I have never attended any conference besides an academic one. The experience was surreal. It was like walking around inside a television and jumping from commercial to commercial. Many bloggers were angling to get some face time with product and brand representatives. I stayed on the sidelines mostly but my outgoing sister encouraged me to meet some representatives she thought I would like.
Vanessa had arrived in San Diego early and had made best friends with every single vendor in the hall it seemed. I met the women behind Clickin Moms and they were sweet. The Dr. Scholl's people were handing out Fast Flats and they saved my life! When people say be prepared to walk at Blogher they are not exaggerating. My feet were killing me before noon.
I am not a super commercialized blogger. No one is throwing Ford Explorers at me or anything so I was not interested in much that the Expo Hall to offer besides having my picture taken with the Jimmy Dean guy. LOVE him. Nicest guy in the world and he complimented my camera.
Lessons Learned: Wear sneakers. Do not eat Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches when you have no gum in your purse and you have people you want to meet (they are delicious though). If you are interested in directly networking with the brands in attendance make sure to allow yourself at least a few hours at the Expo Hall. The popular booths get really crowded and a lot of bloggers are 'bout it 'bout it like Master P when it comes to their business and won't move aside quickly.
Swag is interesting because most of the items you are given are not special enough to make you run through the halls of the hotel screaming but they aren't crappy enough for you to part with them instantly. If that makes any sense at all.
In the official Blogher swag bag there was a box that said Waterpik and boy were we excited. Vanessa and I were all "Mannn my gums are gonna sparkle tonight!". No. This is what was in the box. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a neti pot and its associated accessories but when one has hyped themselves up for a water flosser there is no coming back from there. First world problem for sure, but *that* would have been something I would have squealed over. Nerd.
I made some executive decisions and only brought home items that I already use or need. I have mentioned a million times that we live in student housing and there is barely room in this joint for another junebug so I have to be picky. I did bring home some fabulous coupons and Lia of Purex left me a fabulous special Purex Insider swag bag that was full of wonderful stuff I already use. It was very thoughtful.
HTC gave me a phone and I reviewed their Flyer but I will write more about that later. That kicked major ass. I am a hardcore Mac geek but HTC's phones are pretty sweet.
Lessons Learned: Even if you are picky you will want to take some things home. Leave room in your suitcase or be prepared to pay $50+ to ship your items home like I did. Do not think that you will be given a Price is Right showcase caliber bag of free stuff. Most of it is promotional material and free samples.
My roomie Joanna couldn't make it and while I was disappointed I was relieved that she did not come. Blogher would not be fun as a pregnant woman. That is a brutal flight and it would not have been worth the suffering for a short three-day trip. Joanna and I plan to tear up NYC at Blogher 2012 so I have that to look forward to.
I did not get to spend as much time with some bloggy friends as I would have liked but Katie partied with my sister, Beth spent some time with my mom and sister prior to my arrival, Christa ended up flying to Newark, NJ with me, Becca hung out at the airport with me, Emily was busy working whenever I was around but it was fantastic meeting her in person finally, Allie attended the Disney Baby Brunch with me, Jennifer spotted me cash for breakfast when my frazzled self left my wallet at the hotel, and Amanda kept me company in my room and at Starbucks when Cmoney was too cranky to leave my side.
Huge shout out to my friend Danielle. She has been a friend for years and I was elated that she was attending the conference. She is a real friend, the kind of girl that never leaves your side no matter how many miles apart you are. I love her.
Alena is the biggest doll known to man and Krystal is a fun little dynamo. Suz and Miranda are exactly like their internet selves gracious, adorable and kind. Kristin is pretty and was so busy I did not have time to do much but hug her and run, Meagan is friendly and warm, Maya is an instant best friend, Jill is just as pretty and delightful in person, Nikki was hilarious and pregnant, Suzanne was somehow even better in person, so pretty and kind, Amy (my Simpsons loving internet soul mate) was everything I had dreamed she would be and I wish I could have spent more time with everyone.
Tonia is delightful and ended up flying with me, Christa, and CecilyK. I want to give a special shout out to Cecily. She is a massively talented writer and social media diva with a huge following but prior to Blogher I had not heard of her. She is the nicest woman alive.
Cecily got up mid-flight to console a crying baby and give a frazzled mom's arms a break and is my hero. A woman kind enough to stand for forty-five minutes in the back of an airplane to help a stranger is a woman I want in my social media life.
There are many women that I wish I had gotten the opportunity to meet. Too many to name. You know who you are and I will be looking for you next year.
Thank you all for reading. I hope there are some useful tidbits for you within all that rambling.