a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Aug, 2010

BlogHer ’10: overall impressions

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Publishing/writing/career stuff

If you were at BlogHer – or even if you weren’t – I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you posted about it on your own blog let me know. I’d love to read about it.

I have 235 unread emails in my Inbox and I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to summarize the BlogHer ’10 confab in a way that makes sense to those who attended BlogHer as well as those who didn’t.

Frankly, it’s impossible. I’m still processing everything. I’ve only had one coffee and haven’t had a proper breakfast. And I’m still recovering from yesterday’s epic journey back to Ottawa. So I’m going to have to tackle this in pieces.

I will start by saying that NYC is a living postcard. The end. I’d never been! I can’t wait to go back with my family. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly. There was plenty to see and do. I [HEART] New York.

I need to back up a bit and start by saying that I wasn’t planning on attending BlogHer at all. It seemed kind of silly, for two reasons. First of all, it would mean that I had to admit that this little blog of mine was something more. Ten years ago, if you had told me that someday I’d be shelling out for a blogging conference (along with the flight and hotel and everything that goes along with it) I would have thought you were off your rocker. And this is going to sound totally stupid, but I debated whether or not there was anything left to learn about blogging. What else is there to know? I’ve been doing this for such a long time! That was wrong. To think there was nothing left to learn was shortsighted.

So I talked about it with Mark and we decided that we had the money to send me and that I had to go. The Fishbowl has become a part-time job and it was time to get serious about it.

I learned a lot at BlogHer, especially in the sessions about branding, monetization, and the business of stats. I learned a lot for my own purposes as well for my social media-related clients, and I feel like I can be more help when I am called upon.

The education side of things was randomly peppered with some great a-ha moments: about how I do things and why. I should refer to my notes (but I’m too lazy to get up) but one of the best sessions I attended was about loving your small blog. This may come as a surprise to some, but I still consider this to be a small blog. There was talk about jealousy between bloggers at this session. Where does it come from, and why? Why are some bloggers jealous of others? And when one blogger copies another, or should I say emulates another, is it a good thing, or not? Is copying someone’s style/design/ideas bad, or is it a sincere form of flattery?

There are some bloggers who are jealous of other blogger’s successes. I see it all the time, but I honestly don’t get it. When I hear about a blogger getting a book deal (for example) I think WOW. And then I think, WOW. I’m excited for that person’s success – no matter how big or small.  Instead of wringing my hands and wondering WHY NOT ME or debating the merits of that book deal or all-expense paid vacation or other fabulous opportunity, I support them, I never begrudge someone of something they earned. We bloggers need to build each other up, not tear each other down.

My biggest takeaway from the conference is that (a) I need to do more work on the administration/technical side of things (such as knowing what my stats are) and (b) I lack an overall game plan. I like that this little space has been nebulous and loosey-goosey and very reflective of my state of mind, but I would feel a whole lot better if I sat down and thought about where this is all going. If anywhere.

How can I know where I’m going if I don’t have a map?

I needs me a map.

Blogs are powerful. I loved to see what other women are doing with their blogs. BlogHer is a collection of women who blog about every topic under the sun; blogging for fun, for profit, for the connections, for the friendships… to alleviate boredom, depression, isolation, to be educators and activists. Everyone blogs for a different reason. As a community we need to accept that not everyone’s blog is fine literature and not everyone is born to be an activist. The community is highly welcoming (I never felt uncomfortable plunking myself down at a lunch table and chatting with the person next to me about what they were writing about) but can also be somewhat divided. Some activists (for example) don’t understand why some bloggers only post their laundry lists of routine domestic drudgery i.e. changing of diapers (and what’s in them) etc. They fail to understand that blogging is an outlet. Maybe that mom who’s writing about gastrointestinal issues is looking for help and understanding, looking for a vehicle to release the words that are cooped up in her brain before she implodes. There is value in these blogs too.

The ratio of networking:learning:education:socialization:partying:shopping was different for everyone who came to BlogHer, and everyone attended for different reasons. I was mostly there for my own edification, but can’t deny that it was also a great couple days sightseeing and meeting likeminded women.

That was, for me, one of the best parts of BlogHer. I really enjoyed meeting people who understand social media, people who really and truly GET IT.

I had a fantastic time meeting an international assortment of bloggers as much as I did hanging out with the Ottawa-area contingent. (I was able to chat with some more than others… but I had a ball all the same.)

Julie from Coffee with Julie was my travel buddy and roommate:

Julie and I at BlogHer
There was also:

 (I’m forgetting someone, aren’t I? Please let me know if I have.)

Some of the people I had the pleasure of meeting included Schmutzie – whom I adore – but unfortunately I didn’t meet her until the very end of the conference and I turned around and promptly lost her. I also had several opportunities to chat with Karen from The Kids are Alright. (I’m sure she thought I was stalking her, because I seemed to run into her every 20 minutes or so.) She was one of the BlogHer Voices of the Year and the post she read was amazing. You can read it right here.

My highlight was meeting Gretchen Rubin, the author of the Happiness Project. I’ve been reading her blog for a few years, and recently read her book. It was a pleasure to chat with her, although to be honest I practically attacked her between sessions and, unfortunately for me, suffered an ill-timed attack of total tongue paralysis and didn’t get to impress her with my insights, humour and quick wit.

I also count myself lucky to meet Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom. She loves beautiful things, I love beautiful things … we are kindred spirits. That’s why I couldn’t stop at HELLO and asked her to paint something on my arm. (Which might sound weird to those of you who weren’t there, but trust me, it was perfectly normal.) She was wearing a lovely dress on the evening of the arts gala, and she flowed through the ballrooms with ease and grace… a lovely sight.

Okay. Considering I didn’t have much to say I sure said a lot. I may even have more to say as the day wears on. Coming up next: PHOTOS, where I shopped, what I bought, conference swag, and my journey through customs. :)

What about you? Were you there?

12 Responses to "BlogHer ’10: overall impressions"

1 | Sarah (mrsgryphon)

August 9th, 2010 at 2:06 pm


I’m headed to New York for vacation in a few weeks, and am gobbling up all the post-BlogHer recaps in anticipation! Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your journey, and so glad that you had a positive experience :)

2 | Sara

August 9th, 2010 at 2:54 pm


Thanks for sharing! It was great ready everyone’s tweets and learning/living vicariously through your experiences.

Lara was also there http://mommyhoodforlara.blogspot.com/

3 | Judy

August 9th, 2010 at 3:50 pm


Wasn’t there and not sure it is for me, but I would love to hear all the things you learned about social media and busineess side of things (for my paid work life not the home one :) )

Everyone who went really seems to have loved it. I have been read all the twitter and blog posts.

4 | Capital Mom

August 9th, 2010 at 4:10 pm


I really enjoyed BlogHer. I didn’t go into it with a lot of expectations but I was eager to learn. Luckily the sessions I attended exceeded my hopes. Like you I am left thinking about what I want from my blog and where to go next. I am wrote about my experiences here http://capitalmom.blogspot.com/2010/08/blogher-moments.html

5 | Rebecca

August 9th, 2010 at 7:17 pm


So glad to hear you had such a great time, and took a lot away from it! welcome back :)

6 | coffee with julie

August 9th, 2010 at 7:57 pm


Great summary! I’m exhausted too. And relieved that you posted a pic of me that had no double chins and that you didn’t post a pic of me in the cab ride from hell. :)

Thanks for the whole experience. It would not have been the same without you!

7 | Laura

August 10th, 2010 at 12:01 am


I enjoyed following all the “tweets” trying to figure out what the conference was all about. It sure sounds liike Blogher was fun but I love your honesty about the event. Good to know you felt you learned a lot and yes, I’m surprised you consider your blog small! That cracks me up. :)

8 | BlogHer10: swag and stuff >> a peek inside the fishbowl

August 10th, 2010 at 9:00 am


[…] This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. […]

9 | karengreeners

August 10th, 2010 at 11:00 am


Dude, I was stalking you.

10 | sassymonkey

August 10th, 2010 at 11:26 am


Raises hand. I was another Ottawa BlogHer.

11 | vicky

August 10th, 2010 at 4:06 pm


Two great blog posts!! So do you think you will go back to BlogHer next year? I would have loved to go…maybe one year soon.

12 | Lara

August 11th, 2010 at 6:50 am


I love reading about how different all of our experiences were on the same trip! It was great experiencing it with you!
Here’s my post, although I have a few more coming up :) http://mommyhoodforlara.blogspot.com/2010/08/blogher-10.html

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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