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Monday, July 27, 2009
Adventures at BlogHer, part 2
Word on the street was, BlogHer can get pretty wild. As always, I am considerate of your time, so let me just say right here that I did not get wasted, party naked, do karaoke, post naked pictures of myself online or anything like that. I did type a portion of this post naked. Does that count?
Yes, I was an utter and complete failure in the hedonism department. I didn’t even take a single nap, despite the fact that having the king-size bed all to myself was one of my favorite things about the conference (maid service was a close second). Mostly, I crammed in sessions and chatted with lots of web experts and (duh) bloggers. Cue “It’s A Small World After All”: I bumped into one ex coworker (hi, Cathy—check out her helpful family fitness blog, Mayberry Mom), one woman I went to high school with who’s now a web genius (hi, Deb), one woman I went to college with (Missy, who writes the supersmart Women and Hollywood), and one friend of a friend, Melissa of Single Gal In The City who is lovely, anyone know a nice single guy in NYC?
I also met some influential people.
I really wanted to meet other moms of kids with special needs, but unfortunately, when I checked in nobody told me that I'd have a chance to find some at a "Birds of a Feather" lunch, so I missed the opportunity. That's the one complaint I had about the event: I felt like I wasn't filled in enough at registration on navigating it.
Overall, the conference was incredibly interesting, a lot to absorb. I didn’t make it to “Vaginally Challenged Bloggers: The Men of BlogHer” session and I wimped out on scary-sounding ones like “Hacking, Mash-Ups and Other Rebel Coding” (what the heck is a mash-up?). But I did go to a bunch, including “MommyBlogging: Have You Found Your MommyBlogging Tribe?” (that would be you people), “Make Your Blog More Accessible” and “Dying is Easy, ROTFLMAO Comedy is Hard,” with a panel of humor bloggers who actually were funny in person, too. I sat next to Marinka of Motherhood in NYC, who made me laugh.
Here’s what a panel looks like.
Note, none of them were naked.
There was a good group of speakers and participants, including the brilliant Tina Brown of The Daily Beast, Paula Deen, if she's your type of cook, and Tim Gunn, if he's your type of guy (women were lining up/hyperventilating). My favorite thing was the awesome keynote address, where 20 select bloggers read from their posts. It was held in a humongous ballroom that almost made me feel like I was attending a fancy wedding except people were speaking about things like tampons and sperm.
Some posts were funny, some made me bawl, and all were really inspiring. Tanis from Redneck Mommy had strong words to say about the stigma attached to having a disability; Melissa from Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters recalled the day she and her husband were at the infertility clinic and he had to make a “donation"; Danielle from Knotty Yarn wrote about a tampon she thought had gone AWOL...inside her; Wendi of Wendi Aarons ranted and raved about Diet Coke's identity crisis; and Catherine of Her Bad Mother revealed a shocking family secret.
Random list of things I learned at the conference:
• This may fall into the “duh!” category for some of you, but Twitter’s key for getting people to know about your blog. Having a TweetDeck is evidently helpful. I’m going to get me one as soon as I find out what it is.
• Adwordskeywords tells you how popular words are in search engines, helpful for growing your traffic. However, it is not wise to put words like, say, Britney Spears into a post or in the HTML if you are writing about, say, your child's physical therapy session or the passing of your great aunt. Readers and Google will be onto you.
• StumbleUpon and Kirtsy are your friends (they’re Internet communities with user-contributed web content). It’s better not to put up your own posts (so feel free to Kirtsy and Stumble any posts of mine that you like by clicking the "bookmark" button below, this concludes the shameless plug portion of this post).
• WordPress has more plug-ins and other bells and whistles than Blogger. I have been considering switching, but like a lot of things, all I’ve had time to do is think about it. Same goes for solving world peace. And figuring out what BRITNEY SPEARS should do next.
• If, say, a hotel named The Sheraton is supposed to give you a wakeup call and, say, said hotel somehow forgets TWO mornings in a row to give you a wakeup call, it is OK to ask said hotel for a deduction off your bill (but not truly really mind the extra sleep in the very comfy bed I was unfortunately not able to stow away in my luggage, though I really would have liked to).
• It's a good idea to set up a Facebook page for your blog. You know, in your spare time. Unless you are BRITNEY SPEARS and you have a lot of assistants who could help you do that.
• If you are linking to another post don’t just link one word—for example, I love this). Link a phrase: I love this post about a bill of rights for parents of kids with special needs. (Uh, I guess I am not done with the shameless self promotion.) It's easier on readers' eyes and easier for Google to pick up the key words.
• It is not a good idea to eat, like, 12 bags of free potato chips before you go to sleep as you listen to BRITNEY SPEARS.
• If you call home and your husband says that your four-year-old keeps asking for you, you may feel a tiny twinge of satisfaction.
• Picapp has lots of great free photos. And you can find free celebrity images at celebutopia so you no longer have to illegally post them and worry that the web photo police will show up at your home in the middle of the night and arrest you. Even if you have been hanging with BRITNEY SPEARS.
• Bonus travel hint: If you have two carry-on bags (you are only allowed one), you should position one bag so it is basically resting upon your back, then place the other bag in front of it so it looks like you are only carrying one bag even though your shoulder may feel like it is about to fall off, then try to distract the flight attendant who is taking boarding passes by saying something random like, “Hey, I heard they are serving Slurpees on the flight tonight!" or "Hey, is that BRITNEY SPEARS over there?"
In my two days there, I met a lot of fab women including Melissa of Mindless Mommy who's mom to two kids with special needs; bubbly Amy of Pretty Babies; the very wise Annie of PhD in Parenting; charming Caroline, who does animal rescue and who told me she's raised $20,000 for the cause at Romeo The Cat; and Amy, a cool English teacher who writes Teach Mama, a blog about finding learning opportunities in the every day. Oh, shout out to the supercool Nancy Martira, a media specialist at Ketchum who offered to give me a tutorial on Twitter. You are a brave woman. Oh, and shout out to BRITNEY SPEARS as well.
I am not counting the twenty or so women who came up to me and said, "You look familiar!" This happens whenever I'm in a situation where I'm meeting a lot of new people. I don't know what it is about me. I usually say, "Yes, I'm BRITNEY SPEARS" or "Yes, I was recently on America's Most Wanted."
All in all, it was an exhilarating experience. And a wakeup call. Sometimes, I feel a little overwhelmed by the blogosphere—all that I could be doing, all the great stuff out there I don’t have time to get to, all the stuff I have yet to learn, the fact that I have never read BRITNEY SPEARS' blog. I'll leave you with something a panelist said about the blogsphere that was so reassuring: “We’re kind of in the Wild West right now. We’re all making this up as we go along.”
Next year, the conference is in New York, my neck of the woods. I was bummed to hear that—no trip. I think I'm going to tell Dave it's in Tahiti and try to sneak away for a week. Nobody tell him.
P.S., the day after I got home, there was a hailstorm. Do you think I have incurred the wrath of God for not getting all crazy at BlogHer? Or for taking the name of BRITNEY SPEARS in vain?