19 July 2007

Beyond Bizlex: Elisa Camahort

As a co-founder of BlogHer and an online communications entrepreneur in her own right, Elisa Camahort is clearly one of the more influential and innovative people in the blogosphere. Planning and running a conference for an organization that serves 12,000 bloggers is no simple feat, and requires substantial work over several months. Elisa was very gracious to take the time to provide some very thoughtful answers to my questions for the bizlex column. You can tell by her answers that she's done this whole interview thing before. Sharp.
What is BlogHer?

BlogHer is an organization whose mission is to create opportunities for education, exposure, community and economic empowerment for women online. To that end BlogHer puts on conferences, hosts a vibrant web community hub and maintains an advertising network.

BlogHer's Annual Conference is the largest blogging conference in the world, and between that, our new topic-focused conferences and regular meet-ups we provide the opportunity for bloggers to connect face-to-face, both to form tighter community bonds, but also to get in-person and in-depth education about all things blogging.

At our community hub (http://blogher.org/) our 12,000 members have listed almost 10,000 blogs in the directories, and we have 50+ editors who round-up and link to the best blogging going on in 25+ topic areas every week. This provides regular exposure to both well-known and unsung women's voices in the blogosphere. The community hub is also a plce for the community to convene on a daily basis, whether in comments or the Forums to drive the conversaations they want to have.

The BlogHer Advertising Network provides a way for women bloggers of all sizes to work together to get more value for the quality writing they're producing. BlogHer manages the technology and does the selling, while the bloggers can focus on doing what they love: blogging. By providing quality guidelines and consultative work on how to engage our network, we also provide the advertisers with a more reliable and higher quality engagement. The Ad Network is entirely optional, and is managed at another site (http://blogherads.com/) so that those members who have no interest in it don't have to be.

Have you seen women leverage their membership in BlogHer to build or promote their own businesses or to strengthen their position as consumers?

It's obvious that since BlogHer '05 women bloggers have started to realize their power as not only consumers, but as influencers. Women continue to control over
80% of the household dollar on purchases ranging from groceries to cars to consumer electronics. Our advertising network is only one way that women are leveraging BlogHer and their blogs to promote themselves and create a business. There are women with blogs of all sizes in the advertising network. One of our largest bloggers is going to buy a house with her ad network income. Other bloggers find that their ad network income buys each month's groceries for their family. Still others feel ratified to earn even small amounts of income simply because they write.

But there's more than that: We know women who have gotten jobs through BlogHer, who have formed joint ventures through BlogHer, who have gotten their "dream job" after using the lessons of BlogHer to create and promote something about which they were passionate. There is a heavy networking, both online and off, element to BlogHer...and we know networking is a key to advancement and opportunity. There are also a significant number of ways that BlogHer creates the opportunities for members and attendees to promote themselves and their platforms to a wider audience than they already have...and we know that self-promotion and branding is another key to advancement and opportunity.

What did I miss at BlogHer Business?

You missed sharing insights and information with nearly 200 people focused on social media and how it intersects with the world of business. You missed case studies from companies as big as Wells Fargo to as small as individual consultants who have built a brand and reputation using social media. You missed a series of sessions that featured a high level of interaction and active conversation, and were each focused on providing practical, specific information on *how* to investigate and implement social media strategies. You missed insights from the Editor-in-Chief of Redbook Magazine, the President of iVillage, the CEO of Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive, and the women who manage Google, Yahoo and Cisco's corporate blog initiatives. And in true BlogHer style you missed hearing insights from a business blogger with a baby in a sling and a business blogger with a chihuahua in her bag and even a few male business bloggers. You also missed a fabulous cocktail party with massages, a Yahoo! ice sculpture and Yahootinis for all!

What are your goals for your meeting in Chicago this summer?

Our goal is to bring together the many blogospheres that exist and for a few short days create the opportunity for us all to find common ground and learn from one another, no matter how different our blogging interests may be. Our goal is to provide the opportunity for bloggers to get hands-on education with various blogging tools and technologies, to meet bloggers who are both part of and completely apart from their existing blogging communities, and to have rich, interactive discussions in sessions that cover the breadth of the blogosphere, from the personal to the professional to the political. And I have to mention that our goal is to keep the price very very low for our attendees (Just $99/day), so that as diverse a blogging crowd as possible can make it...and so our goal is to work with sponsors to give them the opportunity to support this community of women bloggers to help us achieve that

So that's the "beyond bizlex" for this month. Again, I want to thank Elisa and all of the women bloggers who have shared their thoughts with me and taught me a great deal about how this stuff really works. I hope my colleagues in the industry will put their iPhone crushes on hold and drop the twitter vs. pownce debate for a few minutes and just listen to what these women have to say -- I think they'll learn something as well.

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