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The Evolution of the BlogHer Conference: Trade Show VS Inspiration

My packed session at BlogHer.

I haven’t been truly with BlogHer from the beginning, even though this was my fifth conference; by the time I showed up in 2008 it was already attended by over 1000 bloggers, and was well on the way to establishing itself as THE definitive conference for women who blog.

But this year it felt decidedly different. The attendance increase over last year was greater than all of those that attended in 2008. It was crowded, it was hot, it was busy, the keynotes were bigger and more famous than ever, and the private parties off site were bigger and crazier too (I heard at least one off-site party had a line two blocks long).

While I realize my experience this year was definitely colored by working on the expo floor for a client this year, it seems to me that BlogHer felt more like a trade show than a celebration of blogging this time around.

My friend Robyn put it very well when she said to me, “It’s become a hobbyist and consumer event.” I think that’s an interesting observation; it’s definitely clear that in the evolution of blogging particularly for women that blog, and yes, that tends to slant heavily toward the moms who blog the consumer end of business is winning over the personal writing that was the primary aspect of blogging when BlogHer started.

This isn’t bad news, at all. In fact, it’s more evidence that the power of women is being acknowledged and respected. Companies know that women make consumer decisions in their homes, and therefore want to court us. This is good for us, for sure.

At the closing keynote, the founders of BlogHer also spoke about the economic reality of blogging: last year, BlogHer paid bloggers 17 million dollars to over 4500 bloggers last year, and they are working to expand the ways that bloggers can earn money with their influence. Their goals are lofty enough that I’ve begun considering hosting BlogHer ads again on my personal site because, yeah. WHOA.

There is no longer an argument to be made about blogging and monetization. Blogging is about money for most of us, now. The blogging economy for women is large and growing daily.

The only question remains, I think, in HOW we do it. Money is here to stay in the world of blogging, and like BlogHer, there are plenty of growing pains. What do you think the conversation needs to be focused on now? Ethics? Behavior? Quality?

I’m very interested in your thoughts.

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