BlogHer 2014 Recap: 8 Things I Learned from the Conference

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 10.23.00 PMI was so excited to be able to attend the BlogHer 2014 Conference this year. It did not disappoint. I really enjoyed it and looking forward to attending more BlogHer conferences in the future. In this recap, I’ll start with the superficial and make my way to the key insights at the end.

1. Khloe Kardashian, to my surprise, was really pretty in person. She made an appearance at the Hairfinity expo booth Saturday afternoon and I was blown away by her beauty. Also, I’m not one who usually pays attention to these things, but she was wearing a low-cut top and her boobs looked amazing.

khloe kardashian

2. Since she’s supposed to be a modern-day fashion icon, Kerry Washington was really underwhelming when she came out on stage, especially since she purports to be a student of fashion. She looked like she threw on clothes from the Gap sales rack. Whenever I see her in magazines, she always looks perfect which was why I was so shocked by how average she looked in person. That said, she’s clearly a smart cookie and deeply involved and passionate about politics. I was impressed by how articulate she was.

kerry washington

3. I love Guy Kawasaki even more than I did before. He was so gracious and asked to take pictures of us, just as we were asking to take pictures of him!

guy kawasaki

4. Arianna Huffington was a really engaging keynote speaker. She was funny and charming and witty. Everything she said could go into a book of memorable quotes. One of my favorites was that we all need to “stop glamorizing being busy.”

arianna huffington

5. Apparently affiliate links are supplanting the sponsored post and making a comeback when it comes to monetization. I don’t necessarily agree, but affiliate marketing was something that was being touted throughout the conference.

6. Walking around the expo hall filled with all these sponsored booths made me realize once again the power every blogger has to cash in. It’s insane. I must’ve walked away with hundreds of dollars worth of swag. Everyone thinks these brands are simply looking for high page ranks and lots of traffic, but that can’t be true because those blogs are easy to find. They’re coming to large conferences so that they can talk to bloggers of all sizes. I felt like I was a school counselor, telling bloggers that I met throughout the conference that, yes they can monetize!

Major props to McDonald’s for throwing one bad-ass closing party with Run DMC.

mcdonalds

7. Even though there’s money to be had, you don’t have to make money blogging. One panelist kept insisting, it’s ok if blogging is a hobby! That got me thinking about when I started blogging back in 2005 and never did I expect to make money doing it. I did it because I wanted to write. Plain and simple. There’s so much pressure on bloggers these days to make money, but if you’re not passionate about it, then stop doing it. The same panelist made an analogy to being a marathoner. Marathoners run because they love how it makes them feel; they like being healthy. They’re not necessarily thinking about how to get sponsorship. That’s so true. Once again, it boils down to doing what you love whether or not you’re getting paid for it.

8. You don’t have to spend the time and money to go to a conference to glean these insights. Everything I learned at the conference will be recapped over and over by thousands of bloggers who attended. Feel free to read those recaps. But really it’s all about being authentic and developing your little piece of the interweb so that people want to come to you, so that brands are attracted to you. And yes, there’s a lot of networking going on, but you can just as easily find more blogs to follow and seek out the sponsors who were at the conference. It’s not rocket science.

Lastly, I have to admit that it was really difficult attending the conference as a new mom. I’ve wanted to go to a BlogHer conference for quite some time and figured I’d take the plunge since it was local (San Jose, California) this year. I am deeply grateful to BlogHer for providing complementary babysitting through Wondersitters during all hours of the conference, to Lansinoh for hosting a lactation lounge, and to a kind soul at the BlogHer registration desk who printed out a badge for Dean, allowing him to accompany me along with Baby Franco to the closing party. I can’t have fun unless I’m with my babies!

cheeseburgerclosing party

Heading to the BlogHer 2014 Conference

bh_14_10_It’s been crazy adjusting to life as a new mom. Some days are really rough, then other days Franco will give us a break and be mellow. I guess he’s moody just like his mommy! I’ve been working on getting him acquainted with the nanny who will be caring for him when I return to work soon. Yesterday we tried a full day and I started bawling when the nanny came to pick him up in the morning. I loaded Franco into his carseat and he looked at me with his big black eyes asking, “Why are you putting me in this thing so early in the morning?” I have been popping Advil the past couple days, the stress of it all has taken its toll.

I’m going to the BlogHer 2014 Conference at the San Jose convention center this afternoon, taking Franco with me. Try packing for a 3-day conference for yourself plus your newborn plus your hospital-grade breast pump and all its accessories and bottles. Dean will be meeting us tonight, flying in from his work trip to LA.

This is the 10th anniversary of the conference and my first time. I figure since it’s local, I had to go. Also, the BlogHer advertising network is one of the primary ways I make money on my blog. Gotta represent! This is the biggest of all the blog conferences. I wish I knew how many people attend. I’ll have to get that stat. I’m looking forward to seeing Kerry Washington, Arianna Huffington, Kara Swisher and Guy Kawasaki! Woot-woot!

At Your Fingertips: Services that Make Life Easier

pointI wonder whether it’s easier to be a parent now than it was a generation ago. When my mom looks at all the baby-related items around the house, she laughs, “We didn’t have any of this when I had you.” We’re talking: woombies, hooded towels, a shusher, a diaper genie, a UPF 50+ sun protection car seat shade, night vision video monitor. I mean, our diapers even tell you at-a-glance whether or not your baby has peed. Before I was a parent, I used to shake my head at all the crap babies accumulated even before they were born. I thought the average registry was excessive. But I’ve changed my tune. Every single item has made our life easier someway, somehow.

Another integral aspect of day-to-day living now versus then is the internet! As long as I have access to the interweb, I can live in a bubble and have everything delivered on-demand. I find it hard to believe how easy life is these days. Here are the services that I use.

Amazon Prime

Who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime account these days? Books, vitamins, baby registry gifts, diapers, toiletries delivered to your doorstep in 2 days. Has anyone tried the new Prime Music included in the membership? Lots of good popular tunes. I added a bunch of lullabies for the baby.

Cost: $99/year

Amazon Fresh

Same-day or next-day delivery of groceries (with minimum $35 purchase), currently serving Seattle and California. If Amazon Fresh comes to your city, take advantage of the free 30 day promo. I’m in love with it. Well worth the cost. Mainly, you don’t have to waste your time going to the grocery store, finding parking, and standing in line to pay. Because time is money! I don’t even think the groceries are marked up that much. My litmus is a box of Lean Cuisines which are $2 on Amazon Fresh. I used to buy Lean Cuisines by the cart full when they were on sale at Safeway for $2 or $2.50.

Cost: $299/year (includes Amazon Prime)

Caviar

This service serves all the major metropolitan cities. It delivers from a whole bevy of restaurants such as Barbacco, Cha Cha Cha, La Mediterranee, and Ramen Underground in SF.

Cost: Delivery charge

Instacart

I think Instacart is more wide-spread geographically, serving SF, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Austin, etc. You select items from various grocers (i.e., Costco, Whole Foods, Safeway) and you’re charged a delivery fee. I used to be a huge fan of Instacart when they partnered with Trader Joe’s, but now they don’t. Insert big sad face here.

Munchery

I know there are a bunch of food-delivery sites, but this one is probably the most popular here in SF. You choose items from a daily menu of dishes made fresh that day (sides, salads, entrees, desserts, kids stuff, desserts, fresh-pressed juices, coffee, wine), then schedule the delivery for that evening. There are instructions labeled on each item on how to warm it up (usually a couple minutes in the microwave or oven).

Cost: There’s a delivery cost, but I opted for $39/year for free delivery and no minimum order, which means I can buy one of their chocolate chip cookies and they’ll deliver it to me that evening.

TaskRabbit

Post any task (i.e., cleaning, moving, handyman, personal assistance) online and errand-runners (i.e., TaskRabbits) will bid for the job. Choose based on price, qualifications, or reviews.

Task: I’ve gotten so many hand-me-down clothes for the baby. I was stressed just looking at all these boxes in the nursery. I posted for someone to sort through and organize the clothes. I chose someone who is a professional organizer. She came and sorted all the newborn and 0-3 month clothes into a dresser, then organized the rest of the clothes into batches based on age. It was such a relief to have that one task done.

I LOVE TASK RABBIT!

Cost: TaskRabbits will bid for the task and indicate their hourly rate.

Wondersitter

There are lots of child care sites in the Bay Area, including BananaberryCare, SittercityUrbansitter. I’ve only used Wondersitter, though. I like how their sitters are heavily vetted, and they are the only agency that uses Trustline, the background check service mandated by California. Book a babysitter and they’ll come to you. I’ve only used this service once and the sitter was excellent. Franco was so at ease with her.

Cost: $15 booking fee to the vendor, then an hourly rate paid to the sitter.

Alright, what sites/services am I missing?

Have you tried any of these?

Independence!

tim howard“I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!”

Who’s got World Cup fever? Even though the USA got knocked out of the Round of 16, you know what? We are all winners. Happy Independence Day to the greatest nation in the world! I’m so proud to live in America, and not repressive Iran or economically unstable Greece or even England with their monarchical system based on the divine right of kings.

A couple stats I’ve heard flying around:

  • - More Americans are watching the World Cup than the Superbowl.
  • - More Americans purchased tickets to the World Cup games than any other country, with the exception of the host country Brazil.

My husband and I are clashing when it comes to which countries we are rooting for. His heritage is British and Italian, so he is rooting for all the European countries. I love Central and South America, having traveled to Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, so clearly I am rooting for the countries on the Western Hemisphere!

Here are some awesome videos:

The American fans going wild in Brazil when Will Ferrell shows up.

I can’t get enough of this hilarious video of Jason Sudeikis as an English soccer coach.

And lastly, unless you don’t recognize him up above signing autographs. That’s a picture of the amazing USA goal keeper Tim Howard who plays for Everton. We saw him when Everton came into town and hosted an event for their fans at Buca di Beppo. Dean is a huge fan!

Quiet Birthday at Home

June 18th was my 39th birthday. Dean kept asking what I wanted to do for my birthday. Umm, completely irrelevant. All that concerns me is keeping Franco from crying. I wasn’t thinking about our wedding anniversary or my birthday! This kid is my main concern.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed a quiet birthday at home. My friend Kitty who was born on the same day was so sweet and sent me a basket of goodies from Mrs. Fields. I was like, no way, I got a prezzie?! I couldn’t believe it. Then Dean came home from the office and spoiled me with hot chocolate and a red velvet cupcake from my favorite bakery, and Three Twins ice-cream and flowers from our neighborhood grocery. Yes, I am a sugar-holic.

birthday

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