real tips for the real BlogHer conference for the real person who keeps it real.

June 10, 2013

If you’ve never been to a BlogHer conference, you can do your best to get all your ducks in a row, to research, to prepare, and still….

you don’t really know what to expect. I mean, FOR REAL.

All the tips and recommendations in the world cannot FULLY prepare you, but that does not have to be a bad thing. IMHO (Grandma, that means “in my humble opinion”) what you need to do is something that goes along with the whole philosophical poetic and touchy feely vibe of this website of mine here on the worldwide interweb….

  • BE YOU. No. Really. YOU. You are good stuff. Be the good stuff you are. Believe that you are you for a reason and carry on with your bad self. Please don’t look around and think there are cliques and people ignoring you. They are just people who have made friends and they are hanging together in person because it’s a chance to hang together in person. Also. We all feel small in large situations, so it’s possible we’re staying near those that help us remember to be fine.
  • KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. For real, friends. WHY are you going? Do you really know? Make a bit of a plan. It doesn’t have to be super strict or organized, but if you want to see people, make a date. Or it will not happen. If you want to make it to certain sessions, put them in your calendar and arrive early. If you’re going because people go and apparently you’re supposed to go and so you’re just winging it and hopefully it will all work out? That’s fine, but please be prepared to possibly get lost in a crowd and feel kind of weird (totally normal) and wander some more and then get lost and then maybe cry (totally normal).
  • PUT YOUR FANTASTIC FACE ON YOUR FREAKING BUSINESS CARD.  (If you already got cards with no face on them, don’t panic. There’s always next time, or even more cards.) You guys, at BlogHer (or any conference), we meet a lot of great people, but no matter how super great they are, we forget who was who because…ALL THE PEOPLE. So, add a photo of your beautiful mug to your card, even in a little corner or on the back. Later, instead of throwing away your card when they get home, with a shrug, people will instead go “OH her! She was so friendly and open and awesome! I’m going to tweet her right this second and like her facebook page and follow her blog and follow her on Pinterest and find her on LinkedIn and google+ circle her and YAY!!” (Just so you know, one of my favorite places to get business cards is through Vistaprint, so here’s a little something for you: Great Deals on Vistaprint Products. You’re welcome!)
  • PLEASE I AM BEGGING YOU TO GO TO VOICES OF THE YEAR. No matter what kind of blogger you are, this is an experience of pure connection and inspiration. Come and listen to your fellow social media enthusiasts read their words. Bear witness. Spoken word is THE BEST. You will laugh hard, maybe cry (in a good way) and you’ll look around and know why you came. You came because we’re all the same. We’re visionaries and creatives and we love connecting online. We write, we create, we do a whole lot of things and there is support for what you do, in other women. GO TO VOTY. (And then, after you’ve fallen in love with listening, head to The Listen To Your Mother Open Mic, wherein YOU can put your name in the hat to read your own work!)
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, GO TO THE SERENITY SUITE. This year, BlogHer is providing a suite at both locations (the McCormick building AND the Sheraton). Whether it’s day or night, session time or party time, we’re there for you. (Maggie of Violence UnSilenced and I are back again to host the suites and staff the suites with the BEST volunteers you’ve ever seen ever. Come and see us! We all get tired and overwhelmed and our feet hurt and we want some quiet and a respite and a relaxed atmosphere. The Serenity Suite is the place for the moments when you simply need a breath. It’s an alcohol free zone for people in recovery and it’s a location for meet-ups with friends where there’s chocolate and soft music for everyone and anyone. The suite is open to ALL. Please don’t forget, because there’s a chance you’ll feel overwhelmed and you’ll want someone to make you feel like you’re not losing your mind. That’s what we’re there for. Validation and stuff.

There are a lot of great posts out there that cover all the practical tips for you. You can get a lot of information from Shannon and Lori‘s posts about the schedule on the BlogHer website.

If you have questions, just ask! There really are NO dumb questions when it’s your first (or 2nd or 3rd or 4th….) conference experience.

Here’s the main thing, friends: You get what you live, right? So be positive–expect good things, make a plan and see some people you  care about, be you and have a good time! Listen to YOU–there’s no wrong way to feel but you get all extra emotional if you don’t allow yourself to feel stuff and then move on. Take breaks when you need them and go to some fun parties. Go to sessions that will help you grow. BE YOU.


Screenshot 2013-06-10 at 11.28.06 AM


anna whiston-donaldson June 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I want to thank you for reaching out to me last year at BlogHer when I was feeling weird and aimless and stressed! XOXO
anna whiston-donaldson recently posted..Charging Ahead

Heather June 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

oh goodness, OF COURSE. That’s what we do for each other. Just walk around reaching out, since we’re all weird and aimless and stressed :)


tracy@sellabitmum June 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I’ll be there! Mainly on your lap!
tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..As Your Are

Arnebya June 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

You see how you do, Tracy? The minute you think I’m not looking? I CAN SEE THIS and my lap is saddened.

But! I nodded through this entirely. I truly can’t wait to be on the other end of VOTY and I hope I get called again for the LTYM open mic. I can’t wait to see my friends and meet new people and make new connections and then hole up in the room when I get overwhelmed (and feel totally ok about that). I hope to meet you this year, Heather.
Arnebya recently posted..If You Loved Me, You’d Buy Me a Groupon for a Cleaning Service

Heather June 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

I love our lap sits the very most.

Now dances? Lap dances? I’m not really down with that. So please don’t do that ever again.


Alexandra June 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

The serenity suite saved my mental life many a time.BlogHer is awesome, but a breathless ride. You need to go and get your oxygen before plunging back in. I LOVE YOU.
Alexandra recently posted..Getting the Green Light

Heather June 14, 2013 at 9:36 am

Oh you, I love you. Thank you for coming along and spreading your light. You are oxygen like the Serenity Suite, too :)

HouseTalkN June 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I am a BlogHer rookie! EEKS! Thank you for this.
HouseTalkN recently posted..A Garden Party…And Some Shenanigans

Anna June 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Oh, Heather! Thank you for this. I am just starting to feel a little newbie anxiety. BlogHer is a real beast and totally scary for an introvert like me. This post is a great pep talk. See you in the Serenity Suite!
Anna recently posted..Be Outside Day 13 | Brookgreen Gardens

Heather June 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

You’re SO welcome! I’ve been going since 2009 and I’m still overwhelmed, so don’t feel like a weirdo :) You’ll find me in the Serenity Suite a lot!


Sue - The Spin Cycle June 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm

BlogHer virgin here. Found this post on Pinterest. I’ll be the one running around with a printed copy of it hanging out of my hip pocket. Thank you.
Sue – The Spin Cycle recently posted..Camp 500 Startups

Heather June 14, 2013 at 9:34 am


Oh I’m so glad it helped!

Sandra Sallin July 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm

What a lovely post. You make me feel so welcome to The Serentity Suite. This is my first conference and I was OK until I found out I was one of the VOTY. Now I’m a complete wreck. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on. Be friendly to everyone, bring an extra charger, tons of business cards with my photo, don’t wear yoga pants, and on and on. I did not know about Listen To Your Mother. Just thank you for your gracious and welcoming approach.
Sandra Sallin recently posted..I Shook Hands With Steve Jobs

Heather July 23, 2013 at 8:26 am

Well, you ARE so welcome to the Serenity Suite. And breathe and tell yourself to just be in the moment as much as you can be. It’s going to be good!


Julie Chenell DeNeen July 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm

This was so good, thank you. I’m a long-time blogger, but this is my first time for Blogher and I’m completely overwhelmed!
Julie Chenell DeNeen recently posted..A Disgusting Humor Me Blog Hop

Heather July 23, 2013 at 8:28 am

I’m not going to lie, it can be overwhelming. So I’m really glad if my post helped! Come see us in the Serenity Suite! We’ll throw calming candy at you.


Jenni Chiu @MommyNaniBooboo July 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

And I vowed since 2011 to NEVER miss VOTY if I am at the conference.
Good stuff.
It seems your lap is taken, but perhaps we shall bump into each other and hug.
Jenni Chiu @MommyNaniBooboo recently posted..Instagram – This Post Is Made Up Of Other People’s Content

Aliza Worthington July 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

This is one of the most helpful posts I’ve read so far tonight. (Nothing like waiting until 2 nights before you leave for your first BlogHer to decide to, I dunno…figure out the weekend…)

I hope we get to meet, and that someone sits in my lap, too. :)

p.s. where do you get the badges for VOTY? I wanna do karaoke!

Heather July 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hi Aliza!

It’s actually not a badge. I just took a screenshot from the blogher site :) And yes, karaoke will be so fun! Especially with Amy Windsor, since she loves it SO much and is SO good at it!

Kevin Davis @ Alphagraphics June 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Thanks for the tips. I haven’t added my pic to my business cards yet but I can see it being a great way to be remembered at the next conference I attend.

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