Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ten Things I Learned at BlogHer12 (and a Couple I Didn’t)

You might expect this post to be a rundown of specific blogging techniques or tools that can help bloggers be more successful – after all, that’s what the BlogHer conference is supposed to be about. But as you will see, I didn’t learn much about that. For me, the value of this conference was the human connections. I learned more by walking around and experiencing the vibe (and yes – there is a very high energy vibe at BlogHer) than I did sitting in the conference rooms.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Jenny Sprague (who blogs at Multiple Food Allergy Help) has a smile that can light up The Grand Ballroom. It’s no wonder her son is so adorable!

2. Joanne Tombrakos (who I met two years ago at BlogHer and who blogs at One Woman’s Eye) is masterful at asking for (and getting) what she wants.

3. My sister, Andree Santini (who I dragged to her first BlogHer conference and who blogs at Inspiration for Creativity) actually owns a little black dress and a white pencil skirt. Who knew that my sister had become a fashionista? (For the record, I don’t own either of these garments.)

4. Mimi Holtz (who I met at BlogHer last year and who blogs at Mimi Avocado) taught me that the Reed avocado season is about to start. Reed avocados have a tougher skin than Hass, and are larger and rounder. Here's a picture of one I took when I visited Mimi's farm last month. Maybe I'll get one of these in the box of avocados I just ordered from California Avocados Direct:

5. I should always bring food with me. With allergies to wheat and soy, if there is a gluten-free food line I can generally eat 95% of what is served. I’ve been spoiled; The Nourished Conference didn’t serve a thing that wasn’t gluten-free, and the BlogHer Food and BlogHer conferences last year had to-die-for gluten-free food lines. I expected that I would be eating like a queen here – not so. Food ingredients were labeled, but nearly all said “contains gluten.” Note to self: ALWAYS bring safe food.

6. Speaking of food… Udi’s Gluten-Free bread makes fabulous grilled cheese sandwiches – and thank goodness they were in the EXPO area serving up samples. I did (once again) put in my plug for them to make an also-egg-free bread so that more of us (including my son) can enjoy their bread. (In the meantime, you’ll just have to make my terrific allergen-free sandwich bread recipe from Learning to Bake Allergen-Free.)

7. So Delicious makes non-dairy ice cream treats on a stick! I visited the So Delicious booth as often as the Udi’s booth to snag samples and chat with Gail. I still think the cookie dough coconut milk ice cream is the best, but when the So Delicious team wandered through the Grand Ballroom after lunch (where all I could eat was lettuce) with samples, I wanted to hug them all!

8. It’s a really bad idea to put featured sponsors on the 42nd floor when all the action is on the second and third floor. I only made it upstairs for about ten minutes (but it took me at least 15 minutes to get an elevator back downstairs). (Just keeping it real here.)

9. Nearly everyone knows someone with food allergies or food restrictions. At the beginning of the conference, BlogHer does their version of “speed dating” where we stand in two lines and spend two minutes meeting new people and exchanging cards. I heard many versions of “My friend’s daughter has food allergies,” or “I suspect that I’m allergic to gluten.” Yup, no surprise there.

10. And, speaking of those cards, there’s not much point in collecting a pile of them if you can’t remember who anyone is!

And a couple of things I didn’t learn:

1. I didn’t learn how to connect better with brands. The sessions on that topic were overflowing and I was turned away (multiple times).

2. Despite attending (and snagging a seat at) a session called Podcasting 101, which was billed as everything you need to know about how to create a podcast, I didn’t learn a thing about how to create a podcast.

Overall, I was disappointed in the programming – not enough variety in the topics, not enough seats in the sessions to accommodate the 5000 attendees, way too much self-promotion and not enough practical how-to advice. The keynote speakers, on the other hand, were fabulous! We heard from Martha Stewart on Friday and Katie Couric on Saturday. All I can say is, wow!

Next year, BlogHer will be in Chicago at the end of July. Will I go? The jury is out. what about you? Will you go next year?


Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Colette, thank you. I've been wondering about attending BlogHer. You helped me (with the attendance figure) decide; 5000 is too many people for me!

Colette said...

Jean, BlogHer Food is a much smaller event with a very different vibe. That might be the right one for you (and me!)

Chris said...

Andree was your sister? Who knew?! It was wonderful to meet you, and you'll start seeing pictures and video of you soon. Will miss you at our second annual B(L)oomers Party if you don't do Chicago BlogHer13, but we'll find you somewhere!

Colette said...


Ha -- yes! Andree was (and still is) my sister! Saw some video earlier today. You guys did a nice job.