BlogHer: 10 Years Later

In late July, I attended the 10th anniversary celebration of BlogHer, the world’s largest conference for women bloggers. This marked my seventh BlogHer event:  Twice, I have been a panelist, the rest of the time an avid listener as both a blogger and marketer. Even after all these years, the women there never cease to amaze me, with their back stories, their passion, their pursuit of truth for a broad diversity of constituencies, their inclusion of topics ranging from parenting to mental illness to autism to politics to technology. Some have chosen to make a difference with their blogs, others simply to make money. The best balance both.

Forever ago, when Child’s Play became one of the first agencies to enter the world of mom bloggers, it was all about the passion, the self-expression – and not quite yet about brands or bucks. To say it has changed is an understatement of grand proportions. For so many bloggers, making money is the goal rather than the result of blogging. One panel I attended on monetization covered, among other topics, how to multiply the impact of content by turning it into eBooks and webinars, the finer points of affiliate marketing and “mobile optimized templates” for advertising.

I suppose this is progress. Every mom who is now compensated by a brand will tell you that the opinions she expresses are her own and not influenced by the fact that the company she is talking about is more likely than not these days to be issuing her a paycheck – or more discreetly, a gift certificate.

But as they say, it is what it is, and as long as readers are not bothered by that relationship—and they don’t seem to be—bloggers will continue to be part of the media relations mix. BlogHer’s own research shows that 61% of the general population has purchased a product as a result of a blog recommendation—and clearly, this is what continues to motivate brand/blogger partnerships.

On that note, BlogHer 14 featured an interesting mix of sponsors, from the expected – toy companies, such as our own client, Tiggly, with its terrific combination of virtual and real life play — to brands ranging from Skype to Bridgestone that recognized that yes, women do make decisions about such things as technology and tires. In fact, Bridgestone got the mix for grabbing bloggers’ attention just right with its No Pressure zone, where a line formed quickly for a combination of mimosas and massages. A few of my favorites:

  •  Amlactin, a skin care company, which offered hand and arm massages. I happily indulged.
  •  Skype’s display, meanwhile, had the look of a sleek mobile home.
  •  Lansinoh sponsored an onsite breastfeeding tent, complete with refrigerator for milk storage, accompanied by an opportunity to win the same gift box they send celebrities, just by posting a photo of yourself at the booth.
  • Lysol was hard to miss with the bus its travels to schools around the country to teach kids about the importance of cleanliness for health.
  • Heluva Good! provided sustenance for the evening with its selection of dips, with chips. (For many of the bloggers in attendance, this constituted dinner.)
  • Recognizing that women tend to be their own toughest critics, especially when it comes to their looks, The Mrs. rock band made its BlogHer debut in style, with a “mirror, mirror on the wall” concept, in which the mirror talked back with encouraging words to shore up the viewer’s self-image. The booth’s tagline: I’m Enough.
  • The Timeline project, sponsored by Bayer, encouraged women to “dream their future” by having their photos taken with a board on which they’d written what they hoped to achieve and at what age.
  • The Bright Starts toy company offered bloggers an opportunity to pose with giant baby props – a cute idea. Major kudos to the Bright Starts PR person who emailed me that very evening to offer any help/further info I might need to include them in this blog. Way to go.
  • Khloe Kardashian made an appearance at Hairfinity, a brand that promises to promote healthy hair growth.

Clearly, brands in a range of categories still put their faith in the power of bloggers.