BlogHer ’12: You’ve Got Homework!

 

 

 

I'm Speaking at BlogHer '12

 

Somebody pinch me, because I still don’t believe it’s true. Not only will I be attending my very first BlogHer conference this week, but I will also be speaking on a panel. I’ll be talking about how to price and value your services with my friend Cecily Kellogg, Ana Lydia Monaco, and moderator Monica Barnett.

Allow me to make a bold guarantee. If you come to our session, you will leave smarter, more confident and better prepared to deal with brands, sponsors and advertisers. Your hair will be shinier and your teeth will be whiter. When you return home, you will have lost ten pounds, and your children will no longer sass you. This is the truth. *

But we can only work our magic if you come prepared. What do I mean by this? I need you to come with your head in the right place. Here’s the deal: When I usually speak at conferences, I talk about branding. I teach about deciding what image you want to project, claiming your online identity and staying true to the brand and image you have worked to cultivate. Why is this so important? Because your brand is the basis for everything you do. It is the foundation on which you build your site, your audience, your reputation and your business.

Put simply, if you don’t know who you are, you can’t know where you’re going. If you don’t know anything about your product (you), then you can’t price it, let alone sell it.

Can you imagine having this conversation with a salesperson?

Customer: Tell me about this shirt.

Salesperson: Oh, it’s very nice! You should buy it! It would look good on you!

Customer: What’s the material?

Salesperson: I’m not sure. It feels like polyester. But it looks like cotton. Does it matter?

Customer: Well, what size is it?

Salesperson: Oh, any size you want it to be. I’m sure it can stretch to fit.

Customer: What would you call this color?

Salesperson: Definitely blue. But it certain lighting, it looks gray. Isn’t it cute?

Customer: What will it go with?

Salesperson: Jeans. And slacks. Maybe a skirt. Or how about over leggings? Wear it like a dress. It can be whatever you want it to be, right?

Customer: Gee, OK. How much is it?

Salesperson: I don’t know, why do you ask me these things, how can I be expected to know everything, JUST BUY IT ALREADY!

Uncomfortable, no? Even if the customer buys the shirt, she will probably always feel uneasy about the purchase, because the transaction was confusing and unprofessional.

Even if you do know what price you should charge for your ad space/consultation services/ambassadorship, if you don’t know the product you’re selling, you may come across like that salesperson.

Why do I bring this up? Well, frankly, I’m a little worried. In preparation for BlogHer, I’ve been following the Twitter stream, and I’ve joined a couple of Facebook groups for attendees. While I have gleaned some good info for newbie attendees here and there, I have seen way too much unhelpful stuff — mainly a lot of freaking out. I’ve seen people begging for invites for parties. I’ve seen people worried that they’ll get attacked at the conference, mugged at the hotel, or ripped off if they take a taxi. I’ve seen people depressed at the thought of possibly missing out on junky swag. And I’ve seen people having panic attacks over shoes.**

Put simply, people who know themselves don’t do this. People who are confident and secure and professional don’t freak out over traveling to a new place. They don’t stress about what they might wear. They don’t get bogged down in hurt feelings if they’re not invited to a party. And they don’t find their worth in coupons or memory sticks. They simply step out with their best foot forward, regardless of what everyone else is doing, because they know that no conference or outfit or event or person can change who they are at their core. Their confidence is strong, their identity unwavering.

So before you come to BlogHer, especially if you attend our panel, do a little homework. Sit down and think about who you are, online and offline. Think about your goals, both personal and business ones. Think about where your skills lie, and what you want to offer to the world. Think about your story, and what you want the future chapters to hold. Once you have confidence in those answers, you will be well-positioned to explain your value to others. And if you can’t figure those things out, don’t worry. Just promise yourself you’ll spend more time in the sessions, learning and discussing and soaking up some serious knowledge, than in the Expo Hall trying to get people to notice you. Because in most cases, it’s better to be a day late than a dollar short. In other words, it’s OK to step back, reevaluate, polish your presence and wait for the right clients and opportunities to come along.

If it seems like I’m coming across a little preachy, it’s because I am. Bossiness is one of my worst personality defects, and heaven knows I have more than a few. But I say this mainly because I’ve suffered and learned the lessons and I don’t want you to go through what I did if you don’t have to. Also, allow me to quote your mother when I say “I tell you this because I love you and just want what’s best for you.” Because that’s true. Every day, I am in awe of what you achieve in this space. I am blown away by how you use your voice. I am thrilled at the ways you use the internet to make money and be able to spend more time with your family. I am honored and humbled to share a tiny piece of the web with you amazing people. I just want you to be as awesome as you possibly can be. Because I know you rock, and I want everyone else to know it, too.

And people who rock don’t think twice if they accidentally leave their Spanx at home.

* Not all results guaranteed for all attendees. Outcomes may vary.
 
** Confession: Do you know what I’ve been stressing about in the run up to BlogHer? My nose hairs. I have been so worried I would forget to tweeze my nose hairs before I go that I finally set an alert on my phone to remind me to do it. For the record, it’s done now, I’m all good. But if you’re having a hard time at BlogHer, if you’re doubting yourself in any way, you just look for me across the room, stare disdainfully at my nose, and remind yourself that even on your worst shoe day, at least you are better than the woman who publicly writes about her nose hair. You’re welcome.
 
P.S. One more thing: As preachy as I may sound, I really am a nice person. I would absolutely LOVE to meet you this week. Yes, YOU. Please find me. Introduce yourself. I probably read your blog. Hug me. I love hugs. Tell me I’m annoying. I love conversation starters. No matter what, if you see me, please holler at me. Nothing thrills me more than meeting new people.

Comments

    • says

      Andrea,

      I think we should follow Amy around like little squeeky fan girls. Y’ know, pretend to faint when she speaks to people, break into tears at the wisdom she spews.

  1. Julie says

    It thrills me to have proof of just how in line our thoughts are. Always. On *nearly* everything. I am so looking forward to seeing you again this week.

    Now go hug PJ, Teddy, Gabe, adorable Charlie and that precious little Toby for me, ‘Kay?

  2. says

    1. Guilty as charged. The newbie anxiety, the shoe freak outs, the swag questions….all of it.
    2. Humbled (but very grateful) that you gave me an “a-ha moment In the nick of time.
    3. Going to read this post every.day.
    4. Your panel is already neatly handwritten in my color-coded, day by day planner for all things BlogHer12. But now I really know why I’m going.
    Thank you for the wake up call ;)

    • Amy says

      I’m so glad you’re coming to the panel! While you’re there, can you teach me your organizational skills? This planner thing intriques me.

  3. says

    Awesome post! I am a BlogHer newbie and I am not freaked out at all. I’ve seen other advice posts that say “dress your best” “wear that dress and cute shoes” or “put on some lipstick” when giving advice to BlogHer attendees. Umm, whatever happened to “be yourself”. I would be miserable if I wore a dress. So miserable that it would take away from the experience that is BlogHer. I don’t know if it’s my age or what but I am comfortable with “me” and I don’t feel the need to impress anyone with my clothing. Hopefully people will be more impressed with my personality and the real me. Anyway, I’m wearing my comfy and cozy “old lady shoes”, jeans, regular blouses, and accessories. This will allow me to focus on the people I meet and the relationships I’ll build. I will however be checking out my nose hair so it doesn’t distract any of the PR reps/sponsors while I’m explaining the value of my services to them :)

  4. says

    Thank you for more tough love. I’m now only worried about the people who are worried that they can’t bring guns, what with all our skeery citizens walking around midtown at lunchtime.

    You don’t sound preachy, you sound smart. I like that in a gal.

  5. says

    So true and thank you for this post! I’m glad Elena tweeted it! This is my fifth year and I find myself constantly prattling on about these very same things. My spanx are already put aside mind you, but freaking out over shoes, swag and parties just takes away from all the learning, networking and sheer joy of meeting those you read, admire and just plain ‘ol want to get to know. There are so many aspects to Blogher and I’m sure it seems massively overwhelming to newbies and others who are not so new but my advice is to also treat it like any other work conference and I think that grounds you. It’s what I do because that is what it is to me.

    • Amy says

      Fifth year? If I get a case of the newbie nerves, I’m coming to find you! And I love your attitude about it being a work conference. I’m sure that enhances your experience.

  6. says

    The key to anything: BELIEVE you can do and then APPLY YOURSELF.

    Being uncomfortable and stretching your world is the ONLY way you grow.

    People may not like the scariness of it but it’s the only way you’ll ever find out what you’re capable of.

    ALSO: conferences arent’ magic, they won’t make you something you don’t work hard to be. You have to work it and learn how and pick up tips at conferences: but it’s no magic fairy dust.

    You are the only magic fairy dust that’ll make things happen.

    Maybe I’ll finally get to say hello I love you this time, missed you at BBC, even though we were only two people away!

  7. says

    Thank you. I too was wondering about the freak outs and othe nervous behavior on Twitter, and felt like something might be wrong with me for being laid back about it ( though this is my third BlogHer so I know what to expect). I’m looking forward to just taking it all in this year, and not worrying about parties, swag, etc. I’m eager for your session! Hopefully I can get a seat. It seems like it will be popular.

  8. says

    I must attend your session now simply because I’ve developed a massive crush on you after reading this post.

    People who are confident and secure and professional don’t freak out over traveling to a new place. They don’t stress about what they might wear. They don’t get bogged down in hurt feelings if they’re not invited to a party. And they don’t find their worth in coupons or memory sticks.
    *Standing up. Clapping while nodding and shouting AMEN*

  9. says

    Fellow Boston Parent Blogger, Kim Vickers Grenon, shared your post on our group page to much acclaim. Love this post – I am a newbie and it is easy to get overwhelmed with the hoopla surrounding this event. I really just want to learn more about, oh, everything, meet some new people and enjoy the city. Thank you for the homework.

    P.S. Expect your session to be over-subscribed.

  10. says

    This was awesome to read. I am a newbie blogger, and this is my first conference. Your panel is one I am attending, so I am excited to read this and get acquainted with one of the pannelist I will be learning from! I am a NY’er born and raised, so that aspect don’t phase me, and I really don’t care for shoes (am a birkenstock wearer), but in NY, anything goes! My nerves come from being “new” at blogging, and not knowing anyone yet. But, I have confidence that there will be a lot of kindred spirits among the crowd. See you soon! I will keep chucking in my head about the nose hair, me- I have to check my chin!

    • Amy says

      You will learn a TON of stuff this weekend. You might go into it feeling like a newbie blogger, but you’ll probably come out of it overwhelmed with knowledge and with loads of new friends.

  11. says

    I hope that I can attend your session… and if so, I’ll be the one in the front row! Loved meeting you last year – and can’t wait to say hi again! :)

    PS… I’m still debating about what to do with that little pesky chin hair that doesn’t want to disappear.

  12. says

    Amy, I loved everything you said at Bloggy Boot Camp in Boston last year. You were awesome. You ARE awesome.

    But I have to raise my hand here and say, “Let’s go a little easier on the newbies, ok?”

    This is my first BlogHer conference. I have been to many other big, multi-day conferences, just not one focused on blogging. And though I am an experienced conference-goer, I am one of the BlogHer newbies freaking out a bit. But this doesn’t mean I am an insecure or unprofessional.

    I am confident. I am secure. I am professional. And just because I am a little intimidated by NYC and a little worried about my wardrobe doesn’t mean I don’t know myself. For me, part of the fun is getting psyched up and dishing about my excitement and worries. I think it’s completely human to have fears about a new situation. It’s what we do with those fears and how we rise to the occassion that matters.

    Also – I think we need to keep in mind that a lot of bloggers deal with anxiety and/or depression (like me), and stepping out from behind their computers and into the craziness of BlogHer is really, really scary (not for me, thankfully).

    When it comes down to it? I’ll figure out what I’m going to wear, pack both my heels and my Birkenstocks, and get on the BlogHer bus of Bostonians to NYC – excited, nervous, but still confident. And with a smile on my face!

    • Amy says

      You make really great points, and you nailed it when you said “It’s what we do with those fears…” I mean, I’m laying out clothes and trying to decide what to pack today just like everyone else. Thinking about — and sometimes stressing about — preparations is normal. But it’s what happens after preparations that matters. If you pack the “wrong” outfit, will you be upset and self-conscious, or will you carry on and have a great time anyway? We all have issues, but some of us handle those issues better than others. Me, I just tweeze my issues away every chance I get.

      • says

        Exactly – stress and excitement beforehand is normal. But once we’re there, we all need to breathe, go with the flow, smile, and take it all in. :-)

        As for outfits – I am definitely unsure about what to wear at night on Thursday and Saturday (Friday outfit is set!) so I’m just bringing stuff that mixes and matches. I have one top that I love that goes with jeans or a skirt – perfect! And never underestimate the power of accessories to transform a simple outfit, right?

        Looking forward to your session!

  13. says

    This is the best pre-Blogher advice I’ve read yet. Now I am definitely adding your panel to my go-to list. Looking forward to meeting you!

  14. says

    I heart this. I really do. Three years in, I’ve done away with the clothes-picking freak outs, but I did need a good reminder of what this dang thing is all about.

    When I grow up, I want to be as smart as you. :)

  15. says

    What an incredible post. Thank you! As a first-timer and BlogHer12 newbie, I needed this confirmation. I’m want to learn, I want to make connections and I want to stay true to myself. I hope to meet you in person, and I just may show up to your session although I initially though it was beyond where I am right now with my new blog. Thanks again, I enjoyed reading your post.

    • Amy says

      We’re going to be covering the subject for beginners and professionals, so hopefully you’ll be able to get some good info.

  16. says

    THANK YOU. The freaking out on the Twitter stream was starting to freak ME out. This is my first time at BlogHer and maybe because I live in NYC and my closet is right here I don’t need to freak out so much? Honestly I’m just worried I won’t be able to attend every session I want to. There’s a lot to learn!

    Putting your talk on my schedule and hoping my babysitter doesn’t call me with a “get home asap” situation. Cause that’s really the only thing I’m freaking out about…

  17. says

    Another drop-in from Boston Parent Bloggers. This is a fantastic post, not just for BlogHer, but for life. I wish there was a way to bottle self-confidence because it’s so hard to develop if you don’t already have it. It’s my 4th BlogHer (how did that happen?) and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I love, love, love the parties and I spend significantly more time at the Expo than at the sessions. I only have two sessions on my list and yours is one of them. I now need to make sure to make it a priority. Someone asked me the other day how I choose what I’m going to be doing at any point in time. I told her that I know what my goals are for attending and I know which activities are going to meet my goals. I wish I had your post on hand to share with her at that moment. Thanks!

  18. Emily @ Random Recycling says

    Thanks for the reminder about sessions. I feel a little guilty that the sessions have been lower on my list. Yours is now on my list.

  19. says

    This made me laugh and think .. thanks so much for sharing!!! Great to have some wind at your back as a newbie just trying to figure out where the blogging fits into all the shoes and swag? :) Hope to meet you!

  20. says

    Great post! Thank you! I am a newbie too this year and a bit nervous, but mostly excited. Your panel sounds awesome and I would totally be there if the panel I am speaking on (My Blog No Longer Fits Me: Blogging After Life Change) wasn’t at the same time. Hope to meet you at some other point during the conference. I am all about going with the program, attending sessions, etc. There are so many great ones on the schedule. Hope you have a fabulous time at your first BlogHer!

  21. says

    Loved your talk at Bloggy Boot Camp in Atlanta (and your shout out to me and my jewellery!) I’m sure you will be fabulous at BlogHer. Wish I was going …. and don’t worry about your nose hair!!!

  22. says

    (Cheering) “Here, Here”…or is it “hear hear”… Anyway I love this. Thanks for the great post. I was glad to see that I wasn’t the only one feeling a little surprised by all the fretting and worrying about going to Blogher12. I am looking forward to learning new things about blogging, being effective at it and keeping my blog unique, fun and admirable. Stayin’ focused and planning to have some fun too (Not in Spanx lol). Thanks for the reminder to not let the craziness bother me.
    Hope I do see you there across the room and can come over and say hi and thank you in person for this great piece.
    Well Said Ms. Amy!
    Cathy Costantino

  23. says

    Hey there,

    Looking forward to your session. As someone who packed her items by sneaking out whatever happened to be clean from the closet at 5 am this morning while my daughter snoozed in our bed, I’m relieved to see the popularity of your level-headed approach! Know thyself is really excellent advice, for blogging or anything else. Thanks for the post!

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