This is YOUR BlogHer post… of what you wanted to know about BlogHer

Since I wrote a few posts on my first BlogHer experience last year and also already did a picture post of some fun from this year’s event, I figured I’d just keep my BlogHer breakdown easy. So,over on my Facebook page I asked what everyone ACTUALLY wanted to know and got some great questions to answer…

Talk about thermonuclear prostenigation. Then talk about how you had a sauuuuusaaaage. (Kari)
I googled “thermonuclear prostenigation” and it’s totally not even a real thing. So there. As for my sausage eating, one of my goals for visiting Chicago was to have an actual Chicago-style hotdog (I missed out when I visited Chicago last year).

I was super happy that after a long day of conference sessions and not enough food, my friends and I ended up at Portillo’s… which is apparently THE place to go for sausage and hotdogs. We may look all ladylike in this picture, but we devoured our meals like we hadn’t eaten in WEEKS. Oh and I yelled out something terribly inappropriate, because that’s how I roll.*


What surprised you about this year’s event (Bryanne)
How incredibly different my experience was from last year’s BlogHer. Last year I had only been writing my personal blog for about a year and a half and was still kind of flailing around. I hadn’t really made any contacts before the event, so much of the time I was trying to reach out to make new friends but I wasn’t very successful. I also had a 5 month old at home, so instead of going to the parties at night I retreated to my room and rolled around in the bed while reveling in my freedom.

This year I felt MUCH more prepared. Not only have I been writing my personal blog for longer, but I also launched a successful blog at my work. I made a few really good bloggy friends over the past year and was incredibly excited to spend some time with them in person. Not only did I attend every single session that I could (and took lots of notes), but I also went to almost ALL of the parties, including some sponsored parties. All in all, my experience was much better than my first year and I wish I could do it all over again next weekend. After I get some sleep, of course.

Will going to BlogHer make you a better blogger? Was it worth the time and expense (Lillian)
Short answer: yes.

I’ve been working in marketing for almost 15 years now, so believe me when I say I’ve been to A LOT of conferences. However, if you approach the event with an open mind you will get a lot out of it.

Obviously you try to attend conference sessions that will educate you in the areas where you are lacking. But sometimes it’s a good idea to go to a refresher on something you think you already know. Many times I will still get a couple good nuggets of information.

Even if I’m not learning anything from a session, I still study how the speaker is presenting the information. If they have a really great Power Point, I can get ideas on how I can improve our presentations at work. If the presenter has a really engaging ‘ice breaker’ I can then copy it for a work event. Let’s say everything about the presentation is horrible? Well then, I know what NOT to do!

I also really enjoyed the expo hall and not just because it was a crazy free-for-all of giveaways. It’s really cool to be able to see which booths are attracting visitors, which promotional items were snapped up first and who was successful at using iPads to build their mailing lists.

As for blogging specifically, my favorite session was on SEO with real-life tips on how to improve both my personal and professional blogs. I made some great contacts at different companies that will not only benefit me, but benefit my readers. Lastly, I connected with my fellow bloggers on a one-on-one basis, which can then turn into some fantastic guest posting opportunities. Oh yeah, and I had a CRAPLOAD of fun, which makes Joules a happy girl.

If you could plan all the keynote speakers/workshops who and what topics would you choose? (Bryanne)
Wow, this is a great question! Let’s see, if I could choose keynotes for a future BlogHer conference I’d pick:

  • Jenny from The Bloggess,  because she’s an amazing and inspiring blogger who has MADE IT;
  • John and Sherry from Young House Love because they seem to have figured out how to juggle work and home life so well;
  • Tina Fey, because she’s smart, beautiful, funny and successful;
  • Ellen, because I think it would be fun to dance with her;
  • Oprah, because maybe she’d give us all cars; and
  • Train, because it is one of my life DREAMS to sing with Pat Monahan.

I’m not really sure why I assume that if I pick the keynote speakers that I’ll be able to meet/dance with/sing with them all… but that’s how it plays out in my head.

As for workshops, I’d love to learn:

  • Practical tips for connecting with your audience – but not connecting SO MUCH that you end up with a stalker.
  • How to use Facebook as a blogger and actually get to your entire audience (instead of 20% of those who “like you”)
  • More SEO tips. Lots, lots more.
  • How to make the jump from small blogger to huge superstar (if I could get this in 5 steps, that would be great).
  • Statistics behind using social media and what actually works (Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc).
  • Making the leap from blogger to author.
  • So much more! I want to learn EVERYTHING!

I really enjoyed attending BlogHer this year and I hope that I’ll be able to go again next year. I feel like each year I build on my foundation of information that I’ve already learned. Which means 10 years from now I’ll deserve a Queen of Blogging crown, right?!

If you have a question about BlogHer, feel free to ask it in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond!

*Alcohol might have also been involved.

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

BlogHer 2013 in Pictures (because I’m tired from too much BlogHer-ing)

Hey peeps! Like the other 4,999 BlogHer attendees, I feel like I need to add my two cents* about the fabulous BlogHer spectacular.

However, I’m tired.

BlogHer is a little more hard-core than my normal life and a full day of conferences followed by a full night of parties makes me a sleepy girl. Such a sleepy girl that when my alarm went off this morning at 5:45, I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off and somehow ended up with music blaring and a “nap” function that I didn’t even know I had…

So today you get fun pictures and I promise to fill you in on some more BlogHer awesomeness in the next post:

My flight was delayed and I was bored… so I ended up with a delicious Moscato and appetizer to snack on while waiting for my plane. I also got some weird smoked salmon things that weren’t so good. Or filling. Which is why I might have been a little tipsy.
me and boy
My first STAR sighting. I hugged the Pillsbury Doughboy like a BOSS!
Can you see the fear in my eyes in this picture? I was legitimately afraid because Optimus Prime was flailing his hands around and I though he might bop me in the head and knock me out.
Doesn’t my skirt kind of look like I belong with these guys (who are dressed in La-Z-Boy upholstery to match the chairs)
my girls
Some of my amazing friends that I was able to hang out with for the weekend! Me, Katie (Words for Worms), Lauren (Filing Jointly) and giving us bunny ears is Kari (A Grace Full Life), Danielle (Red Devil & Associates) and Marianne (We Band of Mothers).
me and Ree
Me and Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman)
me and brit
Me and Brit (from Brit + Co). She KNEW WHO I WAS!!!
queen latifah
Queen Latifah. I wish I could have gotten a pic with her, but she was rushed off as soon as her job was done.
kari and me
I love this picture. Kari (A Grace Full Life) looks fun and innocent and I look like I’m up to no good. (PS, I WAS up to no good…)
Yes, I’m doing a Charlie’s Angels pose. This was after a LONG night of partying… In the back is me, Jen (Me, Myself & Jen) and Danielle (Red Devil & Associates). In the front is Katie (Words for Worms) and Kari (A Grace Full Life). And yes, Katie is jauntily holding a flag.

I’m not sure if you can tell by the pictures, but I had an AMAZING time. I learned a bunch, had fun at the expo hall (while getting some great marketing ideas for the future) and hung out with a really awesome group of ladies!

I asked over on my Facebook page what you all wanted to know about the BlogHer conference and I will make sure to include everything you ask for in my next post. So if you have something you want to know, go ahead and leave a question in the comments or stop by my Pocketful of Joules Facebook page and add it there!

* Where the heck is the ‘cent’ key? I looked for like FIVE MINUTES to try and figure out how to type 2 cents and then just gave up!

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

What I Wish I Knew Before my First BlogHer

Last year’s BlogHer conference was the first blogging conference I’d EVER attended. After freaking the frack out for weeks (ahem…months) before the event, it went by in a blur. This year I’ll be going to the conference again – this time in Chicago – and I feel like I’m MUCH more prepared. And maybe even much more excited, if that’s possible.

If you want to catch up on my thoughts before/during/after last year’s conference, check out these posts:

Did I mention that I made out with Zac Efron at last year’s BlogHer?

Freaking out before the conference
On my way
Was it worth it?
My Swag breakdown

I will be meeting up with some bloggy friends at BlogHer this year and have been pretending to be a BlogHer Guru to answer their questions. Since over 5,000 ladies attended last year’s conference, I’m sure that there are other people with questions on what to expect. If you’re anything like me, I scoured the internet for BlogHer tips for WEEKS before the event last year!

So here you go, the Pocketful of Joules list of what I wish I knew before my first BlogHer:

The Learning Part
There are a ton of really cool sessions at BlogHer. I mean, one of the main reasons to go is to LEARN, right?

There are keynote speakers each day (in the morning and at lunch) and my personal opinion is that they are usually AWESOME so you should definitely attend each of those sessions. Since almost everyone comes to the keynote presentations, it is a good idea to show up a little early so you can grab your food and get a good seat before the room fills.

The breakout sessions are organized by tracks, such as Marketing & Monetization, Tools & Technology, Interest & Identity and more. If you’d like, you can stick with one track… or you can switch it up and pick a little from each offering. Since there are so many sessions offered, I usually like to write down my choices before I go and include an alternate in case the room is overcrowded.

Take a notebook and scribble down lots of notes. Your first time attending (and probably your second time, I’ll let you know) will be incredibly overwhelming so it’s nice to be able to revisit your thoughts/session tips weeks and months after the conference. Even if they didn’t spark anything at the time, a few months later that information might be exactly what you need to hear!

Bad Networking: I didn’t even get this blogger’s name. I was being a pretty princess though, so that’s obviously very important.

The Networking Part
Did I mention that there were over 5,000 ladies at last year’s conference? Yeah, I’ve got no shame in my game to admit that I was a little intimidated. Okay, a lot intimidated. The kind of intimidated where you want to hide in your hotel room and only come out for a session and then return back into your secure little space.

So what helped me feel less scared? Well, first, reach out to your fellow bloggers BEFORE the conference. If you read other blogs and someone mentions that they’re going, leave them a comment that you’ll be there too and would love to meet up. Go on twitter and checkout the #blogher13 hashtag to see what your twitter friends are saying about the conference.

On the first day of the conference there is a BlogHer Newbie Breakfast. GO! I know its butt-early in the morning and you’d rather sleep in a little extra and grab a coffee on the way… go anyway. Everyone in that room will be new like you. Which means it a little easier to introduce yourself, right?

Also very important: if you find someone you like GET THEIR BLOG BUSINESS CARD! Scribble a little note on the back of it to remind you who they are and what you talked about. That way, when you get home you can start following their blog and maybe you’ll become best bloggy buddies!

The Expo Hall & Swag
Last year there were a few different Expo Halls with trade show tables set up with tons of different companies. Once again, it can be a bit overwhelming when you walk in and there are dozens of ladies crowded around each table.

This is the swag I brought home last year… AFTER I gave back what I didn’t want. Holy Swag Batman!

If I remember correctly, you get a map of vendors in your conference packet. This makes it easy to determine who you MUST visit. I also find it helpful to do a big loop of each room to see what’s there before deciding who to approach. Many companies are giving away free items and coupons. Other times you’ll see a representative that is looking to make blogger connections. Decide what you want out of the experience before jumping in.

If you like free stuff, you can literally FILL your bags with an absolute TON of stuff. However, before shoving three bottles of cleaning solution in your tote think about whether you actually want to deal with lugging it home. Before picking up your sixth cheepo t-shirt with a huge logo on the front… decide if you’d ever actually WEAR it before adding it to your collection. One really cool thing that I took advantage of last year was the BlogHer room where you can trade stuff – you drop off what you don’t want and take what you do want. So if you find yourself in a swag frenzy, you can offload a bit of it before going home.

Packing Tips
Okay there are full posts on what clothing to pack and what shoes to wear, because when you get a bunch of ladies together we like to dress up all pretty. Here’s the dirty secret though, you can really wear whatever you want. It’s true – sure there were some fashion bloggers dressed like they just stomped off a runway, but there were also plenty of people in shorts.

I wore a mix of everything last year, from a cute maxi dress to a pair of jean shorts. However, I felt most comfortable when I was a teensy bit dressed up. This year I will be bringing a couple dresses for the sessions (with a sweater because conference rooms tend to be kinda chilly) because I FEEL like I look better in dresses. Also, people tend to take a crap-ton of pictures and if I’m going to be photo-bombing a stranger and end up on their blog… I want to look cute, darn it!

For the evenings, it depends on your plans. If you plan to do a bunch of exploring, pack shorts and comfy walking shoes. If you’re going to a sponsor party, something business casual would probably be a good idea. If you plan to shake your tail feather at any of the dancing/drinking parties, add some sparkle or something ridiculous… like a tutu. Or jeans are fine too; if that is what you are most comfortable wearing.

biz cards
Love my updated business cards!

Another MUST HAVE to pack is some blog business cards. You’re going to be making a lot of contacts and EVERYONE will ask you for your card. You can make them super cheap online or even take advantage of this amazing deal from Moo for 100 free mini cards. I did!

Don’t Worry, They Feed You
One of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten is whether any food is provided at the conference. What can I say; my bloggy friends and I get along really well and will definitely not go hungry.

Breakfast is provided each day of the conference. On the first day you can choose to attend the regular breakfast or the newbie breakfast. Last year there was a huge buffet with typical breakfast food: scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, bagels, etc. And yes, there is coffee. The second day has a keynote presentation interview with Sheryl Sandberg (the author of Lean In) during breakfast. So there will most likely be another buffet for you to load up on before settling down for the talk.

On both Thursday and Friday there are scheduled lunch events with keynote speakers. So before entering the room for the presentation, there will be huge buffet stations with lots of lunch options. Last year there was salads, sandwiches, a bunch of sides and cute little desserts. They also make sure you are caffeinated with soda available for everyone. I’m sure there was water too, but when I’m sitting in presentations all day I need something with a little more kick to keep me going.

Other Food
I honestly can’t remember if there were snacks offered between sessions, but I assume that there was probably something. Conference organizers like to feed you and keep your energy up! Some of the evening parties also have appetizer-type food, but you are on your own for your actual dinner. Believe me, you will WANT to get dinner on your own so that you can have something other than conference food when visiting Chicago.

So there you go, everything I wish I would have known last summer before I dived into BlogHer for the very first time. I feel a bit more prepared this year and am going to force myself to actually go to some of the evening parties to shake my groove thing. I’ve also been invited to special VIP party sponsored by Hasbro, so I’m pretty excited about that!

How about you – are you going to BlogHer this year? Are you jealous of my Zac Efron smooch? Is there a question/concern you have that I haven’t answered?

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!