Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

BlogHer '13: Where everyone knows your Twitter name

July 29, 2013 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
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
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
A 15-year-old British schoolboy has struck a chord with his eloquent response to actress Emma Watson's United Nations speech encouraging men to join in the fight for gender equality.
Looking for ways to get into the best school for you, cut tuition costs or study smarter? Here are 10 tips for improving the college experience.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Lisa Respers France
CNN's Lisa France opens up about her lifelong struggle with weight, its physical and mental toll, and what she's doing to lighten the burden.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Bridget Cutler was still adjusting to being a new mom when she read a magazine article that changed her life.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Hundreds of students staged a walkout in Denver, accusing the school board of trying to censor what they're taught about U.S. history.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
People who identify as asexual feel little or no sexual attraction to other people. And as far as they're concerned, that's A-OK.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
Actress Emma Watson joins a cadre of celebrities who have used their star power to bring attention to gender issues.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Clemson University suspends mandatory online course that asked questions about sex lives, drinking and drug use.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Does the word "virginity" evoke discussions of sexuality or religious belief? That's the question residents in Fayetteville, Arkansas, are asking after a junior high student was asked to change out of a T-shirt that read "Virginity Rocks."
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1438 GMT (2238 HKT)
Not knowing exactly where her ancestors come from has always bothered Kelly Wallace, but she's heartened to learn about some of the famous cousins she never knew she had.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
Many superstar athletes from Michael Vick to Tiger Woods were ultimately forgiven by fans and the public. Could Ray Rice also get a second chance?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
The indictment of NFL star Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges has revealed sharp differences in cultural, regional and generational attitudes toward using physical force to discipline kids.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
cara reedy
The world often treats little people like Cara Reedy as less than human. She's learned to stand up for herself and shout back.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
The unheard voices of domestic abuse spoke up on CNN iReport when Rihanna's story of abuse came to light. In light of the Ray Rice controversy, we decided to bring back these stories that are still just as powerful as the day they were told.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
More than 3 million children witness domestic violence every year, and the damage can last a lifetime.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
As media outlets Monday circulated video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator, many wondered why the woman -- now his wife -- could remain with him.
September 4, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
The ways mother-daughter book clubs can help empower girls are the focus of a new book, "Her Next Chapter."
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 2140 GMT (0540 HKT)
Colleges are working to prevent sexual assault by educating students on affirmative consent, or only "yes means yes."
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
A mom questions if she wants her daughters seeing a "sado-masochistic relationship, dressed up as a Hollywood love fantasy?"
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
In 2014, why is society still so incredibly uncomfortable with public breastfeeding? Kelly Wallace gets to the root of the controversy.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Seven years ago, Barbara Theodosiou, then a successful entrepreneur, stopped going to meetings, leaving the house and taking care of herself. She grew increasingly distraught -- her two children were addicts.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, throws America's problem with talking about race into sharp relief.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)
Mo'ne Davis is the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series. She's an inspiration, but will she change the face of the sport?
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
There is a reason why when people post pictures of themselves during their middle school years on Facebook for "Throw Back Thursday," we all stop and take notice.
It could cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise your child -- and that's not even including college costs, according to new government estimates.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT)
From parent to son, uncle to nephew, there's a raw, private conversation being revived in America in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Children sometimes get left out of our conversations about mental illness. The truth is, they suffer too.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
CNN's Kat Kinsman says that talking freely about personal mental health and suicidal thoughts can help others.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT)
morning person
Easy tips on how to improve everything from your dinner order to the song in your head to your career.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The case of an Arizona mom who left her kids in a car during a job interview highlights the fluid line between bad parenting and criminal behavior.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
A children's book about gun rights has benefited from an unexpected boost in sales after it became the subject of a mocking segment on a talk show.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Some campers and counselors keep the campfire flames burning with summer flings that become lifetime commitments.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
After letting her 7-year-old son walk from their home to a park to play, a Florida mother faces up to five years in jail for child neglect.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, who lost her son in a hot car, hopes mandatory technology in cars and car seats will stop child death from heatstroke in cars.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Not to mention your jeans, bras and pillows? Here's a definitive guide to keeping all your quarters clean.
Imagination Playgrounds have snaking tunnels, platforms and springy mats just like any other playground. But they're different in one fundamental way -- they're built by kids.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Grammy Award-winning singer Sarah McLachlan, a 46-year-old divorced mom of two girls, talks about parenting, sex and whether women can have it all.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain.
Post your personal essays and original photos, and tell us how it really is.
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.
ADVERTISEMENT