28 July 2008

BlogHer Nation

The New York Times carried a feature over the weekend on the fourth annual BlogHer conference.


Since 2005, women who write blogs have been coming together for a couple of days of seminars and networking.

A study conducted by BlogHer and Compass Partners last year found that 36 million women participate in the blogosphere each week, and 15 million of them have their own blogs. (BlogHer, which was founded by Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins, has itself grown into a mini empire that includes a Web site that helps publicize women’s blogs, and an advertising network to help women generate revenue for the site.)

As with men bloggers, some women have found financial success through blogging. Belle de Jour, a London call girl, managed to parley her blog into a book deal and now a television series. Read it. You'll be surprised and then you'll see why Belle has been as successful as she has been.

One of the presenters at BlogHer was Kyran Pittman, whose blog Notes to self is a well written, visually appealing collection of posts on whatever strikes her. She's also met with some financial success.

As Geoff Meeker wrote a couple of weeks ago, Kyran pitched a couple of posts to Good Housekeeping. her real success came in the August edition, currently on newsstands:

“The pitch came from feeling frustrated with yet another women’s magazine article on Wardrobe "Essentials" that added up to thousands of dollars,” Kyran wrote on her flickr page. “I challenged Good Housekeeping to let a real mom find out just how essential "investment" clothes are in real life. They went for it in a wonderful way.”

The result was a four-day assignment in New York City, complete with photographer, art director, makeup artist and her own trailer (with bagels and coffee inside). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kyran has the looks of a model, but she’s self-effacing about this – and is a gifted writer, by any measure.

According to the Times, one of the workshop sessions at BlogHer this year was the continuing struggle of women who write political blogs to get their work noticed. Outside of Ariana Huffington, political blogging in the United States is dominated at the national level by men. That isn't quite the same in Canada. One of the leading Conservative blogs - small dead animals - is written by Catherine McMillan.

What's most striking about BlogHer, though, is what can be seen if you look past the chromosomal structure of the authors. There's an eclectic mix of writing by people from different backgrounds on topics as diverse as the authors themselves.

And the challenges of blogging discussed at the San Francisco conference by women bloggers? As with Kyran's posts, the topics are things we can all appreciate because we've been there.