Our coverage of all the goings-on at the forthcoming BlogHer Conference kicks off with an interview with co-founder Elisa Camahort Page. By Carolyn Gerin (Author, The Anti-Bride series)
When I first met Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer.com, at their conference mixer last December, I was prepared for a wunderkind, rainmaker, and thought leader with a lot of tasty sound bytes about her mission. What I got instead was all of the above (sans sound bytes) along with a refreshingly unpretentious vibe and just enough self-deprecating humor to make you want to grab her for the next girls night out.
Elisa Camahort Page and company live their mission 24-7 while wearing their fame lightly, so this year I was fortunately able to grab a few minutes of her time to ask her why the conference is important and what the main takeaways are for Women 2.0 readers.
I’m excited to be covering the 2013 BlogHer Conference for Women 2.0, so look for future posts on BlogHer as the event unfolds form July 25-27th in Chicago. Psssssst! A certain Lean In author will be a keynote…
Tell us about the 'aha' moment that inspired you to create BlogHer?
My two co founders Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins and I formed BlogHer because we wanted to answer the question – where are all the women who blog? Or in top management at major US companies? In early 2005, after Carly Fiorina got pushed out, we asked ourselves, where are the women? Lisa, Jory and I thought this was ridiculous! We came up with a list of 20 top bloggers who were awesome, and said ‘let’s do a conference!’ We maxed out our credit cards for our first BlogHer summit in Santa Clara and made it happen. We believe that blogging breaks down social, sexual and socio-economic barriers. Everyone can blog, and in the process, change their lives, change others' minds and change the world!
We sought to create an event where bloggers come together: sort of a tech event but not built around women’s issues -- BlogHer isn’t necessarily about women, it’s about being women who happen to blog.
On a personal note, my mom was a second wave feminist and the first female VP at her company. Some of her co-workers stated that she would never make VP because the company had several clients who valued male executives. Despite the naysayers, she made it to the top, and that inspired me to storm the barriers in my own life and career.
So how did the first BlogHer event go?
We achieved an immediate visceral response, and sold out the space with 300 attendees. Afterwards, people asked when is next conference? How can I find other women writing about what I write about? How can I make money doing what I love?
We took this feedback very seriously, and as a result, we scaled bigger and faster and went for VC. From this feedback, our BlogHer aggregate network was also born. Today BlogHer has the largest community of women who blog: 92 million across blogs and social tools, including 55 million blog readers alone [May 2013, Nielsen Site Census].
How do you think BlogHer helps women?
Three ways: There is a huge learning piece. From personal connectivity to tech skills, you have your pick of diverse programming. You get keynote speakers that are in depth, hands on, and big thinkers, such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Barack Obama, Martha Stewart and more. Every person you meet or see here has something to teach you, and you have your pick of the menu to fit your interests.
Networking is prolific – book deals, business, and talent searching gets done, and relationships are forged.
Finding your tribe – learning from people outside your immediate circle or finding the people who exactly match your interests is part of the BlogHer magic. It’s a heterogeneous community, and it's possible to create relationships that will be with you for life.
What are strategies for making BlogHer work for you after the event?
Follow up! People have immense creativity when they attend and connect, but it’s important to follow through when they get back to the day-to-day.
Follow your connections and heroines; this is the ethos of blogosphere! Communicate with them – reciprocity is our BlogHer mantra – we believe that together we can make all boats rise. In trying to go for the gusto of awesomeness, you need to remember that you are also building a circle of ‘people serendipity.’
There’s been debate about the feasibility of making a living off a blog - can it really be done, and what are your thoughts on how to monetize?
Bloggers can certainly make money with their blog, advertising, CTC, CPM, affiliate, sponsorship and more. The more traffic you have, the more money you can make, but it starts with creating traffic. Most importantly, a blog is a platform where the blogger establishes herself as an influencer. Many of the bloggers in our own BlogHer Economy use the money they earn to improve their blog, expand their network, or for personal use. But when they grow their blog and influence, what comes next is freelance gigs, speaking engagements, and more (and without their platform they would not be getting this). But just being an influencer doesn’t pay the bills BlogHer Social Tools and Influencer Program helps that to happen.
Our network has paid $25m to women in our community. We make money with women not off women…and they are using it for everything from getting rid of debt to putting their kid through college and all the while, doing what they love.
So, yes, you can make a good living from blogging but you get out of it what you put into it.
BlogHer '13 Ninth Annual Conference will take place in Chicago July 25 - July 27, 2013 McCormick Convention Center and the Sheraton Chicago.
About the guest blogger: Carolyn Gerin is the creator and co-author of the bestselling Anti-Bride series published on Chronicle Books, the first voice in the alterna-bridal pop cultural space. She also serves as Sr. Editor for Destination I Do Magazine. She’s a serial entrepreneur, startup addict and creative director. Follow her on Twitter at @antibride.