We've already done a full recap of both events:
First, here's a quick rundown of some of the differences that we noticed between the two events:
BlogHer: Lots of women! There are a few male attendees every year, but obviously the event is almost all women.
ASE: Lots of men! Conference organizers estimate that women made up only about 25% of this year's attendees.
BlogHer: Attendees were encouraged to bring their children. On-site child care was provided and babies were allowed in the sessions.
BlogHer: "Mindful" Monetization
ASE: Nothing but monetization
BlogHer: Sponsors in the Expo Hall included brands like PepsiCo, P&G, Playskool, and Hallmark.
ASE: Sponsors in the Expo Hall included lots of affiliate programs and ad networks with names like AccuClickLinkNetShareBankBiz.
BlogHer: Bruce Jenner and the Pillsbury Dough Boy could be found in the Expo Hall
ASE: Bikini Babes could be found in the Expo Hall
BlogHer: Drink tickets were provided for official parties at night.
BlogHer: Sample titles from the conference bookstore:
ASE: Keynote speakers were Frank Luntz (political consultant, pollster and author) and Jim Kukral (CEO of JimKukral.com)The most significant difference that we noticed had to do with the attendees' attitudes towards monetization. At BlogHer, there were Professional and Job Lab tracks on the agenda, but monetization really wasn't a main focus. What many BlogHer attendees are interested in is working with brands, usually by reviewing products and doing giveaways for their readers. And many big brands are interested too, as the packed Expo Hall and long list of private branded parties indicates. But what we've noticed is that most of these women are doing this "brand ambassador" work just for the free products that they get, and usually they're not getting paid. In many cases, we've even noticed that women are hesitant to monetize their blogs or to ask for money for the work that they're doing for big companies.
Take this question from BlogHer's "Mindful Monetization" session, for example (Note: We didn't attend this session; the quote is taken from the official liveblog):
Question: My name is Sherry. I do a lot of give-aways and someone said, well do you get paid? And I never thought about that, that someone would pay me. So do you do that? Do you have experience with it?So this is a woman who is giving away products on her site (and most likely doing product reviews as well), which means she's working with companies and promoting brands. And it never even occurred to her that she could or should be getting paid for all of that work. An attitude like that would be totally foreign to the attendees of the Affiliate Summit, who are all about maximizing the earning potential of their blogs and websites. We're not suggesting that this attitude is necessarily better, and there were definitely some ASE attendees doing things that cross our personal line - pop up ads for diet pills and penis enlargement email campaigns, anyone? But we did think it was interesting to sit in rooms full of women who are hesitant to monetize, followed by rooms full of (mostly) men who are anything but.
At both conferences the fact that women make 85% of consumer purchases was brought up. At ASE there was a whole session about how to market to women. And at BlogHer women were working with brands on giveaways, reviews, and other projects that were all about... marketing to other women. The companies at ASE recognize the significance of women as online consumers, while the sponsors of BlogHer get that women are also powerful online influencers. So why aren't there more women using their own power and taking this to the next level by becoming successful online sellers and advertisers? If the men working as affiliate marketers and the large companies on the Expo Hall floor at BlogHer can recognize the huge power of women and profit from it, we'd like to see more women doing the same.
On the flip side, the BlogHer community is all about great content, and at ASE that's secondary. While there were other bloggers at ASE, a lot of the time when we explained what we do people were totally confused:
Evil Sluts: "We're bloggers."It seemed like a foreign concept that the quality of the content of our blog might come before the money-making aspect. On the other hand, for a lot of the women at BlogHer, content doesn't just come first - it is everything. That's pretty much a foreign concept at ASE. We understand that there are plenty of reasons to write a blog (for fun, for self expression, to connect with others, to spread information about a cause, to bring about social change, etc) that have nothing to do with making money and that's legitimate. However, we've seen too many talented women who are afraid of embracing monetization or who do not value their work enough to think they deserve to get paid.
ASE: "So you have an online store?"
Evil Sluts: "Well, it's a blog."
ASE: "Oh, so you're... content creators?"
Evil Sluts: "Um, yeah, we're writers."
ASE: "So it's like, advertorials and stuff?"
Evil Sluts: [Sigh]
We're not saying that either conference is better or worse, or that there's anything inherently wrong with either point of view. And we realize that we're doing some generalizing here. There were women at both conferences who do monetize, and there were women who don't because they choose not to and/or feel it's not right for their blog, not because they're hesitant or unaware of the opportunities. There were also people at ASE who did care about having good content and not just making as much money as possible. But based on our experiences, we think that we're looking at two seemingly very different communities that could actually learn from a lot from each other.