BlogHer 2008: Day One Sessions and Community Keynote

Comments 8 by Guest Author

The following was written by Dr Beth Snow as my official BlogHer 2008 Conference correspondent. You can read more from Beth on her blog: Not To Be Trusted with Knives and she’ll be reporting back here throughout the weekend.

Today was the first full day of BlogHer’08. It was quite the full day (starting with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and going ’til late into the night (I stayed at the Welcome party ’til about 9 p.m. and then headed back to my friend Katie’s place as I was exhausted!)) – so let’s make with the summarizing, shall we?

Green drinks courtesy of greenopolis

From the Welcome

Apparently Michelle Obama posted a welcome on the BlogHer blog (the announcement of this was met with cheers from the crowd). This was followed by the statement: “Being a non-partisan organization, we’ve invited Cindy McCain to post as well”… crickets

Taking Care of Business

I don’t currently have a business, nor do I currently expect to make money on my blog, but none of the other topics in this timeslot really interested me. And who knows, maybe this session will provide me with the secrets I need to suddenly make a million dollars by blogging.

Linsey Krolik – Technology, Business & Media Attorney

  • the blog world = the real world
  • things like defamation, intellectual property laws, etc. still apply
  • you ARE a publisher
  • slander (spoken) and libel (written) are two types of defamation
  • “reasonable listener” context to defamation; you can’t just claim that something is your opinion and expect that to protect you – if it hurts the reputation of someone and it’s not true, you can get in trouble for it (e.g., you can’t just say a bunch of lies and then go “but that’s just my opinion”)
  • “truth is an absolute defence to defamation”
  • once you write something, it is copyrighted (this is American, but it is my understanding that this is the same in Canada)
  • the speaker just asked if anyone knows of Creative Commons, and a surprisingly low number of people put up their hands (maybe 25% of the room?)
  • Creative Commons was created at Stanford (just down the road from here1
  • limiting liability – (a) incorporating; (b) disclaimers/terms of use can be especially useful if you have a lot of user generated comments/communities, (c) agreements – important to know that you can negotiate agreements; e.g., if an advertiser or marketer presents you with a an agreement, you can negotiate and have things altered (a lot of people don’t know this!)
  • (small print: SINAL2)
  • Kelly Phillips Erb – Blog Editor and Tax Attorney

  • time for Beth to tune out, as Kelly’s going to talk about the US tax code!
  • US tax code = 4X the length of the Bible
  • Kelly just asked if there are any Canadians in the room – and in a room of 100+ person, I’m the only one! Yay me!
  • “If you eat them, it’s not income” – with respect to someone getting a sample of snacks for her beer blog
  • expenses for coming to BlogHer = deductible (if your blog is a business), because you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t blogging
  • the IRS operates on an honour system (you don’t need to provide all your receipts) vs. Germany, where you are audited every single year (I didn’t know this about Germany)
  • Sabrina Parsons, CEO Palo Alto Software

  • Palo Alto Software = tools to help you run a business
  • She’s going to talk about “how do I generate revenue from my blog?” – this is what I want to know!
  • One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start a business is not to give themselves a salary – you don’t actually have to pay it out, you have to put it in the books as a loss (important for when you start to make the big dough later)
  • If you want this to be a business, take it seriously. Call yourself a business owner (don’t call it “hobby”)
  • What is your business goal? e.g., to make enough money to be able to quit my dayjob. How much money would that be? This is the first step to figure out how much to price your services at.
  • What kind of blog are you doing? Blog associated with freelance writing? Consulting services? Product reviews? –> then see what your competitors charge.
  • What is your business model? How are you going to generate revenue?
  • Write this all up as a business plan (you can even blog it!). It forces you to make a plan, to put some thought to it. It doesn’t have to be big, just well thought out.
  • (small print: SINAL2)
  • DIY Content Syndication and Promotion

    I feel like I should have more readers, so I thought this session might be interesting.

  • A surprising number of people at this blogging conference don’t yet have blog. In this room of about 1003 people, maybe 10 or 12 people raised their hand when the speaker asked how many people don’t yet have a blog.
  • YouTube – host your video on YouTube even if you want to also host it elsewhere, just for the sheer numbers
  • blipTV is good for episodic content; their Terms of Service agreement is more liberal than YouTube’s (e.g., if someone issues a complaint via DCMA, YouTube will pull it (they don’t have to prove you are using someone else’s content, just a complaint will lead to your video being pulled from YouTube)
  • BrightCove – allows you to customize your player, great for search engines; but it’s very expensive
  • – really high quality video (quality has been problem with YouTube)
  • Viddler – the speaker found that she doesn’t get many viewers here
  • video responding to other videos4 is how to build a dialogue/community
  • Leveraging Twitter – (sells lots of shoes!) and Jetblue are good at Twitter (check them out for best practices)
  • – “Digg for chicks”
  • – Twitter horizontal – speaker doesn’t feel its very good at building community the way Twitter does
  • Now talking about giveaways – suggesting you contact companies who have products you want, they may actually give you free stuff to giveaway to readers
  • Damn – there wasn’t anything in this session that I didn’t already know about πŸ™
  • Entrepreneur Session – Funding & Incubation Opportunities

  • this session is about how to find funding for startups
  • speaker used to work for Yahoo, now in tech incubator with a software company she created with others
  • they have S.W.A.G.! and soon will have a product too πŸ™‚
  • angel investors/venture capitalists money – you have to form a company and angels or venture capitalists buy a percentage of it (sometimes its informal – family & friends; sometimes its formal)
  • technology incubator companies are starting to coach people on how to get money
  • TechStars (free)
  • Ladies Who Launch (cost)
  • TechStars – Andrew Hyde – startup funding & support – biggest mistake in starting up is thinking that your idea is important; it’s your team that matters (e.g., if you are a coder, you need a marketer on your team), you need to work well together; you get picked by TechStars – becoming part of their community (e.g., post questions to them) is the best way for to get picked; they pick around Jan-March, do the start-up work over the summer
  • Andrew just got called out for calling one of the groups “all girls” (the reply was “Actually, we are all women.”)
  • another suggest was to go to StartUp Weekend/Startup Meetup and just be part of the community and helping other people with their start ups, and learn from them
  • increasing number of endeavours that will fund things that are “for the greater good” – things with a non-profit flavour/programs that make money and then give back
  • – grants for the future of news delivery, focussed on a specific geographical area; funding cycle about to open; a yearly contest, gives out ~$5 million per year; e.g. an Open Source platform for small-town and college newspapers; RadioDrupal – building radio station software in Drupal
  • MacArthur Foundation also gives grants
  • if you aren’t a technical person, you need a “Technical Co-Founder” – Joel On Software website is a good source for info on “how to talk to a techy”
  • TechSoup – cooperative for money, but interestingly, groups that were competing were helping each other out and, in the end, started hiring each other (another session participant talked about her angel funded project, and stressed that talking about your idea, being open & collaborative, is the way to go (vs. the inclination to hide your idea because you are worried about being scooped).
  • “Women wait for permission way too much.” Just go do it. Look for the funding. Do it!
  • Know what your goal is? To create a start-up that will be bought for a zillion dollars so you can retire? To create a company in order to be self-employed? Different goals require different strategies.
  • Entrepreneur Session – Experiences of Women Entrepreneurs5

  • “We are all experts here.” We are all women, and have experiences/perspectives that they want and that are different from men’s experiences and perspectives.
  • Getting out there – post comments on blogs, websites, etc. – and say something relevant
  • “What does it take to be a successful female entrepreneur?”
  • all the negative self-talk is your biggest obstacle; all the obstacles out there are nothing compared to what’s in your own head
  • to be a successful entrepreneur = you need to be able to live in chaos, you need to be able to be put yourself outside your comfort zone
  • entreperneurs are born, not made – you have this natural tendency to look at things and say “I could do this way better”
  • surround yourself with other successful women who are doing this
  • you need balls (corrected to: you need cast iron ovaries)
  • stereotype of women: collaborative, not competitive and many in the audience felt this to be true of themselves and others they know and felt this is an advantage (e.g., female entrepreneurs see how they can help each other’s companies)
  • females often have different periods in their life (e.g., being productive, then staying home dealing with kids: “not the glass ceiling, sometimes it’s the sticky floor”)

  • it’s about passion – always remember why you started the company (e.g., “to make the world a better place for moms”) and the passion you have for it
  • sometimes you have to educate buyers/venture capitalists on why you matter (e.g., give them the stats on #s & growth of women online)
  • This Lush Life – started by a woman who was really pissed off that you couldn’t buy plus-sized fashion without having diet ads flashing at you (with the message being “buy these clothes, but know that your body isn’t acceptable”); so she created this site to buy plus-sized clothes in an online environment where you won’t be told that your body is wrong; includes the blog “A Celebration Of Curves
  • know that being an entrepreneur is stressful, it’s hard work and it’s all not sunshine and roses (you feel like you are “giving 110% for 2% return”); it’s helpful to talk to other entrepreneurs to know that you aren’t alone – even the ones who have been successful, who have cashed out big time, have been in the place where they thought their business would go under at any time
  • you will make tonnes of mistakes; what’s important is how you recover from them
  • ask people to mentor you, it’s OK to ask for help
  • make your own definition of success; what is your goal? to make a million dollars or to make enough money to pay the rent? You can also re-evaulate your goals over time
  • Best line of session was a response to the question, “How do you tell your [angel investors] that you’ve lost their money?” The response: “Twitter”
  • Community Keynote

    I really, really liked how they did the keynote. Apparently, people were able to submit their best blog posts in a variety of topics (e.g., Best Rant, A Letter to My Body, Humour) and a committee chose a number of winners to read their postings as the keynote. And, seriously, I was blown away. I was on the verge of tears on moment, and on the verge of tears of laughter the next. Based on their readings at the keynote, I recommend you check out Whiskey in My Sippy Cup, The Bloggess and Lesbian Dad. And you can check out the whole list of them here.

    1I’ve been to the Stanford campus and it’s really quite beautiful.
    2Speaker Is Not A Lawyer – speaker issued this disclaimer, and I thought it was a good idea to relay that here.
    3I’m really terrible at estimating numbers of people, so this should probably be written as 100
    4The speaker didn’t mention it, but isn’t this what Seesmic is for?
    5I really think this should be “Female” Entrepreneurs. “Women” isn’t a adjective, is it?

    8 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

    1. Temple StarkSaturday, July 19th, 2008 — 1:31pm PDT

      Excellent summary of events so far. Interesting to see who knows what / does what at these gatherings were it can often be assumed that everybody’s “way ahead of me.” Some people just have the language down well but don’t know what they’re talking about.

    2. fotoeinsSaturday, July 19th, 2008 — 3:01pm PDT

      In Germany, the public generally does not get up in arms over (alleged) sexual misbehaviour by public figures. However, the fit hits the shan, when a mere sniff of financial shenangians occur, as reflected in news from the last couple of years.

    3. thomasknollMonday, July 21st, 2008 — 12:12am PDT

      (thanks for thinking of seesmic!)

      I hope more and more bloggers discover the intensity of engaging their community in video conversations. =)

    4. Mr LadyTuesday, July 22nd, 2008 — 10:14am PDT

      There had better be a REALLY good reason that I didn’t get to meet you. πŸ™‚

    5. BethTuesday, July 22nd, 2008 — 12:43pm PDT

      @Mr Lady – I’m not sure how I didn’t meet you. Perhaps the other 998 people at the conference got in the way. Damn them!

    6. Mr LadyTuesday, July 22nd, 2008 — 1:42pm PDT

      Damn them all to heck.

      When Colleen and i have our Great Makeout of 08, you have to attend. *slams fist on table*

    7. Jamie R LentznerSaturday, August 2nd, 2008 — 11:14am PDT

      Great summary of the Entrepreneur Session – I only wish it has been longer and a bigger room. I felt there was so much more to learn from all of those successful women. I am still trying to recover from the weekend, and it has been two weeks!

    8. go inside nowWednesday, August 27th, 2008 — 6:12pm PDT

      go inside now…

      You are right I think you have said it very well…

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