I had been eagerly anticipating my trip to BlogHer since the early part of 2013 when I received word that I would be representing Coliloquy at the largest Blogging Conference in the world. I had never been to Chicago, nor had I been to a blogging conference, so I jumped at the opportunity and was more than ecstatic to travel the 2,100 miles by myself. I add “by myself” because sleeping in a hotel room without my snoring husband or crying toddler sounded like an absolute vacation to me. I couldn’t even remember what it was like to travel solo…no diapers or kiddie snacks? I couldn’t wait!
As the conference approached, I spent numerous hours online reading the various blog posts and soaking in all of the advice from BlogHer veterans. I read everything from “what not to wear” to “what parties to attend”…and quickly realized that my work-from-home wardrobe (aka Mom Couture) needed a bit of a makeover. I granted myself permission to go out and buy a few new outfits and a comfortable pair of shoes. Two Maxi dresses and an adorable pair of TOMS later, I was ready to go!
Fast-forward to my day of departure, starting with a 3:00am shuttle ride to the airport. I trundled myself off the plane and straight to the Expo…only to be floored by the sheer number of attendees. A few deep breaths and one Starbucks-infusion later, I was ready for an adrenaline-espresso-fueled day.
I walked around and scoped out the different sponsors, grabbing some swag along the way. The Trojan booth was about 20 people deep, but I didn’t want to miss out on the perfect opportunity to chat about Entwined! I will admit that talking about Totlandia in front of the Happy Baby booth was much easier than chatting up total strangers about their erotica preferences, but my dedication knows no bounds…and I got to experience the Trojan Wheel of Fortune (see pic below)! Most ladies were somewhat sheepish, tucking their pleasure-prizes away in their bags, but one woman a few people ahead of me made my day: She REALLY wanted a specific sex toy, and when her spin wasn’t successful, she pled her case, begging for the last vibrator in the giveaway pile. She was so convincing that the rest of the line agreed to forgo our shots at the vibrator, eventually cajoling the Trojan rep to give her what she so desperately wanted. She trotted off with vibrator in hand and a smile plastered on her face.
There were other great moments – On one ride back to the hotel, I sat next to the cutest Mommy Blogger, who had her 6-week-old son strapped to her in a baby carrier. I introduced myself and we happily swapped parenting and blogging stories. With several interruptions from bloggers passing by our seats, I realized that everyone was stopping to admire her adorable little munchkin, striking up one conversation after the next. At first I thought she was absolutely crazy for taking along her newborn and then it hit me that she actually had the most brilliant networking strategy ever. I mean who doesn’t LOVE babies?
By the end of my two-day trip to Chicago I had been in the company of some inspirational and smart women, including Sheryl Sandberg, Randi Zuckerburg and Queen Latifah! I had met some incredible bloggers, and I got the chance to share a delicious Chicago Style Pizza with two of our Elite Bloggers; Stacey from Page Turners and Erica from Book Cellar (see pic below). I even made some friends along the way, culminating in some fabulous, wine-aided karaoke.
As somewhat new to the blogging world myself, I am certainly not in a position to offer up any expert advice on how to conquer your first big blogging conference. However, along the way I came across a few good tips; some from others and some of my own that may just help a “newbie” as they plan their maiden voyage to BlogHer.
1. Comfortable (and cute) shoes is a must! Leave your high heels at home because there is nothing worse than going home after an awesome weekend with blisters on your feet.
2. Wearing your baby is not just a Mommy Blogger “fashion statement”; it is in fact an excellent networking strategy.
3. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself while singing completely out of tune on karaoke night. Believe me; some of your best connections may just be made on stage.
4. Pack light and leave plenty of room in your luggage for the awesome swag that you will be bringing home with you.
5. Pretty toes pays off. Never in a million years did I think that anyone would be checking out my toes; however much to my astonishment I had more than one toe nail polish admirer, so please don’t skimp on the pre-conference pedi. BTW: I was rocking Essie’s Bikini So Teeny.