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Smart Woman Online: Elisa Camahort

The day is young, dear readers, but the week is slowly slipping away. I have several tasks ahead...one involving a change to a recent post. Many people, most notably my good friend Bob Bly, have written to remind me that the posting of the Shoe cartoon is technically an infringement of copyright. Jane apologizes to Shoe's excellent artist, and will momentarily be posting a link to the cartoon, in place of the actual cartoon. We hope no harm has been done.

Today, we are so thrilled and delighted to bring you our latest Smart Woman Online interview with a woman who is the Queen of multi-tasking! She is a busy bee...with so many outstanding projects going on all at once, we wonder how she catches her breath! Jane was fortunate to make her acquaintance several months ago, and is very pleased to introduce her to you, now...Elisa Camahort from Worker Bees, and more... a woman in search of -- less to do, perhaps -- or just more time to do what she's doing? We will let her tell you...

Lip-sticking: We met a few months ago at a blogging conference, where Jane also met such folks as Neville Hobson, Jeremy Wright, Elizabeth Albryht, Jory DesJardins, Anita Campbell …and so many more. There seemed to be one underlying factor at that outstanding conference: the openness and the way all bloggers were approachable, even the so-called A-listers. Did you feel the same? Tell us what you took away from that conference…as a lead in to a question on Blogher.

Elisa: I agree with you and was just saying so last night at yet another social media industry networking dinner. I have been generally amazed that when I blog about someone, thinking that they’re important, and I’m just little old me, I often get a personal response. I’ve gotten emailed or cited by musicians, authors quoted in the NY Times, A-List bloggers.

Part of this is technology assistance…every one of these people has an ego and clearly has set up “ego feeds”: Google alerts or Technorati feeds on their name, their business name etc. (I know I have!) I’ve had a rather checkered past, and spent time in at least 4 industries. This industry is by far the most open and accessible. It’s part technology, but it’s also part ethos.

Lip-sticking: So…blogging webinars, workshops, and conferences are beginning to show up everywhere. The sad part is that they are so male-dominated… Jane does not want to get into a debate on why this is (we wonder if the girl-bloggers are too caught up in their own agenda and reluctant to join their male counterparts) but we'd like to hear YOUR thoughts on the disparity between blogging and gender.

Is it real…are the guys out there blogging away while we girls are just jotting down recipes? Or, are the ladies to busy blogging to notice?

Elisa: Well, I hope I don’t disappoint Jane when I say the answer isn’t simple. Stats actually vary, but it seems clear that women comprise nearly half of all bloggers, if not more. And some of them care about traffic and links and the various benefits that come from having traffic and links. And some of them don’t care about that at all. But nearly all the women bloggers I’ve talked to do care about the fact that they seem invisible to the mainstream media that is still the primary source of education as the rest of the universe starts to learn about blogging.

Frankly, Lisa Stone and I decided to really jump in and do BlogHer to answer once and for all that heinous question “where are the women bloggers?” Because the answer is “we’re right here.” Sure, there are theorists who will start to explain that “popular” blogs tend to have shorter, more frequent posts with lots of links, and women tend to write longer, more reflective posts…blah, blah, blah. But the truth is the tools in use to day to measure “popularity” are fairly limited in scope, and those tools are very susceptible to circular self-selection. And that’s OK. This industry is young. The tools will be developed that break free of that Bhc_going11cycle.

But if we don’t stand up and point out that the tools need improvement and a broader view, then that development won’t happen. I always like to point out: the last 3 Pew research reports are consistent in noting that only 1 in 5 blog readers are blog writers. If we say links are the only measure of a blog’s influence or popularity we are discounting their impact on 80% of blog readers. I don’t think anyone really thinks that’s sufficient, not men, not women, not even those who benefit from today’s metrics.

Lip-sticking: Our blog focuses on marketing to women who shop online because our research shows that more women than men shop online… and that women influence over 90% of the goods and services purchased in the U.S. This gives women a great deal of power… yet, we still get ignored or overlooked in the marketing department. What do you see in your buzz marketing
line of services? Are women well represented, or…are we still invisible?

Elisa: I actually think online marketing tools are a great equalizer. When you employ most pay-per-click search engine marketing, for example, you can’t say…show this ad to a woman, or show it to a man. But since you can track your advertising metrics very closely, you will certainly find out pretty quickly if you aren’t speaking directly to your purchaser.

When it comes to the blogs and their audiences, again, I tend to think not about gender, but about interest…what do people who care about theatre want to talk about? What do people who care about health care want to talk about? What do people who care about marketing want to talk about? What do people who care about liberal politics want to talk about?

I’m sorry if it’s shocking, but this BlogHer organizer tends to think that I can talk about any and all of those topics and that I can speak to women or men, and if they care about those topics, they will care about what I have to say about them or what I point them to. Ah, the ego!

Lip-sticking: Let's talk about your many projects. You're a testament to the ability of women to focus on more than one thing at a time—and do it successfully. You have your Worker Bees projects, you're part of the Blogher conference being arranged for July 30th in CA, and… your newest baby is Healthy Concerns. How do you manage all of these intensive projects?

Elisa: I ask myself that sometimes! Let me say that it helps to be passionate about what you do. My boyfriend the software engineer can work 12 straight hours when he’s solving a problem. He doesn’t even notice the time elapsing. And I have a new appreciation for that now that I run my own business and only work on projects about which I can honestly say I’m passionate. Sometimes it hits Noon, and I realize I haven’t even poured that bowl of cereal because I was busy researching and writing and talking on the phone.

I’m also a firm believer in filing and lists and prioritizing, and I always make sure I mix in some small, easy-to-complete tasks, so that I have a sense of accomplishment every day. It’s easy in marketing to feel that you’re never really finished, but everyone needs to feel they’re making progress, so I plan my days to have a variety of tasks. It helps me stay intellectually stimulated; it helps me to feel I’m making progress. But make no mistake, I have no sense of weekend most weeks. I do some work pretty much every single day.

Lip-sticking: Tell us some more about Healthy Concerns. It's our opinion that women are more health conscious than men…but, we could be wrong. This blog is fairly new, yet… you do attract attention. Who's visiting it? What are they looking for? What can our readers expect when they visit?

Elisa: Well, I wonder sometimes if women are more weight-conscious, but not more health-conscious. Really do you get the message that society cares if you’re healthy? Not really…but they sure care if you’re thin.

What’s interesting, and valuable for the lay-people readers of Healthy Concerns is that various people from the health community have been reading the blog …and avidly commenting. Now sure, some of them just want to get their name out there (which certainly is a bloggy concept) but all the same they’re sharing valuable information. When you visit HealthyConcerns.com I hope you’ll realize that you are not the only one out there who feels a little overwhelmed and confused by health coverage and care issues. Every person I interview for the site has a story that represents the story of many people out there. And every time I talk to someone I learn something new.

In a few a short weeks I have already learned three things I could do to probably reduce my costs and improve my coverage. It’s an unexpected side benefit for me…and by extension my readers. And the site sponsor has generously agreed to take questions from readers and find the answers, so someone who comes to HealthyConcerns.com could potentially find a great, free resource…and I hope to be the bridge between regular people and experts.

Of course, I feel that way about my blogging consultancy business in general: I’m a bridge between marketing folks who don’t really grok blogs yet, and the techie people who sometimes don’t get marketing! I started out as simply a personal blogger. It wasn’t until I’d been doing it a while that I recognized its reach and its potential for business.

Lip-sticking: We're not only about marketing to women online, we're also about partnerships -- women working with other women to achieve goals, and women working with men to make their business a shining success. Do you think this millennium is the one in which women and men learn to get along better?

Elisa: I hope that we all learn to get along better…and I’m not sure it’s isolated to gender relations at this point. I’m reading Deborah Tannen’s The Argument Culture right now, and it’s really ringing a lot of bells. There seems to be no value placed anymore in compromise, middle ground, small sacrifice for a bigger cause, appreciating grays, not just the black and white. We have descended into every conflict only having a win-lose outcome, never a win-win.

I am also engaged in political activism, and when I talk to anyone, even the person on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, we can agree on certain things… but only one-on-one. It’s like no one will admit to such commonality in public. I find it sad.

Lip-sticking: We're feeling frisky today… here's a question straight from outerspace: if you could be a plant, any plant, what would you be, and why?

Elisa: Oh, it’s like you're Barbara Walters, [we have been so accused] and I’m Kate Hepburn [good choice!]. You’ve asked the wrong gal because I’m the antithesis of a green thumb. I don’t get gardening. I inherited this great rose garden in back of my house, and I absolutely loathe having to deal with them. I find it stressful, what with the bugs and the thorns. But if I had to pick, I guess I’d say a tulip: I like the way they keep growing even after you cut their stems, as long as you put them in water. [ we are totally with you on all counts!]

Lip-sticking: How about this one, if you had $10,000 to spend online… what would you buy, and where would you buy it?

Eliza: Oh man, I’d be at Amazon for books and CDs, iTunes Music Store for music, TicketMaster for concert tickets, MooShoes for some vegan shoes, hiking boots, belts and purses, MichaelLeu.com and ChrisHoneysett for art and photography, Petco for a new kitty condo for my amazing geriatric cat(!)…can you tell I already shop a lot online? [a worthy event on any day -- for any occasion!]

Lip-sticking: Back to business…give us your opinion on where blogging is going…is it a keeper for business, or will the diary bloggers dominate over time? A recent report at Darwin magazine said as much. We don't agree… but, we need some professional advice, and you're a professional blogger, so…what do you think?

Elisa: I think that the lines of distinction between blogs and traditional web sites will blur. I think traditional web sites will become more bloggy. There will always be millions of diary bloggers and good for them that there is such an inexpensive and accessible form of self-expression available to them. But businesses will continue to benefit from deploying blog technology too.

Ironically the more choices consumers have, the more overwhelming and confusing it gets. We still revert to going with someone we know, or someone that someone we know knows… blogs provide a way for companies to let their customers know them.

Lip-sticking: Which leads us to the question of advertising on blogs…and sponsorships. We use Blogads, but…some bloggers have their own ad agenda. Do you recommend advertising on blogs? Do you think this kind of targeted advertising works? Do you have any examples?

Elisa: As a blogger, I recommend doing what you’re comfortable with. I don’t think there’s anything inherently moral or immoral about ads. Obviously as a reader I’m not too fond of it when a site seems so overrun by ads that you can’t find the content. Personally, HealthyConcerns is the only blog I write (out of 6) where I support ads, and then simply because it’s a sponsored blog and that’s where they get their bang for the buck for sponsoring the blog. It’s a little soon to quote any results from those ads.

Some people clearly object to “sullying” their image of what blogging is (pure, authentic, uncommercial expression) with any kind of marketing or commercial purpose. But since I see blogging as a technology and tool, I also see that its uses are expanding and broadening. This is what is helping blogging become hot, after all, not the personal diary application.

On a similar note: when people get all up in arms about BzzAgent, I make sure to point out to them that it’s surely not the desire to create word of mouth and buzz about a product that they object to, but the method and lack of transparency. Because every marketer of every product obviously wants their customers to say good things about their product. If you object to that desire, you object to marketing as a concept.

Lip-sticking: As a parting question, what do you like to do when you can tear yourself away from your keyboard? Everyone needs down time… what's your favorite hobby when you're not working?Elisa1

Elisa: Well, I may have given myself away with how I’d spend that $10K. I like to go to the theatre and concerts. I read. I play piano and sing. I’m a theatre major who somehow ended up in tech…I gotta keep that other side of me well-nourished too.


If only we were close enough to attend one of your events, Elisa! Do put audio on your blog for us!

What's not to like about that?


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Jory Des Jardins

Thanks for letting us sit in on the conversation! I've been working with Elisa on BlogHer for a couple months now. Unbelieveable how far-reaching her grasp of blogging is, from the cultural aspects to the marketing and technical side. When I grow up as a blogger I wanna be like her!


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