at my very first conference that this is the reality of attending these things. People hang out with the people they know and I’ve found that is the only way I meet new people — through the people I know. There will always be “mean girls” and “popular girls” in a giant crowd of women. I say that as fact, not as a judgement.
- There was never enough water; there weren’t any snacks between meals. And what there was, was only in one ballroom.
- The sponsors are still very mom-heavy. Lots of breakfasts and activities did not apply to me. Many expo “hall” vendors wanted moms. Lots of take-home items were for kids. When I got home, I found fertility vitamins in my giftbag. (Not to mention Vagisil — ew.)
- The panels were filled with other bloggers and I don’t need to pay what BlogHer costs to hear from other bloggers. Especially as so many bloggers are monetizing and running their mini miedia empires as full-time gigs. We all know what we’re doing now. There has been a pervasive rumor for years that BlogHer may soon break out into smaller, more niche conferences and I think that would be a smart move. A conference for newbies, a conference for pros, a conference for full-timers or part-times. There’s a lot of ways to do it; to break the mold. This many years into the conference, it surprises me that as an organization, BlogHer still refuses to up their game and set themselves apart by recruiting notable brand reps, publicists, social media practitioners and marketers to present on panels (and yes, I’m really frustrated that the same people keep getting asked to speak year after year and I am always passed over). Blogalicious does this well. ConnectHER does this well.
From a business standpoint, I must concede that attending BlogHer is still a good experience. Buy the networking badge and collect business cards. Get a feel for the climate of the blogging universe. Walk the Expo and see what brands are doing to work with influencers. BlogHer is reliable for that. It’s clearly not the giant it used to be but it’s still valuable in this sense. And perhaps as they further integrate with SheKnows Media, we’ll see a new incarnation of the event in years to come that will blow our minds. I sincerely hope that is what happens.
After BlogHer 2014 in San Jose, I declared that I would never attend another BlogHer. I made an exception this year because it was here in Los Angeles. If it is elsewhere next year, which is likely because it does rotate, and it remains stagnant, I’m resting back on my post San Jose declaration again. But I had a really, really terrific time seeing friends and colleagues at BlogHer 2016.
Oh — and meeting Tiny. Obviously.