BlogHer network, there's something wrong with them. BlogHer and its 2,500 contributing blog affiliates are celebrating the network's 5 year anniversary with the combined traffic of 21 million unique visitors per month and some huge lessons learned along the way. ReadWriteWeb spoke to co-founder Elisa Camahort Page to find out what it's like to run a women's network in a man's world.If an agency has ever pitched you on outreach to women's blogs and they don't mention the
According to the Catalyst Census, "From 1995 to 2005, the average rate of increase in women's representation on Fortune 500 corporate boards was, on average, one-half of one percentage point per year. At that rate of growth, it would take another 70 years for women to hold approximately 50 percent of Fortune 500 board seats and reach parity with men."
Page explains that the market was ripe for BlogHer from the very beginning as media began to latch on to the idea of women's representation in technology, science and business. In 2004, Page and co-founders Lisa Stone and Jory Des Jardins created the BlogHer Conference in an effort to answer the media question - where are the women bloggers? As the conference came to fruition, the three were immediately flung into the spotlight with media coverage from CNN and MSNBC. Says Page, "We knew then we were on to something and we decided to make it a business."
A year later the conference lead to a publishing network and a diverse range of female bloggers joined forces with the trio to promote discussion across their domains. After 18 months of bootstrapping with their own funding, the co-founders raised $3.5 million from Venrock and have since raised an additional $13 million to build out the 20+ topic channels. The network currently syndicates to iVillage, Oxygen.com and BravoTV.com.
While other publishing networks of this size often opt for a wholly automated system of content aggregation, home page features and related blog links, BlogHer has a commitment to curation. Says Page, "It's not just about the traffic, we want to ensure that diverse voices come through in order to generate more discussion. We've got a headline editor who looks for topics we want to explore and we take care to feature interesting content."
Featured pieces are then served across the publishing network to the 2,500 affiliate blogs and relevant pieces are linked alongside a blog owner's own content. When asked what keywords (other than "BlogHer") drive the most traffic to the network, Page replied, "Women are not a monolithic block who think, act or buy in the same way. It differs from week to week, but for instance, in 2008 the keywords all revolved around the election or the economy. The areas of interest that drive traffic are not much different than other blogging networks."
The one topic that rally's Page's diverse community is female representations in the media, workplace and of course, on the Web. In the backlash against a particularly bad YouTube campaign launched by Motrin, BlogHer was among the first communities to retaliate with a Motringate. The consumer trust, distribution and collective spending power of the BlogHer community is enough to make or break a household brand. As Page and her co-founders begin experimenting with targeted feed and podcast programs, advertisers may find even more opportunities to test their mettle in this female media landscape. To check out the network visit blogher.com.