BlogHer? Yes! Conference Swag? I’m Just Saying No Thank You…

The BlogHer conference at the Hilton on 6th Avenue and 53rd Street is just one week away.

I’m going.

I was crushed when I was wait-listed to be a volunteer and elated when a spot opened up.

I’ll be working at the registration desk on both Friday and Saturday mornings.

BlogHer is huge. BlogHer is fun. Everyone at BlogHer will be about three decades younger than me.

I’m totally intimidated by the whole BlogHer thing–since I am an Internet Dunderhead–but also excited to learn as much as I can, meet people, network, and better understand the role of social media in a writer’s life.

I’m taking two children on this trip: Etani, who’s 6 years old, and Baby Leone, who will be 9 months old next week.

I want to make the most of the conference, so I’ve been asking for advice.

My friend Meagan Francis, who knows everything about the Internet and technology (and owns both a Macbook Air and an iPad, which proves that she’s a techno-guru) had this advice:

1) Before you go write down the names/twitter accounts/email addresses of some people you really want to meet and then get in touch with them while you’re there to make sure it happens. It’s a HUGE conference and you’ll never see half the people you want to unless you make a real effort.

2) Definitely bring business cards

3) Bring a cute outfit because people get decked out at the parties. But don’t sweat it TOO much.

4) Bring a notebook or laptop so you can take notes during sessions and write down the names of interesting blogs

Meagan, who’s been to three other BlogHer conferences, swears there’s no way to do it wrong.

But there is one thing I am going to try NOT to do at the conference.

I am going to skip the swag.

This advice comes from writer Laura Vanderkam. I’m reading her new book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and I noticed she mentioned you should NEVER take conference swag in the book.

I asked her why and she wrote this blog post, Conference Bound? Skip the Swag, about it.

The gist of it is this:

Swag weighs you down.

Browsing the “free” stuff takes time away from networking and other more valuable conference endeavors.

Swag takes up space in your suitcase and once you get it home you end up throwing it away anyway. How many tote bags can one person use?

I’m convinced.

I don’t want the swag.

I’m actually troubled by some of the sponsors to this conference–big corporations that are hurting the environment, brainwashing Americans to do things their way even when their way is harmful, and trying to put smaller, more wholesome companies out of business.

When I saw some of the sponsors my heart sank. Maybe not taking the swag can be one small way of saying no to corporate America, freebies that are anything but free, and undisclosed advertising on blogs…

In the interest of full disclosure: Laura sent me a free copy of her book to read (which I’m doing) and review (which I’m planning to do once I finish it).

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Categories: on writing.


  1. Yeah, I don’t know why I ever take swag. I guess I think I’ll use it as a give away. But then I end up begging people to take it off my hands. So I think that’s a great tip.

  2. Good advice! I’ll still probably partake in the swag but I’ll take time to consider if its something I really want before I do.

    Hope to meet you there!

  3. BlogHer must have a lot more swag than the ASJA conference. But you’re right–strolling for swag takes time away from networking. You’ll have to report back if your plan worked and what you get out of going to the conference.

  4. Interesting thoughts on the swag bag! I never thought to leave it behind. Indeed, I’m a sucker for free stuff. :/

    Let’s meet up early and see if we can coordinate a few panels to go to together. Would love to see you for more than a few minutes!

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