My Time at BlogHer 2015

#BlogHer15 via thefarmerslife.comI recently attended BlogHer in New York City. Yep, me. A male farm blogger. I have been looking for ways to achieve the common AGvocate goal of reaching beyond the choir of our agricultural peers. Going to a blogging conference with emphasis on the “Her” portion was certainly a way for me to reach out. Not that there were not other guys present, but we were few and far between. To put the number of males in perspective I can tell you the men’s restroom outside the main ballroom at the New York Hilton Midtown had the signage swapped out to be a temporary women’s restroom. But #BlogHer15 is a blogging conference. So not only was this conference a chance to make some new contacts, but it was also an opportunity for me to tune up my social media skills.

What Happens at BlogHer?

Over the two-day event there are plenty of educational blogging and social media sessions to attend. But there is much more to the conference than that. There is an expo hall where exhibitors display products and services. I signed up for the TODAY Parenting Team at the expo. I feel I need to branch out my blogging efforts a bit to tell some stories about myself other than farming. It may go without saying, but the BlogHer expo didn’t have a lot of products geared toward me. Ha! I’m probably not going to use the Jockey Skimmies that came in my swag bag I received at the registration booth.

Me and JP posing in the Disney booth at the expo. I smiled in a photo. That’s difficult!

The main ballroom was the scene for various panels, speakers, award presentations, and interviews. The Pitch was fun to watch as several women entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges Shark Tank style. Soledad O’Brien was there with three of her Starfish Foundation scholars for a panel discussion. The Voices of the Year presentation showcased several people who have produced great videos and blog posts over the past year. One of the honorees was a man actually. James Oliver, Jr. stood on the stage in front of the large crowd and gave a very emotional reading of his piece “After Eric Garner, what am I supposed to tell my son?”

There were many more people on the main event stage, but I’ve got more to talk about!

What did I learn at BlogHer?

Looking back over my notes I wrote down quite a few new apps to try for snapping and editing photos. These all came from the breakout session put on by Beatrice Clay. One tactic I started using right away was enabling the grid function on the camera screen of my phone and iPad. It’s not essential in every photo, but I’m using that grid to make use of the rule of thirds for more visually engaging photos on my social channels. Snapseed, my favorite photo editing app, was discussed in length.

Beatrice wanted attendees to tag an edited for photo on Instagram for all to see. I submitted this sunrise photo I had recently posted with some heavy editing.

A regular theme throughout the conference was video. Video is huge! I need to dedicate some time to more video on various platforms. One thing I really want to do is turn some of my best blog posts into videos. It will be interesting to see how my written ideas engage people when converted to another medium.

Another session I liked was about personal branding and not locking yourself down to one subject. This blog is The Farmer’s Life, but I am not just a farmer. I have other interests. I’m a husband and father.  Our son is just about to start kindergarten. There are other things I can write about to expand my audience while still keeping the main focus on farming. I hope you regular readers are ready for some of this. It’s coming!

Who did I meet at BlogHer?

Whenever I go to a conference I’m usually more excited to meet people than I am to hear speakers and go to breakout sessions. I met several people I have met before. There’s Janice of course. She’s everywhere. We meet fairly regularly. Peg Fitzpatrick was there. We had met before earlier this year at SXSW in Austin. Janice and Peg were really the first to people to help me out with blogging. I also met up with several people who I’ve known only online, but have now how the pleasure of meeting in real life! People like Michelle Kay, and Danyelle Little. Kat Kinsman was great to finally meet in real life. She gave me the space to write some articles on CNN’s Eatocracy. Kat is now at Tasting Table. I also got acquainted with people I didn’t know all including some other guys.

And these were guys I wanted to meet because they are dads, too. Dad 2.0 Summit is another event I’d like to attend for both myself and for agricultural outreach, but I need to do some parenting oriented posts. I can of course always tie those in to farm life since farming is the family business. You can find bits of Dad stuff on my social channels, but expect some more here on the blog. I was pleased to get a chance to chat with Dave Lesser of Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad, John Pacini of Dad 2.0, and David Guest from Life of Dad. Maybe I’ll see them again at Dad 2.0 in DC next year!

I met tons of other people and took home a lot of little nuggets to improve my blog and social media skills. I look forward to putting these things to work right away, and I hope to attend more non-ag events in the future so I can put a little personal ag spin on them when I can.

My registration, travel and accommodations were sponsored by Bayer CropScience. All opinions, perspective and content is mine.

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