On Friday, Megan and I ventured to New York City (please say that in your mind like they did in the old Pace Picante Sauce commercials…). Of course, setting my alarm for 4:30am was a big investment and I meant business.
We were off to BlogHer 2010! BlogHer is a massive community blog, an ad network, and a conference with a mission:
to create opportunities for women who blog to gain exposure, education, community and economic empowerment.
The conference is massive and well-funded. It draws some of the biggest of the big female bloggers (and some dudes!) from all over. It provides a forum for women to talk to each other about the trials and tribulations of blogging, bond over shared experiences, and support each other in growing their voice in the world through blogging.
Am I bragging just a little? Maybe.
Overall, the conference was both completely overwhelming yet underwhelming at the same time.
The conference catered primarily to mommy bloggers – and whether you love ‘em or
hate ignore ‘em – I don’t really fit into that crowd. Although the toddler that yells “mama! mama!” from her crib late at night might tell you differently.
Catering even more to mommy bloggers than the conference itself were the corporate sponsors.
In two giant halls full of sponsor-exhibitors and countless corporate suites, there was only one brand that I use with any regularity: Earth’s Best. While you know my passion for independent businesses, I happily spend money on other brands whose products are good for me & my family. I didn’t find any others there.
So, while I support the mission of BlogHer to “create opportunities for woman who blog to gain economic empowerment” I have to wholeheartedly disagree that schmoozing with national sponsors is a means to that end. I would have loved to see a panel discussion on creating multiple revenue streams in a blog-based business or on getting comfortable earning what you’re worth.
Maybe a presentation on financial challenges for female bloggers working from home. Or a Q & A with a pro on finding corporate sponsors that match your values.
But, alas, there was not. And while there were plenty of professional development sessions, their weight was sharply out of balance with what appeared to be “the real show.”
Now, I am a realist. I took home some of the freebies I thought I could use and I snapped pictures of Mrs. Potato Head & Dora the Explorer. I enjoyed the copious amounts of free food no doubt provided by the sponsors whose logos were plastered on every free wall. I’m not judging – just asking if this is really how we want women bloggers to be represented. And perhaps more importantly, if this is what it’s like to be an empowered woman with a voice.
Women have a loud, powerful, echoing voice in the blogosphere. Parroting national brands and their ad campaigns isn’t empowerment, it’s exploitation. As women bloggers, we have a responsibility to put more emphasis on creating communities – both local & online – full of engaged voices and open minds. We have a responsibility to measure truth against hype and not abandon ideals for arms full of cheap swag.
NB: I only attended Friday and I would be happy to hear that I missed something like this on Saturday. But I didn’t notice anything on the agenda. Check out Rachel’s recap to hear about the final keynote & some other bright spots I missed.