Brands, Swag and My BlogHer Experience

This was my 2nd BlogHer, 6th blogging conference and who knows what number conference as a whole. It is, however, the only one that seems to be all about the swag. I know it wasn’t their intent. I had the immense pleasure of joining Elisa Camahort Paige, co-founder of BlogHer, on Red Plum’s Viva la Value radio show.

She spoke of the conference origins, their desire to connect brands with women bloggers and where she sees it all going. I distinctly remember the “Where are all the women bloggers?” conversation that apparently kick started BlogHer. In fact, I’m pretty sure I blogged about it, but that post is long gone. The conversation was primarily about politics and it didn’t take me long to realize I don’t want to be a political blogger.

I also don’t want to be a product review blogger, but that seems to be the only way brands want to work with bloggers. I spent a lot of time in the Expo hall and brand suites, asking PR and brand reps what they hoped to get out of the conference—how they wanted to work with bloggers in the future. Those we spoke to in quiet settings or one on one at parties were so great about answering our questions, and we brainstormed great ideas about how to work together.

But, from my experience in the Expo hall, we were mostly right. Many of the brands just wanted to get their free stuff into our hands, in hopes that we’d write about it later. There just has to be a better way for brands & bloggers to make intelligent connections. Not that I’m anti-swag—I am very excited about the Yummie Tummie headed to my mailbox, and I’ve eaten more of the 1-800Flowers popcorn balls than you’ll ever get me to admit—but it needs to happen in a way that makes sense.

Rather than write a review of Yummie Tummie, I talked about how it helped with my 40×40 list. Instead of writing a review of the Traverse that carpooled me to BlogHer, I’m sharing fuel efficiency tips from Chevrolet on Inexpensively. It is important for me to find ways to connect the brands I love with my readers, in a way that is relevant for the site.

As a result, I visited less exhibits and spent a lot more time talking with each company. I may have less swag. I may have attended less parties. I may have missed out on some pretty cool freebies. But, I came home with solid contacts, specific ideas and great additions to my editorial calendar.

BlogIndiana – I’m Speaking!

I stumbled on BlogIndiana just last year, via Indy’s vast Twitter community. I was invited to speak on 2 panels – and really enjoyed the entire experience. Shawn & Noah put together a great, local program. And, I am honored to be a part of it again this year.

BlogIndiana will be in downtown Indy on August 20th & 21st. My session is titled The Blog That Press Built. See that list of media appearances on the right sidebar? I’ll be speaking on how to capitalize on press mentions to benefit your blog.

I am counting down the days to the 2-day event – it’s a great weekend with the Indiana blogging community. I’m looking forward to seeing friends, meeting new ones and learning from some of Indy’s greatest blogging talent.

Plus, I have a coupon code for you! Earlybird registration ends Friday ($79 per day or $149 for both), and you can save an additional 10% on your ticket when you use coupon code SPEAKTOME10. I hope you’ll join us!