BlogHer Comes to DC, Technosailor.com represents 33% of Male Population

BlogHer, the female-focused blogging organization and ad-network, touched down in Suburban Maryland yesterday for the Washington, D.C. edition of the BlogHer Reach Out tour. I had a chance to attend and apparently now have the label of a BlogHim (whatever that means).

It was my first event and, as with most guys that go to a BlogHer conference for the first time, I came away being wowed. I attend quite a lot of events and hear the same kinds of panels. Best practices on blogging. Best practices for making money online. Blogging 101. The gamut of standard cookie-cutter sessions.

BlogHer didn’t disappoint on this front with a Basic track and a more advanced track, and being an organization with a political orientation and being in the Nation’s Capital during an election year, there was the standard fare politically oriented panels as well.

What struck me about the organization was how diverse it was in terms of occupation. From open source geeks to political activists to mommy-bloggers and “data wrangler” statisticians and engineers – the audience transcended every discipline.

Of course, I met plenty of people I might not have otherwise met except at BlogHer. Many of the women attendees don’t venture to other conferences or gatherings for a variety of reasons – time, threat level: Alpha, or just that BlogHer provides a secure and safe environment.

It was definitely an eye-opening experience.

Of course, the day could not be entirely estrogen-based. Geoff Livingston and I, being one of only a handful of men at the event, had to create our own Man party outside with cigars. :)

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Apples and Oranges, the Rise and Fall of Women Bloggers

I have sat on this post for the past few days because the last thing I want is this post to offend. I’ve tossed around the best way to approach it constructively and in an encouraging way. I’d like to consider myself a “friendly” for women bloggers, so with that context, I hope it is taken constructively.

Melanie Notkin, aka Savvy Auntie has built a fantastic site that is a non-mommy blogger mommyblog. It’s actually an AuntieBlog, as the name suggests. I got the scoop from Melanie when I was in Detroit a few weeks ago. SavvyAuntie.com is all about women who do not have kids of their own, but have incomes and tastes that they wish to lavish on their nieces and nephews.

It’s a fantastic idea, and her growth has been profound jumping from a paltry 5k unique visitors a month to 35k last month. Still not a dominant site, unless you realize that she has an average of 5 pageviews for every visit to the site. I guarantee most of you are not that lucky.

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Valleywag wrote a piece the other day doing their best to spin the SavvyAuntie effort in a negative light. But even the Valley-based gossip blog that excels at making people look really bad, couldn’t write a compelling piece about Melanie’s site. In fact, the story was so positive by Valleywag standards that it might go down as a huge FAIL on their part.

Which led to a little kerfuffle among mommybloggers, led by Stefania Butler (aka CityMama) who led a spirited charge against Valleywag with lines like “‘let’s take a big huge dump on mommybloggers’ while backhandedly praising a non-mommyblogger for her internet success”.

So let me reinforce that both Stefania and Melanie are friends of mine. One I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting in person, and the other who I will one day. Let me also reinforce that Valleywag is a gossip rag and nothing more – certainly nothing that warrants a response, especially when the article was a “backhanded compliment”. IT’s just the game.

Now, this incident in isolation would probably not spur this post, however it is not in isolation. It’s pretty common for women blogger, mommy bloggers and otherwise, to get all up in arms about something a male blogger said about women bloggers. I understand the background behind it. I understand that for years, women have been at a disadvantage. I understand the BlogHer gives women a conference directed entirely toward them. I get it. Really.

However, ladies, you’re playing an away game. You’re comparing yourselves to another industry, and one far more established, and taking the battle on the road. This is a losing proposition.

First of all, male bloggers are generally not thinking in terms of men vs women. We are territorial beasts. We build our own properties and screw everyone in the process. It’s the nature of the game. You, ladies, band together and riot (or something). Again, it’s part of the game and I understand it.

Attacking Valleywag for a negative article, though, is ho hum. Attacking Mike Arrington for his actual or perceived biases is a losing proposition. Being loud and obnoxious on Twitter “so you’re heard” is playing the game on the road.

Road games suck. Oddsmakers in Vegas always give the home team a 3 point spread to start with when setting lines on football games. The 12th man always has an effect. You don’t want to play on the road, when you can play at home (no pun intended).

Women have an opportunity to dominate their niche. Because they band together, they have an opportunity to own the entire demographic in blogging. Advertisers like Glam are looking actively to prop up female-oriented sites, and BlogHer just received direct investment from NBC Universal.

Women in technology have a way to dominate in tech… if they aren’t trying to make it a men vs. women game in the process! That’s an away game.

I’m encouraged by the amount of women blogging and am amazed by some of the really incredibly successful bloggers who are women and building amazing properties. Sites like Celebrity Baby Blog, the Sparkplugging marketing blog network and SheGeeks are demonstrating that it’s very, very possible to build a successful, and respected property without playing an away game.

Michelle Obama Writing For BlogHer

Seems appropriate that this week is taking the shape of BlogHer week, since the gathering of women bloggers descends on San Francisco in 3… 2… 1…. NOW.

The big news this morning, of course, a day before the BlogHer conference kicks off, is that Michelle Obama has contributed her first article to the BlogHer.com. Entitled, “Let’s Talk”, is commentary on raising the Obama girls, and life on the campaign trail as a mother. It’s actually rather endearing.

However, I’m disappointed by the “stumping” nature of the post. If there is one thing I like about reading blogs instead of the paper is that the readers are able to escape the dry journalistic reporting style and find personality. While Mrs. Obama’s first post certainly carries personality, it borders a bit on frustrating for people who are tired of politics as usual.

At the risk of infuriating Obama supporters, lines like this remind me of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I’ve heard from mothers struggling to make ends meet because their salaries aren’t keeping up with the cost of groceries. But if they take a second job, they can’t afford the additional cost of childcare. Or the moms who are nervous about taking time from their jobs to care for a sick child. Or the moms-to-be who are scared of getting fired if the boss finds out they’re pregnant.

Still, though, this carries on the theme that we’ve been covering at Technosailor regarding the transparency of government and the use of the web. I’m encouraged to see the Obama campaign willing to engage Michelle with the massive women voting block. I’d like to see Cindy McCain offered (and take) the same kind of deal so the appearance of rubber-stamping a president doesn’t come into question.

BlogHer: Women on the Move (And With Money)

There’s a wrinkle in the space-time continuum, in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s a very powerful horde (plethora, group, pack?) of women who are average bloggers like most of us, who are suddenly very present in the social media space.

To be fair, they’ve been here but many people simply didn’t realize quite how influential they were. In some cases, the oblivion stemmed from a general obliviousness in the blogosphere where bloggers and social media aficionados simply never stepped foot outside of their sphere of influence. In other cases, if rhetoric is to be believed, the oblivion has been an intentional misogynistic mentality.

I don’t quite think it’s as nefarious as the latter, but I do think that women have been taken for granted and probably not given enough credit in a world that is largely powered by geek boys of all ages and types.

In case you missed the news this morning though, this group of women under the BlogHer umbrella, made a pretty bold statement about their mainstream appeal with a $5M series B funding and content syndication deal with NBC Universal. (Press Release)

The content syndication deal would involve BlogHer content, written by over 2200 bloggers, being syndicated across three women-oriented NBC properties, iVillage, BravoTV.com and Oxygen.com.

In addition to content syndication, NBC Universal and BlogHer will collaborate on joint advertising sales, a space currently dominated by Glam Media.

And of course, BlogHer has their annual BlogHer Conference happening this weekend in San Francisco. Festivities begin tomorrow night and continue through Saturday. If you can’t be in San Francisco, the BlogHer Second Life Conference is happening in conjunction. You know… if you don’t have a first life. ;-)

If there’s one thing this deal accentuates, it’s that women are a force to be reckoned with on the internet. While I may not like the insular nature of BlogHer, and the inability to address the fact that never having any man speak at the main conference is off-putting, aggressive and offensive to some, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the hard work the women behind the site have put into organizing, instructing, and educating many women bloggers and providing a venue for their voices to be heard. And they have underscoed that by getting NBC to sign on.

So congratulations, ladies. Your hard work has paid off.