What do you stand for?
CHICAGO--Here at the BlogHer conference, one of the operative words is "brand." While policy-based and mainstream political media have been notoriously slow to welcome women into their commentary continuum*, the masterminds of corporate brands see the dollar potential of the greater female blogosphere -- the part that includes the self-described "mommy bloggers," make-up bloggers, sex bloggers, as well as feminist bloggers, political bloggers and business bloggers. If it's specific to women, there's money in it, since women make more day-to-day purchasing decisions than men. Among the sponsors of the BlogHer conference are General Motors, AOL, Butterball turkeys, Dove cosmetics, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's Windows Live (a sort of social networking software package).
But the brands aren't just corporate. In fact, brands are people, too. Women, to be specific -- women bloggers, that is. And they packed to overflow what appeared to be the most popular opening break-out session: The Business of You: Self-branding and Self-promotion. Moderated by Penelope Trunk of The Brazen Careerist, who was joined by panelists Nina Burokas, a digital branding expert, and Stephanie Cockerl, entrepreneur of a successful Web-design site, the session was jammed with women who blog on everything from knitting to radical feminism (sometimes in the same blog).
Penelope Trunk let on that, when she first started blogging, she tried to maintain separate identities -- one for the name she was given at birth, and one for the self-created character, Penelope Trunk. "Penelope Trunk was more the person I wanted to be," she explained. As time went on, she found she couldn't really keep the two identities separate, so, "I ditched my [given] name and became Penelope Trunk."
As for posting about knitting and politics in the blog, Nina Burokas contended that it's not really a good idea. Well, actually, she said, don't do it. "You can't blog about politics and knitting" and have a successful blog, she said. (We at the National Women's Editorial Forum politely ask, as you make your choice: "May we suggest politics?") Try telling that to the women in the category who describe themselves as "junk-drawer" bloggers.
Stephanie Cockerl perhaps put it most succinctly. She asked: "What do you stand for?"
--Adele M. Stan