In the weeks and months leading up to #BlogHer17 I participated in most if not all the twitter chats led by the lovely Melissa Wells. I laughed a lot and I learned more. The word that I used up and til that time in regards to my attending the conference was ‘exciting’, because I was just that EXCITED AF! There was no other word to describe it. Rewind to this weekend when 2000+ bloggers and influencers descended upon the Hilton Bonnet Creek Orlando and that excitement turned to amazement. So I’ve moved on guys, I went from feeling excited to being amazed.
This was my first time attending #BlogHer17 or any blogging conference for that matter and the experience was…AMAZING (what did you expect me to say?) I have been blogging off and on for years but was never consistent though it was something I really wanted to do and thought I could excel at sharing my stories with a greater audience. Over the years I’ve paused, faltered and just plain quit. Last year I knew I wanted to really focus on my blog for the 1-7, and then the new year rolled around and apprehension set in. I spoke to my good friend Zahra of My Kawaii Life and she and I both agreed I needed something to motivate me and light a fire under my ass, that fire was #BlogHer17.
I’ve been a big fan of the BlogHer community for years and considered attending #BlogHer15 but you know…life got in the way. But this time around the stars aligned and the universe worked in my favor and provided me the opportunity to attend. The weeks leading up to the conference saw me in prep-mode, I ordered business cards, created a media kit, was more social on my social channels, I hit ‘publish’ more. Those seem like simple things but they helped me to get clear on what my blog was about, more importantly, what ‘I’ wanted it to be about and the direction that I wanted it to take. It made me set goals, think outside the box, figure out my USP and gave me the clarity to focus. Amazing right? Here are My Top 5 Highlights and the Top 4 things I Learned at #BlogHer17.
1. #BlackGirlMagic meetup #1 in the hotel lobby Thursday night. Luvvie brought jollof rice y’all, and I didn’t have any foil! Can you imagine?!? An old co-worker once told me that I should always keep foil, saran wrap and a Tupperware container around because you never know what could happen and you want to be able to wrap up a to-go plate.
I also got to see Oneika of Oneika the Traveller who I haven’t seen since London 2012. It was great to reconnect, so proud of all that she’s doing right now. I finally met Danielle Faust of OK, Dani, Tyra of BarrisTourista and a few other ladies there during the jollof competition.
1a.) #BlackGirlMagic meetup #2 on Friday night, the lobby of the Hilton was packed with the best, brightest and fiercest black bloggers. The energy and the love there was off the charts and when we all got together and posed for a picture shouting ‘BLACK GIRL MAGIC’ everyone in the building turned around and took notice, because you know… #melanin, you can’t have all the ladies from the lands of Nubia in the same place and not expect us to shine.
2. Listening to the G.O.A.T aka Serena Williams’ lunch keynote. She was amazing (we already know that she is though). She reminded us all that as women especially, we shouldn’t be afraid of winning, we want to be the best. And there’s nothing wrong with working hard to get where you want to be and enjoying the gifts of your hard work.
3. Luvvie (again) who killed it at her Keynote and talked about her glow up. A lot of people think Luvvie is new to the blog game but she’s been around FOREVER in internet years and has a great following that she grew organically. Her keynote resonated with me for many reasons because she spoke about not fully committing to her blog and her business at first and still looking for a regular 9-5 but then once she had one she realized she couldn’t go back to that because she was built to work for herself. And working for yourself is hard work but the rewards are worth. When you work for yourself you have to promote yourself and she mentioned as women sometimes we shy away from that. She reminded us all that “If you don’t promote yourself no one else will.”, and she’s totally right. That lit a fire under my tail so my plan is to not only hit ‘publish’ more often, but to promote myself and the blog more as well. There’s room up here for everyone to shine y’all.
4. Meeting celebrity chef Carla Hall at the Best Buy booth in the expo hall. Carla’s nice, it’s not fake nice, you can tell that’s her genuine personality. She was very warm and friendly and we chatted about the Virgin Islands and our tallness. She’s awesome there’s nothing else to say than she is AMAZING! I got a copy of her new cookbook as well.
5. I had the opportunity to attend the preview screening of Girls Trip movie starring, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina King and Tiffany Haddish. I have an unspoken rule that any movie that Queen Latifah is in that I HAVE to see, so I planned to see it upon release but was stoked to see it earlier. There was popcorn and cocktails in the screening room and we had a blast, everyone was singing, dancing and having a great time watching the film. I KNEW since The Queen was in it that it would be good but it turned out to be… (you guessed it) AMAZING! I’ll definitely be headed out to see it when it’s released on July 21st.
It made me miss hanging out with my girlfriends like we did in college, but you know life gets in the way and distance grows but no worries. I’m planning to get together with them all again soon. It’s part of my #Summer17 tour!
1. YOUR VOICE MATTERS
The days leading up to the conference I felt super prepared and then anxious and a little fearful. What could this island girl from a gem in the Caribbean Sea provide to the blogging/social influencer world that wasn’t already there? #BlogHer17 helped me realize that it was…MY VOICE. Throughout the weekend I got to connect with tons of gorgeous, smart, brave, incredible women. I learned a lot from them and the sessions I attended as well. It was like the first week at a new school with very, very cool kids, you don’t know anyone and you kinda hate that you’re alone and you’re a little scared then someone gives walks over while you’re sitting alone at the lunch table and a super cool kid comes over and sits with you. That what happened all weekend, super cool ladies and guys randomly came over to me or I to them at breakfast, lunch, in line at the bathroom, at the hotel bar, in the lobby, in the elevator, at the pool, in line at the snack bar. The immense feeling of support and community I felt all weekend was overwhelming.
2. STRANGERS DON’T ALWAYS POSE DANGER
For little kids and seedy people in back alleys…maybe. But at a conference not so much. I met the coolest, wildest, smartest, laid back, honest, fashionable, happiest and bravest women all weekend because we just happened upon each other and sat down and said ‘Oh…hey…What do you do?”
3. SUMMER IS THE SEASON OF FLORALS
If you know me personally or thru these internet streets you know that my love affair with floral prints is deep and true. I LOVED seeing so many beautiful floral pieces this weekend. I will say everyone came out in their best. Also, shout out to the love lady in the gold sequined gown that I shouted ‘GIRRRRRRRRRRL’ at as she strutted across the conference space. I didn’t get a pic with her but she is now and forever my style inspiration to show up and show out!
4. COMMUNITY & TRIBE ARE IMPORTANT
I met tons of people this weekend that all had their toe in the world of blogging in some way, shape or form. Bloggers, content creators, brands, sponsors, etc.. they all brought something different to the table and as a part of the BlogHer community, we’re all able to exchange ideas and get feedback as well as support from the newly formed tribe we met over the conference. We are all different but that’s what makes us all awesome, the stories and perspective we share with each other to weave a story not only for other just like us but others who don’t know anyone just like us is beyond comparable. Shout out to Hannah Elizabeth, who I didn’t actually meet until after conference but we shared an Uber to the airport after #BlogHer17 was over.
5. EACH ONE. TEACH ONE.
I didn’t get to attend all the sessions that I planned to but the ones that I DID attend were very informative and have me ready and roaring to implement new changes to the blog, which once I get my thoughts organized you’ll be seeing a few before the end of the summer. I reviewed all the sessions that would be available prior to the conference so I picked the ones that I felt would be more beneficial to me. I want to take the time to thank the panelists of sessions I attended for being so in-depth, thorough and opening to us all. After my last session, I stayed behind to speak with the panelists Kat Kinsman, author of Life with a Bad Case of Nerves & Senior Editor of Extra Crispy, Johanna Cook, of Momma Cooks, Jane Ko of A Taste of KoKo , Beth Lee of OMG Yummy and Yvette Marquez author of Muy Bueno Cookbooks who led the#BrandSwitchUp workshop. The session they led was great but being able to stay after and having the opportunity to speak with them one and one and bounce ideas around with them was priceless. I know I’ve made lifelong connections not only with them but with other bloggers at the conference as well.
So all in all, did I enjoy myself? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Did you connect with anyone? HELL YES! I can’t wait for next year. Tell me, have you ever been to a blogging conference? What did like/dislike about it and why? Let’s conversate in the comments.