By Estelle Sobel Erasmus
Tomorrow I am making the annual exodus of bloggers everywhere to BlogHer, the pinnacle of Blog conferences, which this year is being held in Chicago.
Last year the conference was in New York City, my hometown; and boy, what a difference a year makes.
Friends: Last Year (2012)
I knew nobody in the virtual world, all my friends were from publishing, or from the NYC cast of Listen to Your Mother, or from my work on the board of directors of the national nonprofit, Mothers & More.
Friends: This Year (2013)
I am planning to meet so many of my virtual friends (from FB and Twitter) in real life at the conference, and I’m very excited by the prospect. I was so naive last year that I didn’t understand when my friend Holly Rosen Fink told me, “make a plan to meet the people you’ve been dealing with virtually, in person.” Huh, what? Now, I get it, Holly. I get it. I can’t wait to meet my virtual friends in the flesh…finally. And since I’m not going back home every night like I did last year, I am going to be spending a lot of time with my peeps.
Parties: Last Year (2012)
I was invited to exactly one private party my friends. And that was even a fluke. I heard about it from another friend on FB and somehow scored an invite. Around me I saw people flitting out and about; suddenly leaving the room en mass and returning later bearing shopping bags emblazoned with well-known logos. Me, crickets.
Parties: This Year (2013)
I’m p o p u l ar (sung out loud). Only kidding. Well sort of. This year I have received a slew of coveted invites. Which is good because I have a better focus this year about what I want to do, and that is to connect with brands for Mothers & More, the nonprofit on which I’m President of the Board of Directors and to continue to build my brand. This will be a wonderful opportunity to do that.
Twitter: Last Year (2012)
Last year, when I went to BlogHer, I had a grand total of 300 twitter followers. That’s really not a lot! I was thinking about using tools like nitreo to boost my following but after learning a few tips from Montreal Mom (read about my Blogher 12 experience here), I started working my twitter feed and…
Twitter: This Year (2013)
Today I am happy to say I have over 2,400 twitter followers; and have done about that many tweets. Its literally amazing how many followers I have now, I must admit I had a little peep at the 18 Best Sites to Buy Real Twitter Followers (Reviews) – Quantum Marketer to see if I could bump it up a little more, but I’m happy to say I have this amount for now! In addition, I co-hosted a twitter party, learned how to run a twitter party, learned all about how to use hashtags to grow your twitter following (and even wrote an article on it, which will soon be published). Twitter is a pretty powerful platform which, like twitter influencers everywhere, is why I’m so proud of this achievement. In fact I’d recommend it as the best starting point for any budding blogger.
Highlights: Last Year (2012)
Last year I was honored to be a Voice of the Year for my post We Changed the Conversation. I wasn’t a reader, but I was included in the BlogHer Voices of the Year Anthology. There was also a cocktail party honoring the recipients.
Highlights: This Year (2013)
I am not a VOTY this year, but early this year, I was syndicated in BlogHer with my post on Marissa Mayer that went viral: Why Yahoo Just Became Obsolete. The post got mentioned everywhere from The Today Show to Fox News. I also became a BlogHer Influencer, adding to the growing list of blogger marketing media groups I have been accepted into. This year, I’m thrilled to see a number of my friends honored as a VOTY, including Aliza Worthington, Sarah Tuttle Singer, Lisa Carpenter, Lois Alter Mark, Alexandra Rosas, Janie Emaus, Sandra Sallin and Ann Imig as well as my roomate Shannon Bradley Colleary (who I will be meeting for the first time) are readers.
So, I’m one year removed from being a newbie, but here are a few tips based on my experience.
1) PACK LIGHT: It takes time for elevators carrying 1000s of bloggers to their rooms to change for dinner; time I can’t afford this year. Therefore, I am bringing day to evening outfits.
2) STAND OUT. I indulged my glitter soul, and ordered rhinestone-laden lanyards for my name tags.
3) DRESS COLORFULLY. I want my friends to be able to find me. I tried to stay away from anything black (try saying: “find me in the black dress,” in a sea of bloggers:).So I’m wearing turquoise, floral patterns, royal blue, green, white lace, hot pink shades of clothing.
5) IT WON’T BE PERFECT. Accept that it won’t be perfect. You won’t be happy every minute of the conference. That’s not possible, I believe in a virtual throng of people, all with different agendas, needs and levels of professional acumen. Instead, make the most of your great moments (bonding with other bloggers, finding friends in unexpected places, learning a new skill), and have the serenity to accept that sometime you will walk into a room and it will feel like everybody knows each other except for you. If you sit through that moment..you might just find out that you can get through it; and you are fine just the way you are.
After all, there is always next year!
If you are at the conference, please look for me and say hello. I tweet at @EstelleSErasmus and at @MothersandMore. I will be dressed colorfully.
What are your tips for BlogHer? Or conferences in general?