When I first started blogging 2 and a half years ago I never would have thought I would be where I am today. I honestly just started because I was signing up for all the freebies and kind of a hobby. My youngest daughter was newborn and I really didn’t have much to do. While on Facebook I came across a fan page called Cori’s Coupon Corner. Cori was super nice and encouraged me to start my own blog and fan page. I’m sure at the time she thought I wouldn’t last a month. I had no idea how hard it was to run and keep up a blog and fan page. But I was going to try anyway.
After about a year and a half of blogging I heard about these blogging conferences. The main one I kept hearing about was Blogher. From what I gathered if you were a “real” blogger this is the place for you to be. There are all kinds of brands that you can meet and get contacts from. You learn the ins and outs of blogging and learn how to build your business. It really is a stepping stone in the blogging world. Last year I couldn’t afford to go. It was in New York. Plus even though I had been blogging for over a year I still didn’t really know what I was doing when it came to blogging. I was still a baby blogger.
This year BlogHer was in Chicago. I have over two years of blogging under my belt and knew I could do this. But there was still the matter of money. I live in Washington state. So this would be a cross-country trip for me. Through my blogging I was able to meet an amazing woman who wanted me to do a review for her. Over time we became friends online. I’ve done a couple other reviews/giveaways for her since the first one. She contacted me asking if I still needed a job, because she wanted to pay me to be her virtual assistant! Up until now I thought of my blogging more as a hobby then a job or work. I didn’t think I was really that good. Surely not good enough that someone would want to pay me to take care of their social media as well. Without knowing it she had set me on a path that would make me start to feel amazing again. Because of this lady believing in me, I was able to attend BlogHer. Because of her I had no excuse not to go. I bought my plane tickets and my room. I even get to meet my boss lady in September! So excited!
Remember how I mentioned Cori? Well we had kept in touch this whole time. Now she is Cori’s Cozy Corner. Well because of blogher I was able to meet this AMAZING lady! She was my roommate for 4 great days. It is awesome when you realize that you get along just as well in real life as you do on the internet. This lady got me started and I think I owe her a shout out for being so great and kind. It is hard to find real people in the blogging world as it is super easy to hide behind a computer. I am lucky enough to have found a couple of those gems and I am forever thankful!
So I had my tickets, my room, and my room-mate and I was off to blogher. I have to take a moment to through in a THANK YOU to my wonderful husband who was at home with all 4 children while I was out across the country, bettering myself and finding me again. It’s easy to lose yourself in your family and children. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a stay at home mom and wouldn’t change it for the world. But it’s nice to be reminded every once in a while how strong of a woman I am. How I indapentant I can be.
Arriving at the airport wasn’t so bad. I had just gotten back from California a month before. But the 4 hours flight across country, alone, was a bit scary. I slept most of the way there since my flight left at 6:30am pst. Now I arrived in Chicago all alone and had no idea what to do from here. I grabbed my bags and got a shuttle to the hotel. $28 later (tip: Take a cab fewer people and more room) and I was checking into the hotel.
To say I was just a little frighten was an understatement. I’m kinda a small town girl, I almost never go to Seattle. Chicago was HUGE! I was able to get to the hotel and checked in with no issues. But my first real challenge came next. My first party. I barely had time to drop my things off throw on some make-up and head off to the party. I had my addresses and my money and I was off to hail a cab. Hail a cab..!! What?! I mean I have seen people do it in movies, but never done it in real life. Was it really that easy? Did I really just stick my arm out? I have come to learn that, yes, it is really that easy. A lot of the other bloggers had friends they were connecting with or re-connecting with. But I was still pretty new to all of this. I don’t have a lot of what I would call blogger friends. I find it is very hard to rely on someone who has their own stuff going on. At blog her everyone had their own things going on. I learned very fast that if I wanted to do something or be somewhere I needed to do it for myself. If I wasted time waiting on others I would miss things. At first I thought this was a bad thing. I was so scared going at this alone. My family and babies were thousands of miles away, But as I climbed in that first cab, off to my first party, I felt kind of empowered. I was doing it! I was doing it alone. I didn’t need anyone to hold my hand. I was re-finding the woman I had fought so hard to become. I had forgotten this part of me. Now, I wanted to remember.
Something I didn’t expect to happen was to meet some great people along the way. I know blogher is all about meetings and sessions and brands, but for me it was different. I was able to make new friends and step out of my comfort zone. It was 4 days alone without my family. I missed them terribly, but I had a blast. I hailed a cab for the first time. I learned to rely on myself. I felt empowered. I was super woman for that 4 days. I learned that even though I am a mom, even though I work from home, I am a business woman, I am a leader. People want my knowledge. They value my imput. Even though this started as a hobby, it is my business now. I’m not sure when that happened, but boy am I glad it did!
PR reps from brands aren’t as scary as I thought. I am always so scared to email them and stand up for myself. I kind of looked at them as the gate keepers. They really do hold the key to my blog and product reviews. But they aren’t some older sibling dangling that key above my head. They are that Aunt/Uncle that wants to help you succeed. They are your best friend if you let them be. They want to work with you because it helps them as much as it helps you. Most of the reps that I met were super down to earth and great people!
Say hello to everyone you meet! You never know who or where that next great contact will come from. I met people in the elevators and on the shuttle to and from the hotel. We are all there to make connections. Use that.
You can never plan enough. Just when you think everything is perfect. Check it again. Look to see if you can walk, save your money! Try to find people to take cabs with ahead of time. Write down the name and the address of the place you are going. Oh, and make sure it is on your persons!
Take pictures! Twitter and Instagram are your friends! Tweet and hashtag until your fingers bleed. You never know what might come of it! Plus the people at home want to see what great fun you are having. Tweet when you get home. You’ll have loads of business cards. USE them!! Follow all your brands and bloggers. Not only does it help you but it helps them.
See you next year!! (fingers crossed its a lot closer!!)~Amanda
*The product(s) featured on this blog were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.*