There’s never a dull moment in the parent blogging world. This past month has brought new highs and lows to this group, a group I’m firmly enmeshed in both as an agency which works with bloggers and as the founder of a conference bloggers attend. (I also happen to be married to a parenting blogger – my husband blogs on his own dad blog as well as in a number of other outlets.)
Mom 2.0 Summit
The high was most certainly the Mom 2.0 Summit, a fantastic conference for moms (and others) who blog (there were many men in attendance, and many non-moms too – my husband joined me). This was my fourth annual Mom 2.0; 2013 was their fifth anniversary, so I’ve only missed one.
This year’s Mom 2.0 Summit was, as always, stellar. The very best thing about the conference was the quality of people there. Mom 2.0 never fails to bring the cream-of-the-crop of bloggers together to share, learn and grow. These are bloggers who are amazing storytellers, beautiful writers, and really smart marketers. Quite a few of them make their living through their blogging and writing, and they are all wholly deserving of the success which has come to them. Learning, schmoozing, dining and networking with this group is always energizing and insightful. And it didn’t hurt that the conference was at the Ritz-Carleton in gorgeous Laguna Beach, CA.
The Wall Street Journal Article
If more sponsors understand that blog conferences are a good way to reach digital influencers, we all win
However, in the lead up to Mom 2.0, the conference (and others) got some interesting press. The Wall Street Journal published an article about “The Mommy Business Trip,” which raised more than a few hackles as it portrayed blogging conferences as kid-free boondoggles for women. Many people, some of my good friends included, objected to the portrayal of moms and women in the piece, and I understand their concern.
But ever the contrarian, I didn’t completely agree with them. I found the WSJ piece, while certainly more than a bit condescending, good for the blogging conference industry overall. If more sponsors understand that blog conferences are a good way to reach digital influencers, we all win – the conference providers as well as the attendees.
It’s only recently that some parenting and lifestyle blog conference attendees are beginning to understand the reason that the cost of attending a blogging conference (as a blogger) is only $200-$450 for three days is because of the sponsors who are willing to pay to meet and talk to them. Other digital industry conferences, from Affiliate Summit to AdTech to New Media Expo, cost between $800-$2,000, and provide far less for that cost than most blogging conferences provide. For the most part, blogger conferences have higher costs and lower margins than any other industry conferences (a fact which I’m intimately aware of).
There’s one big similarity between them: they’re all business-to-business (B2B) events. Sponsors (businesses) come to blogging conferences to reach business people (bloggers) who will help them reach their target audience (typically, consumers). This is the same as any other business-focused conference.
(Some) Bloggers Are Businesses
So ladies: stop acting like the Wall Street Journal says you’re acting. Because guess what? Some of you are.
So why do bloggers, at nearly all of the blogging conferences I’ve attended, not act like they’re businesses? I do realize that if you started your blog as a personal blog or hobby blog, you may not know how to run your business, or even want to run a business, for your blog. But if you’ve spent the money and the time to come to a blogging event, it indicates that you’re looking to learn and grow in some way. (And apologies if you’re at the conference but do not want to grow your business – though given that much of the content at Mom 2.0 and other blogging conferences is related to “monetization” and “sponsorships,” I have to assume you likely do want to.)
So ladies: stop acting like the Wall Street Journal says you’re acting. Because guess what? Some of you are. Start acting like the business people you (mostly) seem to want to become. Because if you’re not becoming business people by attending these conferences, then you really are doing it just to get out of the house. And then I don’t blame the WSJ for calling a spade a spade.
You need proof? At last summer’s mother of all blog conferences, BlogHer, I saw far too many women drunk off of their you-know-whats, barely able to get back to their hotel rooms. There are now-legendary stories of women pushing and shoving their way to grab sponsor swag at these events. And the social-network-based backchannel conversations before and after these events? Well…if you could see some of the name calling that happens when this person doesn’t get invited to a party but that one does; it’s not pretty.
Yes, of course, men do ridiculous things on the road too, and that’s what many people were reacting to as they read the WSJ article. Why doesn’t a major publication write an expose on the alcohol-filled parties at International CES or the intense city-wide party hopping that is SxSW? I’d love to see that article written, but of course it won’t be any time soon.
Up the Professionalism
If we women want to be taken seriously as business people, we’ve got to start acting like it.
I am certainly not saying that getting away for work to a beautiful location, with amazing content and the very best networking, shouldn’t a pleasurable thing. Whenever I go to any conference – blogging or otherwise – I go to plenty of parties; take time for myself at the beach, spa or touring the city; and often arrange fancy group dinners with friends. I bring swag home just like everyone else. But ultimately, I’m there on business, and I hope that my participation always reflects a high level of professionalism.
If we women want to be taken seriously as business people, we’ve got to start acting like it. Women bloggers need to treat their blog businesses like businesses, not as sometimes or part-time jobs (regardless of how much time they put into them). We must boost each other up, not become the worst versions of ourselves, when we go away to network and learn. And even if we stay home.
Disclosure: My conference, the Digital Family Summit, is loosely affiliated with Mom 2.0 Summit. I receive no direct compensation for my relationship with Mom 2.0 Summit.