BlogHer’11 in San Diego – A tale of good friends, swag… and recycling

On August 4th, 2011, thousands of bloggers descended on San Diego for BlogHer ‘11, the blogging conference to end all conferences.  The last two years I had sadly missed out on the festivities so this year I was making up for lost time and trying to meet all the amazing bloggers I talk to each day online.  I can honestly say that the conference far surpassed my expectations of what a conference could and should be.  Not only was everyone amazingly sweet and kind, the parties were also pretty epic.  Oh, and the swag…  That was pretty cool, too.

Kailani, Xenia and I Big Internet, Small World – I thought it was funny how in a conference of thousands I ended up seeing the same people not once or twice, but often dozens of times.  Even when I was walking into a party or meeting completely alone, seeing some familiar faces in the crowd went a long way towards easing any anxiety I might have had and made it feel like I already had built in friends to catch up with.  Once the party was in full swing, it made it easy to mingle and chat about where we were headed next, and to walk with each other in between events and parties.

While some of these bloggers I hung out with were new friends like Liz, Brigitta, Cathi, and Amanda, others have been my go-to source for ideas, inspiration and more for the past 3 years I've been blogging, like Kailani, Xenia, Anne-Marie, and Kristy and it was so nice to finally meet them in person.  They truly are some of the nicest people I have ever met and I was thrilled to be able to party like rock stars with all of them.

IMG_8128 Swag – Of course you're wondering about the swag, right?  Having gone to some swag-heavy events in the past {*ahem, Sundance*}, in some ways BlogHer swag was what I expected, but in some ways it was surprising.  First surprising thing was the types of things given away, such as full-size baby powder, low-carb wraps, and even a real live terrarium {thanks, Amanda!}, that was not at all what I expected.  Beforehand, I was picturing coupons and small samples galore, and while that was fairly accurate, I hadn't anticipated having grocery bags filled with edibles, goodies, and even electronics. 

I also wasn't expecting custom fit Dr. Scholl’s orthodics, a flip book of my husband and I dancing, or a beautiful custom photo gift from Paper Coterie which were all lovely surprises.  I had, however, expected more toys and games, and was quite relieved that I didn't have to fit large boxes of kid’s toys in my stuffed suitcases on the way home.  While I did end up packing a toy or two home {I had my kids with me – once they saw the toys there was absolutely no taking them back}, what I really appreciated is that most of my swag was small and actually pretty useful, like makeup, jewelry, and sunglasses. *

Swag, Recycled – Thank goodness for the Swag Exchange from P&G where I was able to unload quite a bit of excess stuff that I was given in swag bags that I just wasn't able to cart home.  Since most of the parties I went to had "gift bags" or "swag bags", I didn't actively search out swag, I just had it handed to me at the door.  While this is nice because you are able to see a sampling of the products from each of the sponsors, you also don’t get to pick and choose what you take, which means that sometimes you get something that you just don’t have a need for.  For me it was nice to put those items into the hands of those who really needed it or wanted it – for instance the women following me around the Swag Exchange that picked up nearly every single item I donated. 

BlogHer12 – After only a week to re-coop, I have to admit that plans for BlogHer12 are already brewing, thanks to Kailani from An Island Life and Family Review Network.  Why am I already planning next year’s craziness?  It certainly is not for the swag {which was, admittedly, nice}, it’s for all the connections I made that make me feel more like I belong to a community and less like I’m blazing the trail alone. 

Even though I have gone to numerous other press events and met hundred of other blogger in person before San Diego, after BlogHer I have a new appreciation for the friendships I’ve made in the past three years online.  Meeting all these amazing women {and some men} without computer screens in front of us has completely changed the way I interact online – I’m less shy, more likely to jump into conversations, and actually have plans to collaborate with some bloggers in the near future to do some combined events locally and online. 

Did you attend BlogHer11?  What did you take away from it?

Leanne Signature 2 *stay tuned for more BlogHer11 coverage including parties, parties, and more parties!  No compensation was received for this post, I just thought I'd share my good time in Sa Diego!

7 thoughts on “BlogHer’11 in San Diego – A tale of good friends, swag… and recycling”

  1. I had such a blast meeting you, Leanne! I completely agree with everything you said about it being a small world (even with 4,000 bloggers walking around) and that the swag was fun… but that a big load of it needed to be dropped off at the Exchange.
    I can’t wait to see you again next year in NYC and I hope that we have the chance to collaborate sometime in the future as well! 🙂

  2. I’m so glad that we were finally able to meet in real life and even hang out at some of the parties. You’re so much fun to party with and I’m really looking forward to seeing you again in NYC . . . or when I’m back in Seattle on a layover. 🙂

  3. I loved meeting you so much! I couldn’t have picked a better line buddy for Youphoria! 🙂 It’s so weird that we ran into the same people all the time, but yet there were a ton of people I never even caught a glimpse of the entire weekend. How is that possible???
    So looking forward to next year and hanging out again!


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