Hello, friends! I attended the BlogHer conference in New York City last week and wanted to share my trip recap and thoughts with you.
What a whirlwind! This was my third (and probably last) blogger’s conference I’ve attended this year and it was a very different experience from the previous two I attended, including Altitude Summit and the rewardStyle conference. BlogHer was by far the largest conference out of the three with several thousand attendees, located in a huge conference hotel, the New York Hilton Midtown, in one of the biggest cities in the country. The grandiose theme fit the setting, for sure, with conference topics ranging a broad scope of women’s issues, not just blog-focused themes.
I flew into New York on the eve of the conference to give myself a chance to get settled and leave the airport at the same time as my husband, Don, who flew to Boston for work. That gave me some me-time on Thursday morning to visit some of my favorite NYC places. I took myself to Norma’s for a decadent breakfast of nutella-stuffed pancakes, and then walked over to 57th and 7th to see my late grandparents’ apartment building, which I spent my childhood visiting several times a year. I window-shopped up 5th and Madison with a special stop at Ladurée for the tastiest macarons in the world (in my opinion 🙂 ). The weather was so beautiful I decided to spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon enjoying Central Park. It was a wonderfully relaxing break in the middle of a hectic week and I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting some of my favorite NYC spots.
I think I might get some questions as to why I did not hold a meet-up during this free time in New York City. While I had considered it, I ultimately decided I wasn’t comfortable holding one on my own without Don (who didn’t join me in New York until Friday evening) or another trusted loved one to accompany me. We didn’t have time on Saturday between the conference and our flight home to do one then, sadly. I do hope to build up the courage to host meet-ups in the future!
On Thursday evening I attended the BlogHer Expo, where brands set up booths to engage and make connections with bloggers. This was unbelievably crowded! It was fun to walk around and see the variety of brands and booth setups. I had the opportunity to spend some time chatting with two app-providers that sparked my interest, including Keepsayk and RealTimes. Both of these apps offer instant scrapbooking via mobile devices and computers. It was interesting to talk with people who make useful and innovative products and are so passionate about what they do.
On Friday morning, I attended the breakfast keynote, which featured three separate speakers. Soledad O’Brien, founder of the Starfish Foundation, spoke of her work providing financial assistance and mentoring to young women scholars. Samantha Key, CRO of sheknows media, shared about Hatch, an initiative to provide adult content made by “kids with a mission.” Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts, shed light on the impact and power of the largest girl-focused organization in the world. All three talks were enlightening!
I then attended a panel about branded content that I thought would be directed towards bloggers looking to learn more about what working with brands on projects entails, but was actually more targeted at brands. I felt as if the conference session descriptions were a bit lacking in clarity and didn’t end up attending any of the other breakout sessions.
The lunch keynote was one of the main events of the conference, featuring celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow as the headliner. The keynote kicked off with a musical performance by the talented Daria Musk who sang a few of her original songs. She was followed by blogger Veronica Arreola who launched the #365FeministSelfie initiative to promote positive selfies, encourage self-acceptance and confidence, and raise awareness to a broader view of beauty. Afterwards, BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page interviewed actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who founded goop, a weekly online lifestyle publication. Having known very little about Gwyneth Paltrow before seeing her speak, I found her to be poised and gracious yet down-to-earth and relatable at the same time. She offered great advice about online publications and businesses as well as dealing with both the positive and negative sides of celebrity.
After lunch, I headed to a private event co-hosted by Happy Family Brands founder Shazi Visram and What To Expect founder Heidi Murkoff, which focused on the First 1,000 Days initiative (which they both argued, in actuality, should be the first 1,365 days). This movement is meant to bring awareness to the importance of nutrition from conception (and ideally before) to a child’s 2nd birthday “when better nutrition can have a life-changing impact on a child’s future.” This talk was very topical to me as a first time mother-to-be. After the talk, attendees were encouraged to mix their own baby food with organic puréed ingredients provided by the Happy Family team. Fun!
Don took the train from Boston down to New York and met me that evening in time for us to go see our dear friend, Scott McLean, perform in the New York Classical Theatre’s roving production of Measure For Measure staged outside in Battery Park. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful evening for the play! We very much enjoyed this free show and would highly suggest it to anyone in the area. It was nice to take a break from a day of thought-provoking talks and enjoy some time with my hubby.
I let myself sleep in and get some work done on Saturday morning and caught up with the conference to attend the lunch keynote, which again featured three illuminating talks by women speakers. Elizabeth Blackney, blogger from Media Lizzy, gave an incredibly powerful speech about being a survivor by sharing her incredible story. Next, Yasmeen Hassan, executive director of Equality Now, moderated a panel discussing maternal mortality that included Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, Dr. Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers, and Chanel Porchia-Albert, founder of Ancient Song Doula Services. Talk about an impressive group of driven women making a difference! Lastly, Wall Street Journal personal tech reporter, Joanna Stern, facilitated a conversation about creating “a safer, saner Internet culture” between Giant Spacekat head developer, Brianna Wu and Shireen Mitchell. from Digital Sisters. All three topics were eye-opening and definitely got me thinking about broader issues that women face today.
We had to head home after lunch to make it back in time for a special party we threw for our loved ones the next day, so I unfortunately missed the last breakout session and closing keynote of the conference. While I didn’t go to any of the smaller sessions that were meant to aid and/or inform me in my blogging efforts, I was happy I attended BlogHer and had the opportunity to hear powerful and inspirational women speak on important current events and topics.
I vlogged my experience at BlogHer 2015 if you’d like to see more:
I enjoyed the BlogHer conference for completely different reasons than Altitude Summit or the rewardStyle conference. All three were very different in not only content, but also the general vibe. BlogHer is definitely a bigger platform and the conference attracts a wider variety of attendees which encourages broader topic discussions that don’t necessarily strictly focus on blogging. If you like to learn about current issues surrounding women online and in real life and want to be inspired by powerful women making a difference in our world today, I highly suggest checking it out!
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my BlogHer 2015 experience. I’d love to hear about your experience if you attended this year or in the past!
* This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *