BlogHer '06 Session Discussion: Is the Next Martha Stewart a Blogger? on Day Two

BlogHer Original Post

2nd in our series introducing you to each of our BlogHer Conference '06 sessions and their speakers, and finding out what you would like to get from each session. Inspired by speaker Pim Techamuanvivit's appearance in today's NY Times Sunday Magazine, I bring you today's session:

Day Two: Is the next Martha Stewart a blogger?

Food and craft blogs have huge followings and opportunity. What, if anything, should they do with it? Maggie Mason sits down with Pim Techamuanvivit (Chez Pim), Gayla Trail, Marnie MacLean and Andrea Scher who have used or are trying to use blogs to help their commercial ventures, from professional writing to selling their handiwork.

When we launched this new site and people started listing their blogs I was blown away by the blogs about cooking and knitting and crafts and gardening and everything else having to do with what goes on inside (and immediately outside) the home. Blogs with huge followings and sense of community; blogs with amazing visuals; blogs that brought back the feeling I had when I first bought my little house...that I wanted to be the next Martha Stewart. (That would be Martha the maker of beautiful things and very good business, of course, not Martha the felon.)

Much as eBay provided a path to profitability for a whole new breed of micro-business owners, blogs have created a similar opportunity. And food and arts & crafts bloggers are leading the way among bloggers who are building businesses.

[img_assist|fid=230|thumb=1|alt=MaggieMason]Maggie Mason was the resident expert we pulled in to help us find these creative and blogpreneurial women. As the maven behind Mighty Goods, Maggie has her eye on who is making cool stuff and blogging about it. Maggie really wanted to shape this session to be a discussion with women at all stages of trying to leverage their blogging to help their business. And she made sure that each woman was doing it in slightly different ways. Maggie's the one to thank for the diversity of approaches represented by these women.

[img_assist|fid=238|thumb=1|alt=Pim] Pim is a long-time blogger, but is just getting started converting her blog fame into business. Pim is an example of the great marketing engine that blogs have become. Check out her press clippings. She's been on NPR, featured in many top print publications, and now in the Sunday Times Magazine. She has also used her blogging power for the greater good, leading the charge on last year's successful Menu for Hope campaign benefitting the victims of the Kashmiri earthquakes. So what are Pim's plans? A book? To become a food critic? A line of cooking products?

GaylaTrailWell, if it's a book she wants to write, she can get advice from Gayla Trail, from You Grow Girl. The site came first, and then came the book, published by Simon & Schuster and described as a "hip and humorous how-to for the blossoming generation of crafty gals who want to get their garden on." Side note: I wonder if Gayla can help me: I'd like to get my garden on, but hate just 2 things about gardening...the bugs and the dirt. (Oh, and the thorns.) Gayla got the book deal, but she's still maintaining her active online community. What's next?

[img_assist|fid=242|thumb=1|alt=AndreaScher]Andrea Scher, on the other hand, started out with a traditional site selling her hand-crafted jewelry. Three years after starting her business (and three years ago) Andrea started her blog. Andrea thinks the blog has made a big difference to her business, yet when you read the blog it's highly personal. Andrea talks about life, about stress, about the creative process, but very rarely talks about her business specifically. I'm dying to find out why she thinks a blog that rarely even shows a picture of her work helps her sell that work.

MarnieMacLeanWe couldn't have a session about this topic without representing the knitting bloggers. They are an amazing bunch, and have embraced blogging in a truly unprecedented way. So much so that another knitting blogger, Mandy Moore is going to participate in the Group Blogging Room of Your Own session, just to explain all the ways KnitBloggers organize themselves as though they shared one great, big, group blog! Marnie MacLean has agreed to represent for the KnitBloggers here, and a visit to her site is encouraging and inspiring. She's got tutorials and a range of patterns for sale from oh-so-beginner to how'd-they-do-that. Marnie has a regular job and offers many of her patterns completely free. Is it enough to simply spread the knitting gospel? Does she even really want the responsiblity that comes with turning an avocation into a vocation?

Each of these women are blogging their hearts out and have found a way to put their creativity and passion in front of a larger audience than Martha ever had when she was a local caterer in Connecticut. It took almost a decade for Martha to leverage her catering business into her first book. Moving at the speed of blogosphere, these woman and many, many more like them may not have to wait that long.

So, that's what we are envisioning for the session. But what do you think. What do you want to learn? What do you want to hear? What do you never want to hear again? What would make you attend this session?


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