Imagine 2400 excited female bloggers, half of whom have never been to a conference before, not to mention New York. Many were away from their kids and husbands for the first time.
They were there to learn, to party, to get swag, and to talk. Sometimes it seemed like they were all talking at the same time. That was sold-out BlogHer ’10: Noisy and thrilling. Think high estrogen count.
According to the founders giving the keynote, there are now 67.5 million women who blog. It felt like ALL of them were at the conference.
Last Friday and Saturday, BlogHer featured two days of sessions on 7 tracks, including the writing lab, geek lab, and the job lab (since we’re still in a recession). My favorite was on humor writing, moderated by Awesomely Luvvie. It featured the co-creator of the Jon Stewart show, Lizz Winstead, and comedian Jessica Bern. These women write and speak on the foolishness of everyday life, and spent a lot of time encouraging the women in the room to have confidence.
“Curiosity is our greatest asset,” said Winstead, who researches her topics like a madwoman. (Click on her name above to see her rant on Phyllis Schlafly.) “Hone your voice and write about what you care about. Be articulate, creative and smart and people will find you.” She also said “Don’t write about stuff you don’t know about.” Good advice.
Winstead encouraged writers to take a position, comparing it to driving down the middle of the road. “A car in the middle of the road causes accidents. Pick the left or the right. If you don’t you’ll need my self-help book called ‘F**k You,’” she concluded. Keep in mind that someone will always be offended by your position, she said, because “even asserting a point of view will offend.”
So now that you’ve read that, I’m going to take a position. I have never spoken with so many people who are just writing about their own lives, whatever’s going on with them: infertility, weight loss, post-partem depression, and parenting. I am concerned about narcissism, which is on the rise .
To continue the theme, bloggers visited two show floors of sponsors, including Kmart, Proctor & Gamble, Chervolet, who invited them to share more about themselves. They could be filmed giving their opinions about products. They could have themselves photographed roasting S’mores over a fake fire inside a suite at the Hilton. They could get a makeover from Yahoo!, if they agreed to be filmed discussing how they had reinvented themselves.
Doing so required signing a 2-page release that stated such things as “I forever waive any rights of publicity, rights of privacy, intellectual property rights, or any other legal or moral rights that might preclude Yahoo!’s uses of the Recorded Material or require my permission for Yahoo! to use it for any purpose…without limitation..including but not limited to marketing collaterall such as brochures, direct mail pieces, and marketing emails; the Yahoo! website and Yahoo!’s worldwide network of properties.”
I wanted the make-up do-over because Carol of ParisBreakfast raved about it and said I needed “softening,” but the wording of the release freaked me out. I was destined to remain hard.
In short, the conference was all about the attendees. Because blogging is all about you. And here I am, talking about my own experience. In other words, I’m a hypocrite for being critical.
Now, on to the swag. For food bloggers, the giveaways were disappointing. There were toys for kids, a plastic food container shaped like a sandwich, a coupon for a free McDonald’s salad, a Got Milk mug, and a Jimmy Dean alarm clock. The bar will be higher at BlogHer Food, coming up in October and sold out.
I’m pleased to say that Will Write for Food sold out after my book signing, and that many food bloggers came by to say hello. Since I am not a mom who blogs, it was great to talk with people I could relate to. I also hobnobbed with the great food bloggers of the day at a swank rooftop cocktail party thrown by mega star Ree Drummond, Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, and Jaden Hair.