Last weekend I lost my blogging conference virginity. I attended BlogWest 2012 with about 200 bloggers from western Canada, from people just starting out to seasoned professionals.
I went in knowing no one, excited and a bit nervous; I don't like crowds, and mingling with strangers is not a strength of mine... tweeting nasty things about the Kardashians while eating jellybeans at home, now THAT is a strength of mine.
This conference appealed to me as a chance to meet a bloggy peer group, learn some stuff, and maybe feel like less of a freak cuz this is how I spend my time late at night when other people are sleeping or working or making the world a better place or watching porn.
I felt lost and I felt outnumbered, because the conference centre doesn't have great signage and because I don't have a vagina. I saw no men.
I tend to be shy at big events, and yes I realize the irony of being anti-social at a social media event. So I sucked it up and grabbed another lost looking soul and said hello. And I thereby claimed Marissa as my new BFF and conference wife... she is smart and fun and fab and has a weird obsessive thing for Disney and tiaras.
Days one and two at Blogwest felt like it really is a Mommybloggers world... topics discussed, names of the blogs, sponsors and swag were all Mommy focused. I wondered what I would get out of this... but we non-Mom's soldiered through.
Holy crap there are a lot of bloggers in western Canada! Hundreds at the conference, all tweeting away. This is one place where its not rude to be heads down tweeting away in a crowd. One evening Marissa and I were sitting together tweeting to each other, and then realized hey we could be at our respective homes doing this in our PJs. So we left.
On day two I counted only four guys. And one of them was skulking around without a name badge scamming food. I may have seen him on To Catch A Predator.
Marissa and I sat together at a table for ten. No one joined us. It was high school all over again. At lunch and at sessions were were the two amigos surrounded by empty chairs. So we quietly made fun of people.
I went home deflated. Should I even come back on Saturday? What would I get out of this?
At some point I remembered that attitude and experience are what we make them, and I flipped the switch to appreciate what was there. Besides, I love women, most of my friends are women, who else would I want to be with? So the next day, the final day, was the busiest. And it was awesome, from inspiring sessions to people actually sitting at our table of their own free will...
There was lots of inspiration and advice that day, from writing a great headline to building a brand to using geeky analytic tools (okay that part when straight over my head).
The best part was the keynote by Tanis Miller of Redneck Mommy blogging fame. She told her story and advised everyone else to tell theirs:
One blog post at a time, blogging changed my life.... Tell your story. Use your words. Be inspiring... Be yourself and be honest because ultimately that's what works.
What did I learn? Blogging can be whatever I want it to be (duh). Have the same voice online and off-line (done). Use snappy headlines (sex, royals, and weird hats work). Not all moms who blog are "mommy bloggers" (and you better not call them that). And they know how to have fun at a conference...