It will be my third year attending BlogHer, and it has always proved a valuable experience. The first year, the major takeaway I came to appreciate was how strong and supportive the community of women is of each other -- very different from how men tend to compete with each other. Last year, the thought that crystallized for me was how difficult it can be for a mom to feel like a successful blogger among her peers. Here's why.
The Internet has become the most powerful media because anyone with access can be a producer and publisher for free, and can speak to a global audience. Sites like Twitter, YouTube, Blogger and Wordpress have made it easy, oh soooo easy, to get started in the role of a blogger. There's no money required, no software to buy. Just start typing and you are out there.
That low barrier to entry can create some problems. I've seen it over and over again. Someone writes several blog posts, adds some iPhone pictures, follows a multitude of Twitter profiles, tries to make some money, adds Google AdSense, adds banner ads, reviews a product, runs a contest, opens an affiliate e-commerce storefront, and then there is disappointment. Her web traffic and Twitter followers can fit in your backyard. AdSense and banner clicks are exceeded by the number of times the kids ask for a toy they see on TV. Business inquires are selling snake oil or are only interested in no-risk CPA deals.
All the while, a select few bloggers are kicking it and living large! They are speaking at conferences, getting invited to parties, receiving free products and trips, and seemingly cashing in on their bit of fame. What's going on here? One person is as just as good a writer as the other, has funny stories to tell, and is just as competent with Photoshop. What started out as being fun is now a slog that evokes the recurring question, "Why is no one paying attention to me?"
The answer, as I see it, is rather straightforward. Those enjoying success are treating their work as if they are managing a brand. They have selected a niche. There is a consistent tone to their work. They choose partners carefully. They recognize how much competition for the public's attention there is, so they stay focused with their efforts. They show up regularly. And they take appropriate risks.
They recognize that everything they do adds to or subtracts from the brand they are creating. For some, that brand is, literally, themselves and their persona. For others, it's an image and name they have created. For both, the objectives are the same. They've created an emotional relationship with their readers. They see their brand as an implied promise to deliver a level of focus and quality to their audience that the audience has come to expect and will continue to expect.
Ultimately, an identity is created that resonates with readers, customers, and the community at large. These bloggers are the ones that marketers tend to be most eager to work with. But brand building and management is not an easy thing -- there are business professionals educated in and dedicated to it.
The importance of brand is starting to become more widely understood and appreciated in the blogosphere. You can see moms working hard towards building their brand identity. Many are building impressive media assets and there are many up-and-comers, too. I suspect I'll have the fortune of meeting and learning from many of these women at the conference this year.