Game Changers Guest Post: BlogHer

NOTE: We asked each of our 2009 Game Changers Awards finalists to write about their projects, what they’ve learned along the way and what’s next. This essay written by Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer co-founder and President of Strategic Alliances.

In early 2005, my co-founders, Lisa Stone and Elisa Camahort Page, and I wanted to put to rest one question: Where are the women bloggers? Instead of talking about it via our blogs, we thought it would be better to do something. So, we blogged an idea: What about putting on a conference by and about women bloggers? The response was immediate, passionate and positive. In July 2005, we held our first, sold-out conference, that confirmed what we knew: There are tons of women bloggers, discussing every topic under the sun, that really want a place to be found, to find each other and to raise their visibility and their voices. Their feedback, in the form of hundreds of post-conference blog posts, emails and survey responses, shaped the development of BlogHer’s mission: To create opportunities for women bloggers to pursue education, exposure, community and economic empowerment.

BlogHer is now one of the top women’s online networks and the Web’s number-one guide to blogs by women. On itself, more than 38,000 members have listed more than 18,000 blogs to our site’s categorized blog directories, while our publishing network serves more than 2,500 bloggers by promoting their work and helping them generate revenue. BlogHer’s publishing network reaches more than ten million unique visitors per month, building a bridge between its influential community and the companies that seek engagement with them. BlogHer has more than tripled the size of its conference since its inception in 2005, developed next-generation online marketing campaigns with top-tier brands and gained national recognition for its U.S. 2008 election process coverage. As we grow, BlogHer strives to be as diverse and engaged as our community members.

During BlogHer’s growth, Lisa, Elisa and I have learned two simple lessons:
1. Ask, don’t tell. Your community is more than happy to let you know what it wants.
2. That being said, you can never please everyone, so don’t be afraid to make a decision. Just let everyone know why it was made. Transparency is key.

BlogHer continues to evolve and to explore new ways to fulfill its mission of creating opportunities for women. Much of 2008 was focused on engaging women in spirited but civil, omni-partisan political debate and action. In 2009, BlogHer will continue to create ways for women to raise their voices and use blogging for whatever personal, professional or political expressions and achievements they are pursuing, including building a business.

As we build our business, BlogHer shares the same big challenge the rest of the industry faces: Defining the measurements of success in this new world. Page-views and clicks no longer tell the whole story. Now that everyone can participate, we need new and consistent ways to measure influence and engagement. No one has cracked the code yet. However, BlogHer has brought the industry further in valuing the power of word of mouth in its most authentic form.

It’s only natural that women are getting increasing attention from the media and marketplace, as they now represent the majority of voters and Internet users, as well as the controllers of household purse strings. But as more women are using the Internet to raise their individual voices and prove that they are not a monolithic block who think, act or vote the same, we expect their influence and power to continue to grow both as a group and as individuals. Women have always been present, but are just now getting more exposure than ever — which is exactly what BlogHer hopes to continue to foster.

You may also like