[Starbucks Verismo Brewing System Preview @ BlogHer '12 NYC]
Now that the dust i settling, my life is getting back to normal, and I woke up in my OWN bed this morning, I am thinking it is definitely time to share a few tips or lessons learned while I was attending BlogHer 2012 right here in New York City. Trust me, I have a lot of blog posts planned around BlogHer, but the first thing that I want to get off my chest is a list of lessons learned (the hard way).
Lesson #1: Think Feet!
I heard this time and time again from my veteran BlogHer blogger friends: Sandals and comfortable walking shoes are a MUST!
I didn’t understand just HOW comfortable that meant, but now I get it since I am home. As a New Yorker, I should have known better. I saw my agenda, knew my schedule was uptown-downtown-subway-walk-uptown-subway, but I still packed my heels. Was I delusional? Possibly. Did I comprehend the extreme difficulty in walking that much in heels? Likely no. Did my feet get a beating? You betcha!
Comfortable means that you would be okay walking the entire surface of our planet Earth without sitting down to take a break. If you have experience walking long distances with your favorite pair of sneakers or sandals, I would definitely pack those shoes – and only those shoes.
The problem with BlogHer is not knowing where you will wind up next, or how you are going to get there. I should have known better since 2012 was in my hometown city of New York, but I didn’t take that information and use it wisely. Plan for an unpredictable day filled with lots of unplanned stops, walking, adventures, and agenda planning changes.
Remember that you are going to likely be standing (entirely or at least for the most part) while you are attending private media events. Even though there may (or may NOT!) be seating available at BlogHer events, I don’t think you will want to be seated in the corner for the evening. You want to stand up, walk around, mingle with your reps and fellow bloggers. The whole point of BlogHer is networking, learning, and socializing with your fellow bloggers and brands. The ability to stand UP is surely going to be an important part of your success and experience at BlogHer!
Lesson #2: Tend To Your Blog – BEFORE!
Luckily, I did a good amount of work on MamaNYC prior to heading to the Hilton. However, I did not do as much as I had anticipated to do, or what I would normally expect to post on a daily basis on MamaNYC. I began the post scheduling process much too late (circa. July 15th) when I should have considered a plan and began to draft posts much earlier (next year: 2.5-3 months prior to departure).
Start to schedule your blog posts as early as possible and do not think for one second that you will be able to toss up even ONE blog posts while you are at BlogHer. If you get a post (or 5) done at the conference, congratulations! You are part of a HUGE minority of bloggers that can squeeze a post in instead of sleeping or relaxing their feet in the tub!
Devise a plan early on that will include your weekly memes, giveaway hops that must be published, campaigns, and other posts. My thoughts for next year include scheduling at least 3-4 posts per day while I am attending BlogHer. However, I want to go even further and prepare a post for at least one day after the conference and two days prior to leaving my home for BlogHer.
Why SO much?
Firstly, I had an intense week the days leading up to the conference. I was packing, planning, and printing agendas and other resources to organize before I arrived. I would have preferred to plan my posts earlier so that I could have spent more time packing and spending quality time with my little boy rather than rushing through blog posts. Clearly obvious, but I also would like to plan posts for the first day (at least) following BlogHer since I will be exhausted, unpacking, and craving much missed quality time with my little boy (Yes, I need a lot of time with my son!).
Secondly, I don’t want my blog to go bad while I am away. Scheduling posts to publish throughout the days of BlogHer will ensure reader traffic and engagement while you are too busy to open your laptop. I want to leave my readers with something instead of disappearing on them! Give your readers something to look forward to every day – whether or not you are going to be there writing it that day!
Lesson #3: Plan For Yourself
This was a tough lesson, but also one that should be followed depending on your own personal preference. If you are comfortable navigating the conference floor and BlogHer Expo by yourself, I would consider planning your entire agenda, sessions, and events on your own. Don’t depend on scheduling around what your fellow bloggers or roommates are planning to do. Next year, I plan to do what I WANT to do and nothing more or less.
The weeks following up to BlogHer will include party and event invites from some of your favorite brands or PR representatives. These will either be "first come; first serve", or invitation only events. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Look at your own schedule and book appointments, secure event tickets, and plan around your own needs and agenda. Scheduling around someone else will just turn out to be a nightmare!
Lesson #4: Plan Your Outfits
This is always a tough thing for me to do while I am packing for vacations and business trips. While I have gotten by in the past, I definitely learned that this is not possible while at BlogHer. Next year, I will plan accordingly for daytime wear, nighttime formalwear, and even my sleepwear! Take a look at your schedule and figure out which events will require an evening look (dress? fancy? business casual?) versus the loungewear type of events, which will work best in jeans or other neat-casual outfits. Plan accordingly – and when I say PLAN, I mean plan!
After the mess I made during BlogHer ’12, I plan to organize outfits by day and night along with labels or another system to signify which outfit should be worn on each day or night during the conference. Between the hustle and bustle in between events and lack of time to stand in front of the mirror ("How do I look?"), I realized that I need to plan my wardrobe out much better next year. Of course, I will include an additional shirt and dress (or multiple!), but I would love to pre-plan every single outfit that I will wear throughout the entire BlogHer conference!
Lesson #5: Organize, Organize, Organize
Luckily, I took the advice of veteran BlogHer attendees and made sure I had everything I would need printed out, sorted, and labeled for easy access. I will make a few changes next year, but my system really worked very well this year!
What I Did:
* Printed the official BlogHer conference 3-day agenda.
* Printed the oficial BlogHer conference sessions descriptions.
* Created and printed a spreadsheet with event days, times, place, and notes. This would be my #1 resource for knowing where and when I had scheduled appointments and events!
* Printed out all of my invites and tickets for private brand events and parties.
* Used a binder with pocketed folders labeled Wednesday through Saturday. Each pocket held the tickets, documents, and agenda needed for the day.
Of course I had some other organizing tips and tricks, but that’s all for another day (and entirely different post!).
What will I do differently in 2013?
* I used one full sheet of paper for my conference agenda, which included all days from Wednesday through Saturday. Next year, I plan to do the same full sheet (and hang on the wall for reference while I am at the hotel), but I will also create either 1/2 sheets or index cards printed out with an agenda for each day.
* Although I am a New York City born and raised native, I can honestly say that NO – I do not know all of Manhattan off the top of my head. It’s a pretty big city! What I did was include the subway locations (corner/intersections) where I could find each of the subway lines we had to take to head to our next event. I also tossed in directions either off the top of my head from prior knowledge, or through the navigation assistance thanks to HopStop.com. Why? I knew that my mind would be in a million places and although I already knew where to find the subway line on West 34th Street, I would likely have a boggled brain during BlogHer! This worked perfectly.
Next year I will be in Chicago, which is a city I am largely unfamiliar with and do not know how to navigate. I will do the exact same thing, but likely much more descriptive and in-depth so that I don’t find myself lost and confused! I will likely include directions on each index card, which will be broken down either by HOUR, event, or half day schedules so that I can incorporate much more detail than I needed here in New York City.
* Envelopes: I heard this tip from a fellow blogger, but I did ignore the idea and thought it wouldn’t be necessary. Boy was I wrong! Carry along several envelopes labeled (or blank to be filled in later) so that you can write down where you received the business card, which PR representative works with which brand(s), and any other important notes. Now that I am home and confused by the hundreds of business cards I picked up, I wish I knew which person worked with what brands!
There is a lot more that I will be doing differently at BlogHer 2013 in Chicago, but this seems like a great start. I have many more plans, pictures, information, and stories to tell here on MamaNYC. I can’t wait to share my entire experience with everyone!
Did I have a great time!? Absolutely!
Will I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Am I tired, achey, and feeling it all today? You betcha!
Keep an eye out for much more BlogHer ’12 here on MamaNYC!