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I almost didn’t go to BlogHer17 in Orlando.

Mumbling Mommy has been part of the BlogHer community for about five years now. BlogHer is an organization that specializes in advancing the blogging and social influencer space, particularly for women, but men are welcome too. BlogHer does this through publishing original work, connecting brands/bloggers for paid ad campaigns, and lobbying the industry for better pay and practices when it comes to the blogging community, which is still heavily dominated by women.

Each time a BlogHer conference has been announced, it’s been too far for me to justify travel expenses based on this blog’s revenue.

When I heard it was being held in nearby Orlando this summer, I hesitated to get a ticket. It was still an expense for the ticket, plus driving back and forth. Also, my family had decided to take the summer off of any unnecessary obligations. No gymnastics. No theater. No basketball. Days free to do what we wanted (around mine and my husband’s work), homemade dinners at home, impromptu beach visits. You get the laid-back picture.

Leaving alone for three days wasn’t part of that plan. PLUS we are buying our house, like, this week. Going to a conference wasn’t a part of any of those plans. So I started deleting the emails about the conference when they came in, trying to avoid the inevitable stabs of jealousy.

Then my friend Jamie received a ticket to BlogHer from a company giving one away. She tried to get one for me, and for like 2 hours I was incredibly hopeful, but there were no more tickets being given away. At two weeks out, I made peace with not going to BlogHer. Maybe by the next year I’d be ready.

Through a private Facebook group of people already attending BlogHer, Jamie learned of a woman selling her ticket for less than full price. It was about a week before the conference and I was still hesitant, particularly since the window for getting everything squared away for work and home was growing narrower. I got in touch with the ticket holder and she was, indeed, selling a real ticket. I bought it and paid the transfer fee. A few days later, I was driving to Orlando – alone – to attend.

You guys, I was completely blown away by this conference.

The speaker lineup included Serena Williams, Gabrielle Reece, Chelsea Clinton, Carla Hall, Maria Bello, Janet Mock, and so many more. When I wasn’t listening to these superstar women share their wisdom about life, their passions, and their thoughts on the creative arts, I was attending how-to sessions on all sorts of blogging aspects. I’ve been to a lot of conference expos for work and running, but this BlogHer Expo was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Free swag everywhere, companies looking for blogging ambassadors, affiliate marketing offers, giveaways, and even free WINE. I learned a lot and left feeling newly encouraged to channel more of ME into all of my writing.

Here are some other takeaways:

Everyday activism is powerful.

People in my life phase (children underfoot 24/7) don’t have a lot of time to blaze the trails we may want to blaze. We can’t spend nap times in picket lines, and committing to anything that takes us away from home in our free time is really difficult. That doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference, though. We can stay informed. We can reach out to friends, family, and strangers we walk past with messages of encouragement. We can join movements like #PurplePurse that aim to help victims break the cycle of financial abuse by sharing a stat or two online. We can speak up in our inner circles and on our blogs about the issues we are well versed in and make others aware, too.

blogher17

Women must keep fighting for equality.

I listened to some of the most successful women in the entire world speak about the discrimination they still face because of their sex. ESPN Radio host Sarah Spain talked about the harassing tweets she receives whenever she discusses anything about gender equality in sports on the air (tweets about killing and raping her are common). Carla Hall of the ABC show “The Chew” talked about her decision to let her hair go grey and how a male network executive said “We’ll see.” (She had visibly gray hair on stage, so I guess that’s a battle she ended up winning.) The same week I heard Serena Williams speak, she was in the news because John McEnroe said, essentially, that she would be “like 700” in the world of tennis if she had to play against men. Chelsea Clinton said that while getting women out to vote is important, having women run for office (from local school boards to the U.S. Presidency) is a passion of hers and something she personally wants to see skyrocket. While these particular women have learned to “shake off” the haters, they had a powerful message for the BlogHer audience: keep fighting for equality in pay, in respect, and in power.

The blogging and the social influencer spaces are exploding.

As more people look online for product recommendations, and rely less on the ads that companies create, the blogger and “influencer” space is poised to cash in. The people I met at the conference weren’t just creative-types who liked to journal online; they were savvy business people, aware of their core audience and ready to take their blogs/social accounts to the next level. And why shouldn’t they? I know from personal experience the time and financial commitment blogging takes – and that building an audience is a labor of love. Finding authentic, transparent ways to talk to that audience about things that align with your blog (in honest ways that are also FTC compliant) is the next wave for bloggers and influencers, and consumers will benefit.

Did you go to BlogHer 17 in Orlando? What did you love the most?

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Category: Womanhood

Tags: BlogHer