Elisa Camahort Page is one of the co-founders of the women blogging organization, BlogHer, along with Lisa Stone and Jory Des Jardins. Elisa has been a marketing executive for 18 years in Silicon Valley, and currently leads all events, marketing and public relations for BlogHer.
Prior to BlogHer, Elisa ran Worker Bees, a marketing consultancy company. Elisa can be found on several blog, including: Worker Bees Blog, where she writes about marketing, social media, customer service and web 2.0 initiatives; Healthy Concerns, where she writes about health 2.0 and healthcare from the patient’s point of view; and Elisa’s Green Scene, a collection of green news in areas from design to cooking to politics.
In addition to the BlogHer events, Elisa is also a frequent speaker, having made recent appearances at SXSW and Fem2.0.
DM: BlogHer’s fourth annual conference is coming up in less than two months. What’s new on the agenda that attendees can look forward to?
ECP: Every year we try to mix it up, so there are indeed new topics on the agenda, such as:
• A travelblogging session
• Sessions around healthcare and medblogging
• A mini-writing workshop from Katie Orenstein of the Op-Ed Project
• An ongoing Geek Lab with presentations, tutorials and the opportunity to just informally connect and hack solutions all day long
When creating the schedule for the conference, what are your goals? What do you hope bloggers get out of the conference?
Our goal is truly to have something for everyone, to feature new, fresh, diverse voices, and to highlight the true diversity and quality to be found at every corner of the blogosphere. We hope bloggers walk away from every session with something they want to do, to try, to talk about, to tell someone about or to share.
Last year, the New York Times story became a bit of a scandal, but I was intrigued by the title of the piece, “Blogging’s Glass Ceiling.” Do you think BlogHer and women have broken a ceiling by blogging? If so, how?
Blogging provides the opportunity for every person to have their own personal platform to use as they wish. Some people use it purely for personal expression and connecting with friends and family. Others use it to promote their ideas and their work. Still others want to parlay their blogs into businesses. Blogging is just the tool. A very accessible and powerful tool. It’s your intent that defines what you can do with it. So yes, many women have had breakthrough facilitated, even precipitated by their blogs! Still others have simply discovered they are not alone with whatever issues they’re dealing with. It’s all good.
What do you think is the biggest barrier for women bloggers or for women who want to become bloggers?
Well, again, it entirely depends on what they want to achieve. There is certainly no barrier to get started. Many tools are even free, so you could start a blog on the computers at your local library. From there, this question could be answered many different ways. Certainly there are more blogs than ever, so finding a way to stand out is a challenge for us all. Often the best blogs reflect a lot of work on the part of the blogger, so our time-impoverished lives are another challenge. The biggest barrier is probably misconceptions about how much it costs, or how hard it is, or how scary the Internet is. To which I always just say: Start a blog and give it a shot. You’ve got to do it to get it sometimes! Certainly true with Twitter
Why do you think it’s important for the companies to get involved with BlogHer?
Because BlogHer is the leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online today. The women in our network are hard to find via other channels, and yet they are your customers…and influencing your customers. We now reach over 14MM unique visitors per month…most of whom report being influenced by blogs to make purchases. As a commercial power, women bloggers are hard to beat! BlogHer is deeply invested and engaged in this community. We are part of this community. We know what makes this community tick. That being said, we also have business and professional journalism in our backgrounds, so we are out there figuring out the best practices for this blogger outreach. It’s a great combination of broad reach, deep engagement and best practices!
Women bloggers are mostly known for mommybloggers, because of their influence in the family and buying power. Do you see any other up-and-coming niches of women?
I don’t know if I agree that women bloggers are mostly known for mommybloggers. I would agree that consumer companies certainly recognize that buying power. But the media and political infrastructure pays a lot more attention to other segments of the blogosphere. What I see is that many women hate to be nichified at all. At BlogHer we don’t silo a woman’s interest. Our conference and our web community cover every topic under the sun…and women can hop from commenting about politics to commenting about parenting. We encourage companies to see that women who blog are influential and powerful consumers, whether they’re mom, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, daughters…
Graduation day is right around the corner for many public relations students. If you were professors at the University of BlogHer, what would be your closing remarks to your students?
It’s our mantra regarding best practices:
• Ask, don’t tell
• Listen before speaking
• Be transparent and fully disclose
• Forget about “the A-List”, find YOUR A-List, the bloggers out there who already care about the same values you care about and products or services you represent
Remember, we’re doing fine out here in the blogosphere without you. We’re building trusted community and finding empowerment. What are you doing to be trustworthy? How can you empower us?
Everyone talks about the A-list mommybloggers, like Heather Armstrong at Dooce, but who are three up-and-coming women bloggers that you think we should keep on our RSS feed so we can say “we knew them when…”?
There isn’t one blogosphere, there are many. There are three, four, ten up-and-coming women who blog in every blogging topic there is. I couldn’t possibly choose just three