My recap of BlogHer12. Here it is folks. The post you've all been waiting for. Let's do this.
BlogHer '12. New York City. Practically the most anticipated conference for bloggers around the world. I was there.
Thursday, August 2nd, Jared and I woke up bright and early ready for our 3 1/2 hour drive into the city. Which realistically, was more like 4 1/2 hours, thanks to crazy traffic. It was my first time in the city, and I was SO excited.
Unfortunately, because I decided to attend BlogHer later than most, I missed the special rate the host hotel was offering. Jared and I decided to stay at a hotel located by Times Square, which was one mile away from the conference. That was our first mistake. The hotel was fine, but it would have been much nicer if we had a room to crash in that was literally right there. Also? You get swag. LOTS of swag. Which made for a fun trip back to our hotel each night. Poor Jared carried tons of bags loaded with swag, while I pushed my chair. We must have looked like quite the pair ;)
Once we were settled into our hotel Thursday afternoon, we walked over to the Hilton to check-in and receive our badges. That took no time at all, and we had a few hours to kill before the expo hall opened, so we decided to go out and explore what the city has to offer.
Call me crazy, but for whatever reason, I thought NYC was supposed to be glamorous. Umm. It's not. Maybe I was confused with LA. I'm not complaining, it's just different than I expected. Not different in a bad way, just different. People are nice. I mean, really nice. They don't cut out in front of you. They hold open doors. They are friendly.
I was expecting the city itself to be a little bit more accessibility friendly. The ramps were horrible, if there was one. Sometimes the sidewalk would just end and I'd be without a ramp! Thankfully Jared was with me, because honestly, I don't think I could navigate the city on my own! There were steps to get into a lot of businesses. And the sidewalks were all tilted. Most people might not recognize things like this, but I use a wheelchair, so...yeah.
People watching in NYC is quite the thing. I think I could literally spend all day doing it. The most amazing thing I think I witnessed, was a homeless man, sharing his piece of bread with the pigeons. Talk about a complete selfless act. My husband's favorite sight was probably the unfortunate man wearing sandals, who just so happened to step in a fresh pile of dog crap. He was covered up to his ankles.
Jared and I did some sight-seeing. We saw Radio City Music Hall, Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and walked 5th Avenue. We also were right in front of the Empire State building, but it was impossible for me to get a decent picture of it!
After we walked what seemed like 100 blocks, we went back to the Hilton to hear THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, address us bloggers via a LIVE video conference. That's right people, Barack Obama thinks bloggers are powerful people! And he cared enough to take time out of his schedule to tell us how important we are, and that we matter! I have no words. Amazing.
Thursday night, we hit up the expo hall, where we were able to connect firsthand with tons of brands. Some brands were eager to take my business card and tell me about their product, and others, not so much.
Jared and I had a lot of fun. I practically threw him into the Chuck E Cheese ticket blaster. He was a trooper, and collected quite a bit of tickets. I heard rumors that sometimes they put "prizes" on the tickets, but our luck these tickets are only good to use at Chuck E Cheese! At least it was a good photo opp!
Running to the Kitchen, Kat from Living Like the Kings, and Courtney from Baxtron Life.
I attended one session that morning, Turning Your Blog Posts Into Publishable Essays. I enjoyed the session very much, but it was SO packed. I really feel that the sessions should have been held in a larger area, to accommodate more people. If you're paying for a full conference pass, you shouldn't be denied a seat to attend a session.
That afternoon we had a keynote speaker...MARTHA STEWART!!! I'm going to be honest, I really have never paid too much attention about Martha Stewart, but that didn't stop me from being excited to hear her speak.
And let me tell you something. Martha Stewart is freaking hilarious! She was so down to earth! I loved every second of her interview. My favorite part was when she said that she cleans her chicken coops, she feeds her horses, she pets and cares for them each night. She could easily hire someone to take care of these, what some might consider "dirty jobs," but she does it because she ENJOYS it.
After the keynote, I originally planned on attending a session, but by the time I got out of the keynote, and waiting in line for the bathroom, I couldn't get in. A bit disappointing, yes. Jared and I headed back to the expo hall, and ran into Ree Drummond, aka: The Pioneer Woman!!!
Although I am the first to say I despise cooking, this was The Pioneer Woman, I had to meet her! And I'm so glad I did, she was SO unbelievably nice.
Afterwards, we headed to the Connecticut Bloggers meet-up. That was awesome. It was so laid back, and just the thing I needed after a crazy day, running all around the conference.
I think we collapsed onto our hotel bed when the day was over. That was, after we went through all the swag we accumulated throughout the day.
Saturday morning, we were invited to the Disney Junior breakfast.
It was like you stepped into a room, and you were at Disney World!! Jake from the Neverland Pirates, and Minnie were even there!
As much as I was enjoying the Disney Junior event, I had to sneak out of there early. Branding and Blogging Professionally, was the ONE session I knew I had to attend. And, because I knew how quickly seats fill up, I made sure to get there early. The panel was led by Jill from Baby Rabies, Gina from The Feminist Breeder, Charlie from How to be a Dad, and Mandy from Harpers Happenings. ALL BLOGS I FOLLOW AND LOVE!!!
I am just so happy I got into that session. It was engaging...and freaking hilarious! Mandy told us, "don't poop out of your mouth." As funny as that is, IT IS SO TRUE!!! The rest of the session was equally inspiring. And YES, poop was absolutely inspiring!
Jared and I decided to cut our BlogHer adventure a bit short, because my dad came home early from Florida. That and, I missed my sweet boy terribly. I think he missed his Momma too :)
So BlogHer, was it what I expected? No. Probably not. But I think it's whatever you make of it. It's an experience. It's life changing. It's overwhelming, yet incredibly inspiring. It's exhausting. Lincoln agrees too...
Now the big question is, will I be attending BlogHer '13 in Chicago?
Honestly? Probably not. From what I hear the conference is being held 6 miles away from the host hotel, and they're shuttling us bloggers to and from. To me, that sounds like an epic disaster. I was one mile from the conference this year, and I know what a pain in the butt that was! Maybe I'll change my mind. But for now, I'll just keep doing what I love doing. Writing. Sharing our every day life adventures with you.