Top Ten Things You’ve Already Gotten Out of BlogHer Without Even Attending (Imagine What You Could Get Out of It If You Went!)

Every year, the BlogHer conference brings together a few very famous women, some kinda-famous women and thousands of not-famous women for 2-5 days of workshops, panels, speeches, free tote bags, performances and conversations about the world wide web we weave… together. If you’ve heard of BlogHer, through us or elsewhere, you probably think it’s mostly for mommy bloggers who hate it when you call them “mommy bloggers,” and, well, yes. That’s true. Most BlogHer attendees fit into that demographic. However that’s been changing over the past few years, and changing fast. Last year’s keynote lunch sessions featured Kerry Washington and Tig Notaro, and this year’s conference in New York was crafted with a declared focus on intersectionality — and features a keynote from Selma director Ava DuVernay.

As a childless 33-year-old socialist lesbian feminist who doesn’t know how to take a selfie and is probably wearing sweatpants right now, you wouldn’t necessarily expect me to get a lot out of an event like BlogHer — but I do. I even meet other socialist lesbian feminists (Hi, Deborah!). BlogHer is currently going through an EVOLUTION and CHANGE, with new owners and a more diverse group of presenters, and there’s never been a better time for you to be a part of it.

In fact, if you read this website regularly or have attended A-Camp, you’ve actually already benefited from BlogHer, but you might not even know it. So today we’re making you aware.


1. My Sanity

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Often this job feels isolating — yes, I’m plugged in to a massive online network, we have a “virtual” office on slack, but I’m still, physically, one CEO alone in a room, hacking away in a relatively unexplored field of journalism and business. At BlogHer, I connect with other cavewomen. All of us are giddy out in the open air and eager to talk about our secluded lives. Although attending conferences always means catch-up work before and after, I’m invigorated by the opportunity to connect, and return to the site with new energy.


2. Queer Mamas 1.0

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Before this year’s initiative to recruit queer mamas, our pool of mothers over 35 contained exactly one person: Vikki. Many use conferences like BlogHer to network and connect with lots of people — I prefer to spend obsessive amounts of time with 1-2 specific people, and Vikki and Deborah were my girls at BlogHer ‘11, although I met them IRL originally at a queer meet-up at BlogHer ‘10. BlogHer gives you a rare opportunity to connect face-to-face with people you usually only see behind a screen, and these connections can enable things like Fosters recaps and essays like this and this.


3. Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge

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Alex met Grace at BlogHer ‘10 on the panel they chaired on “The Role of Layout in an Online Medium.” What came out of that? Well, y’all got copies of Grace’s Camp Newspaper at September 2012 A-Camp… and her and Alex stayed friendly, which meant we were adequately prepared for  Grace Bonney’s coming out announcement in June of 2013.


4. We Made A-Camp

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You know the part of the A-Camp description where I say that we cherry-picked what we liked about other LGBT and women’s events and conferences and used that to build our own woodland retreat? Yes. BlogHer was one of those events, and its overwhelming success helped me believe that there was a chance our man-free event could also thrive. (BlogHer does have some male attendees, presenters and writers, but is still a lady-focused event.)


5. Julia Nunes and Dannielle Owens-Reid At A-Camp (and therefore also Kristin Russo and Jenny Owen Youngs)

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Although I’d met Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid when we did a panel together at NYU and we’d collaborated on several things prior to BlogHer ‘14, it was at BlogHer that I became actual friends with Dannielle and also Julia Nunes, her girlfriend who just-so-happens to be a wildly successful musician with a passionate queer following. Dannielle and I both led all-day Pathfinder sessions, our girlfriends pursued shenanigans and between exploring San Jose, attending keynotes and walking five miles to a sushi restaurant, we sold them on A-Camp. If you attended A-Camp 6.0, I think you can easily confirm that this was a serendipitous situation. BlogHer: giving you an excuse to spend three hours talking to a colleague you’d never have time to call during your normal working life since 2006.


6. It Got Us Talking About Turning Your Passion into a Business

I left my all-day pathfinder workshop at BlogHer ‘14 determined to do something similar at A-Camp — something that’d leave campers with the same practical skills and ideas we provided our workshop attendees. That panel also became a post, which you read, or if you haven’t read, you should read.


7. We Became More Focused (and More Productive) Writers

You know how reading an entire book can be worth it just for one killer line? Although the BlogHer 2011 “Success On Our Own Terms” panel was filled with valuable information from the Huffington Post editors who were on it, one bit of advice stuck with me even years later. Talking about juggling work and personal time, a panelist admitted her own daughter had called her out for “always working,” and though she initially felt defensive — she wasn’t REALLY working, after all, she just had her laptop on and was doing little things while hanging out with her daughter — she realized that 1) she wasn’t always working, 2) she WAS always KINDA-working. After a long day of work, she’d come home and ambiently work while doing other things. Acknowledging this and committing to either devoting my entire attention to working or my entire attention to not-working seriously changed my life and made my work much better.


8. We Got Well Versed In Smart Sponsorship

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It’s not a secret that BlogHer conventions feature many sponsors (and so much fun swag!), and I talked with lots of bloggers who paid their bills through their own brand partnerships. Although I realize how meta it is to say this in a sponsored post, BlogHer actually helped me figure out what kinds of sponsorships don’t work for us. Hearing other bloggers talk about how they passionately endorse products we’d have to lie to endorse with similar enthusiasm made it “click” that wringing our hands over said product’s disinterest in us was a waste of time. Instead we’ve focused on partnerships with brands we can honestly endorse, and even were inspired by BlogHer’s “Life Well Lived” campaign with P&G to model our campaign with o.b. tampons.


9. You Got Autostraddlers at Your University

Now that I’ve been on so many panels for A-Camp and at various universities it seems inconceivable to me that I was so nervous before my BlogHer 2011 panel that I had to sneak in a vodka tonic right beforehand (nobody could tell, I promise). But I was. I’m not sure why — I’d been on panels before and enjoyed it immensely, but never as an Autostraddle representative at a professional place like BlogHer! It went exceptionally well, and high on that success, I did panels and presentations at several universities within the next year, and planned a panel-heavy A-Camp. Maybe you were there. Maybe you bought me a drink (AFTER the panel, of course). BlogHer inviting Alex to panel in 2010 and me in 2011 made us feel, finally, legit — and we have friends like Deb Rox to thank for that, as I imagine her to be a queer wizard magically inspiring other queers to be seen at BlogHer for years.


10. I OWN THIS, WE RUN THIS

The morning I left for San Francisco from San Diego after BlogHer 2011, my fellow panelist Julia Roberts told me to “own it.” We were sitting by the pool at the Marriott with a bunch of gay-lady blogger-buddies, eating breakfast burritos wrapped in soggy sheaths of foil, and she goes to me, “You act all like” [imitating me] “Oh I don’t know, I just started this website and now it’s big and popular and a-ma-zing, I guess it just like happened?” [being herself again] “You have to own it. Own it. You did this. You made this happen. Own it.”

“Right,” I said, in a voice I imagined a captain might use to reassure his crew that he knows how to avoid an iceberg even though he really doesn’t.

“No, you have to own it. Own it, girl! You knew what you were doing. It didn’t just happen.”

So I kept trying to experiment with that idea, this idea of “owning it,” of “acting as if,” despite the cranky self-loathing adolescent in my gut with a raging sense of imposter syndrome that spreads virus-like through my body.

But Julia was right. Women especially are prone to imposter syndrome, to feel like what we’re doing is frivolous or inadequate. But BlogHer gives us a chance to come together and feel legit. Because we are.


You could win yourself a ticket to #BlogHer15!

So here’s what you do! Instagram a picture that says something important about you. Tell us about it in your photo caption and include the hashtags: #knowme, #BlogHer15, and most importantly #autostraddle. You have until June 23rd! We’ll pick a winner via Instagram on the 24th. Get it, y’all!

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Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2715 articles for us.

24 Comments

  1. i love conferences and this one sounds soooooooooo gooooooooood so basically this post is 100% relevant to my interests thank you very much for it riese and also to blogher, for existing and making so much magic happen! wheeee!

  2. It was really amazing to read this and realize how so many awesome things could come out of an experience I totally passed over because, well, the phrase “mumspringa” being bandied around. Good luck to those applying 😀

  3. Julia Roberts has given me that same advice and it changed my life for the better, too. She has that way about her. And Deb IS a wizard. And Vikki and Deborah are the best. Vikki made me jealous and want to go to A-Camp badly when she was there. Maybe someday.

    I love this. I’m headed back to NYC and BlogHer this year after a break of a few years. Anyone who shows up, too, make sure you find me at Queerosphere, especially if you’re new/flying solo/nervous. I’ll totally give you my drink tickets. 🙂

  4. ahh, you make this sound so amazing and now I SO WANT TO GO AND HANG OUT WITH ALL THESE COOL PEOPLE LIKE YOU!!!!

    sadly I will be too preggo to be allowed on a plane at that point, so I will have to lust after the experience from afar. Live tweet the whole thing okay?!

  5. Ugh. Now I want to go to BlogHer so much. I think I felt like “not a real blogger” or “not a real writer” enough to go to such a conference in the past. But it sounds so great and I want to be there and learn from people much wiser and more seasoned than me re: blogging/writing. TAKE ME TO YOUR QUEER MOMMY BLOGGERS!

  6. Every year I end up on Blogher looking at the conference and thinking ‘would I fit in to that? Is that for me?’ …and every year I turn away because of the mommy-blogger demographic thing. Thanks for sharing this and pointing out that there’s something for everyone here, and also how Blogher is changing. I love the model and the idea and would love to attend this event.

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