Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

BlogHer '13: Where everyone knows your Twitter name

updated 3:45 PM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
Bloggers unite at BlogHer 2013 this weekend in Chicago, Illinois.
Bloggers unite at BlogHer 2013 this weekend in Chicago, Illinois.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bloggers gather in Chicago for two-day conference for women in social media
  • Annual conference provides networking and educational opportunities
  • "I think there's just a misconception about what bloggers do," Dude Mom Amanda Rodriguez says

Editor's note: Kelly Wallace is CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She's a mom of two girls and lives in Manhattan. Read her dispatches on CNN Parents and follow her on Twitter for more on the BlogHer Conference, including Sheryl Sandberg's message.

(CNN) -- The introductions at BlogHer, the largest conference in the world for women in social media, tend to go something like this:

"WellConnectdMom, so great to meet you," I said to a blogger whom I knew only by her Twitter handle.

"KellyWallaceTV, great to meet you too," she replied, using my Twitter handle.

That type of exchange happens hundreds, maybe thousands, of times at this conference, which opened Friday in Chicago. The chance to meet online connections in person is part of the reason women from all over the world gather for the two-day event. They also come to network, build potential business partnerships and burnish their brands overall.

"Well Connected Mom" Lori Cunningham expects to meet at least 200 people this year, her third BlogHer conference. She'll contact many of them when she returns home to continue networking and building upon common interests.

"It just is an opportunity to open a door that you wouldn't have if you didn't come to a BlogHer conference," said Cunningham, a mother of two from Los Angeles whose blog focuses on simplifying technology for women.

For first-time BlogHer attendees like Chicagoan Jamie Jensen, the goal is to build her blog, For Love of Cupcakes, into a full-time job that she can run as a "work-at-home mom."

"I'm hoping to just keep growing to where it can be a part-time income or eventually a full-time income," said Jensen, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, who works outside the home as a day-care teacher.

BlogHer is more than a conference. It's also a major cross-platform business that hosts 3,000 blogs and helps many more expand their reach through education and networking opportunities. The BlogHer publishing network has generated $25 million for about 5,000 female writers over the past four years, said BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone.

Most bloggers use this income to support their work and pay for business expenses; others use it to supplement their household income and support their families, she said.

Businesses understand the power of female bloggers, judging by the more than 130 brands -- from Coca-Cola to Samsung -- in attendance. And yet, mainstream media seem to marginalize what these women are doing.

Take a Wall Street Journal story this year that depicted blogger conferences as opportunities for women to party away from their husbands and kids.

"The sheer power of women on the Web is so clear statistically, and yet there is some ongoing prevailing effort to belittle that leadership," Stone said, citing stats showing women are 41% more likely to use social media than men.

"Good luck trying to put women who blog into a bell jar," Stone said. "They are going to ooze right out over the top and explode right in your face."

Still, among the public, there seems to be a lack of understanding of what a blogger is, says Amanda Rodriguez, a mom of three boys and host of Dude Mom.

Rodriguez, who is speaking on a panel this weekend, said she recently attended an event sponsored by the National Football League where no one seemed to understand what she did as a blogger. It's the same response she says she gets when she reveals her profession to people at airports or in the doctor's office.

"I think there's just a misconception about what bloggers do. They all think we're either like Perez Hilton or whatever random mommy blogger that they have read about on Oprah.com," the Frederick, Maryland, mom said.

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

"So I think it's up to us to sort of work really hard to change that perception," she said. "Hopefully other people will start to give the career a little more credence."

The BlogHer Conference, now in its ninth year and profiled recently in USA Today, aims to help by bringing attention to what female bloggers do.

Big-name speakers also help. Last year, President Obama gave a keynote via video conference. This year's closing keynote speaker is Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the much-talked-about book "Lean In."

Mainstream America may not understand the power and influence of bloggers. But parents who share tips about products or advice for getting kids to behave see the blog community as an extension of those support networks, said Cunningham.

There is another power that has nothing to do with educating the public. It has to do with women connecting with other women in ways they can't connect with their friends.

First-time conference attendee Sarah Evans hosts the blog It's a Vol, based on her love of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. She suffered from postpartum depression after her daughter was born. The women she met online, many of whom she is meeting for the first time at BlogHer, saved her, she says.

"When I had postpartum depression, there was nobody in my physical life at that point in time who could say 'I know what you went through,' " Evans said.

Through the BlogHer community, she met others who could relate to what she was going through and shared their experiences on their blogs.

"You can say, 'Look at this mother. She's fantastic. She made her way through this,' " she said. "I feel like that right now, and I can get through that. I can get to that point, too."

The value of such a connection? Priceless.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
updated 5:09 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
There is no way around the topic of nakedness in front of your children without getting personal and slightly uncomfortable.
updated 6:55 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Teens might be shedding their rebellious reputations: A survey says they're doing fewer drugs, drinking and smoking less. But E-cigarette use is up.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Carol Costello asks whether American culture sends a message to girls that it's not cool to study math and science fields.
updated 12:44 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
It's that special time of year, when Christmas and Hanukkah toy sellers try to put children in a box.
updated 7:59 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Foodies and travelers: They're adventurous, they have discerning tastes and they love to discover a little-known jewel. Here's how to shop for them.
CNN iReport asked families with children with developmental and physical disabilities to share what their lives are like.
updated 7:00 AM EST, Mon December 8, 2014
Don't know what to get parents who are always on the move or kids who seem to have everything? This is just the list for you.
updated 11:45 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
You probably know LOL and OMG -- but what about IWSN, CU46 or IPN. It's all about KPC -- "keeping parents clueless."
updated 9:17 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Out of control parties, sex and alcohol are some of the dangers kids might get into when left alone overnight. But some are mature enough to handle it. How do you know?
updated 11:58 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
Across the country and around the world, synthetic drugs are tearing holes in families.
updated 11:42 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
There's no place like home for the holidays -- and for one little girl in Cleveland, it's the only place.
Girl Scout cookie sales are entering the 21st century. For the first time ever, Girl Scout cookies will be sold online through a national platform called Digital Cookie. This breaks the organization's ban on e-sales of Thin Mints and Samoas.
updated 9:19 AM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
Author/actor B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak is catering to kids. His first children's book tops the New York Times list of best selling children's picture books. But here's the catch: it actually doesn't have any pictures.
updated 7:20 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Hundreds of students walked out of their Oklahoma high school Monday to protest the school's response to the alleged bullying of three classmates who say they were raped by the same person.
updated 8:10 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
If it hasn't happened already, it likely will at some point: the moment you don't like one of your child's friends. What do you do?
updated 4:12 PM EST, Sat November 22, 2014
Students unhappy with school meals are taking it out on the first lady by sharing images on social media of lunches sarcastically tagged #ThanksMichelleObama.
updated 5:20 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. CNN's Michaela Pereira grew up in a family of five adopted girls in Canada and eventually reunited with her biological half-sister.
updated 2:39 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
It began for Nickolay Lamm as a question: What would Barbie look like if she had the dimensions of an average woman?
updated 12:35 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
If you think 'my teen would never sext,' you might be mistaken. Recent studies suggest it's more common than many parents might want to admit.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Jillian Knowles has a master's degree, a good job and is part of the "boomerang generation" who moved back home.
updated 12:38 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier tease, poke and prod each other like they've grown up together, but they didn't. Neither woman knew she had an identical twin sister until less than two years ago.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT