Sunday, January 13, 2008

Women Power Bloggers: Inside the Minds of Today’s Successful Female Bloggers Pt I


According to the Pew Internet Project's PIP Blogging Report, 46% of bloggers are female and the numbers are growing everyday. However, many woman bloggers are a slightly upset with the lack of recognition in their industry. After a week of research I finally asked myself why aren't women more prominent on the web? Of all the blog ranking lists, except fashion and celebrity blogs, an average of 12% of women appear in the top 100 of each list. And some sources have the nerve to think that fashion blogs are "personal diaries of style". After doing some research I realized why so many bloggers and readers today perceive women bloggers differently than men:

Instead of analyzing RSS feeds and researching list after list, I decided to go directly to the source to get more answers and find out how women power bloggers reached success, how they reach their readers, and what they think about the discrimination towards professional women bloggers in today's blogging community.

I communicated with four very different women bloggers (Chanel Ward/Hip Candy, Charlene Li/Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Michele Obi/My Fashion Life, and Julie Strietelmeier/The Gadgeteer) and asked them the same five questions:

  1. What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose this particular niche?
  2. If you could describe your readers in three sentences or less what would you say?
  3. How has blogging advanced your career?
  4. On average, only 12% of women bloggers are featured on top 100 lists. Why do you think that is?
  5. If you could give one word of advice to women bloggers today what would it be?

After talking with these women I realized that a "power blogger" has nothing to do with your ranking on a list but the quality of your posts, the awareness of your reader's needs, and the ability to look beyond fame and fortune and stay true to your subject matter. This is part one of a two part series featuring women bloggers who have changed the way the world views them and their readers. Today's featured blogger is Chanel Ward from Hip Candy and Charlene Li from Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed by Social Technologies.

Chanel Ward / Hip Candy

It's hard to pick one of my favorite blogs, but Hip Candy is very close to my heart. From the tag line, "sweet… but not in that fattening kinda way" to the blog's owner, Chanel Ward, Hip Candy is fresh, exciting and new.

Fashion designer/graphic artist/writer Chanel Ward was featured as 225 Magazine's Top People To Watch in 2008 and for good reason. After being the voice for the America's Next Top Model Interviews and one of the finalist for Project Runaway's fan favorite blogs this fashionista was invited to experience and write about Fashion Week and is soon launching the much anticipated clothing line Hip Couture. Blazing a trail of personality and style her blog and her career has a life of it's own, but don't take my word for it.

1. What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose this particular niche?

The focus of Hip Candy is in my tagline. Fashion. Celebrity. Entertainment. Me. That's basically what I blog about in a nutshell! I like to think of my blog as fashionably fun! I chose this niche because my background is in Fashion Design (graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, 1999 - http://www.fidm.com/) and I've always been intrigued by celebrity culture, so I just thought it would be an adventure to start a fun site that would focus on those things, and at the same time, it would keep me abreast of what was happening in the [fashion] industry. Hip Candy is a fun forum for readers to come and share their opinions on fashion, (the latest trends, fashion don'ts...) celebrity (what they were wearing, what were they thinking?!) the latest happenings in entertainment, with a little bit of what's going on with me thrown in for good measure.

2. If you could describe your readers in three sentences or less what would you say?

I was surprised to learn recently that some of my readers are as young as 12! But I also have more "seasoned" readers, women over 50 and beyond as well as every age (and gender) in between. Hip Candy readers are very opinionated. Even though most of them usually agree with most things I opine, and "wax poetic" about, they don't always agree with everything I put down, and that's okay! Having a difference of opinion is what makes us unique! One of my most commented posts (69 comments at last count) has a firestorm of strong opinions on it from start to finish (http://hipcandy.blogspot.com/2007/03/style-verdict-hetero-men-in-heels.html) Anyone who takes time out of their busy day to click onto to Hip Candy, read a post and share their opinions is more than alright with me.

3. How has blogging advanced your career?

Wow. That's such a loaded question! I'd never really considered myself a "writer", but after starting Hip Candy, I slowly began allow myself think otherwise. My blog has already reached levels that I wouldn't have imagined when I started it. I figured it would just be a fun hobby. The response since I started it has been phenomenal already! It's very humbling. Some of the more noteworthy advancements have been 1) exposure to the masses from conducting the "Top Model" interviews 2) getting credentialed and being invited to Fashion Week from my fashion coverage on the blog coupled with solid readership 3) That same solid readership translating into monthly ad revenue generated on Hip Candy 4) all-expense paid trips to cover trade shows and events (http://blogs.dreambrizo.com/kbis_2007/) 5) recognition and acknowledgement from magazines, and finally and ultimately, 6) built in name recognition for a future clothing launch! Blogging has truly been a surprise and a blessing and I look forward to more in 2008!

4. On average, only 12% of women bloggers are featured on top 100 lists. Why do you think that is?

I hadn't heard this statistic before, but it's pretty staggering given that I did hear that about half of the people blogging right now are women. I don't really know why more women aren't considered top bloggers. I'd love to find that out myself. I'd love to find out what we as women could do to level the playing field. I'm not as privy as I'd like to be on how blog ranking works. I've made a couple lists in the past, (http://www.fashioniq.com/wordpress/2007/04/23/top-50-fashion-blogs-in-the-us/ww.fashioniq.com/wordpress/2007/04/23/top-50-fashion-blogs-in-the-us/) (http://www.customizedgirl.com/blog/) but unless you're a site like Technorati who ranks blogs on several different statistically based criteria, I'm not sure how much weight it holds. That being said, I'm always grateful to be included on people's "Top" list, whatever the criteria!

5. If you could give one word of advice to women bloggers today what would it be?

My word of advice to women bloggers would be to not give up! So many of us who may have a strong voice on whatever subject, fall by the wayside after starting blogs and don't ever see the full fruit of what could have been. Unless you are a celebrity, nobody ever starts out with millions of readers! I'm still striving for that myself! So it's definitely a process, and growing pains are a part of that process. I can remember back when my mom and a few of my friends made up the entirety of my readership. But if you're putting out good content, readers will always follow. Have faith in yourself and what you're doing! Especially if you love it.

Charlene Li / Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Charlene Li knows what she's talking about and she is passionate about it. Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed by Social Technologies is one of the best written blogs on the web, period. Charlene is an expert on technologies like blogs and social networking and uses this knowledge to lead the marketing and research team at Forrester.


Charlene doesn't just write about her passion, she consults others about trends and methods surrounding her niche. She is the one of the most quoted analyst and has appeared in The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, CNN, NPR, and BBC, as well as The Wall Street, Journal, The New York Times, and BusinessWeek. As a matter of fact, while writing this biography and researching Charlene's accomplishments, a commercial for 60 minutes segment on Facebook was advertised, Charlene provided background on that story. Reading Charlene's blog has personally advanced my career as a technology leader within my company and has kept me fully up to date on innovative marketing solutions through social networks and blogging. I am very honored to have her take the time to reach out my readers on the topic of women and blogging.

1. What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose this particular niche?

The focus is developments in interactive and social technologies primarily for marketing purposes. Most recently, the focus is on the use of social technologies and supports a new book that I'm publishing in April 2008. The blog is an extension of my work at Forrester Research.

2. If you could describe your readers in three sentences or less what would you say?


I have three very specific readers: 1) Businesspeople interested in leverage interactive and social technologies, primarily in marketing; 2) Influential press and bloggers; 3) Thought leaders in the field, whom I can tap for research purposes.

3. How has blogging advanced your career?


Oh, in so many ways! It's given me visibility beyond the limited Forrester client base and extended my influence tremendously. I have contacts that I would never have developed without the blog. And I rely on it consistently to conduct research amongst a community that doesn't exist anywhere else. As such, I have access to better research faster than anyone else in the industry.

4. On average, only 12% of women bloggers are featured on top 100 lists. Why do you think that is?


I'm assuming that you mean only 12% of top bloggers are women. This is partly a matter of who does the listing. And frankly, why does it matter if you're a "top" blogger? The most important thing is to know who your reader is and to hyper-serve them better than anyone else. I'm unlikely to ever make it on the Technorati 100 list, but I'm clearly considered a "top blogger" in my field.

The other way to look at it is do women consider themselves to be a top blogger? If the stat is 12% of women bloggers consider themselves to be top bloggers, then we have a self-esteem problem!

5. If you could give one word of advice to women bloggers today what would it be?


Be true to yourself and to your reader. There's nothing worse than a blogger who's striving to be something they aren't.

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