#BlogHer12 Recap #4: Ananda’s Walk Down BlogHer Memory Lane – 2006 to 2012

BlogHer12 badge and agenda

Happy Friday!

Join me as I take a walk down BlogHer memory lane. It starts in 2006 and ends with the recent conference held on August 2-4 in New York City. First, don’t laugh at what I am about to share. It’s so retro for 2012!

Photo Credit: BlogHer

The first time I heard about BlogHer was on Myspace in 2006. Yes, I was actively involved with Myspace from 2006 to 2009 give or take … before Cinchcast, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and YouTube got the best of me!. One of my Myspace friends (forgive me for not remembering who) posted a link about the BlogHer community and conference. My Internet geek curiosity drew me in and forced me to click on the link.  What I discovered was a budding community of women bloggers that reminded me of the women I hung out with on iVillages in the 1990s and NiaOnline.com and Netnoir.com’s Women’s Channel in the early 2000s. To be honest, I made that one visit and did not return until two years later.

BlogHer12/Blogalicious Brunch Collage

So here’s what happened that brought me back to BlogHer in 2008. While I was attending the first Blogging While Brown conference (co-sponsored by BlogHer), I met  BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page. We had several conversations about the community and conferences. Elisa encouraged me to revisit the site and set up a profile page with a short bio and photo. So I took her advice! My first year in the BlogHer community focused on following the 2008 Presidential election campaign. I enjoyed reading First Lady Michelle Obama’s blog posts and many political blog posts.

Ananda at BlogHer11 with Dove soap sculpture

My second year was very different. That ‘s when my full blown blog-affair with BlogHer began. It was born during the Feminism 2.0 conference sponsored by Turner Strategies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Whenever I tell this story, I share that BlogHer became my Vale-blog-a-tine during the Feminism 2.0 conference. I attended a session that featured Elisa as one of the panelists. I don’t recall the session’s name, but I do remember how inspired I felt after hearing Elisa speak. We chatted briefly after the session about the value and benefits of attending the BlogHer conference. Our chat is the reason I registered for the conference a week later.

Blogalicious digital sisters Xina Eiland and Ananda at BlogHer12 enjoying a moment in the Hershey Suite

The BlogHer 2009 conference exposed me to a new world of women bloggers that I interviewed with my pink Creative Vado flip camera and smartphone.  I also learned new technical skills to support my video blogging and podcasting, and community building strategies to help expand my Internet radio shows on Talkshoe.com and lifestyle social networking sites on Ning.com. I also expanded my digital sisterhood network through my connections with Deb Rox (and her amazing book Five Ways to Blank Your Blog), the Blogalicous co-founders at a beauty party held at a local department store, That Black Girl site founder Corynne Corbett, TheSoccerMommyMyth.com founder Holly Buchanan, Lady M blog founder Monica, Fourth Generation blog founder Olivia, Viva La Feminista blog founder Veronica Arreola, New York City Mama blog founder Carol Cain, Art Slam founder Lucrecer Braxton, Prisoner’s Wife blog founder Britni Danielle, Frugalista blog founder Natalie McNeal, Afrobella blog founder Patrice Grell Yursik, MyBrownBaby.com founder Denene Millner, Blog Rollers co-founders Lorraine Robertson and Christy Glascoe Crowder, SheWrites.com founder Kamy Wicoff (we sat next to each other during a session and traded notes about her new site for women writers; she also signed me up for the site during the session), and many other dynamic women. Several of women introduced me to women bloggers and social media influencers who lived in the D.C. Metropolitan area. Those connections laid the foundation for my participation in the Blogalicious Weekend Conference, She’s Geeky DC Unconference, and Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) DC Conference that were held later that year. All of these efforts inspired me to use my Talkshoe.com radio show to interview women in social media and commit to writing a book about my online experiences with women (now called Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years).

BlogHer12 Come As You Are Party

When it came time to register for the BlogHer 2010 conference, I wasted no time. I headed to New York City for another great experience of connecting, building community, learning, listening, sharing, laughing, and dancing. I attended the White House Project one-day conference and learned how women could use their online presence to affect political change. I used my smartphone and Cinchcast podcast to interview a diverse group of women bloggers. Many agreed to participate in my Talkshoe.com interview series. I also hung out with my new and old blogging friends at the Blogalicious and LATISM Social Fiesta parties. Right before the conference ended, I met BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone in the Expo Hall. We had a very deep conversation about the importance of self-care in the blogger community. Lisa encouraged me to submit a session proposal for the next conference.

Ananda at her BlogHer11 session on Blogger Wellness

By the time 2010 ended, I completed two draft session proposals for the BlogHer 2011 conference.  I also utilized everything I learned from BlogHer, Blogalicious, Blogging While Brown, LATISM, and She’s Geeky DC to transform my passion for celebrating women in social media and tech into the Digital Sisterhood Network which included #DigitalSisterhod Wednesdays on Twitter, Digital Sisterhood Radio, Digital Sisterhood Facebook Group, Digital Sisterhood Month (an annual celebration held in December), and the Digital Sisterhood Book Kickstarter Project.  It was on like popcorn in my world!

Vikki Reich, Heather Mann, and Ananda at BlogHer11 session on Peer Mentoring

My BlogHer 2011 conference experience was MEGA special. It was a trip of many firsts.

  • My first trip to San Diego.
  • My first time as a speaker for two sessions, Blogger Wellness (I was able to share my expertise as a workshop facilitator, yoga teacher, and creativity coach) and Peer Mentoring (served as a panelist with a dynamic panel of women — Liz Strauss, Heather Mann, and Vikki Reich).
  • My first time using the BlogHer conference board to find a roommate (and I lucked out big time with Chinese Grandma blog founder Lilian Chang).
  • My first time hearing Gwen Bell, a global entrepreneur, social media influencer, yoga teacher, and author of Digital Warriorship, discuss her digital sabbatical practices.
  • My first time meeting Sofia Quintero, a fabulous author, feminist, and activist.
Podcasting Panel members Jasmin Singer, Ananda Leeke & Deborah Shane at BlogHer Speakers Orientation on 8/2/12
Podcasting 101 Panel at BlogHer12

The BlogHer 2011 conference inspired me to step up my game and submit another series of session proposals for the 2012 conference. Once again, BlogHer selected me to speak. There was a slight twist to the invitation. I was asked to moderate a Podcasting 101 Panel with two digital media rockstars, Jasmin Singer and Deborah Shane. I never would have proposed that topic, however, the BlogHer team saw something I could not see: my thought leadership as a podcaster and Internet radio host.

Ananda riding a motorcyle at the BlogHer12 Harley Davidson Party

The BlogHer 2012 conference was INCROYABLE as the French say (or INCREDIBLE for English speakers)!  First of all, it was held in one of my favorite cities, New York City. Secondly, I was able to see President Obama’s live address. I’ve got many more reasons that support my INCROYABLE experience. You can read about them by clicking on the links below.

Blogher12 attendees at Blogalicious Brunch
BlogHer12 attendees at Blogalicious Brunch

The most important thing I received from this year’s conference is a greater understanding of what the BlogHer community, conference, and economy mean to me. My understanding solidified itself in a BLOGHER acronym. See below.

To me, BLOGHER now means

B – Building community through meaningful and mindful connections, conversations, collaborative partnerships and projects, and commerce that generates revenue and valued added exchanges for myself and others.

L – Learning and sharing information that helps me and others grow to our fullest potential.

O – Opening my heart to be inspired and energized by the stories I hear from fellow bloggers, keynote speakers, and representatives from brands, companies, organizations, and marketing/PR firms.

G – Giving back to others by sharing what I know and affirming and supporting others’ efforts.

H – Having fun and celebrating digital sisterhood and digital brotherhood bonds with new and old blogging friends.

E – Embracing and valuing the power, presence, and passion of my own voice, creativity, expertise, thought leadership, entrepreneurial efforts, social good causes and campaigns, and definition of success.

R – Remembering that my return on investment (ROI) from my BlogHer community and conference participation is rooted in my attitude, intentions, choices, personal responsibility, and actions.

So there you have it! My walk down BlogHer memory lane from 2006 to 2012! Hope to see you at the BlogHer 2013 conference in Chicago!

With deep gratitude and digital sisterhood in my heart,

Ananda, your digital sister

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