Last week I pushed myself out of my introverted comfort zone and went to BlogHer 16 in Los Angeles.
It’s not easy for me to go to a huge conference, share a room with women I don’t know, and spend four days surrounded by thousands of people with very little alone time; you can imagine how awesome BlogHer must be if I manage to make it there!
Last year was my first BlogHer- and I went big- flying all the way from California to New York City I wrote about my BlogHer 15 experience last year, and I have to say that not being a “newbie” for this year’s conference made it much, much less overwhelming and far more enjoyable overall.
A bit of background about BlogHer- it was founded in 2008 as a publishing company created by women for women to write and share content- the kind of company the founders always wanted to work with but couldn’t find. BlogHer has helped thousands of women writers and entrepreneurs become empowered and successful, and with last year’s alignment with SheKnows Media, is certain to help thousands more women reach their dreams and live their passions.
So much happens at BlogHer- I thought I’d offer a BlogHer16- A Photo Story of Los Angeles to help you have a sneak peek, and hopefully motivate you to join me next year!
I’m not a big city girl – so I always head out into nature. Santa Monica beach is full of all sorts of interesting creatures, and great views, too!
I wanted my BlogHer 16 roommate from North Carolina to have the ultimate L.A. beach experience – doesn’t get more beautiful than palm trees in the sunset.
After walking nearly 8 miles along the beach, we headed for Third Street Promenade – a gorgeous outdoor shopping mall in Santa Monica. Thank goodness for our Lyft ride home – we were exhausted!
BlogHer and SheKnows Media always choose beautiful locations for the BlogHer annual conference. The downtown JW Marriott was top notch, and our view from our room on the top floor was awesome – and I could constantly check the freeway traffic!
Los Angeles always has cool stuff to look at – our hotel was right around the corner from the Grammy Museum. Grammy Awards 2016!
BlogHer does a fantastic job making us feel welcome, and showing us how to get around the hotel…so many experts among us! (I’m called a ‘middle school’ expert!)
A big part of the BlogHer 16 conferences is the Expo – a chance for bloggers to connect with brands and check out all the trending products heading out into the marketplace. Thursday night is dubbed “Evening at the Expo”, so if you’re there early, you can get the first glance at the products, hosts, and have some drinks and appetizers . I’m a huge HGTV nerd, so meeting Sabrina Soto (Velcro ambassador) was great fun – and she helped me figure out how to hang Lily’s apartment curtains with their new HANGables product – fingers crossed it works! And yes, she’s as sweet in person as she is on TV…
The days and nights of the conference are jam packed – I love the Staples event each year (I’m a teacher and secret-stationery-supply-hoarder, you know!), and this year’s hosts Lori Loughlin (remember Aunt Becky from Full House?) and Gabby Reece (Olympic volleyball star) offered their ‘celebrity mom’ perspective on back to school. I left with a fab new backpack and gift card for school supplies! Win-win!
Loved Gabby’s super down-to-earth thoughts on mothering.
And I can’t forget the speakers…I stay mostly on the “Publishing and Writing” strand, and this talk on content by Lain Ehmann, Rachel Holis (The Chic Site), Susan Kaplow and Jadah Sellner (Super Green Smoothies) really made me think about building a community with love and consistently offering honest, helpful information. It was powerful.
BlogHer 16 did have its share of celebrity keynotes – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, anyone? I LOVED Sarah Michelle Gellar’s message about living life, tackling challenges, and remembering that failure is our first attempt at learning. She’s launching a new product line called Foodstir- look for it in Whole Foods soon. And maybe a Buffy reboot in the works???
I popped into a Business strand – talking about being an expert, and the ‘imposter syndrome’ with Julie Ross Godar and Tiffany Pham. I just love some of their points about being ‘smart’ to see your faults, and being OK with talking about what scares us. I had to LOL when I read the ‘fake it til you make it’ part – I tell my students that all the time!
Lunchtime keynote at BlogHer 16 – Kim K. Make your own judgment – I’m not going to hate on my blog. She has beautiful hair.
Another spotlight moment – meeting Jessica Leahy, author of “The Gift of Failure” and writer for the New York Times. Teachers really are kindred spirits. When she saw me fan-girl with her book (and yes, she jumped down from the podium to sign it), she made my day. Love her brain. And the rest of the panel – Kathy Cano-Murillo (CraftyChica.com), Ayinde Howell (ieatgrass.com) and Penny Sansevieri were pretty cool, too!
I haven’t gotten my official AARP card – yet – but I was nevertheless invited to their #DisruptAging talk. I’m so glad I went – besides the delish bubbly and the free book, I was surrounded by the wisdom that comes with having lived for 50+ decades, and the beauty that comes with it.
Can you believe they’re all over 50? Successful, smart, strong women. Surround yourself with who you want to be.
I volunteered as a mic wrangler this year, offering me the chance to meet speakers and run around the room like I’ve got my own talk show! This session was about writing a memoir – these four women have each published their stories ranging from college advice (Christine Glascoe Crowder) , living in a harem (Jillian Lauren), grieving the loss of parents (Claire Bidwell Smith) and living in India (Jenny Feldon). I’ve got their books on my to-read list for sure!
Lunchtime speaker at BlogHer 16 Lucy McBath – mom of Jordan Davis and Faith and Outreach Leader for Everytown for Gun Safety – brought tears to my eyes.
Saturday’s lunch ended with keynote Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Big Bang Theory) sharing her thoughts on being a ‘hippie-crunchy-chewy-mom’ and how to live an authentic life in and out of the spotlight of celebrity. The had the crowd mesmerized! Have you checked out her website, GrokNation.com? So cool!
Another fun BlogHer event was watching the screening of Tig Nataro’s new pilot TV show, “One Mississippi” – and she entertained us with a Q and A right after.
Feet up, last speaker of BlogHer 16. Comfy shoes and clothing is a must!
One thing BlogHer knows how to do is have fun – the closing party at The Conga Room (owned by Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez, will.i.am) was hoppin’ thanks to child-prodigy DJ Fulano. He’s only 13!
Is this my tired face, or my “I love Whiskey Sours” face?
Saturday night, packing up…one of my favorite free swag items from the conference was this tee from the TNT #GoodBehavior TV show (and yes, we had a choice!).
Just some free swag…great booths at the Expo this year! I’m telling you…that bai Cocofusion is like a pina colada in a bottle!
Sunday morning slog through LAX with 51 pounds of swag hiding in my bag – be sure to always bring a BIG, empty duffel to BlogHer!
BlogHer is definitely the place for writers and bloggers and women who want to surround themselves with others who want to work hard to reach their dreams. Have you been to a BlogHer conference? Come with me next year!