It’s safe to say that blogs have come a long way since their inception in the early 1990s. As you’ve browsed the Internet in recent years, you probably noticed that everyone, from your next-door neighbor to local real estate agents,seems to have one or more blogs. No longer serving merely as online diaries, blogs can contain anything from news stories to personal commentary, and from fashion advice to business resources. Anything – and everything – goes when it comes to blogs, their writers and the messages thousands of bloggers send out every single hour of every single day.
It was this blogging platform that allowed Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins, and Elisa Camahort Page to launch BlogHer, an online blogging community which includes a majority of women bloggers of all ages as well as a number of men . BlogHer is holding its 9th annual conference on July 25-27. The first BlogHer conference, debuting in 2005, had about 300 attendees; BlogHer ’13 is expected to have between 5,000 and 6,000 attendees.
Following is an edited transcript of an online Question-and-Answer conversation with BlogHer co-founder and COO, Elisa Camahort Page.
Sharon Sultan Cutler: How did the idea to begin BlogHer come about?
Elisa Camahort Page: My two co-founders, Lisa Stone and Jory Des Jardins, and I started BlogHer to answer a question, namely: Where are the women who blog? Rather than continue to talk about it on our blogs, we thought it would be great to hold a conference, just like any other blogging or tech conference, but to have all the speakers and experts be women. We blogged the idea, got a ton of positive response, and 120 days later we held BlogHer ’05. During that time we were not a non-profit and not a for-profit; we like to say we were three chicks with credit cards who had an idea and decided to run with it.
After experiencing the passion and commitment of the community at the conference, and gathering their feedback, we realized there was an opportunity there. So, we scheduled our next conference. We launched the BlogHer.com web community and news service by and about women who blog, and ultimately we launched the BlogHer Network to help women achieve economic empowerment and be paid for their work.
SSC: What do you hope to accomplish by showcasing blogs by and/or for women?
ECP: Women are more than half the population, more than half the voters, more than half the Internet users, more than half the users of almost every social tool, driving more than half the traffic and activity. And women control more than 80% of household purchasing power. And yet, women are not represented in any hall of power to nearly that degree, from media to commerce to academia to government/politics. As long as that is the case, we think it’s holy work to shine a light on what women are doing and raise their voices.
SSC: How do you think blogging is changing the status of women’s exposure in the media?
ECP: If you have something to say, you now have a mechanism to say it. History has traditionally focused on government, commerce, and war. Until recently (relatively speaking) those were primarily men’s pursuits. Blogging is literally allowing us to re-write history, to incorporate a broader perspective and to bubble up stories that otherwise get left behind or buried.
SSC: How profitable is blogging?
ECP: Thousands of bloggers and social media influencers are thriving as part of the growing "BlogHer Economy" – BlogHer, Inc., the premium cross-platform media network and publisher for women, paid out $25 million to 5,000 bloggers from 2009 to 2012. Writers were paid for their influence, reach and writing via BlogHer Inc's publishing model, which compensates bloggers via a revenue share from advertising BlogHer published on their blogs, and via payments for writing commissioned by BlogHer for editorial and advertorial initiatives.
BlogHer Publishing Network members report spending their BlogHer checks on everything from extras to necessities, from family dinners out to medical bills, mortgages and tuitions. The majority of the BlogHer Publishing Network members surveyed (52%) report spending their BlogHer-generated income on discretionary items. Another 43% reported using their income to support their work, paying for expenses and expansion of their business.
SSC: How many writers participate on BlogHer?
ECP: Our publishing network is comprised of more than 3,000 blogs and 7,000 additional influencers across other social platforms.
SSC: How does BlogHer choose which blogs to feature?
ECP: It’s important that we build a network that serves our community and our mission. We look for bloggers who are engaged, influential and info-savvy, those who share a breadth of advice, opinions and recommendations that resonate powerfully with the BlogHer community. BlogHer’s team works hard to curate the best and brightest conversations, writers and speakers – online and in person. That’s what we do best.
SSC: Does BlogHer offer any special benefits for their bloggers?
ECP: Exposure to a global network of fellow bloggers, readers and leading brand sponsors provides opportunities to be seen, grow an audience, build relationships with peers, and create opportunities to earn income via brand advocacy relationships.
SSC: How many readers does BlogHer have?
ECP: Today, BlogHer is 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).
SSC: What demographic makes up most of BlogHer’s readers?
ECP: BlogHer is the #6 women’s network on the Internet for women 18-34.
SSC: How many men are on BlogHer?
ECP: About 10% of our conference attendees, network publishers and active community members are men.
SSC: What are the most popular topics on BlogHer? (for readers and writers)
ECP: BlogHer covers every topic under the sun, because women care about every topic under the sun. Food, Parenting and Lifestyle may be our top ongoing topics, but our traffic spikes for great stories and hot news from the world of Politics, Technology, Business, Health and more.
SSC: What do you hope readers and writers gain from BlogHer?
ECP: Our mission is to create opportunities for women who blog (and their readers) to pursue education, exposure, community, and economic empowerment.
SSC: Do you have any special inspirational quotes about blogging to share with our Splash readers?
ECP: Blogging is like your own personal printing press, to quote Jay Rosen. With all the freedom and opportunity that comes with that!
Photos: Courtesy of BlogHer
Sharon Sultan Cutler is the co-author of the upcoming book, Once Upon Our Times: (Because Life Isn’t a Fairytale) 65 Years Growing Up Baby Boomerwww.onceuponourtimes.com Esther Reisberg contributed to this article.