This is My First Year Attending BlogHER (I Am Nervous, Excited, and Unsure of What to Really Expect for My First Big Conference)
Today I am traveling to Orlando, Florida to attend one of the biggest blogging conferences of the year, BlogHER, presented by She Knows Media. If you read yesterday/s blog on Suffering From Blogger’s Burnout you may be a little confused as to why someone who has a love/hate relationship was blogging is attending blog conferences. Long story short, I started planning to attend BlogHER last year when blogging was still new, fun, and exciting. I kept hearing from veteran blogger’s that BlogHER was the place to make some really great connections in the blogging community. So in December 2016 I started saving up to attend. If you know anything about conferences then you know they can be super expensive (pretty sure for the cost of BlogHER I can be out of the country right now but I digress).
I am going to try my very best to blog about the entire experience. I have had several newbie bloggers share with me that they are interested in attending a blogger conference so I hope my experience at #BlogHER17 answers some questions and maybe even help you make the decision on whether you should attend next year. Again, conferences are not cheap so I know a big fear for many bloggers (especially newbies who haven’t started profiting from their blogs yet) is spending hundreds of dollars to have a not so enjoyable experience (at least that’s one of my biggest fears).
Why I Am Attending #BlogHer17
I am going to borrow my reasons right from their website (word for word):
- You’ll make CONNECTIONS: The world’s largest conference for women content creators means the most people + the most brands = the most opportunity.
- You’ll be INSPIRED: Hear from stellar keynote speakers in an informal conversational format.
- You’ll LEARN: Learn what you need to “level up” your efforts.
- You’ll be MOVED: By the stories and voices of your online community.
- You’ll have FUN: Famous for its after parties…plan to learn all day and connect with your fellow attendees in more informal ways all evening.
They won my heart at “connections” and “level up”.
How Was I Able to Financially Afford My First Big Blog Conference + Total Cost
I paid for this conference completely out of my own
Zara handbag pockets. I heard a few bloggers were able to grab a sponsored ticket to the conference but I am not one of those lucky bloggers (honestly the thought to try never crossed my mind). I think so far this trip has cost me about $750 (I could be in Cuba right now). For bloggers who don’t live in the Orlando area or have friends/family that they can crash with in the area this conference is even pricier when you add in travel and hotel fees. My best advice for bloggers is to plan super early (as I mentioned earlier I started planning this trip 6 months ago).
I encourage you to purchase the early bird ticket (which ended in December I believe) which was about $199 (before adding small fees). I think tickets increased to about $399. Planning early can save you around $200.
Share a Room
I also encourage to find a blogger babe or two so you girls can share a room and split the cost. I am sharing a room with one of my favorite bloggers, Steph Royalty. We are arriving today (Thursday) and checking out on Sunday. Total cost of our room was about $600. We are staying at The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek (the same hotel where the conference is being held). I am about 95% positive that we could find a room with a cheaper nightly rate but out of convenience we felt The Hilton was our best option (I didn’t want to have to catch an Uber to the conference or walk in Orlando’s possibly rainy but definitely sunny weather).
Add the cost of conference ticket, hotel room, and flight (I tried my best to grab the best deal possible) and I spent around $750 (I broke these cost up over 4 months I believe by March or April I had purchased everything).
What I Plan To Do Once I Get There
I am a planner (things rarely ever go as planned for me but I like to have a plan anyway). From the way my schedule is looking I don’t see myself getting much sleep during this conference.
I see a weekend of early wakeups and late nights.
I am here for it all (perfect way to kick off Sumer ’17).
Day 1 Schedule (Thursday):
I land in Orlando super early. I will probably drop my bags off at the hotel and grab breakfast while I wait for Steph and my friend/business bestie Brittany of The Breakup Queen to arrive. The conference doesn’t officially kick off until around 3:00pm when registration begins.
There is s strong possibility that Disney World is on the agenda for the early part of day 1. I haven’t been to Disney since I was 15 years old (that was 17 years ago if you insist on doing the math). And I almost feel bad for visiting without my son (he might be Mickey’s biggest fan).
As much as I would love to hang with Mickey I can’t miss the Kick off event at 4:30 pm. Chelsea Clinton is the keynote speak and for some reason I am excited to hear her speak.
Only adulting would have you choosing between Mickey Mouse and Chelsea Clinton.
Day 2 Schedule (Friday):
I really plan to be heavily involved in all things conference related on Friday. I make no promises for the remaining of my trip.
7:30am– Newbie Breakfast (hopefully its at capacity so I am on the wait list keeping my fingers crossed)
8:30am-10:30am– National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
9:45am– Live Broadcasting and Storytelling Platforms: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Live, & More
11:15am– Improve Your Video Skills and Production Value
12:30pm- 2:30pm– Lunch With Keynote Speakers Serena Williams and Luuvie Ajayi
2:30pm– Powering Up Your Business for Success: A Discussion on Becoming A Business Magnate presented by Intern Queen
4:30pm– Voices of the Year Community Keynote
6:00pm– Voices of the Year Reception
7:00pm- 9:15pm Universal Pictures GIRLS TRIP- Exclusive Advance Screening
9:30pm– Bloggers of Color #blackgirlmagic Meet up
Day 3 Schedule (Saturday):
If I can be honest with you if day 2 isn’t that great I can’t promise that I will do many conference related activities on Day 3. You might find me by the pool.
8:00am – Breakfast
10:30- I am having a hard decision choosing between 5 Ways to Unleash The Power of Your Personal Brand and SEO: Conquering Search Engine Algorithms
2:00- I am having a hard decision choosing between 100 Million Views and Counting: Secrets to Building Huge Facebook Traffic or Un-Bore Your Personal Brand, Evolve or Switch Up Your Brand as a Creative.
After the conference ends on Saturday I need to be at some fancy Orlando restaurant buying over priced drinks and taking pics with my girls Steph and Brittany.
Day 4 Schedule (Sunday):
The plan is to explore Orlando before my flight around 4 pm. I heard Downtown Orlando was a nice area to explore and since I am a blogger I have to find some colorful walls, street art, and murals to use as backdrops for the many pictures I plan to take.
I honestly have mixed emotions about attending #BlogHER so my expectations aren’t set very high. Some of the speakers, topics, and evens aren’t really aligned with my goals (but they didn’t create this conference with just me in mind now did they?). Seriously, some events and speakers seem more geared towards women’s empowerment and that’s not really what I am looking for this weekend. I like to believe that I am empowered on the daily by the ah-mazing women that I surround myself with.
As long as I make a few great connections, have tons of fun, and capture some great pictures I think the experience will be worthwhile and worth every dollar spent. Now will I be attending next year? Now that we will have to just wait and see about.
I can’t wait to share this experience with my blogger baes.
Follow me on Instagram at @brandimishonna as I will be sharing pictures and InstaStories there first.