Why I’m a Bad Blog Conference Attendee

BlogHer Conference 2014 Badge | www.carrieonliving.com

I just returned home from the BlogHer Conference 2014. It was a great event, no doubt. The keynote speakers were top-notch and it was extremely well organized and inclusive of all different types of bloggers. I had attended the BlogHer Food Conference just a few months back and had a similar experience, though, in that I found it to be inspiring but completely overwhelming at the same time.

I’m not writing this post to be a downer in any way of these events. There’s no doubt in my mind that the first and most significant reason why I find attending conferences difficult is because I’m an introvert. My preference is to connect with one person at a time in a meaningful way, but that’s impossible with crowds and a million activities packed into several days.

Secondly, while I feel really fortunate to have been asked to be on panels at the BlogHer Food and BlogHer ’14 events, I also am terrible at public speaking. I know you’re probably thinking, “Carrie, don’t be so hard on yourself,” but, believe, me, I’m not trying to be modest. Writing comes naturally to me, speaking does not. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to work on my public speaking skills and I’m thinking I really need to re-join a Toastmaster’s group soon.

Outside of my personal issues, I’m also really dis-interested in anything technology-related to blogging. I run a website, but I don’t want anything to do with it outside of typing words and adding pictures. Therefore, my brain shuts down during most conversations related to optimization, monetization, or anything-ization.

Lastly, there is the issue of corporate sponsorship. I’m very careful about filtering what products and companies get reviewed or mentioned on my blog. I went for several years without any ads because of the vegan thing and because of my general control freak nature. While I love my BlogHer relationship, I know that it’s hard for the administrators to match me with corporate sponsors. I don’t fit into a box very well and for that reason, most companies don’t want to work with me and vice versa.

Because of all of these reasons, blogging is both the perfect and imperfect career for me. I left the conference feeling empowered and excited because this is how I express myself and I take that very seriously. Blogging is my connection to the world, the way I make new relationships, and is the activity that has kept me the most challenged, engaged, and inspired than almost anything else I’ve ever done.

I also left BlogHer feeling guilty about being a “bad attendee.” I didn’t go to one party and my swag was virtually non-existent. I think I handed out 10 business cards total and that was only to the nice people who asked. :) In other ways, I left wondering if being a bad conference attendee makes me a less than perfect blogger?

Then, I realized that my blog is an extension of me and just as I am not willing to change myself or my needs to meet someone else’s standards or goals, I don’t need to change anything about my blogging other than keeping it genuine to my journey. And, trying to be perfect at anything? That is no longer on my agenda.

I’m not opposed to the idea that someday I’ll be more excited about attending professional blogging conferences and sitting in on classes that tell me how to do it better. But, for now, I’m just happy to keep doing what I’m doing, figuring it out in my own way, and being an eccentric writer who would rather express herself with words, preferably barefoot and wearing comfy yoga pants, in the comfort of her own home.

Comments

  1. says

    One of the things I love most about you is how honest you are. There’s nothing wrong with being yourself! I’m really learning that. That’s partly why I started a new blog–I want a place to speak more openly about myself and my struggles. Being true to yourself, flaws and all, is the best way to be. I’m glad you don’t feel like you need to change anything, or conform to what a “good blogger” is like. You’re one of my favorite bloggers and internet friends (as I’m sure you are to many others!) and that’s because I feel like I actually know who you are as a person when I read your blog. This post made me happy. Yoga pants for the win! All day, err day. :)

    • says

      Jenni, I’m so glad you commented because it reminded me to go visit your new site. I love what you are doing there and you are a wise, wise woman. I love your honesty as well and feel as if we have been close friends for years. Either that, or we share a brain. :) How about we make a pact. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and being true to myself, if you promise to do the same? Xoxo!!!

  2. says

    Pretty sure as long as they get your money, the conference organizers don’t mind!

    I suppose if you don’t want to make money from your blog, just writing and not worrying about the “izing” is perfect. But…

    • says

      Well, I’m certainly not opposed to making money from my blog, Veronica, but this post was more a reflection of feeling overwhelmed by the technology to supposedly make that happen, plus the pressure to work with corporate sponsors. :)

  3. says

    Carrie – The purpose of all conferences is to offer an industry platform for those to connect with possible strategic partners, learn more about their industry, and of course most importantly find out new ways to make money….

    As you are in a position where making money is not a top priority, and you are not really in to networking, I would suggest giving these conferences a break for a while as they are looking for bloggers who want to create business relationships primarily.

    I’ve been to many conferences myself and can totally relate to you not feeling it … it’s a tedious business if you’re not on the right page. :)

  4. says

    Carrie – I know where you are coming from. I feel the exact way, being kinda an introvert and why I started my own blog. The truth is…I technically started my blog several months ago, but my stubborn perfectionism got in the way. The comment about not being perfect anymore really hit home with me. Reading honest posts like this keep me motivated to continue to grow my blog with posts as honest and true to the real me as I possibly can. Side note – I found your blog when someone posted your “not a vegan anymore” post. I appreciate your bravery and honesty in such a life changing moment in your life. Thank you and I look forward to being a regular follower! :)

    • says

      Thanks for the note, Amanda! I identify so much with what you said about being a perfectionist and how it’s held you back from getting started. That has been the story of my life and it’s something I struggle with every day. One of the biggest gifts I’ve gotten from blogging is that you don’t have to do it perfectly and you can always edit or write a follow-up if need be. I’m so happy you’re here and I look forward to getting to know you better! :)

  5. says

    Carrie, it was so nice to meet you at the conference! Believe me, I don’t think you were a “bad attendee” at all. You insights were invaluable to newbies like me, and I truly admire your courage to rebrand yourself! I didn’t participate in any of the parties either, though I did sample a lot of food at the expo. I’m glad to have found your blog!

  6. says

    Hey Carrie, I completely get what you shared. I am definitely more introverted and prefer meeting people one on one. Walking into a room with tons of people, I just don’t feel comfortable. But one on one, no problem. If you enjoying going to these conferences, keep going! So what if you don’t attend the other events…right now. The more you do things you are not comfortable with, over time, uncomfortable situations with become easier to navigate. You have a lot of offer the industry and you are genuine and sincere, and how many people out there really fall in this category. Perhaps attending conferences such as these with a friend in same industry will make it easier to attend the social events? Perhaps you will continue to make friends one on one, and before you know, there are at least a handful of people at these social events which will make them more comfortable. Some people are born with the gift of public speaking and the comfort of being on stage in front of a large audience. Others who are not born with this gift, have to work at it harder, but it will come. As long as you are passionate about what you do and believe in. You are NOT wasting anyone’s time attending. You belong there if you wish to be there.

    • says

      Than you, Jeanette, you made me feel so understood and loved (xoxo). I got another message from someone who said there is no one right way to attend these conferences, so that made me feel better, too. And, I was inspired by the really great speakers at the event so I am bound and determined to develop some skills in that arena, even if I’m starting from scratch. :)

  7. says

    This made me smile remembering the first blog conference I attended. It was a fashion blog conference (which I guess was my first mistake, as I was interested in blogging but not really into fashion) and I just felt so out of place and so overwhelmed. None of it really makes any sense, though, because I used to be a Spanish teacher, and I even felt sort of self conscious speaking in front of my students, especially during the first few days of the school year. One thing that got me through was remembering how I was in class – rarely paying attention to who was speaking and always too worried about if I’d be called on to speak! Recently, I saw this meme floating around Facebook that was a big fist and said: Introverts unite! (Separately in your own homes!) Hahaha now that’s what I’m talking about!

    • says

      Wait…you’re not that into fashion?!? You’re one of the most stylish/cool women I know, so I’m not sure how that is possible. Maybe you’re just naturally stylish and so you just don’t consider yourself into it. :)

      Ha ha, I love that meme and thanks for sharing the story about being a Spanish teacher. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who is afraid (read: terrified) of public speaking.

  8. says

    Funny, I was just having a conversation about introvert vs. extrovert personalities over the weekend. I remember once having to give an oral presentation in front of my whole 9th grade class, and bursting into tears in front of everyone. It was then that I, too, realized that one-on-one is definitely my preference as well :)

    Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I kinda have this feeling that being introverted just might be one of the things that make you such a great blogger. I never feel like I’m reading an advertisement or a watching a commercial; you write in a way that’s so much more personal than that; like a chat over coffee with a sister or a friend. It’s a gift and I look forward to your posts so much.

    You also take the time to respond to comments, even if it’s just to say, “hi” or “thanks”, which is truly rare with blogs who have a large following like yours. You possess a magical talent for connecting with people and that is really, really special.

    So I’m sure I can speak for all your readers when I say I’d rather see you write a great blog with fun photos than be a great conference attendee. Keep up the good work, cupcake!

    • says

      XOXO, Hilary. You are awesome.

      I’m sorry you cried in front of your class, how embarrassing and traumatic that must have been. If it makes you feel any better, I THREW UP on the first day of my 8th grade class after moving schools when my family moved from Oklahoma to California. How’s that for a great first impression? < —-I promise not to throw up on you when we meet in September, tho. :)

  9. Paula says

    I love your blog. I lose interest in those who become what I call commercial rather than real. You have a faithful follower here. Keep the inspiration coming.

  10. says

    It’s important just to enjoy yourself at these things, I went to a work conference recently where my boss said I had to come back with 10 business cards. I had a crap day, spoke to random pushy people and came back with 9 business cards that I will never look at again. If I had gone and looked round the stalls and chatted to one person I’d made a good connection with it would have been much more worthwhile. Also it’s your time. If you are giving up your time to be there, do what you want, I sometimes go to blog events and spend the time catching up with my blogging friends – for me that’s a night well spent :D

    • says

      Great advice, Stephanie! Next time, I’m going to arrange to meet-up with friends and spend quality time with them, although I’m always open to meeting new people, too. In fact, I ended up at a small round table discussion and met several really cool people at this recent event. Do you go to BlogHer events? If so, I’d love to meet YOU! :)

  11. Amber says

    Good for you, Carrie. It’s important to stick with what works best for YOU. We all lose enough sleep as it is with what-ifs: “What if I implement such-and-such on my blog? How much bigger would my brand outreach be then?”

    Well, what does it matter when you don’t really want it or feel that you need to do it? You have so many supportive followers because you are honest and you stay true to yourself! :]

    P.S. Totally feel you on the introversion/pseudo-Luddite attitude to new technology trends. (My dirty secret: I don’t even have social media accounts – and I work in digital marketing! Scandalous!)

    • says

      Love your comments, Amber. I’m finding that I really do have to stay true to myself to maintain my passion for blogging. No sooner do I try to force a post then I lose all interest in writing it. While there are most definitely products and companies that I think are doing a super job, for the most part I’m trying to stay out of that world so I can just stay honest with my opinions.

      Ha ha, I love that you have refrained from social media accounts. My most recent task has been seriously editing mine so I’m actually using them the way they were intended (i.e. to really connect and interact with like-minded people and not solely for marketing). You stay true to yourself, too, no matter how scandalous. :)

  12. says

    You are most definitely not a bad blog conference attendee. You went and spoke – that’s all that is required. You shouldn’t be hard on yourself. Despite all of the things you said, you are a fantastic blogger. You have managed to capture and maintain a huge audience (something I aspire to!) and are a fantastic writer.
    “I don’t want anything to do with it outside of typing words and adding pictures.”
    Haha – I’m with ‘ya!
    Just keep doing what you’re doing Carrie – you rock!

    • says

      Thanks, Kimmy! Honestly, your comment made me give myself credit for even showing up…something I seriously considered not doing due to my speaker anxiety. So, you’re right, I should be happy I did what I did. YAY. One of the highlights of the weekend was definitely catching up with you. XO.

  13. Karen says

    Carrie, I was at BlogHer too. Thank you for sharing your experience. I too am an introvert and was feeling bad about not attending the social events. By sharing your experience, it normalized the fact that I spent evenings in my hotel room processing all I had listened to that day. Your post shows me what vulnerability looks like and it inspireds me to be more genuine when I begin my blog. My dream is to financially support myself with my blog because it’s what I want to do and because my job is so stressful. As much as I’d like the money to come immediately, I believe my job is to pusue my passion and and then share my experience in a genuine way. Hopefully, the money wil come.
    Thank you, Karen

    • says

      I’m so happy you liked this post, Karen, and that it inspired you with your blog. I would also love to support myself with my blog, but I really do think I have to be 100% passionate in what I write for my blog to be the best it can be. I also hope at some point that I won’t feel so overwhelmed by the technology part of it and can make some changes to help on the money-making front. My very best to you and thanks for chiming in as a fellow introvert. :)

  14. says

    Hi Carrie,
    I just recently found your blog via a Feedly recommendation. What a great site you have here.

    I clicked on this post especially because I feel the same way. I haven’t been to a lot of the BIG conferences for this very reason. When I read about them from other bloggers and see all the stuff on social media, I often wonder if I would fit it.
    I went to a couple Disney blogger conferences and found it to be very ‘clicky’ kind of like high school. I can get a long with just about anyone, so that stuff is of no interest to me, but some of the ‘interest’ in my blog seemed fake.

    My blog has transformed from talking about homeschooling and being a newbie to Florida, to just talking about lifestyle stuff and healthy eating.
    I don’t feel like I have found my ‘niche’ so to speak, but that’s ok.
    I’m a Christian that eats basically a plant based diet and I haven’t found a lot of other bloggers like that.
    I’m signed up for a local blog conference here in Orlando and later found out the main sponsor is the Dairy Council. I am lactose intolerant and if I’m going to eat anything dairy, I prefer it to be organic – so this will be interesting. I guess I’m going more for the speakers than to connect with the sponsors.. lol..
    Sorry I’m rambling.
    This post was an encouragement to me though. I sometimes get caught up in wanting to have a ‘popular’ blog but than remind myself that it’s just a fun place for me to be me.
    Ok. Think I’m done now. Looking forward to following you!
    Blessings for a great weekend!
    Mikki

    • says

      I’m happy you identified with my thoughts on attending big events like this, Mikki – it makes me feel like not so much of a weirdo. :) Just kidding. But, seriously, I love what you said about wanting to have a more popular blog, but then remembering why you started it in the first place. At least, that’s what I do. I feel very lucky that people want to read what I write. I remember when I first started, I couldn’t believe it when I started getting followers; it still feels like I’m writing in my personal journal in many ways. I’m glad you found my blog!

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