I’ve been attending conferences and conventions for more than 40 years, beginning in high school with the Future Homemakers of America (FHA) State Convention. Back then, I took a spiral notebook and a pen, and the sessions advised us how to organize our future homes and volunteer in the local community. This week I’m at the BlogHer Conference in San Jose with a lap top, an IPad, and a cell phone and multiple chargers. Workshops focus on marketing strategies, blog monetization, and digital activism. It’s like Home Economics on global steroids.
At my age, I should be rocking on the porch nibbling on iron pills and stool softener. But I willingly chose to attend this conference to learn the latest methods for improving and marketing my blog, Midlife Cabernet. There are more than 3,000 bloggers in attendance and the median age is 36. I have age spots older than the Rock Star Bloggers who enter and leave the room with an entourage, but I’m too old and ornery to be intimidated. I accept and enjoy my role as a confident curmudgeon.
The technology is fascinating. Thirty years ago, I traveled to business meetings and needed to wait until I returned to my office to write and distribute a report or article. Now I type a blog while sitting on the airplane and send it instantly over the Internet to several web sites. I’m one of thousands of bloggers who communicate in blocks of 500 to 1,000 words, the modern version of a syndicated newspaper columnist. Learning and remembering all the computer and online instructions helps keep my aging brain alert when it would rather take a nap.
The BlogHer Conference features a cell phone app that shows the current agenda, speaker biographies, workshop descriptions, and individual schedules. The app even tells me when and where to go for Happy Hour so I don’t need to wander the halls searching for the Hospitality Suite. I’ve made new friends, and the energy is intoxicating. The midlife bloggers have shared written stories for years, so meeting them is the same as finally seeing a good friend for the first time.
In the general sessions and workshops, I prefer to sit near the front so I can hear, take notes, and engage with the presenter. After all, I paid to be at the conference and should take away enough enlightenment, motivation, and skills to cover the costs. It’s also fun to meet people. It’s like the first day of school, except I can’t be sent to the principal’s office anymore. And no one will call my parents to report my disruptive behavior.
During the conference, a huge trade show covers an entire floor in the San Jose Convention Center, and the free handouts are abundant. The staff at one booth took photographs of bloggers with captions asking them what goal they wanted to reach by a specific age. Much to my chagrin, my advanced age wasn’t even listed as a category. But another vendor encouraged women to hold signs with motivational sayings so I confidently held one that read, “I’m awesome.” I like the photo because the heat and humidity make my scraggly hair seem thick. Maybe I should carry a spritzer in my purse after I return to Idaho.
On Sunday, Studley will get me at the airport, and I’ll eagerly tell him about my adventure. Then we’ll share adult beverages on the patio while most of the other bloggers return home to small children, full-time jobs, and pressure to improve their blogs. This seasoned journalist is happy to allow Midlife Cabernet to rest for a few days. Good wine and women need time to breathe.