The weekend before last I attended BlogHer '13 in Chicago along with 5000 other (mostly female) bloggers. We heard keynotes by Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, social media guru Guy Kawasaki, Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, and Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd. Queen Latifah MC'd the Voices of the Year readings, Randi Zuckerberg spoke on a panel, and swag was voraciously consumed by all. Here are a few things I learned at the Super Bowl of Blogging:
1. You Can't Carry Too Many Business Cards
Not only did I exchange cards with every blogger I met, but the first morning we did speed dating with each other, and I handed out most of my cards before my first workshop had even begun. After that, I had to conserve my cards and avoid entering sponsor giveaways (which probably was a good thing, although I was a little envious of the bloggers who walked out with chain saws tucked under their arms.) I ended up downloading a business card app, so I could scan the business cards of other bloggers who were running low, but next time I'll carry a good-sized stack.
Guy Kawasaki and I at BlogHer '13 in Chicago
2. You Shouldn't Be Shy About Promoting Your Work
Although I was somewhat shocked by how blatantly bloggers promoted themselves, I was impressed too. One woman stood up in nearly every workshop I attended to ask a question, ie promote her blog: "Hi! I'm Jennifer Smith of PuppyLove.com, and I'd like to know ..." That wasn't her real name or website, but I will remember the name of that woman's blog for a very long time.
3. Photos and Design Can Make or Break a Blog
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I was surprised when Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond emphasized how much time she puts into taking great photographs for her blog. “I found that I love beautiful websites," she said. "I wanted it to be beautiful, full of color." Her advice for beautifying your own blog? "Find websites you love that make your heart melt visually, then contact the web designer."
4. The Best Posts Come From the Heart
Something that struck me during the Voices of the Year event, during which the 12 best blog posts of 2600 submitted to Blog Her were read aloud on stage by their authors, was how emotional most of the posts were. Some were hilarious, like this one, but none were "10 Tips For a Better Bundt Cake" or "How to Improve your SEO." They were personal, they were funny, they were sad, they were straight from the heart. I realized I tend to squirrel my best writing away to submit to magazines instead of posting them to my blog. Maybe that's a mistake.
5. It's Tough To Do It All
"Working motherhood has been a bit of a tornado," Ree Drummond said. "2011 was the dark year. I over-scheduled. I did too much. I hit the point where I thought I was a shell. I pulled back on blogging and started traveling a little bit less. You can do it all, but don't expect it to tickle."
And now for a giveaway! (No business card needed.) Below is a copy of the ebook version of Guy Kawasaki's APE (Author Publisher Entrepreneur), a guide for building your author platform. To win it, just leave a comment below telling me what some of your favorite blogs are and why. In two weeks I'll draw a name using Random.org and announce the winner. Good luck!