BlogHer Keynote Luncheon

Conference Event: 

Keynote Luncheon, Friday, September 16, 2011
Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer Co-Founder and COO &
Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer Co-Founder and President of Strategic Alliances

Moderated by Nancy Soriano

The Dining Room at the St. Paul Crowne Plaza Hotel was packed to the brim with tables sporting Brick Red French Brocade 12X12 Making Memories Scrapbook paper as a placemat and goodies placed on the chairs and placemats. The centerpieces are color coordinated rolls of linen-look fabric gathered together and tied with a muslin ribbon.

The menu consisted of lettuce salad and breads with apple cake, carrot cake and fruit cup for dessert.

Jo Packham greeted everyone and said there was someone from every state and 7 countries here at Creative Connections 2nd year.
She explained her long list of thank-you’s were very important for everyone to hear. She thanked BlogHer, McDonald’s -- who sponsored a panel this morning and breakfast tomorrow -- and Starbucks. She also thanked Homemade Simple Marketplace. She pointed out Kaari Meng’s fabric on the tables from Moda, Making Memories, Amy Barrickman, American Craft Council and Pop-A-Licious.

ECP said this was her 3rd career. She was tired of not being responsible for the mistakes in her past career. After a lay-off where she DIDN’T get laid off, she thought it was a bad sign. She then left the company. She was going to take a break and find another job… but she wasn’t actively looking. She started blogging. She had a “peanut butter chocolate moment” where she sent a restaurant review to a friend. Her review got passed around and she realized blogging and marketing went together.

She decided, in 2004, she wanted to help people get online and make a community. She kept saying, “It’ll work out.” Serendipity is also involved.

JDJ said her background was traditional publishing. She worked at Penguin for a year and went up the ladders and decided it sucked. She just wanted to WRITE a book, not keep reading others who weren’t published yet. Then to Time-Warner, doing the same thing.

Eventually moved to San Fran to work at a, which died. She started talking to people who were blogging. She discovered she could write anything she wanted! Editors started calling her after she started writing. Her niche was “the life of being nicheless.” She quit and met ECP at a conference.

This was after the 2004 election and the thoughts were “Where Were The Women” in tech, and who blog?

ECP said she read that women didn’t want to blog, especially about politics. She didn’t necessarily agree….

Lisa said, “What if we do something about it. What if we have a conference?” They decided to DO just that! JDJ was then added. The three women didn’t know each other until then.

JDJ said “how are you all paying for this?” No plans. She is the BRAND person of the three. She now worries about HOW are we gonna pay for this!

?? How did you guys start out?

ECP we weren’t a company at first. We were women with credit cards. The three did everything at the first conference.

To this day, Google is still supportive of BlogHer.

All 3 were consulting until a year into BlogHer where they agreed to quit their jobs and “go for reals.” There is a different intensity you put into a product when you rely on it for income. This was 2006.

JDJ said they were starting to build an online community. They saw there was interest and a need for this kind of place. They asked questions? Do we grow it slowly as we go, or do we get an infusion of capital and grow hard?

They hired a lawyer and took themselves seriously. They bartered for funding with a web designer. Everyone was paid but themselves at the beginning.

ECP said they treated the business seriously. After the first money they put in for the meeting space, they didn’t put any more money in.

NS: How does BlogHer work?

JDJ: People register on and you are vetted. It’s not a given you will be in the network. You have to fit our categories. We then run advertising on your blog and we revenue share with the blogger.

ECP: We do so many more things now. Brand ambassador, events, story telling, and more. Online advertising has changed so much. They wanted advertisers to customize their ads for BlogHer readers.

NS: Are you guiding the advertiser?

JDJ: Yes we do. If we don’t it’s a bad experience for them and us.

NS: How did you go after financing.

ECP: We were self funding, paying our employees and sub-contractors, but we saw that we needed outside funding.

First was market driven. We had women’s mainstream sites who were interested in BlogHer. By the end of 2006, advertisers were starting to pay attention.

We don’t make money OFF of women, we make money WITH women.

2nd, she was at the end of her line, with debt, and they needed to not be jumped over by others who could make the same thing because they had money.

ECP: When we decided to go after money, they met some funders. If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money. The asked big hitters, entrepreneurs for ADVICE. Shortly afterward, they had a line-up of Venture Capitalists (VC’s) interested.

They told the story, “If we had more money, here’s what we would do.” They told the story and they we able to show they could grow the traffic. It took 6 months and they got a variety of choices for funding.

ECP: We only reached out to people we know who introduced us to others who could help. We didn’t waste time. Leverage your network. Who do you know who can help you. A VC needs a connection.

They talked to Katarina who co-founded flickr and Hunch. She was on maternity leave. Asked her advice about fundraising.

People thought we sold flickr too early, but we thought people, terms, valuation. Your investor owns a piece of you! People invest in People.

Feel good about selling via people, terms, valuation. Our single best advice.

NS: How have Twitter and Facebook impacted BlogHer?

JDJ: Sponsors wanted blogger outreach 4 years ago. We had to look at the entire circle of all the platforms of the influencer when we build campaigns. WE factor in twitter fans numbers, etc, when promoting.

ECP talked about the Solar Media Solar System. Blogging is the sun. and there are so many more platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ Pinterest, and others.

JDJ: I want to be clear, you ALL don’t have to be on ALL of the platforms!

ECP: We do research every year on how women use social media. Facebook = friends+family and have fun. Interact like a human. Pinterest = hugely visual and relevant to food, craft, style bloggers. About image.

NS: We always hear about Best Practices. What are the Worst Practices?

JDJ: Not treating your business like a business. It IS a relationship! Some founders expect ALL employees to be as involved! You have to respect boundaries.

ECP: For Brands or Bloggers, know who you are talking to. It will save you mockery on Twitter.

NS: Now that we have BlogHer Handmade, how are these people different? You accessorize better.

JDJ: I am fascinated how you approach working with brands. Mom bloggers have gotten over it. I think it is a matter of time. We all want to get paid but we all want to hold our integrity.

ECP: In your work, there is an attention to detail. You do lengthy tutorials, amount of time you are investing is amazing. That provides value. How do you get compensated for this value.

NS: Women and money... How do you ask for what you are worth?

ECP: Ask for ADVICE! What would you charge for this? Women are also very giving and sharing of advice and information.

JDJ: Look at the opportunity cost. Think about all the WORK that you do and all the opportunity you are letting go with your precious time. We at BlogHer love to talk about how much we got paid to do stuff.

NS: Do any men work on your staff?

JDJ: Yes, they do. We love men. There are men in our network. They have a SMALL percentage of men in the company.

Panel ended and there were some giveaways.

Cards were placed in envelopes on tables to write down blogs of tablemates.
Other giveaways were from Simplicity, a rotary cutter and felter.
Melanie has been leaving Brave Girl sayings at each meal.
ProvoCraft gave away 22 CriCut Expression machines. There will be more given away tomorrow at breakfast.

Book signings at 6:30—9:30 tonight at MarketPlace. 50 authors.