"Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Note: Due to security concerns for the speakers, there is no video taping or photography allowed for this session. If you're caught doing either, your equipment will be confiscated"
It was a strange thing to hear at a BlogHer conference. This is a conference where sharing is not only allowed, it's encouraged. 2400 women bloggers and attendees blog, Facebook, Tweet, FourSquare and Flickr their asses off.
But not at this session. These speakers were the International Activist Blogger Scholarship Recipients. They came from countries like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. For the women on stage, preventing their images from appearing online was a matter of life and death.
That really brought it home for me - why I was attending BlogHer 10. In the elevator, someone asked me what the conference was all about. My answer - women who are changing the world one blog post at a time.
Blogher 10 Key Takeaways
- It's not about saving the world, it's about "Micro-Activism" . Gina McCauley used this term to describe what she does. She's all about taking action that gets results. I heard this theme throughout the conference - tackle problems where you can create tangible change. Focus on small things that have big value. Ask your readers and network to do something specific - sign a petition, call a switchboard, recycle a water filter. People take action when a goal is achievable.
- Develop emotional scar tissue. If you're going to share your truth, you must have courage. People will come after you, whether it's with a nasty comment, a personal smear campaign, or a death threat. It doesn't matter if you're blogging about women's rights or raising your teenager. Hang on to your passion and stay focused on the positive effect of sharing your truth. There's nothing more powerful than a reader saying, "Wow, you too? I thought I was the only one."
- Advertisers and brands need bloggers more than bloggers need them. Don't get me wrong, I see the relationships between bloggers and advertisers improving. What's changing is, women bloggers have a better understanding of their value/worth. Established bloggers are turning away from "journalistic opportunities" to create free content for others. If they're doing all the work, they want to be compensated. Respect needs to come from both sides. That said, BlogHer had some terrific sponsors this year who deserve a shout-out.
- Transparency rules. When it comes to FTC rules, brand/blogger relationships, reviews, endorsements - the best policy is transparency. Bloggers AND their readers value disclosure. If you're being compensated, let your readers know.
- Sleep deprivation does nothing to improve spelling. I think this is sefl-expanatory.
- Women are frickin funny. Almost every session I attended was full of laughter. Quadruple that in the parties, hallways and ladies rooms. These women were witty, articulate,and spit-out-your-appletini funny I wish there was a BlogHer comedy channel on TV. (hint hint)
- Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins and Elisa Camahort Page should run our country. Seriously. Can you imagine these three descending on Washington? They'd have it whipped into shape in no time. Every year I'm even more impressed with these women and their ability to organize, inspire, communicate and handle adversity with grace and courage. I watched Lisa Stone take down a mal-intented media correspondent so tactfully and so efficiently it left me in awe, awe I tell you. You guys are my heroes. (And I know you were at the White House Project encouraging women to run for office. You were listening. Nuff said.)
Favorite Blogher 10 Quotes
Yes, these women are writers so you'd expect them to be quotable, but there were so many great quotes, I couldn't keep up. I've done my best to attribute quotes. If I have a quote from you and it's not properly attributed, please let me know.
(About blogging) "Find some way to honor your life" - unknown
"Give me 10 people I can take down anybody" Gina McCauley
"A blog is like a snowball. You start it then your readers push it down the hill til it snowballs into something big." Gina McCauley
"If you go on for too long, it will not go well for you." Melissa Silverstein, moderator extraordinaire warning those long winded questioners who don't really have a question (you know who you are)
"it wasn't us vs. Clorox. It wasn't a battle. We were simply showing Clorox what their customers want." Beth Terry explaining that writing letters to Clorox to get them to find a way to recycle their Britta filters was a way to partner with the brand, not attack it.
"You walk through brick walls every day" audience member commenting on a particularly courageous blogger.
"Give them something small enough to do that they can actually do it and see they have made a difference" Gina McCauley
(About the inevitability of negative commenters) "You can blog about kittens, and someone will be anti-kitten." Gina McCauley
"Education is the key to solve all the world's problems" Freshta Basij-Rasikh, Afghanistan, writer for the Afghan Women's Writing Project
"My goal is to piss off as many dictators as possible." Esra'a Al Shafei, Bahrain, publisher at www.mideastyouth.com
(On creating an About Us page for a younger audience) "No one is going to read 3 or 4 paragraphs about you. No one gives a s--t." Esra'a Al Shafei, Bahrain, publisher at www.mideastyouth.com
(Her solution? Create comics that tell your story instead -brilliant.)
"If you're going to piss off a lot of people, you better do it very well" Esra'a Al Shafei, Bahrain, publisher at www.mideastyouth.com
"Don't write your point of view. Write what your eyes have seen." Freshta Basij-Rasikh, Afghanistan, writer for the Afghan Women's Writing Project
"Write about small issues with big value. Pretend you are the hero and the healer." Freshta Basij-Rasikh, Afghanistan, writer for the Afghan Women's Writing Project
"A lot of people are comfortably numb, and that's dangerous." One of the International Activist panel members.
"Never give up!!!! It's our world!!!" Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai, Sri Lanka, publisher of Humanity Ashore
(On how today's parents choose a baby name) "When we were naming our son, one of the first things I did was register a domain name with his name. (You need to be proactive about these things.) We found there was a male porn star with a similar name, so we went with something else." Julie Marsh
When I got a book deal, I was worried what my friends would think - "Oh, I'm so happy for you, (you f--ing bitch). So I tell them I'm an overnight success that took 10 years." The Bloggess
"My penis is so confused right now." Dad blogger Jason Mayo.
"I wrote a book about women and their vaginas. the title is What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. I wanted to title it Cootchie Confidential, but my publisher wouldn't let me." Lissa Rankin, M.D.
The following are quotes from the closing keynote panel:
"The cultural perspective of women who are not mothers needs to change."
"Don't get mad, get elected."
" Question: are mothers still discriminated against in work force? Answer: do you have a month for the answer?
"Change starts with conversation, and those conversations are happening in the blogosphere."