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What happened at BlogHer ’12? – Part 1

Last week at this time my lovely roomie and I, along with more than 5,000 other (mostly women) bloggers, were lamenting the fact that BlogHer ’12 was coming to an end, even as we continued to meet and greet and celebrate together.

BlogHer '12Looking back, I can safely say that my time at BlogHer ’12 was truly one of the best, most valuable, and most fun experiences of my life! The scheduling was well-balanced, the selection of activities on offer was wide-ranging, and, perhaps best of all, the sense of community was powerful.

So what happened at BlogHer ’12, anyway?

Obviously I am only one person, and therefore wasn’t able to be everywhere and experience everything that was packed into a fantastic and solidly-programmed couple of days (though that would have been nice!), but I’m happy to share my own personal experiences to give you a bit of an idea of what happens at a conference for bloggers.

BlogHer ’12: An Overview for the Uninitiated

Although there were several other goodies sandwiched in between, the majority of activities that took place at BlogHer ’12 fell into one of five main categories:

  1. Sessions – panel-led discussions (most around 75 minutes long) on anything and everything related to blogging. This year’s sessions were organized into various “tracks” – The Personal, The Political, The Professional, The Technical, The Visual, The Writing, The Geek Bar and The Writing Lab (30 minute sessions), Room of Your Own, and Sponsor Sessions – and offered a wide range of topics to appeal to the many varied types of bloggers in attendance. Three sessions were offered on Friday and three on Saturday – the only problem was choosing which to attend! (Several of the sessions are actually available on the BlogHer ’12 Virtual Conference pages, should you wish to see a little more of what they were about. At the time of writing they are limited to a series of Liveblog Posts, but there is also an as-yet-unpopulated section set aside for podcasts which I’ll be watching with great interest.)
  2. Keynotes – addresses, interviews, and panels by and with several well-known individuals speaking on issues relevant to women. From Thursday’s address (via live video) by President Obama, to Friday’s lunch keynote featuring a one-on-one interview with Martha Stewart, to Saturday’s lunch keynote featuring a one-on-one interview with Katie Couric, followed later by the “Women Influencers as Change Agents” keynote with Soledad O’Brien, Christy Turlington Burns, and Malaak Compton-Rock, there was certainly no shortage of smart and influential celebrities sharing their experiences and wisdom!
  3. Expo – several halls and rooms packed full of sponsor booths exhibiting products, handing out free samples, and connecting with bloggers for future opportunities. Two hours on Thursday evening were set aside for a dedicated “Evening at the Expo” which didn’t conflict with any other BlogHer ’12 programming, but the booths were also open throughout the rest of the conference, so there was plenty of time to explore and network whenever it suited each individual’s chosen schedule.
  4. Parties – a series of “Official BlogHer Parties” hosted by various bloggers, blogging groups, and sponsors, each featuring its own yummy themed food, drinks, and decor. Plenty of glowsticks, sparkles, music, and dancing gave conference attendees several fun (and very loud!) opportunities to connect and socialize with their fellow bloggers.
  5. Special Events – a variety of activities presented by conference sponsors, each of which required sign-up ahead of time by those who wished to attend. I have to confess that I didn’t make it to any of these events – there were too many other wonderful things on tap! – so I would love to hear feedback from anyone who was able to attend.

Some of the other goodies included an informative “Newbie Breakfast” for first-time conference-goers, a “Speed Dating” meet-and-greet, a “Voices of the Year Community Keynote” where bloggers read their awarded blog posts, a “Birds of a Feather” breakfast for connecting with other bloggers in your niche, and a fashion show (both people and pets!).

What a weekend!

In tomorrow’s post I’ll carry on and write more about my own personal observations and experiences throughout the weekend at BlogHer ’12.

In the meantime, if you attended BlogHer ’12, I’d love for you to fill in some blanks with your own observations and experiences.

Please share!

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.