Sunday, July 26, 2009

BlogHer '09 - Part 1

Sorry I didn't post during, for those of you living through me. It was just so much. It was crushing, overwhelming, intimidating, relaxing, joyful, terrifying, beautiful and crazy, with a side of maybe some PMS thrown in for fun. I want and need to write about it. I'm sorry if you don't want to read about it, but one of the things I learned this weekend was that you really need to blog for no one but yourself. So, this is for me. I'm dividing things up, since there is so very much to process.

The Swag

There has been a lot of comments, a lot of tweets, and I am sure a lot of posts to come about the swag. I'll admit it, the thought of people wanting to give me things for free is a little exciting. I like being an early adopter, I like learning about new products, and well, I'm a bit of a consumer. I fight it, but unless you've been living in a hole, we are all consumers. There is the "cool stuff you can't get anywhere else" factor coming in to play as well. That being said, what I saw this year made me sick. What may have been an "ooo, cool swag bag" at a party another year turned in to violence this year. Hand shaped bruises on Mommy Need's Coffee's arm, stories of babies that were elbowed in the head, swag stolen off of luggage carts before it could reach a party (and individual blog owners who were to get bags in return for sponsorship being left out) and suites that trapped unsuspecting people, almost left me with a change of heart about blogging and BlogHer. For all of my appreciating the swag, I have never once felt I was entitled to it. That clearly wasn't how everyone felt.

I heard the new bloggers being blamed for all of the ills of the swag and other things. The problem I have with that is that if you want to get technical, I'm a new blogger. However, while I want my opinion to be valued and requested, I don't want to be a corporate shill. While I'm not above entering a contest here and there, I don' think I will ever want you to give me free stuff because "I'm a mommy-blogger".

There has to be a way for it to work. I think bloggers add value to the whole product process. I think we have power to support and encourage small businesses. The kinds that can't afford a PR firm but that support us in return. I think we can bring about change (I hear something good came out of Camp Baby). I think BlogHer, being a huge gathering of bloggers, is a great way to reach us. Something has to give however.

There has to be something that allows the sponsorships of the conferences, the support of bloggers, and the dialogue, without selling both us and the companies themselves short. I saw some little things that worked. I saw things given without pitches or obligations. Things I was excited to see and try out. I was allowed to give opinions and feedback to brands I love and ones I have issues with. I saw parties turned to no swag zones (I still hope you take my idea on the women's shelter donation) and swag given out late in a party to encourage you know, actual partying.

Sometimes I think that things have to go horribly wrong before we figure out how to find balance. I hope that this was the extreme. I'm sure people sponsoring and giving out swag don't want to be judged by the actions of few either. We need to talk about this so things can change.

ETA: Part two.


April said...

well written. i have been so put off this weekend because i'm reading over and over again how the 'new mommy bloggers' are horrible and ruining everything. i like to think i blog with integrity and respect for myself and others... and swag, while cool, is so NOT worth fighting for. it sucks that the actions of a few are giving us all a bad name. BUT, i also think there are several of the old school bloggers that are coming off looking like self righteous asses. there, i said it. hah. ;-) anyways, it will all blow over soon - and like you said - sometimes the scale needs to tip a little before a balance is found.

hope you had a great time overall, though!

Emily said...

Great post! I wasn't able to attend and was hoping to next year but the whole new bloggers are charlatans and swag-whores angle is a bit overwhelming and I wondered whether its safe to head into the water!

I've worked in promotion and honestly I've never seen anything uglier than a bunch of people around swag bags. The polite, gentle folks are usually trampled by the expectant, demanding ones but it doesn't mean everyone is a swag-hag. People need to remember that they're still human at these conferences and social skills and manners are still needed (and should be expected!)

Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

As I replied to you in my comments, it dismays me that "new" bloggers like you are lost in the sea of shills. It's not an issue of new vs. old; it's an issue of ideals.

I'm sorry I wasn't there and didn't get to finally meet you. Next year!

Mom101 said...

It was so great to meet you Amelia, and I'm so glad to hear your perspective here. I don't think it's "new bloggers" per se who are behaving in inappropriate ways, but a new kind of blogger who has joined the community.

Thanks for helping to make us all look good.

confused homemaker said...

Hi, I found your blog through Anna's post at I didn't attend BlogHer but wanted to say thanks for writing this. I'm "new" to the writing as a blogger & was feeling a fear of being lumped in with some women who conducted themselves poorly simply for being new after reading some of the blogs/comments out there.

Rebecca said...

Interesting post. I didn't realize there was such a blogging world out there. Really. I just do it for fun, and I enjoy reading others', like yours. Why do people get all wound up about it? Anyway, I don't care how long you have been blogging. I just like your stories.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

I was so busy at the parties talking to friends - old and new - that I barely saw any of the swag chaos. (I saw a bit of course - but I was so distracted by all the GREAT fun seeing my friends, that I didn't spend much time looking at the bad stuff.)

I think it will all sort out. I think that next year those who were distracted and desperate for swag will have learned better from the feedback they heard.

I firmly believe in the GOOD out there. I know the GOOD will survive. But to help it to thrive, we need to focus on the good news, not the bad news.

I am sure that your posts and the others out there will be heard and people will learn and adjust there behaviour. :) Here is to hoping...

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

oh - excuse my typo - I meant "their behaviour." (and yes I am Canadian - that is why there is a u in behaviour)

Scattered Mom said...

Unfortunately it's the few bloggers with bad behavior (be they old or new) who ruin it for everyone.

Perhaps the whole swag thing needs to be revisited, so the handing out can discourage that sort of thing. For example, if there were paper tickets issued for Blog Her, and everyone was issued a swag #.

Your swag # on your ticket could be used to claim swag at parties. The #'s could be directly written on the bags as well. That way you can go check your ticket to see if you get swag, or not. What goes in what bag could be random, too. That way everyone has a shot but there's less of the mob mentality.

Boston Mamas said...

Was happy to find this post and I agree with with Liz and Julie -- it's not a "new" blogger problem it's a "type" of blogger problem.

I've been thinking a lot about all of this and will be posting about the issue of how to make this work. Because, like you, I really believe that there is a way to have sponsorship and bloggers and occasional free things coexist without imploding (or major bruising).

My first post on the general mayhem is at and that's where the above (currently half baked post) will follow.


Marketing Mama said...

Interesting. The baby getting elbowed in the head caught my attention. I would be LIVID. Then again, I wouldn't bring my baby into a swarm, either.

Thanks for sharing about the bad - I look forward to hearing about the good, too.

The Mother Tongue said...

If it's not too terribly derivative: yeah, what you said.

The swag was nice, but for goodness' sake people, stand in line and be nice about it.

That said, I wonder why the swag-haggery is being laid at the feet of mommy bloggers. I mean this in the most thoughtful way possible; did people mostly see known mommy bloggers doing this sort of trampling, or is this just the kind of thing we think they'd do?

btw, it was great to meet you at BowlHer!

SE said...

I was working registration when a sponsor came by to let us know that non-blogger hotel guests were trolling the exhibition hall and taking swag.

I don't think that all of the bad press about swag fighting and stolen swag was due to bloggers but hotel guests that saw opportunities to get free stuff. Yes, some issues were clearly bloggers, but not all.

I know the BlogHer staff made every effort to check badges, but I think there were a few situations where there wasn't enough security.