Something I read in a fellow attendee's recap post really sums up the experience for me: "You meet up with people you know or you sit down next to people you never met before, and you immediately find yourself in a supportive environment. It is immediately collaborative."
I think that's what it's all about. Yes, there are niche communities within the larger group, but no matter what kind of blogger you are, people will talk to you with genuine curiosity and enthusiasm. If you put yourself out there, you will find your people, and you will make connections with people you thought you had nothing in common with. It's such a warm, welcoming group, all with a shared interest in expressing themselves through writing. There's a bit of an air of summer camp about it all. We're all at one big slumber party where the campers want to support and encourage each other.
I'm not a professional blogger. I write only for myself, in my spare time, when I feel inspired to share. But I am a community junkie. I love people, and finding my people, and talking to the people who want to talk about the things I love talking about. Heck, that's why love working at Disqus (my day job is running HR and Operations). But BlogHer is not just for professionals - BlogHer is for anyone. Through BlogHer, I've met other part-time bloggers like me. I've met women who've completely changed the course of their lives through their writing. I've met women who juggle more than I do, who are braver than I am, who are strong and kind and intelligent and creative, and who are building empires -- or who are just carving away precious minutes in their busy lives to devote to something they love. It's a community that is as diverse as it is unified. And I love being a part of it. I always leave feeling inspired, not just to write, but to be a better human.
Yes, there are opportunities to meet interesting brands and load up on swag (is it just me, or was this year's theme "toothpaste"?). And this year, there were more adorably tiny desserts than I could eat (and I can eat dessert!). And since the conference was in NYC, I got to indulge my theatre geekery and see a bunch of shows (and college friends). More on all that later.
For now, I'm kicking back in my seat on my flight home, still a little bit high on all the love I felt over the last few days. It was a joy and a pleasure to meet you. If you're someone I met in a session, in the expo hall, or on the dance floor, please say hi and leave a link to your blog in the comments! I'd love to check out your recap and whatever else you're writing these days!