5 Things I Learned at BlogHer'14
As most you know, I spent last weekend at the 10th annual BlogHer conference in San Jose, CA. It was my first blogging conference even though I've been doing this as a career for nearly 3 years. Up until this point most of my connections have formed organically but I thought it was time to get out there and do more in-person networking as I continue to build and grow The Balanced Life.
It was a great experience and I'm so glad I went. While I don't necessarily feel like I found "my people", I had a great time and was inspired by what happens when you bring together thousands of women who are passionate about telling and sharing their stories online.
Since I'm still breastfeeding my daughter and husband tagged along, which was wonderful and challenging all at the same time. First off, my husband is my hero. I'm so grateful that he supports my career in such tangible ways. Second, having a 1 year old in a conference center and a tiny hotel room (the suites were sold out) is not an easy task. But it was fun to have them there and I appreciated the support and company.
Though I don't typically write about the business side of blogging, I know there are a few of you out there who are bloggers to and may enjoy a little re-cap.
So, here are 5 things I learned at BlogHer '14:
1. The heart behind BlogHer is what makes the event so special.
I had the pleasure of joining 2 of BlogHer's founders, Lisa and Elisa, for dinner on Thursday night. They are passionate, inspiring women who have put their heart and soul into creating this network of women online. They are open-minded, forward-thinking and genuinely kind people. It's because of their vision that BlogHer has such an open, accepting, supportive atmosphere. They set the tone which made for a very welcoming weekend.
2. Connections made online are real and powerful.
Some people still see blogging and social media as superficial. And that's unfortunate. Because for many people it's not. True friendships are developed. Lives are changed. Lives are SAVED. All through people sharing their stories and connecting with others online. Will blogging ever replace the magic that comes from gathering around the dinner table with close friends? Absolutely not. But the relationships that form online should not be overlooked. I know this because I develop true relationships with the women I coach online through The Pilates Body Program (you know who you are). It was evident at BlogHer just how real and powerful the blogging platform can be.
One of my favorites quotes from the weekend was from Shannon Rosa:
"Blogging allows you to knit real-life friendships by CHOICE, not proximity."
3. The health & fitness representation has room to grow.
I introduced myself to people left and right and only met ONE other fitness blogger the entire weekend. I was surprised by that at first, but then not so much as the weekend went on. The focus of the conference seemed to be a bit more slanted toward personal blogging and storytelling. While I certainly weave that into my blog, my blog is my business and my main focus is inspiring others to incorporate more healthy habits into their daily life.
There were very few sponsors that aligned with the healthy living side of things - the final party was hosted by McDonalds and included free Happy Meals which gives you an idea of how well I fit in. :)
I would love to see BlogHer grow in this area in the coming years.
4. Kerry Washington is intelligent and extremely down to earth.
And Scandal fans out there? Kerry Washington was a keynote speaker and by the end of the session I'm pretty sure the whole room felt like she was our best friend. She's well-spoken, thoughtful and passionate about her causes. She keeps her private life VERY private, which I admire. She said she does this for obvious reasons, but also so that viewers don't confuse her public life with the characters they see in her films. She wants people to see the character, free from other ideas of who she is. She's also a new mom and jumped every time she heard a baby cry in the audience - a reaction every new mom can understand. :)
5. Women in business need to keep fighting for rights, but need to respect men along the way.
BlogHer has a strong feminist vibe. As it should. I certainly consider myself a feminist and enjoy being around other women who are passionate about equal rights and navigating the business world from a woman's perspective. It was inspiring to hear from strong women in leadership such as Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Melissa Barnes (Twitter), and Richelle Parham (Ebay).
On a personal level, engaging with a variety of women over the weekend served as a good reminder of how I want to express my own feminist views in the business world. We need men. Men need us. We are both deserving of equal rights and an equal voice. We are also are different. Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. The BlogHer leadership did a great job on this front. They kept the message positive and uplifting.
I would love that to be the case for all feminist conversations. Man-bashing is cheap and unproductive. We don't have to belittle or complain about men in order to prove our strength.
It's been awhile since I've been in an environment with strong feminist views so it was a good reminder for me of the approach I want to take in my message and in my own life. Women are wonderful. So are men.
Overall, it was a great weekend. I am inspired by what BlogHer is doing and am excited to see how they grow in the future.
Oh, and a very special thank you to Lansinoh for providing such a comfortable nursing lounge for mothers like me. I was in there every 4 hours pumping or nursing and meeting other moms. In fact, it was my favorite networking spot all weekend. :)
Have you ever been to a blogging conference? I'd love to hear about it!
Have a great weekend, beauties. I'll be back with a health-related post on Monday!