At BlogHer With Elisa Camahort - Interview Part Two

01/25/2007

Interview with Elisa Camahort - Part Two: BlogHer The Vision, Future Direction
Read Part One: Back-story of BlogHer, Why A Biz Conference

Last month I caught up with Elisa_camahort_1 Elisa Camahort, BlogHer, in DC. Over an almost leisurely breakfast, I was watching the clock to make a noon flight, we chatted about blogs, women in social media and the challenges and opportunities facing the BlogHer founders - I like to call them The Diva Trio - Elisa Camahort, Jory Des Jarden and Lisa Stone as they build an organization that is focused on women in social media.

Toby/Diva Marketing - What was the light bulb moment when you realized that BlogHer could be bigger than one event and a community website?

Elisa Camahort - Again, it was the community that told us. The volumes of online and offline feedback after BlogHer ’05 were remarkably consistent. They asked for more events, for an online place to “meet” every day, and a segment of our community asked us how they could make more money doing what they loved. We already knew that women are power consumers, and that women are power communicators, and that women are power connectors. But if you put all of that together: you get online community, original content, offline conferences…and an optional advertising network.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Where have you found your biggest opportunities?

Elisa Camahort - First, when we’ve actively sought them. As much as I believe that it’s everyone’s job to eradicate their own conscious or unconscious biases, I also believe that you have to go out and ask for what you want. Make them tell you “no.”

Second, when we’ve listened. Some of the best ideas come from the community. People often define Web 1.0 as one-way communications vs. Web 2.0 being two-way communications. I take that a step further and say that online community is circular communications. Speak, then listen, then respond. Rinse and repeat. You’ll get smarter, and your community will feel invested and empowered.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let’s take a step into the future. How will you market BlogHer to ensure that you maintain the positioning and brand awareness that you’ve developed? In other words, how will you differentiate BlogHer from possible competitors?

Elisa Camahort - Jory Des Jarden, Lisa Stone and I are part of the community, and that’s what makes this brand tick. We are committed to continuing in partnership with our members – of BlogHer.org and BlogHerAds.com – and think that will do the trick.

Here’s how we interpret “partnership”: We try to differentiate ourselves by our level of service and responsiveness. By the variety of experiences we offer, online and off. By the fact that we are about community…about helping all boats rise together. And by how personally we take every aspect of our business…including helping customers understand the blogger perspective. We are each bloggers, after all, I started out as a personal and political blogger, before becoming a business blogger.

Lisa is a journalist-turned-blogger focused on the media and politics. Jory is an author and identity blogger looking at work and life. By tapping into our passion about blogging and passion about our Mission… which is to create opportunities for education, exposure, community and economic empowerment for women bloggers.

We have big plans…to continue to improve the content and experience on BlogHer.org, to further expand our educational and conference endeavors, to continue to work with the community to create  more of the opportunities that our Mission speaks to.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let's end this on a personal note. From Elisa Camahort's perspective where do you see your biggest challenges and opportunities and fun as you head into your social media adventure?

Elisa Camahort - My biggest challenge personally has always been to not try to do everything myself. Particularly now that I have a wonderful Event Planner, Kristy Sammis, working for me I need to let go of total control of all aspects of every conference detail. That's always been my challenge as a manager going back into the corporate world, and is still a challenge.

The second challenge is that we are dedicated to serving the community, but our community is extremely diverse. Taking very wide-ranging community input and deriving the best case decisions from that input is challenging, but in the most mentally stimulating way!

The opportunities are huge and exciting. We really do want to change media, and change the way the media approaches women. And really, at the very 40,000 foot level I don't want to just change media, hell, I want to change the world!! It sounds kind of grandiose, but really, the world has a ways to go :)

And the fun? You could not interact with the women (and men) who make up the BlogHer community and not have fun. I get emails or read comments on the site every single day that make me laugh out loud. Or, even better, incite me to take action about something I believe in.

Laughing and taking action every day: a recipe for a pretty fulfilling life, right?

Lessons Learned - As has become a Diva Marketing tradition, let's take our cue from Elisa and BlogHer and spin some lessons learned.

  • Listen and learn from your customers.
  • Build partnership relationships with your customers.
  • Let people in to help you. Don't be afraid to delegate.
  • Pursue new opportunities that may seem a bit .. out there.
  • Ask for what you want. Make them tell you "no."
  • Dream BIG. Take ACTION. Laugh EVERY DAY!

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