Why BlogHer is such a big deal—-to Katie Couric, Martha Stewart and me

Update:  A few hours after I posted this, BlogHer announced that President Obama will address the conference via live video–making it  even more a big deal than I thought.

As Katie Couric explains, “It would take a pretty fantastic  group of people to convince me to spend a Saturday afternoon during the dog days of summer in a hotel conference room. “

Probably Martha Stewart and Christy Turlington would agree, just as I do, about leaving the cool beach breezes of Carmel for steamy Manhattan.  Yet we’re all there, on the long list of speakers at BlogHer ’12, joining 4500 bloggers coming  to New York this week.

Created in 2005 by three women as a gathering for women who blogged, BlogHer has multiplied in size—and importance– every year since.   Now a successful website, advertising network, TV channel, plus four smaller conferences, the annual BlogHer conference is the jewel in the crown—where bloggers, marketers and sponsors come to connect.  (Personally the sponsor connections I prefer making are those involving something chocolate. )

Twitter , blogs and social media channels have been buzzing about BlogHer for weeks.  There’s advice,  list of tips-— even lists of the lists of tips.  

So what’s such a big deal about BlogHer?

I can’t tell you.

Seriously.   There’s something for everyone; so BlogHer means different things to different people.

With several tracks on the official program, some people stick to the amazing amount of information offered in the sessions and never leave the conference site.  Others never set foot in the conference itself,  too busy with all the sponsored events going on outside.    Some bloggers come just to be wined and dined.  The swag is legendary; people bring empty suitcases to cart it all home.  Then there are the parties.  One year my son stopped by my hotel room in Chicago and ran into drunk women roaming the halls; I’m sure it felt like his college dorm.  So there’s that too.

This is my fourth BlogHer—technically four and a half if you count the year I had just started blogging, showed up without a ticket and couldn’t get in the door.    By the next year I was clued in enough to make plans ahead of time.   Only beforehand, most of the clues were about what shoes everyone was bringing to wear.

When I got there, no one was looking at shoes; they were looking at name tags, trying to figure out if you looked like your Twitter avatar. Because after all, that’s how many attendees  first get to know each other—online, not IRL ( In Real Life–if you don’t know already— OMG).   If you think online connections are superficial or meaningless, you’d be missing the whole point; missing the heart and soul of what the event is and what brought it into existence—the blog.

A blog is where you can develop and express your voice and your thoughts; where it’s ok, even important to be transparent;  where being your authentic self is probably the best thing you can do.   And it’s the same at Blogher—whether on the panels, the audience , the parties, the hallways.   I can’t think of anywhere else such a diverse group of people with different opinions come together in one place with a common interest.

So my best advice at BlogHer is to do what people do on their blogs:  to be open.  If you come with an open mind and open heart, BlogHer will fill you up.

Jammed with thousands of people, somehow BlogHer has managed to preserve the feeling of intimacy and freedom that exists on the internet. Some people might disagree but based on my experience, what’s special is that feeling of openness, of acceptance, of knowing that this group gives voice to such a range of thoughts, feelings and opinions—and even more importantly, that people LISTEN.

The voices that make the most impact aren’t necessarily the ones that shout the loudest; or promote themselves the best.  BlogHer honors some of those voices every year—selecting a few bloggers who read posts at what many consider the best part of BlogHer, a session called Voices of the Year.  While you’re sobbing or laughing till you pee in your pants, those voices make you aware –and sometimes in awe– of the talent and the truths that are shared.

In a world where the Kardashians are the gold standard of success,  for me BlogHer represents a kernel of reality, a source of inspiration, an island of sanity,  where people are appreciated not for what they look like or what they have,  but for who they are.  Sometimes that feels like a rare thing.

And for me that’s a big deal.   Maybe Martha and Katie understand the power of that, too.

Posted on the Huffington Post

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  1. says

    Wish I could be there this year, but look forward to hearing all about it from you afterwards. Relish every single new connection. As my recent RTW volunteer trip taught me – you never know when a new soul sister is just around the corner.

  2. says

    I’m big fans of Lisa Stone and Elisa C. founders of Blogher. So disappointed to miss this conf this year, and will be living vicariously through you! Please do share fun learnings/experiences through and after the big event.

    Founder, GOTRIbal

  3. says

    It was so nice to meet you at the “Blogging into MidLife” session at BlogHer.

    I’m a writer who recently started blogging as a way to get back into writing after my twins (now 17 months old) were born. I went to “MidLife” because I’m on the young end of mid-life (having had my children on the late side) and because I’m always interested in the possibilities that lie ahead. “MidLife” was one of my favorite sessions — largely because of your contribution to it!

    Thanks for all you shared — both there and here. I look forward to reading more!

  4. says

    Apologies for my time lag; and thanks so much for commenting. BlogHer was wonderful as always; as you said there are always wonderful connections to make—with old friends and new. Nothing better in my opinion. Hope to see you there next year.

  5. says

    I too greatly admire Elisa, Lisa and Jory, the founders of BlogHer; they have done an amazing job. The conference gets bigger and better every year although it has changed a lot even in the few years I’ve attended. Definitely plan a few posts ; thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. says

    So glad to hear from you! And so glad that you enjoyed our panel; I was thrilled that BlogHer put this topic on the schedule and that so many women in “mid-life” (however you define it) attended. I also feel optimistic about all the possibilities ahead personally and for our age group—I truly think this is a fabulous time of life for most women; yet so many are afraid to get here. haha I hope you’ll stay in touch and I’ll check out your blog—very impressed that with 17-month old twins you can even think about blogging, much less find time to do it! Good for you; and thank you for commenting.

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