Not really. Actually, I came home with a whole suitcase full of stuff. But the stuff, while some of it was lovely, was not the point of the trip.
Initially, I wasn't entirely sure what the point of the trip was, to tell the truth. After distracting the Kid with ice cream, Sweet Husband and I discussed it the night before I left.
Me: It feels like a lot of people are just concerned with who they can get to sponsor their blogs. Like, really big, commercial-ly people. That's not what I want to do at all.
Sweet Husband: Because we're sort of un-commercial on purpose? Is that what you're worried about?
Me: Right. I mean, it's not that I object to being paid to write. I think that's a good thing--particularly considering the time it takes. And I've adored hooking up with my nice, little Etsy shops and the like. But I'm never going to tattoo "McDonald's" on my blog. It's just not me.
While that initial fear of stepping off the plane into a Wal-Mart commercial was not completely unfounded, happily, that was not all that there was to the BlogHer conference.
Video blogging (a.k.a. vlogging)! I went to the conference as a volunteer (which paid for my ticket) so my schedule was not entirely under my control. As such, I ended up at a lot of vlogging sessions, and now I so, so want to start playing with it. I was incredibly inspired by a session hosted by White On Rice Couple, encouraging us to jump in and make pretty videos with the tools we have right now. And I also loved Catherine McCord (of Weelicious fame) and Katy Morgan (Katy in a Corner)--again, the message was to just go for it.
I've confessed to a few people a secret ambition to put together an online class of some kind (Photography? Meal planning? Chicken keeping? What would y'all like to hear about?), and I think figuring out vlogging is going to be a key part of that.
Meeting awesome people. I generally believe that you find the type of people you expect to find. I expected to meet friendly people, and thus, I did.
First and foremost, my wonderful roommate, Lindsey (I Run in Heels). We ended up getting tossed together by fortune at the last minute, and it worked out fabulously!
Also, Anna Hartman (who does month long challenges at In the Next 30 Days), Lisa Leake (Right up my alley with 100 Days of Real Food), Janice Person (who knew more about the Kansas City farm-to-table restaurant scene than I do),and Stacy Jill Calvert (who interviewed me for her fascinating Why We Blog Project).
And that's not even counting the people I heard read at the open mic night--Lea Grover (who read one of my favorites "Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom"), Janelle (Renegade Mothering--just go read all her stuff), Lizz Porter (Am I a Funny Girl?)....I could keep going.
And even some of the stuff was cool. Despite knowing no one, I got an invite to the EcoFab private party (hosted by the lovely Bert and Julie). As far as "brands" go, unsurprisingly, those were my people. (And I'm doing a big, old giveaway of baby goodies from that party on Saturday, so if you or a friend are expecting or have a little 'un, come back then, it's gonna be awesome!)
But, even aside from that, I was surprised that I found some companies I really liked in the main expo hall too. The lady I spoke with from St. Martin's Press was a sweetheart and so genuinely proud and excited to show me their upcoming cookbooks. And, after watching the demo and tasting with glee, I'm officially lusting to play with a Soda Stream. (I think I could do magical things with it in combination with my herb garden.)
So, on the whole, the BlogHer conference was a good experience, even for someone a teensy bit out of the mainstream like me. I don't think I could justify going every year, but--between the sessions and the other bloggers--it was a nice kick of sauce for my creative blogging juices.