After six hours spent rumbling along the Amtrak rails and three days of total, intense, and heightened immersion in all things related to blogging and social media (Emphasis on social. Emphasis on media.), I’m back home in Richmond, Virginia. I’ve just attended my first BlogHer conference, and I’d like to share with you glimpses from what can only be called a revolution.
Since this was my first conference, I have no precedents with which to compare. But an informal poll, taken over brunch with a fellow blogger and friend (Hi Nancy at Dating Dementia!) suggests that this conference in New York City, held August 2-4, 2012, was unlike any of its antecedents.
Using their credit cards, three journalists and media experts—Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins—launched BlogHer in 2005. These women—bright, motivated, and prescient—were early adopters of social media. They recognized that blogging was not a momentary dot-com fad, but something profound and paradigm-changing. And they wondered where all the women bloggers were.
Boy, did they find them. (And a few men, too. BlogHer is nothing if not inclusive.) More than 5,000 bloggers attended BlogHer ’12.
At the closing keynote address of this eighth and most successful conference, Stone and Camahort Page reported that over the last three years, BlogHer paid out $17 million to writers. This is just one benchmark achievement—there are others—indicating that BlogHer is fulfilling its mission: to create opportunities for women in social media to pursue exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.
In a world where the Kardashians are the gold standard of success, for me, BlogHer represents a kernel of reality, a source of inspiration and an island of sanity where people are appreciated not for what they look like or what they have, but for who they are. Sometimes that feels like a rare thing.
As Darryle notes in her essay, Martha Stewart and Katie Couric understand this, too. Both media icons attended our conference, engaging in lively and informative keynote conversations; Camahort Page interviewed Martha Stewart, and Stone spoke with Katie Couric.
You can experience some of the revolution yourself by visiting BlogHer’s Virtual Conference site. Here’s a glimpse from my perspective:
- A live video address by President Barack Obama, acknowledging the importance of all women in our society. (BlogHer extended an invitation to Governor Mitt Romney, but he declined, although a member of his campaign staff participated in one of the sessions, as did an Obama staffer.)
- The aforementioned keynote conversations featuring Martha Stewart and Katie Couric.(If you click on their names you’ll see videos of their interviews.)
- An extraordinary display of talent as 15 bloggers read their winning posts at the Voice of the Year Keynote awards. There was hilarity from the humor category, heartbreak from the heart category, and keen insights from the op-ed, parenting, and identity categories. (Full disclosure: BlogHer honored 110 bloggers as winners of the VOTY awards. I’m proud to be one of them.)
- Women from across the globe, making their voices heard in their own countries, were drawn to attend BlogHer. I met Ludmilla Rossi of Brazil, creative director of MKT Virtual Interactive Marketing. She came to discover ideas and find ways to encourage and inspire older women from her country, underrepresented in the blogging community, to share their voices.
- Information. Information. Information.
- New skills and tools.
- New friends and contacts.
- The BlogHer hashtag, #blogher12, trending on Twitter.
- And finally, most importantly, inspiration and a tremendous sense of pride. It’s an honor to be associated with such a dynamic, influential, and game-changing organization.
To everyone who worked so tirelessly to make this conference happen—and to Lisa, Elisa, and Jory—thank you for the revolution.