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5 Things I Learned at BlogHer ’13

Guy Kawasaki and I at BlogHer '13

Guy Kawasaki and I at BlogHer ’13

The weekend before last I attended BlogHer ’13 in Chicago along with 5000 other (mostly female) bloggers. We heard keynotes by Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, social media guru Guy Kawasaki, Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, and Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd. Queen Latifah MC’d the Voices of the Year readings, Randi Zuckerberg spoke on a panel, and swag was voraciously consumed by all. Here are a few things I learned at the Superbowl of Blogging:

1. You Can’t Carry Too Many Business Cards
Not only did I exchange cards with every blogger I met, but the first morning we did speed dating with each other, and I handed out most of my cards before my first workshop had even begun. After that, I had to conserve my cards and avoid entering sponsor giveaways (which probably was a good thing, although I was a little envious of the bloggers who walked out with chain saws tucked under their arms.) I ended up downloading a business card app, so I could scan the business cards of other bloggers who were running low, but next time I’ll carry a good-sized stack.

2. You Shouldn’t Be Shy About Promoting Your Work
Although I was somewhat shocked by how blatantly bloggers promoted themselves, I was impressed too. One woman stood up in nearly every workshop I attended to ask a question, ie promote her blog: “Hi! I’m Jennifer Smith of, and I’d like to know …” That wasn’t her real name or website, but I will remember the name of that woman’s blog for a very long time.

3. Photos and Design Can Make or Break a Blog
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I was surprised when Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond emphasized how much time she puts into taking great photographs for her blog. “I found that I love beautiful websites,” she said. “I wanted it to be beautiful, full of color.” Her advice for beautifying your own blog? “Find websites you love that make your heart melt visually, then contact the web designer.”

4. The Best Posts Come From the Heart
Something that struck me during the Voices of the Year event, during which the 12 best blog posts of 2600 submitted to Blog Her were read aloud on stage by their authors, was how emotional most of the posts were. Some were hilarious, like this one, but none were “10 Tips For a Better Bundt Cake” or “How to Improve your SEO.” They were personal, they were funny, they were sad, they were straight from the heart. I realized I tend to squirrel my best writing away to submit to magazines instead of posting them to my blog. Maybe that’s a mistake.

5. It’s Tough To Do It All
“Working motherhood has been a bit of a tornado,” Ree Drummond said. “2011 was the dark year. I over-scheduled. I did too much. I hit the point where I thought I was a shell. I pulled back on blogging and started traveling a little bit less. You can do it all, but don’t expect it to tickle.”

And now for a giveaway! (No business card needed.) Below is a stash of BlogHer ’13 swag, including an ebook version of Guy Kawasaki’s APE (Author Publisher Entrepreneur), a guide for building your author platform. To win the whole lot, just leave a comment below telling me what some of your favorite blogs are and why (They don’t have to be writing or publishing blogs.) You must be subscribed to the blog over there in the sidebar to win. Good luck!


38 comments to 5 Things I Learned at BlogHer ’13

  • I agree with these blog tips, especially about blogging from the heart. I've come to realize I love the personal posts and am unintrested in the "I blog about the same this evey week" posts. Yes, I've done them too, and cringe when I think about them. Sometimes I wonder if I should delete them. Anyway… Thank you for sharing these tips with us.

    I have two favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess and Young Adventuress. The ladies on these sites post the most gorgeous pictures. See? I gravitate towards sites with great pics. Ms. Drummond was correct.

    Glad you had a good time. 🙂

    • meghancward

      I'm familiar with A Beautiful Mess, Christine, but I haven't heard of Young Adventuress. Thanks for sharing them!

  • damnwrite

    Hi Meghan! Aside from Writerland, some of my favorite blogs are at, and

    I'm also a big fan of Guy Kawasaki's, and was really excited to see your photo with him.

    Thanks for the great articles. 🙂

    EDIT: Oh, and I love the blogs at, too!

    • meghancward

      damnwrite, Thanks for the blog tips! I'm glad Writerland is on your list 🙂 Guy was a great "guy"!

  • I love beautiful blogs, but the "minimalist' design style dominates these days, perhaps to be responsive to phones and tablets, and most blogs look (and sound) alike these days. Photography blogs seem to be the exception. Stuck In Customs is my favorite. The photos are other-worldly and the design is bold and not at all minimalist.

    In the marketing arena, I like The Word Chef. At first I thought the whole "cooking" metaphor was over the top, but I'm getting so tired of marketers shouting "What's your brand?!!" I like that Tea calls it PB&J (Purpose, Brand & Joy), bringing to mind my favorite childhood lunch.

    I love your content, Meghan, because it's off the beaten track too. I'm intimidated by Blogher, but maybe one of these years!

    • meghancward

      Debra, Blog Her was so much fun! It does help to know at least one other person, though. I was fortunate to have met Christine Brinkley Harmon, whose blog I follow, there and spend time with her at meals. I am dying to know where next year's conference will be held! Thanks so much for your blog suggestions. I will check them out and post a list of everyone's favorite blogs.

  • Jillian

    Now that I’m a new mom I’ve been reading the crappy pictures blog. “reading” that is, sometimes in a sleep deprived state nothing cracks me up more than badly drawn illos about the absurdly hard and wonderful challenges a baby can bring. This one made me LOL at 4am:
    Looks like there may be some BlogHer sex lubricant in that stash, will it transform my sex life?

    Loved the synopsis, the next best thing to being there!

    • meghancward

      Ha! Jillian, there isn't any sex lubricant in that photo, but I can throw some in if you win! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know about The Crappy Pictures blog. I draw like that too!

  • Enjoyed your five tips. What app did you use for business cards? Curious what worked. Appreciated the tips from the Pioneer Woman! I've been taking a blogging break recently … need to check out the ones mentioned here.

    • meghancward

      I used ScanBizCards, but I think Munch and a bunch of others do the same thing. I didn't have time to research. I just downloaded the first thing that came up when I typed in "Business card." What are your favorite blogs, Stacy?

      • Ok. You called me out for not answering the question. I love (craft of writing), (picture book author who fosters a great community of writers with writing prompts, contests, fellowship), Debbie Allen Maxwell's blog to name a few. Debbie highlights free (and useful resources for writers). Of course, I always check out your blog. I'll check out those apps before my next conference in September.

  • annerallen

    What an exciting experience! Thanks for passing on the tips. I agree with Debra Eve that blogs seem to be going more minimalist. I guess it depends on your subject matter. Food blogs need luscious photos; writing blogs, not so much–especially if people are reading on their phones.

    • meghancward

      It's true that they need to be mobile friendly. Are you going to the Central Coast Writers Conference in September, Anne? I was supposed to speak on an editors panel, but I didn't RSVP fast enough, so now I'm on standby.

      • annerallen

        I'm not teaching, but I'll be doing a little intro for their award winners, so I'll be there. People are NOT impressed with the editors they've hired. Two have no websites and one has only been published by an ultra-right-wing hate group. Not good for the Conference. I don't know who did the vetting, but they did a lousy job. There are going to be repercussions. I sure wish they'd waited for you!!

        • meghancward

          I'll email them again to see if they think they want me to come. I'm supposed to be a substitute in case one of the others can't make it. It was my fault. They invited me, and I took too long to reply.

  • Lori Robinson

    Thanks for the post. The most interesting point for me is when you found the commonality of the stories that were read aloud was personal. I have been reading too many 'how to be a better blogger' sites where they repeat the necessity of every post being extremely useful to your readers. But what you reminded me of here is that sometimes they just want a good laugh. My recent post was funny and had lots of comments – teaching me valuable insights into what's working. Thanks. Lori from

    • meghancward


      I'm guilty of writing a lot of "how to" and "5 tips" posts. I have to write outside of my comfort zone to get personal. But people tend to love it when I do, so I try to sprinkle them in now and then.

    • meghancward

      P.S. What are a few of your favorite blogs? Be sure to subscribe to Writerland if you haven't already for a chance to win some BlogHer '13 swag. I'm especially excited about Guy Kawasaki's APE book. I am dying to read it myself!

  • I love the Pioneer Woman! Ree is the nicest, and her blog is fantastic! I also love Serious Eats – which started out as a blog-type site and is now HUGE. I also read small tiny blogs that I stumble upon just because their pictures are so good, and the writing is equally impressive. I also love Cake Wrecks – just because it's so darn funny. I went to (my first) BlogHer last year and sure wished I had read a post like this – numbers 1, 2, & 3 are super important for networking!!!

    • meghancward

      Krista, A friend of mine who watches a lot of cooking shows says she finds The Pioneer Woman cooking show boring. Have you seen it? I don't watch cooking shows, but it sounds like maybe Ree is better at blogging than TV? Thanks for sharing the other sites. I've never heard of Cake Wrecks!

  • I hope this posts! I read Writerland on Facebook, and Miriam Sagan's Miriam's Well .
    Miriam is a poet whose work is stunning, and she lives her poetry. Her work is, best I can describe it, thrilling. The same advice for bloggers applies to poets: write from the heart.
    I have a blog but I'm not very good at tending to it. It's called CD Writes and I have been posting a story in serial form on it. It never even occurred to me to post pictures! Yes, I am a bad blogger! But I vow to improve… Claudia

    • meghancward

      Thanks, Claudia, for this comment. It did post! And thanks for visiting Writerland. I'll put your name in the hat!

  • Love ur blog posts always! I don't get to enough writer's conferences so it's always
    nice when bloggers share the wealth with all of us! Hope I win some stuff!!!! Best,
    Mary Kennedy Eastham AND I'm gonna check out the poet mentioned above by Claudia.
    I'm putting together a course – 30 Poems in 30 Days – I give you daily prompts
    to keep you writing! …I want to share great poetry with the students as well!

  • 100greatnovels

    I love the cooking blogs – Clary Sage and The Inquiring Chef are two of my faves.
    I'm a big fan of Writerland and Kristen Lamb's blog
    Keep up the good work Meghan. I find your blog so helpful.

  • […] I want to announce that the winner of the BlogHer ’13 swag and copy of Guy Kawasaki’s ebook APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, is […]

  • Thanks, Anne! I loo forward to your post! I've
    been out of town and offline for most of July, but I look forward to catching up on all your posts.

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