Tag Archives: BlogHer

#BlogHer12 — A Retrospective

5 Aug

This was my first year at BlogHer. I suspected it would either be phenomenal or terrible. It was neither, it was somewhere in between, closer to the “satisfying” place on the spectrum. In the opening address, BlogHer’s founders promised that we would “find our flock” and be surrounded with people who finally “get it.” My experience was slightly different, but no less enlightening.

1. I learned a ton of awesome stuff, tech wise

I blog using WordPress, and I know the basics of it, but don’t have the time to really mess around and teach myself much. I attended small, focused sessions on the WordPress platform and on WordPress plugins. Although the sessions were too short to really get into the meat of the subject, they provided exactly what I needed to point me in the right direction to get this blog more in order, tech wise.

I also attended an awesome iPhoneography (iPhone photography) panel, where I learned all about quick and easy apps for photo editing. Since getting my iPhone, I’ve ditched my 5-year-old digital camera, and with all the amazing apps and technology available, I’m convinced that was a rational choice.

I’m just not able to set aside the time I need to get my head wrapped around these things, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so. Even though I didn’t learn all the details I need, I was provided with the foundation and direction to easily find those further things myself.

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2. The blogger economy is not my economy.

I really did not appreciate the scope (and depth) of sponsorship offerings until I attended BlogHer. I met an Australian blogger who was fully sponsored for an 11 day trip to NYC (FROM AUSTRALIA) for her and her husband. There were TONS of other bloggers who came from the US and Canada on someone else’s dime. I knew bloggers are offered free products in exchange for an online review, and are also frequently paid for reviews, but the extent of this practice was lost on me until I came here and started talking to people.

Private sponsored parties were also in abundance. I met people here, started following their twitter accounts, and immediately started reading about all these fun, fantastic parties by all kinds of different sponsoring parties…none of which I was invited to. I admit, I felt left out and a little sad. I’m not a sponsored blogger. I don’t even run ads. This is by choice, it would cause too many complications with my day job. But all the “cool kids” of BlogHer have tons and tons of followers, and are sponsored to the gills. It made me feel left behind. But I’m not like them, and I’m not going to be like them.

Not surprisingly, most of these massively sponsored bloggers do not have day jobs. Blogging is their “day job.” In blogging, time is the currency. The more time you can invest into your site, into scouring the internet and commenting on other sites, and driving more traffic to your site, and optimizing your SEO, the more traffic you will naturally receive. In the economy of time, I am impoverished. Even without revenue, I love to see my site traffic go up and up and up, it’s purely an ego boost. But I have to be at peace knowing that there will be limitations on my ability to build traffic, simply because there are limitations on the amount of time I can put into this little hobby.

Yes, up against these “big time” bloggers, I felt a little inadequate. Then I realized that my feelings were RIDICULOUS. Feeling inadequate undermines all the hard work and accomplishments I have devoted to my professional life, where I’m lucky to be involved in prominent cases, and make my mark on the legal landscape on a national scale. With all the elbow grease and dedication I’ve put in my career, it is absolutely ridiculous for me to feel sheepish in comparison to moms, who have all day long to tinker with their sites and get their traffic sky-high.

3. I know my flock.

BlogHer is not all mommy bloggers….but it is a lot of mommy bloggers. I’ve spent so much time scouring the internet for the working, blogging moms. And specifically, moms that work demanding, high-hours jobs. And I have had little luck finding these people, presumably because they are WORKING instead of blogging. OK, we lawyers and doctors and phamacists and engineers are not working ALL the time, but when you work a time-intensive job, there are limits on how many hobbies you really can pursue, and while many people in this position enjoy playing sports or similar endeavors, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of them who are really into blogging.

So when the speakers announced in the BlogHer opening that I would “find” my flock this weekend, I wondered where that flock was hiding. And after mingling with and meeting bloggers over the last few days, I know exactly where my flock is– all around me at home in Pittsburgh. I am so blessed to have so many people who understand me, and where I come from, and the challenges I face. And these people are not online, they’re all around me, in real life. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends who understand the challenges of a demanding job. I’ve got my friend Christine, who is always up for a Clarks show and a beer, and my friend Sandy, with whom I can email with day-in day-out about the frustrations and triumphs of raising headstrong toddlers, and even my friend Krista, who I can call up and have a total meltdown over why does everything I write still have typos, even though I’ve proofread it 178 times?!?! I don’t need to FIND my flock, I HAVE my flock. They are all around me, and I am so lucky about that.

4. Folks need to learn some PERSPECTIVE

BlogHer isn’t just for Mommybloggers, It’s for all bloggers. But there sure are a LOT of Mommybloggers here. Mommyblogging, by the nature of the industry, is egocentric. You’re making money talking about yourself. Combine that with a massive expo with tons of freebies, and it’s like a wrathful god dumped all of the Costcos on the planet together on sample day in the Hilton NY. Mommybloggers make money (or at least get free stuff) from their writing. I get that. I get that writing is effort, and is work, and is valuable, and should be compensated. But I overheard entirely too many elevator conversations about the “absurdity” that such and such a vendor would think they’d deign to write about the product, just because they handed out a product for free, but not “working with” (i.e. paying) bloggers.

This came to a head when I was watching the #BlogHer12 hashtag feed on Twitter. During the session on how to price and value services, there were all kinds of enthusiastic tweets about how valuable writing is, and how a blogger shouldn’t sell herself short, and she should get a good contract with whatever company she’s working with, and make sure it compensates her fairly. Then came the tweet about how bloggers should get those contracts reviewed by a lawyer FOR FREE.

Wait.

What?

YOUR writing about the marvelous scrubbing powers of P&G’s latest creation is so valuable and meaningful that it’s beneath you to put hand to keyboard without a check on the way, but I spent over $150,000 on a legal education, have worked damn hard in a cutthroat industry, and have developed meaningful expertise and I should review your contract for FREE?

Sorry ladies, the world doesn’t work like that. The Mommyblog bubble lacks serious perspective about the give and take of the professional world. It’s to be expected, when the main tasks in your life are chasing after little ones, testing new crafts and recipes, and sorting out which humorous anecdotes about your humble existence wrangle the most page hits.

I recognize that this last bullet point probably just made everyone I met at BlogHer hate me now, but whatever. I do have some comfort in the fact that my pals in out in the real world do have some perspective, and don’t make my hair light aflame with anger quite so often. Phew.

So where does this leave me with BlogHer? I am glad I went. Would I go again? Maybe. This year, BlogHer made up half of my official “vacation,” and I wouldn’t spend my vacation again on the conference. Next year is in Chicago, and I could catch a night flight there, and only miss one day of work. The conference itself is surprisingly inexpensive, so I’m certainly not ruling it out. This year it made sense for me to spend my vacation at BlogHer– Baby Beez is too young to behave on an airplane, I wanted to check the conference out. All the pieces fit together. But next year I need a vacation that involves snuggling with a (hopefully better behaved traveler) Baby Beez. So next year is a “maybe” on my attendance, but I’m certainly counting this year as a good experience, and an eye-opening one.

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fun in NYC #blogher12

4 Aug

Well Blogher ’12 has drawn to a close. I’ll be posting a more substantive retrospective tomorrow, but the short summary is that I got some awesome tech takeaways, and met some great people.

I strolled the expo a bit more today, and got to hang out with the Got Milk milkmen.

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I also had a hot date with Zac Ephron, except I was a little turned off because he had something in his nose, and didn’t get it when I tried to indicate that to him with subtlety, but he didn’t get it, so I had to take matters into my own hands.

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Hersheys and Wal-Mart sponsored a hospitality suite that featured INDOOR SMORES. You know my feelings on smores. I went back twice.

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Starbucks also had a hospitality suite featuring its new single-brew coffeemaker. I was very skeptical because I really do not like Keurig. I’ve tried all kinds of pods and settings and everything, and I can never get it to make anything other than gross. The new bux machine makes drip coffee, espresso, and lattes. I made a latte (with double espresso, naturally), and it was surprisingly good. I’m still not going to buy one of the machines, because I make coffee at home all of never, but I won’t turn my nose up if someone else offers me a cup.

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After I was done with a day full of awesome tech-centered seminars, Mr. Beez and I wandered down to Lindy’s famous overpriced deli for a sammich. It’s within view of Times Square, which the absurd prices reflect, however the food was surprisingly decent (despite the abysmal Yelp reviews). Mr. Beez had the worlds largest sandwich full of meat, which I had to help him eat because it was so massive.

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Mr. Beez and I also went out on the town on Friday night for dinner. The 3 Monkeys was the closest reasonably-priced eatery that had great results on Yelp. It was a comfortable bar, with quick service and a great beer selection. We had a charcuterie plate, which was good but nothing special. For my meal, I ordered the sliders sampler. You get to pick 3 sliders from beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. I went for the beef, chicken, and lamb. The beef was a classic cheddar bacon cheeseburger, which was solid and satisfying. The chicken was really surprisingly good, it was juicy and just the perfect amount of salty. The lamb, however, I am still dreaming about. IT WAS AMAZING. In a full burger size, it would have been overkill, but the slider was OMG DELICIOUS. We’ve got time to grab some brunch before catching the plane tomorrow, and I am seriously considering strong-arming Mr. Beez for a trip back there.

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Tonight we also went to the movies to see THE BATMAN. It may sound like a bit of a waste to go all the way to NYC to see a movie, but I really really did not want to see this movie surrounded by loud overstimulated Pittsburghers. Instead, we saw the movie surrounded by New Yorkers and tourists, and being the only overstimulated yinzers in the crowd, we ruined it for everyone else. I loved seeing all the footage of Pittsburgh pieced together. It actually made it MORE fun to me, to watch the chase go UP Smithfield street, then DOWN Smithfield Street, then UP Smithfield Street, then HOW DID WE GET TO OAKLAND?

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So tomorrow we head back to the ‘burgh, and I’ll get to snuggle that little baby girl that I’ve missed over the last few days (having 2 back to back weekends away is hard). We’ve been running around like crazy people this whole vacation, so I can’t say I feel rested. Still, I do feel ready to get back to work. That’s a good thing, because I’ve got a whole pile of stuff to tackle when I wander back to the office on Monday.

#BlogHer12 — in the full swing of things

3 Aug

Mr. Beez and I flew in to NYC yesterday, and started our visit with a storytelling performance by his friend (and her storytelling class) at the 3 of Cups. The $4 happy hour sangria, bacala bruschetta, and portabello pesto/asiago pizza were delicious, but I was really blown away by the storytelling. The performance included tales both comedic and somber, and all deeply personal.

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The calm of the story performance has been contrasted by the complete insanity that has been the BlogHer conference. The conference opened with inspiring words from our Commander in Chief.

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Mr. Beez and I also had a few drinks and snacks, and even tossed around a bowling ball, at the BlogHer parties last night.

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Today has been jam-packed with panels. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so I think I have a pretty good handle on how to produce content. It’s the technical and strategic side I need a lot of help with. The iPhoneography panel was the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. I got my iPhone back in January, and I haven’t used my digital camera since (mostly because it’s 5 years old, and technically inferior to the iPhone). The panel didn’t have the time to go through all the details of photo editing apps with a fine toothed comb, but I did get a good footing on where to start for some quick and dirty lessons in photo editing.

I also attended a panel on pitching to publishers, which was very interesting and informative. A lot of the bloggers here blog for money or sponsorships. I’m in a different boat, because, although our professional responsibility rules lag behind in specifically addressing the intersection of blogging and legal practice, blogging for money is an ethical can of worms I don’t care to deal with. Despite this big difference, I have met a lot of very nice people, and received a lot of business cards for blogs I look forward to reading.

Martha Stewart spoke during today’s lunchtime keynote, but I was still so overstimulated from EVERYTHING GOING ON that I don’t remember in the slightest what on earth she talked about.

There are 3 large expo halls which, likewise, are looking to set up review relationships with bloggers, or to even garner favorable publicity on their webpages. I’ve spent a little time wandering through the exhibitor halls, and taking pictures with REE DRUMMOND, the Lorax, and the Jimmy Dean sun guy (yes, the one from the commercial), and a Jamba Juice bananaman.

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My most valuable takeaway today has been that I really need to work harder on engaging with readers. Commenting and retweets are the currency of social media, and if I want others to read my thoughts, I need to work harder at reading and responding to theirs. I’ve felt a bit lost over the last few months, not entirely sure where to go to find interesting blogs in the MASSIVE space of the internet, but now with the heap of blogger cards at my side, I’ve got a good place to start.

Rough Start

27 Feb

Holy cow, it’s Monday. How did that happen? This weekend I had a list a mile long of both social plans and things I needed to get done. The whole weekend was jam-packed, and I managed to do all the social things, but few of the items on my to do list (we’re hurting for laundry this week).

 The Oscars are my Superbowl, so I’m running on the slow side today.  Massive quantities of carbs are a necessity today, so I picked up a ridiculous and delicious breakfast from Apollo Cafe.  See that madness? And it was under five bucks.

I made a decision on BlogHer– I’m going.  I bought my conference pass and booked my hotel room yesterday.  There is a second round of programming submissions, and I’m going to re-submit one of my proposals there.  There’s no way for me to tell whether the conference is the right “fit” for me, unless I attend, so attend I will.  (Also, for months my friend Anthony has been excitedly encouraging Mr. Beez and I to visit him in NYC and go to dinner at Peter Luger’s, so this trip would be a perfect time for that outing.) 

All right, yinz. It’s time to get moving.

Shameless self promotion, and time for blogging

18 Dec

BlogHer featured my piece on Multitasking and Working Moms on their website this weekend! It was featured both on the main page, as well as the Careers page! They’ve featured a million different articles and a million different writers, so it isn’t a huge deal, but I did think it was exciting.

My friend Viki asked me yesterday “how do you find time for reading and blogging and working and mom-ing and everything else you do?”  I don’t have any grand plan with time management.  I make sure to get my work done, and coordinate things with Mr. Beez to coordinate spending time with the little one, networking events, and happy hours…and everything else sort of falls in between.  My time management skills are probably “satisfactory.”  I am guilty of sometimes forgetting to put things in my calendar, or double (or triple) booking myself, or flat out forgetting things…but I manage to take care of all the important stuff, and even some not as important stuff, and it all turns out ok.

As far as blogging, I fit it into my life as a hobby.  Every time I’ve heard “It’s not about having time, it’s making time,” I’ve cringed… but it has some truth to it.  In participating in NaBloPoMo, I came across a number of blog posts where people complained about blogging being hard or too time consuming.  I’m a big believer that hobbies should be fun, and although challenges are sometimes fun, a hobby shouldn’t be so challenging that it sucks the fun out of the hobby.  I gave up crocheting for this very reason– it took forever for me to crochet anything, my skills were wanting (and everything turned out crooked and uneven), and the effort and time it would take for me to get good at would have killed all the fun, so I quit it.

At a Loss for Words

To the misfortune of the internet, blogging comes easily to me.  I always have a lot of ideas whirring around in my head.  They’re not ideas in terms of a storyline– I don’t think I’d make a good fiction writer.  They’re thoughts about things I’ve read, or seen, or heard.  I listen to NPR in the morning, and try to generally keep up with news and pop culture.  I’ll come across something that catches my interest, and I’ll roll it around in my mind for a few days or weeks.  Sometimes I’ll start a post on an idea, and save just a few sentences or bullet points.  Then I usually hit a point where my thoughts on the topic all come together, and I know what I want to say.  At that point, I can usually throw together a blog post on my idea in about 15 to 20 minutes.  It’s easy for me to find those 15 to 20 minutes in my day, because even if you’re very busy, you can often find 15 or 20 minutes to squeeze in a hobby you enjoy.  I often write at night right before bed, or after dinner while Baby Beez plays.  I will often write up an entry and save it for the next day to review and post.  It is important to me that I don’t sound foolish, and a break in between writing and posting gives me an opportunity to reflect and revise.

I’ve considered trying to write a topic-specific blog.  However, that would be much more time intensive– I’d have to spend more time reading and doing things specific to that topic.  That’s more of a time commitment than I’m able or willing to invest, so that’s not going to happen.  Writing about whatever miscellaneous topic comes to mind is easier, faster, and (for me at least) more fun.

If you’re interested in blogging but don’t know what to talk about, questions are a good jumping-off point.  I look through writing prompts when I feel like writing, but don’t know what I want to talk about.  My general approach for blogging, though, is to write about whatever I’m thinking about.  I tend to think about a lot of things, which is why I tend to have a lot to say.