A Blissdom Series: Blissdom vs. BlogHer

This weekend was life changing.

I feel like I’ve said this before, but I guess I say that after leaving a lot of conferences because when you choose the right one’s you leave feeling uplifted, inspired, and rejuvenated. And that’s the way I felt after leaving the Blissdom Conference this weekend. 

I have so much to process and think through (which I’ll share in later posts), and hopefully implement in the future! But for now, the one thing my brain wants to process first  . . .how does Blissdom compare to BlogHer? 

It’s so completely different . . .but similar at the same time! 

After working through some of my mental notes, I realized there are 4 major differences, and I’m not quite sure if those differences are good or bad. So you tell me! 

BlogHer and Blissdom both begin with registration and sponsor booths on Thursday with the actual conference kicking off on Friday and running through Saturday. 

Both start with a breakfast; although at BlogHer some of the breakfasts are “by invitation only” or for newcomers only. Blissdom provides breakfast on both days. 

BlogHer is very intense with sessions running back to back with very few breaks. There’s usually a short 30 minute break in the morning, a short break in the afternoon while they set up for the Closing Keynote, and of course a longer break for lunch (which is provided both days); however, there’s usually a notable keynote speaker during lunch so although you’re “resting” you’re still processing. 

Blissdom is the opposite of this. Blissdom classes only last an hour. With fewer, shorter sessions, they allow for longer and more frequent breaks. Meals are done on your own; with the exception of lunch on Friday.   

The benefit of Blissdom is there’s more time to visit the sponsor booths, meet new people and have conversations with other bloggers, and enjoy some down time before heading off to the next session or event. The downside is there can often be too many breaks. 

By the end of the day Saturday, the breaks seemed to get longer and longer; especially once all the sponsors had been visited. This might discourage people from staying as there was a lot of sitting around waiting for the final Keynote. 

BlogHer and Blissdom are very similar with how they run their sessions. Both have “tracks” that you can choose to follow. 

Blissdom has 4; Photography, Writing, Life Development, and Business. 

BlogHer gets a little more specific with The Personal, The Political, The Professional, The Technical, The Writing, and The Visual; plus a few other “personal” tracks like The Geek Bar and Room of Your Own. 

Both bring in experts of their fields to speak in these sessions; however, BlogHer chooses to use a panel of experts in most of the sessions rather than a solo speaker like Blissdom.

Blissdom offers time to process in each session with handouts and Q&A, where as BlogHer plans in Q&A, but length of content sometimes doesn’t allow for it. 

This is where I discovered the drastic difference between the two conferences. 

BlogHer attendees are very introverted. Although you’re among thousands of women who do the same thing you do, you’ll often find it difficult to meet other people. In my opinion, the atmosphere of BlogHer is every woman for herself. 

Blissdom is not this at all! From the moment I walked through the doors of the Newcomer Meet N’ Greet, I felt welcome. There were community leaders there to make me feel at home and wanted, and that lead the way to an amazing weekend. Women walked up to me to introduce themselves, and these women introduced me to others. 

During breaks as I was meeting new people, I felt that women were open and honest and supportive of my goal and saw the benefit of communicating with one another. 

After Hours

I’m sure you’ve heard about the parties of BlogHer! Well, what you’ve heard is true! BlogHer parties are hoppin’ . . .IF you’re invited to them

BlogHer after hours parties are all exclusive with the exception of the few parties that are hosted at the hotel/convention center by BlogHer. 

Huge brands like Hasbro, Mattel, Bravado, etc. will all rent out large facilities and event centers to host “by invitation only” breakfasts, cocktail hours, and dance parties where they’ll throw amazing swag at you; so much you’re expected to bring an extra suitcase to ship everything home. The more brand parties you’re invited to, the more popular of a blogger you are!

Blissdom, once again, does the opposite. They don’t believe in segregation. Brands throw parties . . .but they’re for everyone. Sponsors will have suites during Blissdom, but they’re not private. Everything is designed to make you feel like you’re important and not a nobody. 

In the End. . .
Both conferences are beneficial and helpful to bloggers, but what expectations you go in with are different. I, personally, was looking for in BlogHer what I found in Blissdom. 

If you want to attend a conference and be with some of the best in their “blogging fields”, BlogHer will get you there. With amazing and informative sessions lead by some great speakers, you won’t be disappointed in the knowledge you’ve gained. 

If you want to attend a conference to feel like you’re a part of a loving community, Blissdom is the place for you. You won’t have as focused tracks (or a suitcase of swag), but you’ll leave feeling inspired and important. 

Have you attended both BlogHer and Blissdom?
 What were your thoughts of the conferences? 

21 Responses to A Blissdom Series: Blissdom vs. BlogHer

  1. ElisaC says:

    Hi Krystal, glad to hear you had a good time at Blissdom.

    I did just want to clarify one thing that is very very important to us at BlogHer. The offsite exclusive brand events that go on are *not* part of BlogHer. Those events are expressly doing something we wish they wouldn’t, for the precise reason you point out that it feels exclusionary. We try to chase them down, in fact, and make sure they don’t use our name to try to reduce confusion, but we are not always successful.

    We have always hosted breakfast, lunch, and multiple parties each night for *all*. So I actually don’t believe that Blissdom and BlogHer, as organizations, have different philosophies on this point. It is the *antithesis* of our philosophy to promote “segregation” as you call it. It’s that at our size we are not always able to control outside companies doing outside things, much to our chagrin. I’m sorry it was not clear to you. I’m sorry you’ve felt all this time that we promote such an approach :(

    Thank you for letting me clarify :)

    Elisa Camahort Page

  2. Thanks Elisa for commenting! I appreciate you clearing up the off site events confusion. It did feel a little like if you weren’t invited you weren’t important; which when discussing with others at the conference made for awkward conversation.

    I love BlogHer as a conference, I just wish the bloggers at the event would be more willing to meet new people. And not just for networking with the best of the best, but to honestly get to know that person and be a support system.

    I really appreciate you chiming in, and look forward to having a different view when I attend BlogHer again this year!

  3. Katy says:

    Lovely to meet you this weekend and was very excited to read this post because I’ve been to Blissdom three times now (starting with like the second one), and I’ve never been to Blogher because it has always scared the pants off of me. I go back to Blissdom each year because of that atmosphere of hanging out and talking. I do think that maybe I’m reading to make the leap to something more like Blogher though (although don’t quote me!).

    Super cool to see BlogHer responding to this post–says loads about them in my opinion.

  4. Jana says:

    I really enjoyed the community that Blissdom offered. I especially liked how easily all the Dallas bloggers got along and were so welcoming. I was so nervous before time because I tend to get very nervous in large crowds and was afraid I’d be a wallflower all weekend.

  5. I have not technically attended Blissdom but I did go up on Friday and meet up with about 10 of my blogger friends from across the nation that I only get to see at conferences! I have been to BlogHer 3 times and was impressed by the down time at Blissdom and the fact that most of the attendees’ tweets were from the same sessions, meaning that they had only one talk going at a time during some time slots. During BlogHer, my Twitter stream is all over the place with attendees at 6-7 different sessions or private events during the entire event.

    That said, one other difference I can point out as a green blogger is that the Blissdom audience tends to be a more conservative crowd. Lots of mommy bloggers, lots of Christian bloggers, etc. While BlogHer attracts us green bloggers, LGBT/erotica bloggers, feminist bloggers, activist bloggers, and other issue-centered bloggers. Possibly just a function of the size. It’s been easy for me to “find my tribe” at BlogHer every year, but I do plan to try out Blissdom next year, especially if it is close again.

  6. Super exciting!! Im totally going to Blissdom 2014. Anyone know the date yet? ha.

  7. Michelle says:

    Jenny, I am super super liberal and I was a little nervous about this before going to Blissdom this weekend. I was happy and surprised to find that it wasn’t ever an issue.

  8. I was thinking about a lot of these same comparisons this weekend too. I completely agree about the breaks and time to process. On one hand I really appreciated it; on the other, I felt I had paid a lot to be there and wanted more time with “experts.” I LOVED BlogHer and met some women who I am very close with still. I reconnected with some this weekend and did, as you say, feel very welcomed by the community leaders, but I sort of have to agree with what Jenny said above – I found my tribe no problem at BlogHer and this past weekend I felt a bit like things were more “clique-ish” since it was so much smaller. I still really enjoyed myself and would return to both BlogHer and BlissDom.

  9. I think that’s one thing I’ll try and do better at BlogHer is to find my “tribe.” I know they offered ways to set up groups with your genre, but I found that confusing, so I sort of ignored that concept. As just a “mom blogger” I wasn’t sure who I fit in with, but now that I have a little more experience under my belt, I may be able to fit in a little better!

  10. I’m such a wallflower too! It took a lot of courage for me to walk into an environment where I wouldn’t know anyone (or didn’t expect to see anyone I knew), but it all worked out!

  11. I agree! I was glad they responded! It’s great to know that at least the founders have the right goal in mind.

  12. Jennifer says:

    This is a great comparison. The only thing I would say about the majority of private events at BlogHer is that they are not BlogHer sponsored. They organizers would prefer that everyone attend BlogHer events, but the sponsors can’t resist that many potential “advertisers” in one place.

    I’m glad you found what you were looking for at Blissdom, and I’m very glad that we got to have lunch together!

  13. Dreaming of (and saving for) attending a big bloggy conference and this explanation is really helpful. I think Blissdom is the one for me! Thanks

    Maybe I’ll get to meet there. Just wish Dallas was closer to N Ireland!

  14. Heather says:

    Great recap!!! Very helpful.

  15. Susan says:

    I had never heard of Blissdom until just a couple of weeks before the event, and by then, I already had other plans, which totally sucked, as I live in Fort Worth – so very close to Grapevine. I am hoping that it will be held in Grapevine again next year, in which case, I am definitely going.

    Other than being held in New York, I have absolutely no desire to go to BlogHer; I’d rather go to a smaller conference, where I might be able to connect with people.

  16. Krystal Hurst says:

    Definitely check out Bloggy Boot Camp then! It’s a much smaller more intimate atmosphere!

  17. Jana Faith says:

    I’ve only been to BlissDom (first time attendee) but after reading this – I’m so happy I chose to go to BlissDom. I never felt separated or like other bloggers were better than me or more accomplished. I loved the sense of community. Thanks for the compare/contrast.

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  19. Deb W. says:

    I take it you’re not going to BlogHer this year? Do you have any advice for beginners who are going? I’ve got the chance to go at the last minute…

  20. Krystal says:

    Hi Deb!

    I am going to BlogHer this year, although I’m a little nervous about the conference being slightly spread out instead of all in one building! BlogHer really does have some great aspects, it can just be very intimidating!

    My advice for a newbie to BlogHer can be found in another blog post here: http://www.thetshirtmama.com/2012/08/my-experience-as-a-blogher-newbie.html

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