Here it is, at long last. My post about BlogHer ’11, the blog conference I recently traveled to in southern California.  BlogHer, for those who may not know, is a community of women bloggers founded by three women in 2005 who wanted to create a space for women who blog to get exposure, educated and empowered.  Well, the women bloggers have been identified and close to 4000 of us descended upon San Diego where, for 2 days, we listened, learned and left with bags of swag (at least some did). While I didn’t do so well in the swag department I had a ball nonetheless.  Here are some of the things I enjoyed most about the conference.

Meeting the Villagers – To paraphrase a famous adage, it takes a village to build a successful blog.  I was overwhelmed by the feeling of solidarity of being among thousands of other women doing the same thing I’m doing trying to do.  I often feel like the people in my real world look at me like a have two heads when I tell them that I have blog.  At BlogHer, I felt like I found my tribe.

Walking around the conference center was like looking through the Romper Room Magic Mirror and seeing IRL (in real life) the faces of people I’ve been stalking come to know via their blogs and Twitter.  I see One Brown Girl, The Culture Mom, the ladies from Another Mother Runner, Bookieboo… It was great to finally meet other bloggers I’ve worked with online but had never met in person, like fellow Ciao Bambino contributor Kristi, Colleen of Travel Mamas and one of the Blogging Angels, From Hip to Housewife‘s Nancy, who, like me, is also a Traveling Mom.

It’s All Geek to Me – The Geek Bar was a series of 15 minute mini-sessions which allowed you to get up close and personal with knowledgeable tech bloggers and get all your questions answered.  After sitting in a Geek Bar session with the seriously Tech Savvy Mama, I now know how to better integrate YouTube and Flickr with my blog and have become acquainted with Pinterest, yet another social media site to steal my time help build my brand.  And thanks to the Google+ representative, I’m still clueless as to how and why I should use it I’ve got my account up and ready to go.

Brand You – Bloggers weren’t the only ones at BlogHer in full force,  brands also came to the conference hoping to find influential bloggers to promote their products.  The brand reps had their booths set up, enticing conference attendees with the aforementioned swag, contests and for a lucky few, the possibility of a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship with a brand. In addition to the expo that was open to all conference attendees, there were a number of private parties and events, a couple of which I was fortunate enough to be invited to.  This was good because it also provided me the opportunity to actually hand my business card to a brand representative, make eye contact and give my elevator pitch, as opposed to just putting it in a fish bowl for someone to, well, fish out later, becoming another faceless name added to their the database.  And also because the swag at the private events was so much better than what was being handed out in the expo.

The stiletto made of Pepsi cans was one of my favorite things at the expo.
I also thought that the Space Needle and
 Golden State Bridge made out of Twizzlers was pretty “sweet”.

Official Parties – Well, the parties weren’t really a highlight, because I quickly realized I’m to old for that.  I would have much rather been asleep then partying (no offense Sparklecorn).  And I’m far from the only person who felt like this, since there were plenty of bloggers who choose chillaxing in the hotel lounge over getting their groove on.  I have no regrets. It proved to be another opportunity to meet other bloggers which was a higher priority for me than a unicorn and sparkle themed party anyway.