BlogHer 12: An Evolution

by Amber on August 9, 2012

I’ve read a lot of BlogHer recaps this week (as have many of you). Many of them share a common complaint. BlogHer, they say, is getting too big.

If you ask me, that’s a really short-sighted view of things.

people in the main registration area of blogher

Yes, with 5,000 people running around the Hilton, things did get a little zany.

And sure, making connections in a group that large was more difficult than it was in the more intimate gatherings of the past.

And yeah, it was harder to get into some of the headline sessions.

But, you know what? That’s a good thing.

It’s a testament to how fast the women-centric blogging industry (and yes, it is an industry) is growing.

This conference started because a handful of women were concerned that the voices of female bloggers weren’t being heard. That there was no place for them to gather. And that first year, only a few hundred showed up.

That was only what? Eight years ago?

This year, there were thousands of us. And we were wooed not just by traditional, female-oriented brands (like Lysol and Hillshire Farms), but big technology companies, car manufacturers, and hell, the president of the fricking United States.

Martha Stewart and Katie Couric took time out of their schedules to talk to us.

PR companies and advertising agencies threw elaborate, fancy-pants parties to get our attention.

In other words, we are officially a force to be reckoned with.

So, excuse my French, but stop the bitching. Celebrate what we’ve accomplished instead.

Those newbies who fluttered around, getting in your way and ODing on swag? They want to be you. Give them time to grow up. Who knows what they’ll become?

Those coupon and deal bloggers, who write only as a means to an end? They’re feeding their families, paying their mortgages, and making a career for themselves. And that’s only possible because of what you’ve done.

You paved the way.

You invented a new economy.

Do you have any idea how awesome that is?

The words, and the love of writing, will never go away. People will always read your blogs. You are storytellers, and the world loves stories.

But we have to make room for new people, telling new stories, in new ways.

If we can’t embrace change, who can?

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Momo Fali August 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

I think I love you.

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Amber August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I love that you think that. But it’s the truth. The whining is driving me insane.

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LaShawn August 9, 2012 at 11:13 am

Well said! It was my first Blogher and it was BIG. But I think that’s wonderful! BUT, Blogher needs to remember a few of the issues they had this year and work on them for the next time! Evolution!!!

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Amber August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Yep, there will always be issues. But it shouldn’t overshadow the whole experience, you know?

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Rebeccah August 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

Excellent post. Very well said.
Rebeccah recently posted..How To Launch A Boat, Connelly Style

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Amber August 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thank you. It was one of those things that just needed to be said.

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Deb Ng August 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Hi Amber,

This is the first year in a while that I wasn’t able to attend BlogHer but I’ve been reading all the recaps. I find it very interesting that people are saying that BlogHer is too big. As some one who works for a conference myself (NMX, the conference formerly known as BlogWorld) I can tell you we want to grow. All conferences want to grow. It’s our business and we can’t survive if we don’t continue to grow our attendee base. Blogging is just getting started and when you factor in podcasting and webTV and video, I wouldn’t be surprised to see tens of thousands of people attending blogging conferences in the future. Also, seeing that most of the bloggers at BlogHer are women, I think it’s a beautiful thing.
Deb Ng recently posted..Hello world!

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Amber August 10, 2012 at 9:20 am

I think maybe it’s just a difference in perspective. A lot of the women who come to BlogHer don’t think of themselves as being in a business. Yet. I think soon, as agencies and brands begin to rely on their expertise more, they will. I hope they do. I am continually excited by the potential blogging has to make money and maybe even change the world!

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Erica August 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Well said, my friend. I’d also argue that while it has become huge, it is a bit smaller to me. Ate because I’ve found my tribe, so to speak, and surrounded myself with those friends all weekend.

Big, yes. Better with friends? Absolutely!!!

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Amber August 10, 2012 at 9:20 am

Probably at least 5,000 percent better with friends! So glad we got to spend a little time together!

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the grumbles August 10, 2012 at 10:02 am

This is wise. I am guilty of being a “too big” whiner. Everything you’ve said here is true, and lovely, and logical, but I’m not sure if I can reconcile the “that makes so much sense” part of it with my fear of crowds. But that’s a ME issue not an issue with the conference itself, and there’s a difference.
the grumbles recently posted..it was blogher12

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Tottums August 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

This was my first BlogHer, so I don’t really have anything to compare to … but I didn’t think that BlogHer was too big, I thought that the venue was too small. I agree with everything you said above, ‘more power to us’, ‘paving the way’, ‘leading industry’ etc etc etc.

But gawd help me, 3000 women trampling each other for bad tomato soup and even more than that, FOR A SEAT to eat said bad soup, is ridiculous. I’m hoping the actual conference space in Chicago will work better, even with the inconvenience of not being able to stay on site.

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Amber August 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Lunch time was pretty bad. I ended up sitting in the hall on Friday. Had a couple nice conversations with people, though.

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Lance August 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’m a dude so I’ll never attend a BlogHer, but I don’t understand the concept of anything “getting too big”. It’s like hipsters complaining about a band selling more than 12 records. Dumb.

I read blogs of which I have no intellectual tie to the content because eitehr the writing is excellent or the person writing it is an obvious hard working well meaning human.

Reading so many people experiences with BlogHer I’ve gathered that blogging and meeting bloggers is what you put into it.

Your blog and your talent is evidence of this. Thanks for being here.
Lance recently posted..A Thousand Trees

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Amber August 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Thanks, Lance, that means a lot! I try to bring my A game here and I took the same attitude to the conference. I think everybody took something different away om it. I heart the hipster reference.

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Kate Coveny Hood August 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I like your take on this! It should be a good thing for a conference to grow – give the attendees it represents a louder voice…a bigger presence. And as a former meeting planner, I also see it from a financial standpoint. “Bigger” means more money coming in. And more money coming in means a better chance of the conference remaining viable. Trade shows and conferences are SUFFERING right now – and the fact that BlogHer’s conference is thriving says a lot about the future of blogging and the opportunities that it will continue to create for bloggers.

That said – I also think it’s fair for people to complain that a conference they previously enjoyed is no longer suiting their personal needs due to size. But instead of saying, “BlogHer is getting too big,” maybe they should be saying, “BlogHer is getting too big for ME.” Maybe it is. There are other smaller blogging conferences that may be a better fit now. As far as I can see, they don’t really compete with BlogHer (they all have a different focus and following). So to switch to a smaller, more intimate setting for the sake of personal preference shouldn’t cause any angst over loyalty. Especially since BlogHer isn’t just a conference – there are other ways to be part of that community if you can’t attend the conference (and plenty who don’t have the time and/or money to travel for BlogHer DO).

Love it or hate it – it’s all about personal experience. Sweeping generalizations (both bad AND good) are never going to be more than half the story.

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Amber August 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm

You are absolutely right. Not every conference is right for everyone, and people shouldn’t feel like they have to come to BlogHer. There are tons of them out there! I can only afford to go to one each year, so I don’t have experience with others, but I wish I could!

I just think that since the BlogHer organization is kind of the “mothership” for women bloggers, we should expect it to get bigger every year. It shows we’re doing well!

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wendy August 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm

what a fresh perspective! thank you!
wendy recently posted..Let’s Get Physical Weight Loss Challenge

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Amber August 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I’m glad you think so. I wasn’t trying to ruffle feathers. Just saying how I felt about the whole thing.

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Lady Jennie August 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Somehow I thought I would run into you since I knew what you looked like. Foolish notion. I’m so sorry we didn’t meet.
Lady Jennie recently posted..Paris, By Car

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Amber August 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Me too! Things just kept coming up! Someday…

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Nina August 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm

This is fresh perspective, Amber, and I think it’s needed. You’re right–everyone is at different stages. AND, what an incredible movement we bloggers have become.

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Amber August 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I am continually struck by much power we as bloggers have when we put our minds to it. We can change the damn world (or at least I hope we can).

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