For the past six years, I have been packing my bag each summer for my annual trip to the BlogHer conference. Each year, the conference is held in a different city – NYC, San Diego, San Francisco and this year in Chicago again. In addition to exploring some wonderful cities – I tell my family and friends that I am going off to the blogosphere for a few days – where bloggers meet and mingle, share and learn and network with their different tribes.
Midlife Bloggers. Beyond gaining size and scope, the most interesting thing about the BlogHer ’13 conference was that there were many more midlife bloggers in attendance. I didn’t feel singled out like I did when I went to my first BlogHer conference in 2007 in Chicago. There were only a few bloggers my age back then – most were young mommies. It’s amazing to see how the landscape is changing, similar to the demographics worldwide – baby boomer women are a growing, vibrant group of bloggers – no longer invisible as Jen Lee Reeves of AARP showcased in an opening video at the “Roundtable on Midlife Bloggers” with Generation Fabulous panelists Anne Parris, Chloe Jeffreys and Sharon Greenthal.
“Blogging will change the face of aging,” said Chloe. “Collaboration is the new competition and we’re just starting.”
“Don’t apologize for where you are,” said Anne. “What matters is your voice.”
“Be authentic from the heart,” said Sharon. “Create community.”
The session and the conference reconfirmed my love of blogging. As Anne said, “it’s a friend business,” and I so enjoy sharing my life with all of my blog readers. You are my friends and I appreciate the online community we have built together. I like reading your comments and getting your emails after each post. I enjoy hearing your perspectives on my weekly topics. It’s also great to see your positive responses when someone wins a blog raffle. The winner gets excited and so do I.
There’s lots that I want to share from BlogHer ’13. Below are a few highlights and in the weeks to come I will feature some of the other boomer bloggers I met so you can read their blogs. I’ll also share news about some of the conference sponsors that are eager to reach out to boomer women and raffle off some of the swag that they gave away at the BlogHer Expo.
Meantime, scoop, scoop, scoop…here’s the scoop:
– It pays to blog. The team at BlogHer said they paid $25 million to 5000 women who blog last year. (Note: My part of that payment was only about three figures not seven or eight. But that means there is lots of room for growth. See how I put everything into the positive?)
– More than half of those attending the 2013 conference were newbie bloggers. (My friend E who I roomed with was a newbie. I know she is going to make it into the seven or eight figures one day. She is a personal stylist so you should check out her site at Shop With Elizabeth. I was so amazed at how she packed all her clothes into a little carry-on Samsonite suitcase, while I had a huge suitcase that I had to check at the airport. I thought she was a magician. When I arrived home I went right out and bought my own 21-inch Samsonite suitcase. Ooh, ooh, ooh, E is going to show me how to pack my suitcase when I go to my next blogger conference in September. Stay tuned for an upcoming post coming in Fall 2013.)
– More people are reading blogs on mobile technology. How about you? Do you read my blog or other blogs on your iPhone or iPad. Design is especially important for mobile readers. Do you find my blog easy to read on mobile?
– “Commit yourself to blogging and the more you do it, the better you will get,” said opening keynote Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Women blog. Ree has an incredible story. She left the big city, moved to Oklahoma to marry a cowboy and lives on a ranch with her four children. Ree writes about her life on the ranch and her food and gardening, has a television show on The Food Network and has published several books. (Ree was so inspiring. Can JudiBoomergirl become a big brand like The Pioneer Woman? It’s fine to dream big even though I am a teeny tiny woman who is actually shrinking during my life after 50. However, what I lack in stature I am growing in social influence. See how I turn the negative into the positive?)
– “Content is king,” as Style blogger Gabi Gregg from GabiFresh reiterated during the Style Mini-Con session. Gabi said to “blog from a place of sharing.” She targets plus-size women and recently worked with a clothing company to design a line of two-piece bathing suits for her audience which quickly sold out. (I knew I recognized Gabi when she was speaking on the panel. That’s because she is also a writer for InStyle magazine which moi reads each month.)
– “How do you know you are ready to write a book? You are never ready to write a book,” said author and speaker Guy Kawasaki. Guy is a very successful author. At 59 years old, he says he is no longer defined by his work. “I empower people to change the world through my writing and speaking,” said Guy. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, I won a copy of Guy’s new book APE and can’t wait to read it. It’s all about self-publishing. Am I ready to write my book? Am I? Am I? If not now, then when?)
– “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” asked Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg during her keynote. Sheryl said that “Lean In is about believing in yourself and doing what you believe in if you weren’t afraid.” (Wow-o-wow! I can see why Sheryl has already sold a million books. I bought one for my daughter A. While I’m done with my full-time corporate career, I want my daughter A to ‘lean in’ and pursue her executive leadership skills. In fact, she just got a new job at a cosmetic company in NYC. She is so excited and so am I. I may just get a discount on my wrinkle cream for the rest of my life. Go A! Go A! Go A!)
Sheryl said that: “As women we need to own our success, take risks, believe in ourselves, ‘lean in’ and then go do it?” In many ways I feel like Sheryl’s message resonates with me even more now during my life after 50. Chicago may have been my 7th BlogHer conference, but in some ways I feel like I have so much untapped potential. Here I come blogosphere. Watch out – JudiBoomergirl is ready for take-off. Hope you’ll join me.