Many of you have been interested in my trip last weekend to San Diego for the BlogHer conference. In fact I was not even planning on going until a few weeks ago. What changed my mind? Honestly, a group of my online bloggy buddies were going and I just really wanted to go! (Nothing like a little peer pressure-LOL) It all happened so quickly. This month marks one year on my blog, and to be honest, the first 7 months or so I did not make a penny on it. Nothing. But that was OK- I didn’t start this site to make money, I started it for our teacher friends. To help them SAVE money. Now along the way I have learned ways to help monetize my site a little bit, which I use to help our family out and I also use the money to put back into my site! Unfortunately our budget does not provide to invest much in my blog, so my ultimate goal was to monetize enough that I could cover my expenses for running the website- which thankfully I have achieved!
So BlogHer was a really big deal for me- it was definitely an investment for me personally and for this site! Of course I had to purchase plane tickets from Florida to California, then my conference tickets were $150, there was the hotel stay for 3 nights, the shuttles and traveling while there, and of course food. Not to mention I did purchase an outfit or two before I left since staying at home does not equal glamorous business attire!! I spent about $600, which to be honest, was not much compared to the $1000+ that many of the bloggers spent on their trip.
But was it worth it? $600 is a LOT of money living on a teachers salary. So what exactly is/was BlogHer? It is a yearly blogger’s conference full of workshops, marketing companies, brands, meetings, parties, and swag! Swag = freebies. I’ll get to the swag later. For me personally- I was welcoming a break from the kids. I am with them 24/7 since they were born and I was dying for a break from them, as well as a chance to pursue higher goals for my blog. As you see in the pictures I met Buddy the Dinosaur! Smurfette, the Jimmy Dean Sun, the Pringles Man, and other fun characters were there as well! And Twizzlers had several huge monuments set up around the city made of….well, Twizzlers of course! So as you can see it was an amazing amount of fun and adventure! Look at that amazing cake below!!
Everyone that goes to BlogHer has a different goal. Some go for the workshop sessions, some go for the parties, some for the swag- but my main goal this year was networking. I really wanted to get out there and meet some of the fabulous reps that I already work with and meet some new ones! I met up with Pressman Toys, LeapFrog, 3M, Playskool, Ruckus Media, Hexbug, Snapfish, tons more…. and I had the opportunity to attend an invite only Jimmy Dean workshop called “Cause Marketing” – it was awesome!! It was very inspirational and gave me a new nudge for helping out our teachers and our children!
I also attended an invite only California Raisins Luncheon – where suprisingly everything we ate had raisins in it! They even pureed raisins in the brownies!! Sounds gross but you honestly couldn’t even tell!!
The expo hall was incredible. Procter and Gamble and Lowe’s had huge houses actually built into the expo on display. Pepsico had an orange grove and this huge stilleto heel made of Pepsi cans. Jimmy Dean had their big “No Kid Hungry” campaign truck on display, Chuck E Cheese even had a cotton candy vending machine and a Guitar Hero video game set up- of which I was known to frequent that weekend!! Retail Me Not had a money booth set up- where I made $28 – enough to cover my extra expenses for the weekend. McDonald’s supplied delicious apples and smoothies as well as Happy Meals throughout the weekend. Pressman Toys and Discovery Bay Games had impressive toy displays. I could go on and on!
Networking was awesome, but I also got to hang out with new and old friends! Below is my friend Melissa from Getting all my Ducks in a Row – we attended Box Tops University together. And I also got to finally meet Alissa from Fun Finds for Families and Melissa from Sippy Cup Mom – some of my best bloggy buddies! And I met awesome new bloggers (also my roomates!) like Annie from Mama Dweeb and Jennifer from Double Duty Mommy. As a stay at home mom and a blogger I sadly am lacking on social interaction right now so for me it was a fun relief to hang out with some other awesome ladies!!
If you still had energy from walking around in the expo all day, attending the workshops, and rushing around to each of the brand meetings, at night there were parties- and OH were they amazing! I went to the Haute Green Social hour – a party for cloth diapering moms where I brought home $100+ of cloth diapering necessities! I went to the much-coveted Toy Book Sweet Suite party- full of toy vendors and fun! They handed out bags worth about $300 in toys! I met with ShopAtHome, Daisy Brands, De Waffelbakkers, VSP, the Cheap Sally Party hosted by Collective Bias, the Social Soiree, below you’ll see a beautiful picture from Wonderlandia…..I can’t even remember all of the parties I went to there were so many! And I even missed out on going to a lot of them! Some of the parties I attended even made national news!! By the end of the day I just couldn’t handle walking around to any more- I was exhausted!!
I had heard stories about the swag at BlogHer, and it of course lived up to it’s reputation. Look below at the swag I brought home! AND I left at LEAST that much more out there. I flew out there with an entire empty suitcase and an empty bag and I still had more than half that I had to leave. It was CRAZY! Seriously – I spent about $600 on my trip out there and I brought easily over $600 retail products home. It was wild and exhausting. So do you think it was worth it?
If you are considering going to BlogHer- I say do it!! This blog is a pretty specific niche so I wasn’t exactly sure how beneficial it would be for me, but I met all sorts of bloggers out there. Food, fashion, coupons, adult, family, philanthropy – there was something for everyone. Even educational! I have already bought my tickets for next year. You can see below just a few of the items I brought home. Free product coupons galore (some of which are in my mystery box giveaway!), homeopathic medicines, cloth diapers, toys, food, school supplies, and more!
My last night out there I also met up with several hundred bloggers and the Disney / DreamWorks team for a special preview of The Help Movie (which was incredible!). So for my $600 investment not only did I get an absurd amount of “stuff”, but I had the opportunity to meet new brands, meet new friends, meet old friends, promote my blog and just plain have a little fun!
If you believe in something it IS worth promoting. I believe in our children, in our teachers, in promoting education, and helping support parents who do. A little bit of networking goes a long way – but you do have to work at it. I am so thankful my friend “pushed” me in the direction of attending to Blogher – I definitely do not regret it and am already looking forward to attending next year in New York. There is no way I could truly recap BlogHer in just one mere post, but I wanted to give you a glimpse inside the blogger’s conference world where no matter what your niche is – it’s still worth pursuing – even if it’s just for you!