BlogHer 2013: The Social and the Savvy (Part 1)

By Estelle Sobel Erasmus

Me and Ree Drummond
Me and Ree Drummond (you know I had to lead with this).

It’s now been four days and counting since I got back from BlogHer 2013 (#BlogHer13) and the adrenaline rush of being “social” butterfly Estelle, is slowly dissipating amidst the daily onslaught of my “mom”  responsibilities, from doing six loads of laundry, to cleaning up messes, to dealing with temper tantrums, to organizing like a banshee three supremo playdates for my four-year-old daughter, one after another (sprinkler park, beach trip, pool/shopping trip).

It’s also been four days and counting of well-meaning but non-blogger friends asking me to describe the conference, who look blankly at me when I proudly named my astounding increase in twitter followers since last year (see I‘m in a BlogHer State of Mind), and continue to look blankly when I exclaim about how exciting it was to meet super bloggers like Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month (who ran a fiction writing session at BlogHer), or Alexandra of Good Day Regular People)  the most prolific and supportive blogger I know, or the visionary Ted Rubin, who it was a pleasure to connect with at the expo after following (and sometimes commenting on) his tweets for months. It was especially lovely when he suggested meeting in town when we get back from BlogHer.

Ted Rubin, BlogHer13, Estelle Sobel Erasmus, BlogHer
Me and Ted

I went to BlogHer13 with two goals in mind. 1) To meet the people I have had conversations with on Facebook and Twitter and 2) To build relationships with brands for Mothers & More, the nonprofit, on which I’m President of the Board of Directors, of which one of the co-founders of BlogHer, Jory Des Jardins, is a member of our advisory council.

Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer, Estelle Sobel Erasmus, Mothers & More
In the lobby of the Sheraton. Thanks to Elisa Camahort Page for taking this photo of me and Jory.

I feel like I met both goals, plus one more, which was a bonus. I also met some amazing bloggers, business professionals who I had never tweeted, commented or Face booked with before, like media darling and all around menschette, Chicago-based Beth Rosen, Katerina of the delicious site DietHood (a BlogHer newbie, who I met at Ree Drummond’s talk after which she sat with me during a Lean Cuisine lunch/presentation), Kate of The Guavalicious Life  (who I couldn’t stop hugging), the amazing Jen Lee Reeves of AARP,  super sweet Jenny Ingram of Jenny On The Spot, and Tricia of The Southern Spark, who like me, loves to rock a maxi dress. 

Let me not forget my roommate, Shannon of The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful, a reader for the Voices of the Year presentation, who I met through the amazing midlife group, started by Anne, Chloe, and Sharon, Generation Fabulous. For us, there was none of that awkward conversation between strangers; it was like we’d known each other for years, and I had a great time swapping stories and sharing swag with Shannon.

It was also a special pleasure to meet Kay Keaney, who works for Boiron, and who represents Mothers & More, as a recent chapter leader and all around supportive member from the Delco, PA chapter.

Mothers & More, Boiron I also got to meet Jen of the hilarious blog, People I Want to  Punch in the Throat, and creator of the anthology, I Just Want to Pee Alone, who is also a loyal Mothers & More member.

People I'd Like to Punch in the Throat
Jen is one of the people you meet that you don’t want to punch in the throat.

I’ll be writing more posts about the parties and the speakers (Ree Drummond, Sheryl Sandberg, Guy Kawasaki), but I want my readers to enjoy other blogger’s experiences as well.  So I asked a group of savvy professionals what was their main takeaway from BlogHer, and I’m linking to their website or BlogHer post-mortem post.

I’m also proud that so many of the bloggers quoted here are VOTY’s (Voices of the Year). Shameless confession: I was a VOTY last year for my op-ed piece We Changed the Conversation.

Linda (BlogHer newbie) of Carpool Goddess tells why BlogHer was awesome but not why you’d think.

Val of Bonbon Break: Each of us is so much more than just a person behind a screen. The friendships, mentors and connections that I gathered throughout the last week will keep me flying on a BlogHer adrenaline high…until next summer.

Phoebe of In Momopause: I’m glad to know there are other bloggers who are skeptical of the “brand yourself” mantra…some use it as a blog focus and not necessarily as only a financially-driven identity. I attended the session, “The UnMarketing Manifesto” & it was great!

Connie of My Creative Journey: I learned that online friends are real friends. The women I connect to online, I connected to IRL. That was a wonderful discovery. 

Lois Alter Mark (VOTY and my partner in cabs), who writes at Midlife at the Oasis on the Best of BlogHer13

Dresden of Creating Motherhood talking about Is This Just Fantasy re Her BlogHer13 experience.

Shannon (VOTY and a Reader) of The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful: Together we will rise higher.

Mindy from Better After 50. My knowledge about Baby Boomers being a huge demographic that brands are beginning to take notice of was substantiated by the brands.

Lori Moreno: My biggest takeaway was all the incredible people I met who already are becoming life long friends!

Cathy of An Empowered Spirit where she talks about attending with a disability and what Sheryl Sandberg (keynote speaker) told her: I loved all the people I knew and met for the first time IRL. They were the spirit of the event.


Photo: L to r: Cathy Chester, Sheryl Sandberg and Lois Alter Mark

Photographer Karen Sandoval on the Empowering Words I Heard at BlogHer13.

Helene (A BlogHer newbie) from Books Is Wonderful 

Lisa, of Grown and Flown on a harrowing plane ride coming back from BlogHer, and what she learns about herself and what’s important when the pilot says he has some bad news.

Kim of West Coast Posse: That every blogger is HUMAN behind those big, glossy sites that put mine to shame. I didn’t get much out of the Pioneer Woman, but the fact that even she is human came through. That I need to just breathe and sit comfortably in myself and where I am, and be clumsy and awkward if that’s me at that moment, and embrace it. I’ll be working on all that before the next one.

Ellen Dolgen: Blogher was like watching estrogen fireworks! Women helping women— sharing, caring….so inspirational and nourishing!

Virginia from Kiss Chronicles:  Think long game, not short game and work hard at having fun, and have fun working hard.

Shelley of Still Blonde After All These Years: When talking with a brand, ask them how you can build a long-term relationship with them versus a one-off review giveaway.

Sandra (VOTY) of Apart From My Art (who stood front and center with Queen Latifah):  It’s the people you meet! The bloggers that you connect with and adore.


Photo: Sandra and Lois Alter Mark standing next to Queen Latifah, the emcee for VOTY

Sharon of Empty House Full Mind (and Co-founder of Generation Fabulous) on Five Things I Learned as a Stay-At-Home Mother to Use as an Entrepreneur-Lessons from BlogHer

Janie (VOTY) of The Boomer Rants: a mostly pictorial description of her experience.

Now here’s my moment of truth. Ta Da. The reason I could be so “social” at BlogHer: my husband and daughter. Having their love and support as my anchor, gave me the strength to connect so freely with everyone at the conference, and in the wider scheme of life, to follow my dreams.

daughter and dad
My anchors. My loves.

I’m not sure where next year’s BlogHer will be,  but I know that I want to either lead a session or be part of a panel….or both. I want to continue to give back to the community that has given and continues to give so much to me.

Write and tell me, what was your takeaway from BlogHer13?


42 thoughts on “BlogHer 2013: The Social and the Savvy (Part 1)”

    1. Hi Nellie,
      Thanks for visiting. Yes, I met great people and I’m so glad I went. Hope to meet you at BlogHer in 2014.

  1. It was wonderful seeing you! I always have the same experience after BlogHer. I come home enjoying the socializing and friendship, but thinking I didn’t really learn anything about blogging. But after a few weeks home, I notice that I’m thinking about what I’m doing differently, even questioning my goals – and that all comes out of direct interaction with my peers. So, I did learn a lot. It just is hard to quantify at the time.

    1. Hi Neil,
      It was so great to meet you and actually spend a little time. Loved your session, particularly because of the intimate setting. I think BlogHer should do more of those. For me, the ultimate value comes in the relationships built in person that no amount of online communication can surpass.

  2. I just want you to know, Estelle, that all of the women commenting before me can claim a special encounter with you at BlogHer13 that was personal and moving, but … NONE OF THEM GOT TO SLEEP WITH YOU LIKE I DID. Oh yes, I said it, we slept together. Take note other ladies, SHE IS MINE.

    Whew. Well that’s a load off. My territory is now delineated and I can go to bed. With my husband. Which just won’t be the same as our stolen moments together. Sigh. Until BlogHer 2014, my darling.

    1. Shannon,
      This comment from you is just what I would expect my provocative friend and ready-for-fun roommate. You are both witty and correct. Of course, the last night I didn’t do much sleeping. Lest my husband read the comments (which he never does), I must clarify that that was because I was packing, that’s all. Until we meet again dear Shannon. BlogHer 14? I’m in.

  3. I really appreciate all the links you’ve given to your friends, to allow them to tell their stories, and receive some love.
    I’ve been to 4 blogging conferences so far, but never to blogher.
    One day, I think I might like to attend.
    You sound like you connected to many people that it was important to you to connect to, and I’m very, very happy for you.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much. I think what a person gets out of BlogHer is what they put into it (without sounding too cliche). It can be amazing if you open yourself up to the experience.
      Hope to see you there next year.

  4. Estelle, you were one of the most gracious, warm, people I met at BlogHer. Thank you for making me feel like such a rock star. I appreciate your time, and it was incredible that we both know and love Beth Rosen!!! You worked this conference, and you showed JUST HOW MUCH there is to benefit from with planning and open spaces for serendipity to happen. It was a joy to meet you.

    1. Alexandra,
      Wow! Your words so have the power to move me, almost to tears! Thanks so much for that compliment. It means so much. I think good people naturally gravitate toward each other. I’m so grateful that we got a chance to become friends in person–as we’ve been online, ever since my first post for Aiming Low! It was a special treat to sit with you in Neil’s session. And, yes, Beth Rosen is pretty amazing!!

  5. Ah you’re making me feel bad, all the people I missed because I couldn’t go this year 🙁 Still on the fence about next year, but it’s SO worth the catching up with people part. I LOVE that 5000 people are there and YOU STILL can randomly run into people you were hoping to catch up with, it’s crazy. I love Kate from Guavalicious too, she’s so friendly and sweet.

    1. Hi Gina,
      Isn’t it funny how serendipitous some of it is. Some of it was planning and for other meetings the stars just aligned. Hope to see you there next year.

  6. it’s always GOOD to hug you and spend a few minutes inside your circle.
    I was so happy to see you last weekend!

    1. Awww. Kir, A hug from you ALWAYS brightens my day. Great seeing you. How are the twins?

    1. Carrie,
      Maybe the next one. It was really the best of all worlds for me. I’m writing part 2 as we speak which is about the parties.

  7. Estelle, I’m so honored that I’m a part of this great recap of BlogHer. What a terrific event. And it was the real connections that we all made that I have tried to explain to friends back home thqt made it the event it was. You did a great job of explaining that. Thank you again!

    1. Connie, It was so delightful to say hello at VOTY, and then have someone tell me your name. I was all, “Yay, it’s Connie.” Then, we didn’t even have a minute to talk. Next time, for sure.

  8. It was terrific to meet you in person Estelle, especially to marvel at your amazing skin! I hope to see you in person again soon…meantime, see you in GenFab. xoxo

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Thanks so much. I actually wrote a skincare book with a dermatologist called Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age. I think my eastern European background helps my skin (and I was never a big sun worshipper; but I appreciate the compliment! I hope I see you before BlogHer 14 for sure, if not sooner.

  9. Thanks so much for the lovely mention, Estelle, and what a great recap of the weekend! I’m not sure I could have kept up, but I think I should have followed you around, as you are very productive. Hope to meet you next year at #BlogHer14!

    1. Kim,
      It’s my pleasure. I definitely hope we meet next year. Can’t wait to hear where the next BlogHer will be.

  10. Thanks so much for the kind words about the UnMarketing session! It was really fantastic to see so many people nodding in agreement about wanting to do something a little different than what has become the norm. 🙂

    1. I think there are a lot of pure writers out there who originally got into blogging for the instant expression of it. They are the ones struggling with the trend towards monetizing their blogs; so I think that there may be a real move away from that at some point.

  11. It was a tremendous pleasure meeting you and spending even just a smidgen of time with you, Estelle. I’m so impressed by all you do. You truly are a mother and more! 😀 Cheers to seeing you at BlogHer ’14 (and, with some luck, maybe a time or two before then).

    1. Lisa,
      I feel the same way. The little time we spent together I got a sense of the energy and warmth that you embody. Thanks for the kind words. Would love to see you at BlogHer ’14 or hopefully, before.

    1. Jen,
      It was truly a great feeling to meet you in person, even for that brief moment. I know we were both so busy. Looking forward to connecting again soon re our original discussion.

  12. I am so grateful to be included in this fabulous recap. Now I know why we only had a few minutes together: you were busy meeting a gazillion people! So glad we had the time we did and can’t wait to see you again.

    1. Helene,
      It was such a pleasure meeting you; like I said, I wish we had more time together. Next year!

  13. Thanks for the shout out Estelle! I’m so honored to be on your list. P.S. I wasn’t a VOTY, but I appreciate your vote of confidence! It was so fun spending time with you. xo

    1. Linda,
      I made the correction but darn it I think next year’s VOTY has Carpool Goddess all over it:)

  14. Oh, wow, you linked to me. You’re going to laugh. I went to respond to some comments and saw this unusual entry that was yellow and had funny words. You guessed it. It was a link. My first link. I was so excited I had to come over here and thank you. Shows you what a newbie I am. By the way, I was so impressed that you knew so many bloggers that I’d never heard of. So nice meeting you and didn’t we have fun. You can always tweet or facebook me and we can talk all about it. It’s hard for others to understand isn’t it.?

    1. Hi Sandra, I love that I provided you with your first link. That is so cool. As are you!! I can’t wait to get to know you better. Thanks for the offer; yes, it’s quite a step from regular life to blogger life and back again:)

    1. Hi Tricia,
      I can’t wait to see you (and hang out) again. More to come in my next post about the private parties…xoxo

  15. I loved spending some more time with you during BlogHer! I enjoyed our talk and I can’t wait to see the rest of your posts about the conference.

    1. Hi Amiyrah,
      Isn’t it funny that some of the special moments of the conference were found outside the regular venues-and discovered on buses, waiting in line, taking an elevator. More to come in my next post about the private parties-and there my friend you will be mentioned.

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