I spent Friday and Saturday at the massive BlogHer conference in San Francisco, where 1000 folks (overwhelmingly gals) met to swap tales of life in the blog-o-sphere. I'd been too intimidated to attend BlogHer in the past, as I didn't have a regular blog of my own until recently and I'd always imagined that it was a a hipster, early-adopter, geeky (in a good way) scene full of those ChickClick pioneer-types who'd come over to the web from the indie 'zine world.
Well, I was correct about one thing---these ladies are wired. In one session that I attended, a show of hands revealed that the majority had blogs and were already monetizing them in some way. One presenter asked how many in the audience used Twitter and the vast majority (maybe 80%) raised their hands.
But, the crowd wasn't nearly as edgy as I'd expected because I'd neglected to realize that blogs are everywhere. Women all over the country are blogging like mad about their their lives, parenting, food, spirituality (I met 3 women with blogs in this topic area), poetry, fashion, romance, and pop culture. The women who I met personally at BlogHer were writing about the topics that I just listed, but in the sessions I heard from women writing about business, politics, entertainment, the law, and many other topics.
So, it should be no surprise, really, that the advertisers were out in full force, trying to attract the attention of the ladies who blog (many of them mamas). On Saturday we heard a very obvious pitch from a Michelin representative before the morning keynote. Sesame Street hosted a suite that was filled with free merch, puppets in conversation, and character cupcakes. And, at the closing progressive cocktail party at Macy's, attendees milled about the purse section while drinking Villa Sandi Prosecco (yes, it was delicious!), spied upon shoes while chowing on ceviche and sipping Starbucks, and lingered in the lingerie department while grabbing free K-Y samples.
The stuff that I blog about is much more niche (college radio & indie music on Spinning Indie and music reviews by my 2-year-old on DJ B's Library Tour), so I spent much of the conference wondering if there were others there who blogged about my specific topic areas, since the majority of the folks who I met said that they wrote either personal blogs or parenting blogs.
Despite not really finding my "people" at BlogHer, I did learn a ton during the 2 days. I picked up tips on technology (like Kirtsy, sort of a Digg for gals), learned about affiliate programs and advertising, got the low down on book deals and agents, picked up very helpful advice about how to improve one's blog from blogging guru Elise Bauer, and I heard some amazing, inspirational stories from entrepreneurial women and superstar bloggers like Heather Armstrong and Stephanie Klein.
I also caught a bit of that early DIY spirit of BlogHer during the "Swap Meet" on Saturday, where blogger ladies sold handmade items like T-shirts, knit sweaters, and awesome bear art.