Saturday, February 13, 2010

Conferences, Workshops and other totally unaffordable stuff

A couple of years ago the BlogHer conference was held in Chicago, just 50 miles from my place. The Pioneer Woman's star had just started blazing across the blogging sky and she was a speaker. Even though it was held just a train ride away, I didn't attend. If I remember the cost to register was not insignificant and attending would have also required a night in a downtown hotel.

Can you say $$$$$$$$$$?

I've seen videos of some of the sessions which confirmed the fact that I did not feel at home with this particular group. They seemed to be a more urban crowd with a different world view than myself. Let's just say I got myself into hot water with my views when I commented on a thread. BlogHer's founders have been named on Forbe's list of the seven most influencial people in media. Seriously? Oh yeah, that's media, not journalism.

One of the session in the last conference was titled, "What is 'Pro-Woman' in a Post-Palin World?"

Uh, oh! I feel a mini-rant coming on.

Look I was "in the house" when Gloria Steinem, et al, started the movement and things are 1 million times better for women in this country then when I was coming into adulthood. I honestly wish they would quit micromanaging, dissecting and finding mysogynists under every rock. If they are true feminists who care about the plight of women they need to get their hides over to third world countries and help those poor women. Let's move on ladies. There are other's who don't even have the basic human rights. Pro-woman is putting eveything on the line for a woman who has nothing.

End rant, back to the conferences. BlogHer's 2010 conference is $198, plus airfare to New York and $199 a night for a hotel. This is not possible in my world and the world of many, many women. Many bloggers reported feeling like they were back in junior high. You know the feeling of being slammed by the in-crowd.

Then Blissdom came along. This group felt a little more joyful and inclusive and the conference in Nashville sounded like fun. It's an 8 hour drive from here and I've done it many times in the past (family in Clarksville). The Farmer had just lost his job and a couple of tanks of gas, the conference registration, hotel and food expenses were not in our budget.

Hey, I'm in the least bit shy about saying, "We can't afford that." At this point, we can't and that's just the reality.

Then there's Mary Engelbreit. Oh my goodness. I've loved her artwork and her now defunct magazine since it's inception. After the magazine folded Mary created a nice online presence.

MARY ENGELBREIT

Mary has put together a workshop. Can you imagine touring Mary's studio, participating in a workshop with the likes of Charlotte Lyons and listening to Amy Butler discuss the future of handmade? Oh YEAH!!

It's an easy drive down to St. Louis. but the conference fee is a whopping $575. I don't think that includes the hotel room.

MARY ENGELBREIT WORKSHOP

Just when I was feeling totally deprived of bloggy get-together love, a group of northern Illinois bloggers has organized a gathering at someone's home. Now that's an inviting and affordable event. Hooray for the can-do spirit.

This morning I'll be heading off to Amy's house. She publishes The Maisy Report. Jen from Sanctuary Arts will be there and Joy from Savvy City Farmer.

I've never met any of these people in real life and there will be more, maybe 20 total. Thank goodness I never have a problem walking into a room of strangers.

How about you? Would you like to organize/attend a local blogger get-together? Do you feel comfortable walking into a room of strangers or do you think of them as friends you haven't met yet?

Wish me luck. It's gonna be fun.

50 comments:

Elora said...

Hi, Suzanne,

Today is my first-month anniversary as a blogger. I started my blog January 13, 2010. You and your blog were totally inspirational in my gaining some level of confidence to even think I could do a blog! I loved yours from the moment I laid eyes on it.

At age 65, I decided I wanted to be at least a teeny part of the modern world, rather than someone's archeological discovery centuries from now. (And, BTW, I used to work for a company whose workshops and conferences and "sleepovers" I felt obligated to attend all the time. My wallet grew empty, as the the company made money on my trying to "improve" my skills. It was a huge surprise to me Duh! that those conferences were part and parcel of the company's profit plan, not mine!)

Suzanne....YOU are the teacher! You should offer your own workshops, conferences and other stuff. Yes, it's fun to schmooze. But please know that many, many of us (out here just off the one lane road) are totally in awe of YOU! and what you've done. I subscribe to your blog and have you on my blog roll. I read every post. You have a way with words, and I can identify with you in so many ways--not the least being that I could no way afford those conferences, etc. either. Besides that, you're a lovely person. Unless you just want a vacation,just know one thing: you're the best. And you do a top job,making it look so easy! What a lady you are! I can't thank you enough.

Elora
Oh...and if you want to hop over and take a look at what I put together over the past month, go to www.justofftheonelaneroad.blogspot.com
Thank you for all the help you've given me!

Susan said...

Suzanne, have fun! It seems to me, you have picked the 'right' group to get together with. I just glanced at each of the blogs you mentioned and they look inviting. I will be going back. Have fun and be safe driving. Report back.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog so much. I have it on my favorites so I can easily stop in and see whats going on in your world.
I am still playing around with starting a blog. Not sure if I am ready for a commitment though, because I feel I should post more than once a week. I don't like it when I go to a blog that hasn't been posted on in several weeks, what is the point? Maybe I shouldn't complain because it is their blog to do with what they wish.
Enjoy your conference.
Pam

Pamela said...

Good Morning from the East Coast! We are feeling like the mid-west these days with all the snow we've been blessed with recently. I agree with your sentiments about the cost of conferences and networking opportunities. The registration fees and related fees are outrageous. The thought of local gatherings makes ultimate sense - especially considering the state of the economy.
At any rate, I love visiting with you on a daily basis. If I walked into a room and you were there, I'd feel like I already knew you. Have a great time at your gathering! Sounds like it will be lots of fun!

Ang. said...

You are gonna have a lot of fun! I met several bloggers I have known online a few years ago out in Vegas. We had an absolute blast! One of them also happens to be my best friend. We met online 7 years ago and have only met in person that one time. We had some great times. :)

Becky K. said...

We had a fun, if small blogger get together at Longwood Gardens in May. It was so nice to put faces and personalities to some blog writers that I had been communicating with. I look forward to another one of these this year. Maybe at a garden, maybe not.

I am glad you are going to participate. Have fun!

Becky K.

Jenni said...

What you said about women's rights is exactly how I feel about it too. And please do not call me a feminist. I've met too many feminists who seem to want more than equality. I'm not into man bashing. I'm interested in equal rights for *all* people.

You and I think a lot alike on all of this. I couldn't fathom spending that much for a blog conference where I was sure I would feel like I was in junior high all over again. There are a few blogs I read which belong to the BlogHer network, but I've never felt very comfortable with that group for the most part. I've noticed some of the blogs I read started out with BlogHer and then dropped off. I really don't know what BlogHer is all about, but it just didn't feel like something that I wanted to investigate further. That's not saying anything bad about them necessarily, it just didn't seem a good fit for me.

I'm just not all that into making my blog a business venture and doing all the networking and marketing and advertising. It doesn't feel right for me. I don't want to sit in on seminars about blogging. I want to just do what I love and love what I do. I like the way my blog world feels like friends gathering for a cup of coffee in my living room. To me, it's about real people sharing real stories and pieces of their lives. A seminar on how to do that seems artificial to me. If I do meet bloggers, and I've met a few, I prefer an informal gathering of just a few rather than a conference setting and crowds.

If you and the Farmer are ever out our way, please know that you would be welcome to drop by for a visit. We'd love to meet you.

Laura said...

I LOVE this post.
Where to begin...
I had just been thinking , while pouring my coffee, that- while most of the time I don't give a flip about this- there are those vulnerable moments when I do feel like my niche in blogging (whatever that means) is not like anyone else's niche- whatever that means.
Then I 'turned' to this post.

Woohoo.

IT.DOESN'T.MATTER.

Woohoo.

Laura
@ White Spray Paint

Laura said...

i hope you have a wonderful time and i can't wait to read about this adventure
blessings
~*~

Jody Blue said...

I so enjoyed your rant!! Amen on the get your hinney to a place where women struggle for the basics of life and to places where women are property and have no voice!! Look forward to hearing about your down home, common ground, very affordable, realistic, blog get together!

Vee said...

Oh do have fun. I didn't realize how much those events cost, but then, I'd not attend even if I did have the funds. Your gathering sounds much more pleasant. (Still, it's unlikely that I could handle more than one or two bloggers at a time. I'm a one to one kind of gal.)

Nedine Says said...

If you ever start a blogger get-together where you can come in your fleece pajamas then I am there. Just give me a place where I can pitch a tent. Nothing fancy.I serve a mean apple pie too.

LDF said...

Your post really resonates for me. I'm supposed to be flying across Canada to attend a work-related 1-day conference "all expenses paid" ... the catch being I have to pay for it all FIRST and then submit a claim for expenses to the conference organizers. It's not in my budget, and I work for a non-profit organization that doesn't have the budget for it either. When I tried to explain this to the conference organizers, they told me to "put it all on your credit card until you submit your expense claim". Yeah, well, I choose not to allow myself the temptation of credit cards ... if I can't AFFORD it, I can't afford to pay interest on it either! Makes me wonder how some of the world functions ... or if everyone is just richer than me.

Enjoy yourself with the other bloggers!

Rebecca said...

Hello Suzanne
It was so nice to have met you and I enjoyed the afternoon so much! hopefully we can do this again, I thought it was terrific.
And I hear you about the womans movement! I agree totally!
Blessings
Rebecca

Green Gal said...

I wish there were more blogs in my area that I knew about and connected with. It would be so cool to meet the people I interact with online in person...the cool bloggers who have so much insight and so many inspirational posts. This is a really neat idea. Have fun!

lifeinredshoes said...

First off Suzanne, I think you have so much to offer to the blogging community! I personally would not WANT to be a part of certain groups.
And why does it always come down to money?
Good luck and knock 'em dead, they'll be better for having you there.

lifeinredshoes said...

P.S. I'm with Elora, you have a workshop.
I'll start saving, you are one of the few I would love to meet.

Jennifer Rizzo said...

I really enjoyed meeting you yesterday Suzanne!!!! I am so glad you could come!

annie said...

Suzanne-
I hope you DID have fun.
I surely enjoyed meeting you and spending time with all those great women.
I think we may need a pajama party to get all our chatting in!
annie

Marfa (Crafting Marfa) said...

I've never been to one of those big-time conferences and I've never been interested in going. I'm not a "big groups" kind of person. I do like the idea of getting together at someone's home with a group of like-minded people and just relaxing, having fun. I don't mind walking into a room full of people, so long as its not a group of snobby people. My best friend in the whole world is someone that I met online via a Yahoo Christian group. We talked for years until she was able to fly down to where I live. She's a down to earth, sweet as can be crafty woman and from the day we saw each in person we it was as though we had always known each other. It was the same thing as when we met each other's families. But the idea of a fancy schmanzy big time conference where I have to dish out mega bucks just to meet other people...nope, not for me. Not for my pocket either.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Oh my gosh! Just this afternoon "C" said "I really want to try to plan some kind of blogger get together! She and I went to the first Blissdom conference and really enjoyed it - only thing was WE WERE THE OLDEST ONES THERE! There was one other baby boomer (old gal like us)! We felt maybe just a little out of place! Still I would go again because we want to look for opportunities--Oh well- maybe someday!

PamKittyMorning said...

Have fun and say hi to Joy for me!

Lori said...

I would still like to have something out this way. I'm thinking maybe sometime in April. It's so much fun to meet other bloggers. I can't wait. If you know of any who would want to make the trek to Northwest-ish Illinois, please pass along their blog addresses and I'll add them to our list.

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