BlogHer '16 recap: fun in the sun in Los Angeles

So it's been about a week and a half now since I returned from LA, for BlogHer 2016. I meant to write this post last weekend but then life got in the way and I forgot I pushed it back to this week.

If you're a longtime reader of my blog, you may remember my long-ish recap of BlogHer 2014, which was in San Jose, where I basically said that the conference had changed a lot and I wasn't a huge fan. Originally, I wasn't planning on going to BlogHer this year (and I skipped last year's, in NYC, which would have been a lot closer to me, since I live in Michigan!), but when Mayim Bialik, who I looooove on The Big Bang Theory, was announced as one of the keynote speakers, I took the plunge and bought my "super early bird pass." (it also helped that I had a ton of Southwest miles to use this summer, too - LA airfare isn't cheap)

photo credit: @crunchymetromom
I roomed with Sadie (Slap Dash Mom) and Judy (Crunchy Metro Mom), both of whom I had met in 2014, and it was a great time - the JW Marriott (LA Live area) has beautiful rooms and is a gorgeous hotel.

I also really liked that all of the BlogHer events, keynotes, etc. were in the hotel this year - in 2012, they did that too (in NYC) but the hotel wasn't big enough for everything. (in 2013, we were bussed from the Sheraton to McCormick Place, and in 2014, we had a short walk to the San Jose Convention Center)

Because the conference didn't start until Friday officially, too, I had some extra time on my hands, so I got to meet up with two LA / California friends: Suzy, and Mandy, aka The Romance Bookie. I hadn't seen Mandy since Anaheim in 2014 so it was great to meet up, and I hadn't officially met Suzy in-person yet, so that was fun too. Mandy drove in from Ojai to see me, which was about a 1.5 hour drive!

Disregard my hair here ... it was windy out!

My first "official" BlogHer event was that Thursday at 4pm, at the Aphrodisiac Cafe hosted by Adam & Eve. We were told we would learn how to cook "sensual" meals, and the event ended up being more of us EATING said meals ... which was totally fine by me, although I do wish they would have given us recipe cards. Everything was amazing and I definitely wasn't expecting that we would be eating a 3-course meal!

On Friday, I went to the Staples breakfast (sponsored event hosted by Staples, through BlogHer) and got to take a pic with Lori Loughlin after, aka Aunt Becky from Full House, who was super nice. It was also very timely since I went to see a taping of Fuller House that afternoon too; she gave me the scoop that Dave Coulier (aka Uncle Joey) was directing that day, and that John Stamos would be stopping by, which ended up being correct.

I caught the Sheryl Crow keynote on Friday too, but only stayed for about ten minutes of the Kim Kardashian one, since I had to leave for Fuller House. That morning, I headed to the My Printly suite too (a non-official event) and left with an HP printer, which was crazy - about a $79.99 value. I somehow managed to fit it in to my checked bag, and luckily Southwest lets you check two bags for free (I had a backpack from the Staples event as my second bag).

I unfortunately only have ONE photo from the WB Studios area (see above) since they make you check your phone at the door. I got to see Fuller House as a priority admittance this year, because last year (Sept. 2015) I was turned away since they were at capacity, which was actually pretty awesome: when I arrived, I was ushered in almost immediately. The taping was fun but I will say it was a lot longer than I thought it would be - I arrived around 2:45pm, the taping started at 4pm, and I was out around 9:30pm (five and a half hours - yikes!). 

The next day, I started off my morning with a Pete's Dragon screening, which was great, and then I saw the Mayim Bialik and Matt McGorry + co. keynotes. Mayim was pretty much exactly how I thought she would be - smart and funny! I'm a huge fan of Matt's from Orange is the New Black and How to Get Away with Murder, too, so I was pleased to get a picture with him after the talk.

Saturday was the last day of the conference, and then I flew back to Detroit (by way of Phoenix) the next day, on an 8am flight (we left for LAX at 5:30am ... way way too early!).

It was great to see Jennifer and Jana at this conference as well!
Things of note:

  • I do still agree with the notion of BlogHer being an "expensive girls' weekend," at least for me. I did talk to a few brands at the expo and will hopefully be working with then soon on some posts (and I was BEYOND excited to get an Ancestry DNA kit from!) but since I'm not entirely a "lifestyle" or "mommy" blogger, per usual there were only a few brands I wanted to talk to.
  • I did go to one session, on social media, but left midway through - I consider myself more of an intermediate blogger now, since I've had Yes/No Films for 6.5 years and my book blog for 7 (and I was blogging on wayyy back in the day too), and it seemed to be catered towards more beginner bloggers.
  • I really liked the sponsored events this year - I went to Staples and a More to Migraine breakfast, as well as the Adam & Eve event, and McDonald's and other brands hosted some too. I also went to a screening of Tig Notaro's One Mississippi (a new show exclusively on Amazon) and she did a Q&A after, which was fun. 
  • Keynote speakers were again on point; my favorite was Mayim's, but of course I am biased :).
  • The Friday and Saturday food selections were pretty good, especially compared to 2014's where it was sparse. Friday's was sandwiches, but there was also salad, dessert, etc.; Saturday's was wraps. 
  • It was great to see all of my blogging friends in "real life" - there are so many of us who attend BlogHer! - and also make new ones, such as Tabitha, who I met at the Adam & Eve event. I will admit I probably could have "put myself out there" more and made more contacts, though, so it's a bit of a double-edged sword to already know people going in to the event.
  • I do wish I had had more time to explore LA a bit, but the LA Live area was nice in that it had a ton of restaurants all within walking distance. 

Will I go to BlogHer '17? I hope to - but it depends where it's located. I'm not sure if I'd be able to swing CA again, but if they have it in the Midwest, South, or East Coast, I'd be able to go. (hint, hint!)

Have you ever been to a blogging conference? If so, which one(s), and would you attend again?

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