In-Studio Interview with Lisa Stone
This is at least a stone and she is one of this to me the cofounders well there's three of you so yes try founders I guess it's not what you say when there's three founders we say the three musketeers but you can say whatever you crave trying the trifecta I guess welcome I know that you just had a huge conference last week in chicago how come you look so rested after pulling off a conference? Well, I have to thank your fantastic makeup artists and entrepreneur in the back room who was very solicitous on we had more than four thousand women were so coming up with the final count join us in chicago for the ninth annual block her conference our company is devoted to creating a new kind of media company by for and with women and men right? And we started nine years ago with a conference to answer the question where the women who blogged right so I think we've answered that question. Yeah, well, you know, I was of course doing my homework alone but you start in two thousand five, right? So ...
you know that's not that long of a period of time to have so much growth and you already have was it ninety two thousand people that are members or readers of the site? Thank you for asking we reach ninety two million women every month across blocker dot com and three thousand bloods and ten thousand five hundred different people who are pinning facebooking and tweeting on behalf of their own brands right and our advertisers well, you know, I forgot about the whole pinning thing we haven't really talked about pinterest the last couple of days but you know, what's interesting to me is that it was a big career change for you, teo, and getting involved in the space that was very new so back in two thousand five, you know, a lot of people were just getting into blogging if you're not blogging yet have you lost the opportunity? Is it too late to get involved? Absolutely not so blogging and the interest was I'm havin blogging is actually accelerating year over year what's interesting is there is not a diminishing media pie for people who are interested in writing or reading with every additional medium the tablet medium the mobile medium I consider pinterest to medium there is even more interesting excitement, so if you have a brand or your business that you want to have people embrace, you need to do two things number one you need to attract the female consumer who controls and our influence is eighty three percent of household spending including automotive, an elektronik for the techies in the crowd and the second thing you need david, who makes the decisions about cars and technology at your house wait and the second thing you need to do is go social because women use social media forty one percent more often than do men, so if you're trying to build a business online, you need to reach that female consumer because she will share it forward and pay it forward to other people who are interested in consuming women in now, with your site that you have both male and female bloggers so you don't have to be a woman and just you want to be reaching the audience for your site. What if somebody wants to find a male audiences there, eh block him counterpart? Well, we actually feel like we're doing a fantastic job of serving men who blood in particular in the lifestyle category. Some of our best bloggers and food are male chefs. We have some fantastic daddy bloggers and her network like mike adamik from cry it out. I just met james, who writes rock and dad at the conference so our particular publishing model is non denominational ifyou're excellent writer or next one photographer or an excellent storyteller. Then you will absolutely be able to find a publisher and social media who can do what's appropriate, which is pay you to create and to grow your influence because there are so many brands now who are looking for brand ambassadors people who genuinely love there product and are willing to advocate for lena let's, talk a little bit more about that because we've got people that are watching around the globe and also we've been talking a lot about, you know, david is starting to blogged, and also leslie has a blogged, you know, is that you're talking about revenue stream, and I know that you are paying bloggers, and a lot of times, people think that you have to blogged just out of sweat equity and not have any financial return coming back. How do you get to the point where you can actually have some income coming from here? Blogging where's the turning point? Well, I think the turning point has to dio with three major things and I speak is a professional journalist who came online in ninety seven. I left cnn for web tv and then went to women dot com, where it was the editor in chief, and helped to put hearst and rode down magazines online. The number one thing that you need to do if you're creating content online, whether it's a photograph or a video of your beliefs, his quality, absolute top notch, excellent quality, being passionate about what you're saying and embracing the highest tenets of journalism say who you are, what you're doing, what you think is the case, and disclose whether or not you have any sponsors because your readers will develop trust in you, and you will develop credibility with them. If you're clear about what your goals are right to, the first thing is quality. The second thing is, you really better love it. Any former daily columnist can tell you, if you're going to do it day after day, and in order to be successful, you will have to do it day after day loving it is essential. Great third thing is be as social as possible, with your quality and your passion. If you have are working in a visual element, and you know me, porter, I think you should be on tv at all times. Oh, you've been hitting, you should be an instagram, you should be using vine if you've got a text based product or initiative. Twitter is a wonderful friend for you, given the way that audience moves through cyclically that community there's a greater opportunity to mention your headline more than once a day without appearing to being annoying to your followers. Um, so the most important thing, though you talk about in your book, which is you have to be interested in giving back to the rest of the community through comments and contribution, thank you for reading the book, by the way, I really love you, like I recommend the book, thank you one thing that you and I have talked about we've been talking about in the class is how you can start to grow your community not only by getting involved in going to events but trying to identify the influence or so you just mentioned a couple people that are blogging in the cooking space you know if there was someone that wanted to try to make a connection what advice do you have when you want to try to meet key influencers in the category or score the interview with the person who might seem unattainable? Well that's a great question because I think that if you have a sense of your own uh storytelling agenda whether it's nonfiction or its fan fiction finding other people whose creativity you admire is really essential and I often recommend that you aim once you find that quality for the magic middle there are a couple of bloggers in our network who were the very biggest food bloggers in the world people like police power of simply recipes or re drummond the pioneer woman or jane hair of steamy kenshin and it is fantastic toe learn from their example at the same time they're incredibly busy on television with sponsors with initiatives and so I often find that by following the people who read their blog's who make the very best comments back to their own blog's I can discover an entirely new area of expertise and new voices that I hadn't seen before. Especially if you have your own expertise in autumn o motive, it might be an expertise in a new kind of biodiesel run car are in food. It might be an entirely new kind of gluten free baking. So once you find your tribe commenting on and recommending them to each other on your own block and across social media is a great way to develop and lead a tribe of your own. Well, because you are an expert in, you know, community building and tribes, I just want to have a little bit of fun and be a little interactive cause I know about some of the goals of our great audience here, but so let's see putting theresa on the spot, I know that you are interested in building a community that's really around helping people discover the creativity in their lives. Theresa is a photographer by training, but she now is expanding her services. So, you know, looking at the blogger community, what types of people that you have that you think might be interesting connections that are in kind of creativity and really it's like the maker movement and really exploring more? Absolutely so we had a pre conference day for a couple of hundred people at blocker this year called viewfinder day, it's all about photography and video blogging and videography because there are so many people who are finding that a six second vine video or an instagram sepia toned landscape is their special super power right so I would go to block her dot com and look up under the conferences tab the viewfinder agenda because we had talents ranging from catherine mccord who is the mommy blogger and food blogger behind delicious starcom who is doing gorgeous almost many features on food uh that you might love but at the same time we had people in that day such a diverse group of speakers that whether you're interested in inspirational, almost short documentary like todd and diane of white on rice couple or you want to do fantastic fashion uh photo blogging or photo bombing you could find them so look learn from the people that are trail blazing and also find out the people that are in their communities we also have a couple of people in the audience maggie and also leslie that are very interested in the tech space in particular leslie has a community called innovation mama advice for people that want to get more involved in you know women in tech and that space and be more involved in the community and if you can't fly to chicago or you don't have the resource is how do you get involved that's a great question so on one of the greatest things about being the head of your household as a mother as I know is that you actually get to get really involved in the technology decisions. One of our key platinum sponsors this year was samsung, which not everyone knows is the world leader for mobile technology, product sales and what's that interesting is that block her right now, every month reaches twenty five percent of the women who have apple iphones, so watching that community test and try the samsung products with fascinating because it was the ultimate interface, I think what you could do right at home has everything to do with walking into your best by getting permission from the from the store manager to do your take on innovation for moms and talking about technology right there, how could that hurt them? And you could probably teach all of us a little something. I still feel a little lost in the camera section, but I'm a novice lina and I have a couple of specific questions for you that I wanted to ask, but, um, you know, I know that your audience we've already talked about, like, if you're blocking a couple times a week, but, um and you want people that have engaged in community at least twice a week, open to read without a password, no profanity, I talk about that in the book actually, like thinking about, you know, if profanity is appropriate for your toner. Your brand hosted by a service that allows adds word prestes wordpress allow ads if you do a self hosted wordpress blogged you have the best of both worlds they're fantastic layouts and the ability to take ads if you use their free hosted solution then you won't be able to have ads but our team specializes in helping people make that transition okay and so just kind of getting into like the brass tacks of blogging how important is the headline headline is gold gold headline is liquid gold if you're on a medium that has only one hundred forty characters for a status update or a headline it better be smart, snappy, interesting and intriguing okay so there there you know we were talking about headlines before you know we also had a question before you came in about having a really authentic voice versus a business tone of voice and then we were also talking about long format versus five tips to learn from and I don't want to tell you what my answer was but what's more effective these days of those many questions are you saying what's more effective long from assure from either either long former short form and the example would be you know the top five tips to become a great blogger versus my story of how I became a blogger I think that you as an effective marketer for your own brand need both I'm sorry it's your business it's your business twenty four seven and not on lee do you deserve to have the long narrative that will really separate you from other people who might be like you in your space? But you also need a short snack a bill introduction to yourself it's going to get someone to follow you or favorite you or be interested in reading that longer version so you do need both and I frankly think that the most important thing you could do and we talk about this at block her a lot is developed reader trust. So look at your subject area if you're writing about, uh a deep subject with incredible meaning like infertility or financial futures for people of retirement age, you really need to go credible, right? Everything needs to be detailed and clear if, however, your reserving your blood for the best southwestern chili recipes that you're tracking on the scoville rating and you're daring everybody to make them assad is possible I think you need the shortest, sweetest, most photo sensitive ah headlines you could possibly have and then you can go deep on the story behind you know a certain chili recipe um I think in your gut you know what's best for you, you know your brand, you know what you're passionate about, you know what you want to read it's all about tell me a story whether it is fronting for an important and emotional nonprofit cause are having a heck of a good time with makeup oh okay, you can't be wrong if you're the audience and you care about it that much and you know what? People are blogging about every single topic under the sun these days I mean it's amazing we're just going to see more and more kind of I want to just turn to see if there's a question from our online audience because we have people that are tuning in from africa and india and london which the london folks I promised that I would tell them that they sent me a tweet that there's a group in london that is starting a hashtag creative live to london and that they want creative life to do two weeks of classes in london so there you have it london I promise you I tell you about that now so questions from our online audience yeah we have a question from yes and girl in germany and she says hi lisa great information what advice you have for bloggers on the international front in terms of dealing with multiple cultures well hi yes and girl and thank you for the question that is such an important issue and that's one of the reasons that we recommend against profanity in the girl and also a casual use of profanity if you say it you better mean it because what you don't want to do is offend anyone, and the second guideline we have that goes along with that is we strongly recommend that you never take the name of any day ity in vain because you might not know what wires you're tripping and you might be offensive in a way you do not mean to be if you wish to offend, go forth and conquer, I'm sure that you'll be successful and create a lot of waves, I guess is the right, but intentional communication is what we think cross cultural communication involves whether it's across genders across politics, I think the most important thing you khun dio is to be clear in your about section about who you are, what you're doing, why you're doing it, and if you're writing a blood that you consider to be partisan and or taking on an issue for which you're trying to advocate, say so say it loud and say it proud go for it on and that is something that I think is so important I'll give you ah, great example, there is a blogger named sadie doyle who wrote the tiger beat down blogged that won the women's media center award for best blood in two thousand ten or eleven I can't remember maybe truth as limit she took on issues of sexism and violence against women online and is such unbelievably good satirical funny incredible writer I've run into justus many men almost his women who write her block and fallen in love with it but because she is unapologetic and who she is you know what your denny and setting the readers expectation is the foundation of community trust right? That's what we're here for let's turn tio are great studio audience any questions that you guys have about blogging or getting more active even how to generate more social sharing? Any thoughts? Questions that you want to ask carrie hi I had an earlier question I have never blogged I've read blog's but I don't know anything about actually setting one up or doing one myself but I really enjoy writing so at some point that might be something that I would enjoy doing and I was just curious as to on like I p or like legality of your content like does that stay yours when she put that out there? Should you just assume that people can take it music? I was just kind of curious about what that entails for what you put you know for what you publish and also a lot of people watching our photographers so both words and images excellent excellent questions such an important question I strongly urge you to start a block if you decide you want to see if you can type in email you can create a blogger today's tools thank you we're pressing block spot, so go for it on there is very little more sacred to creative than her or his own intellectual property, so with people who write, we recommend that before you start a block before you name a site perhaps even before you go forth and create a certain twitter or instagram account, you might want to do a quick search make sure that you're coming up with a unique name or something that is really going to be able to be branded as you write branding can lead to trademarking can lead to copyrighting how if you're going about this professionally, do you want to carve out your identity online? Now all the good ones are creative because you're that creative you can come up with something new I see it all the time. The second thing is that when you are a photographer, when you're coming up with an illustration or a visual of any kind water marking it is of enormous value value and there are absolutely ways that you can quickly and easily do that so that any time the image is downloaded or copy there's your brand or your girl or your name do you know some of the resource is for that if you wanted to do that quickly or I have to infer size again the experts from the viewfinder day at the blocker dot com or the block her viewfinder conferences here were wonderful and when they had a net experts speak lies a berry kessler, who is an intellectual property attorney who has been volunteering foreign speaking at block her four years now and has been one of our advisers has very clear articles on how to protect your work. The last thing I would just to mention recipe bloggers are in a unique and special category because you cannot copyright a recipe, so I recommend that you go on to block her dot com and look up copyright recipe because there is a cornucopia of ideas there and if you are interested, I could write you back with some you or else I just I'm not gonna go into the html here, but I'm not happy treat on the great great issue and everyone that's watching online it's blogher dot com so lots of great resources and there's a scroll tab down the side that has a lot of information that you can kind of follow too. So there's a lot of great resource is there leslie for lisa's faras balancing longer form articles, which you called snapple sizes and I love that term because my writing style is very narrative and like many movies almost every time I try to write an article and they end up being quite long, how would you recommend trying to balance and bring in shorter form without losing that kind of unique tone that is a great question, so the exercise for a long form writer and writing short can be very painful and difficult. And one of the best pieces of advice I got early on is a writer, and I started in print and went to broadcast, so you can imagine what that was like was to read my stories out loud if you have a long for peace that you're really happy with, waited out loud to yourself and see if you could break it down into a sense or two. How would you summarize it for a different medium? And so if you actually take yourself out of the physical act of writing into the physical act of speaking, you may find that you can quote something that you can live with, even though it's, not your whole story. We have that in film school to where they noticed do an exercise where it was, you know, okay, the film is finished and you handed in, then they'd say now I want you to cut twenty five percent of it. It was like I can't I can't, and then you look and you go, oh, I can. And so even the book, I think, I probably written, I wrote about, you know, fifty percent more content than I actually because that editing process you can actually get rid of a lot of words and have things people out more succinct so that's great advice there is an old old movie that alana turner executive produced called another time another place and in it it's where she produced this movie only she could make out with sean connery who is about twenty five it's the most unbelievable film it got almost no play but the beginning she plays a reporter and she types up the story and she's running out of the newsroom she's like sorry jack whatever editor's name is if I'd had enough time it would be shorter oh that's right that's right is so funny that's a great line so I love that I do want to just turn more a little bit personal and share with the group how we met because we've been talking a lot about mastermind groups and connections and how you know relationships can really change your life so lisa and I actually were scheduled to go to a conference and there was a hurricane in mexico and so several of the women we decided we were all tweeting and e mailing at night we're not going we're going to get stuck there we're going to get stuck there so you know, a lot of us said not met in person and what we didn't stand was we said, well, let's let's also not go and let's get together and you know, have dinner and have our own little conference and so out of that I would say kind of group like a little mini mastermind where it's been you know, very collaborative and so you know, you never know how you're going to meet people that you find really interesting or inspiring and for me finding people that had a common interest in tech and finding people that you know, more experience and because I was in the aviation space and I wasn't in you know, blogging and I wasn't in content production so it's been really enjoyable so leah, you know, you produce a conference right now so there's probably lots of things that are happening like that there ripple effect can you just tell me like, what is some of the magic that you've seen come out of your conference is either connections that have been made, you know, people that have constantly met year after year, the conferences with the magic and power of going to events well, I'd love to hear more about your event walker I went to san diego believe have I'm so glad I would love to pick your brain and hear more about what's the name of your conference at the helm women in business? Okay, fantastic well, when is the next one november here or los angeles? Oh great to come down because there's nothing like connecting with other people in person if you we find that uh blogging and social media are at the same time incredibly intimate there are things that you can discuss confess workout develop in the online space that fantastically remove anything like age or gender or race or accent from the picture and that is a huge opportunity and once you make those connections online there's really nothing like shaking the hand over throwing your arms around the person who made that great comment or told that great story and so to your question when you say what is the difference about media person I just have to tell you about my favorite part of the entire block or event which is our voices of the year event so every year we we have the community recommend the best writing of the year and we choose one hundred posts from the two thousand or more that were recommended in fifteen reed and this year one of my absolute favorites kelly wickham who writes mocha mama and she and I were single moms together back in the day online and then our lives have evolved and she wrote an amazing piece about standing up to, uh utility workers as a teenage mother and telling those unacceptable that they were going to turn off her heat in the middle of the winter with her baby on her hip and knowing that everything that went into her blogging and into her story and having been there myself in the shame of not having enough money to meet a hating bill, right when you're trying to feed your kids, watching her read that post, we've known each other for almost a decade now, you know, for me apart, and it just cemented in my mind fact that she's just one of the most important women in my life, you know, I mean she's such a leader for me and she's, such an example and she's so brave, but I was having that experience as all these other women and man were meeting her for the first time. I could tell you the names of every single one of her children, but other people have never seen her before, and it was just an amazingly layered moment. Because today, in social media, as business people or his writers, we had generations of experience. It was phenomenal. You know, the other thing that I love lee so that you are just sharing is that, you know, right now you're sitting here and we're talking about this huge conference that you did. But you, you know, obviously just referenced that at a certain point in your life that there were financial challenges there were, you know, times where you had to figure out, how am I going to make this work? You know, a lot of people that have read the book or have connected online are either looking for a new position or maybe they're in and what I call a pivot point where they're looking for a new opportunity. You know what advice we and people that are facing a challenging time and they need to find new income streams, you know, what advice do you have for people that are in that spot right now? Well, I'm happy to talk about it and thank you for asking, you know, elisa camera, heart page, jury days are dan and I when we started blocker, we had no idea we were starting a company, this was a labor of love. We were trying to answer the question, where are the women who blogged? Because all three of us were already blogging professionally? It was like being the who that horton never here's, right? As one blogger rocks populi said at the time, we're going to hold a nice conference with everybody and go on back to her. Right uh but it didn't turn out that way. The community really wanted more events, they wanted to be paid for their work and they wanted to get together more and so we decided to go for it on the next two years of boot strapping the company you were both fantastic and insane because during the day the three of us would work on our day jobs, typing media strategy consulting and overnight we would work on the company I mean, those air like my advice to remember those years, right? And I learned three things number one on lee, do something if you care enormously about it, if you're an entrepreneur, you're only an entrepreneur because you carry so much about things that you're willing to take enormous risks to make them happen. If you feel like it's worth it, then you're probably ready for what's going to take everything that you've got financially and emotionally. The second thing is I really am a huge fan of having co founders if you can find one or preferably to other people who can earn your trust by working as hard as you do by fighting fair and being utterly and completely honest with money and relationships go for it really takes your own personal village build your village you could do it, but the third thing I learned and this is so important no toxic people I love that no toxic people if you're going to create room to do this in your life, you are going to be just saying no to something else might be a person might be relationship might be an obligation might be a job your you know what those are? You have to face them, you have to face them now, not later and, um if you can do that and at the same time maintain a personal life which takes you for full circle back to get some co founders then you will ultimately have found a reason to work as hard as you have to work in today's economy to not worry about how you're going to pay that utility bill and very fortunate because my parents, despite the fact that they thought I would probably grow up and be a waitress because I was not a great student in high school at all I paid help me pay for a four year degree, go to college. This whole idea that you could be a successful entrepreneur by quoting harvard halfway through not everyone is mark zuckerberg. Yeah, okay, right, go to college. How about a couple more questions from the online? I know we have two minutes left with you inside. I'd love a couple questions from our online audience sure, absolutely on dh this is kind of opposite to what we were asking about before but the measure wants to know kenny regional or local focus blogger or flogging be worthwhile or should we shoot for a more global audience? Well, the mess I would say on dh there is a growing appetite for an interest and local and regional blogging absolutely so um what's interesting is if you look at advertising dollars that are going to be spent in the united states over the next five or six years, the single largest growth category is digital local spending, so if you are for example, a parenting focus blood right now or a food focus blogged if you can add a calendar of events to your blood once a week talking about what you're going to eat or do locally uh you actually should be ableto plug into local radio or local television or local print and get them to recommend out your blood, drive more traffic to your blood and possibly even pick up a couple sponsors that's great it's great that I'm speaking of the american market when I say that and possibly the u k market definitely canada, but I would limit those those comments to that those markets and, you know, that's one topic that we started to touch on, we didn't get very deep on but thinking about the partnership strategy and how to escalate we've talked about the key influencers, but he know you just brought up tv stations, radio networks looking at any kind of partner situation where there's a lot of reach, I'm sure you have sponsors that are attached to your conference, but looking at you know who has a similar audience and how can you partner it's? The same thing is the cofounder strategy, but, you know, surround yourself with people, get more eyeballs and more reach. So I just absolutely love that if people want to get involved and find out more about blogger is the best way just to go to the site. Absolutely. We just announced a conference that might be of interest to your community, porter and we should talk about you speaking there after this event on block. Her pro for professional or professionally minded bloggers will be in q three this year here in silicon valley, corsets in october and it's a great conference focused on people who are working to drive their brand or their business using blacks and social media. Gray, thank you for asking. Yeah, well, we're so glad to have you on any questions from the internet no more one more, okay, we've got one more here from name, and she says that she has a fashion blogger it's called style pogba's dot com she posed fashion, beauty and style news and talks to industry experts she wants to know about starting event she would love to start having events around her block and around the community what steps could she take to take the audience from the block and turn it into live events? Well when we start a live event what we tend to do is ask our community if they are interested in it and this is a real change from traditional media and broadcast it used to be that we would tell everybody what they wanted that's old school not anymore it doesn't work that way now you go on your blood and you say hey everybody I'm interested in all of us getting to know each other in person or getting together and or hey industry experts I think that there might be an opportunity for a fashion and beauty conference around this topic whether it's fall fashion week uh or uh you know the smoky eye I'll give you a great example leann barbs writes a blood called the makeup girl and she started her own fashion week event called cocktails and co tour she is absolutely renowned for it people flocked to her event every spring and fall in new york she is now a leading expert and we're very proud to have her in our publishing network on and following the way she built that event would be a way to take my few sentences and watch them grow into action thank you so much for being here any last advice for everybody or thought, son, is your network your net worth? Thank you for inviting me to join the master class on your your network. Absolutely is your net worth. And if you follow porter's, excellent advice to make it a gift economy, if you give, you absolutely will receive if you do it with quality and integrity, which I can tell from your questions you're very committed to doing. Did my mom pay you right? Doesn't sound like that was like we're not knowing there's. Full disclosure, I think, actually, don't I owe you dinner, like, are we behind? So I mean it's, great to see you, and I hope that less time transpires between the next visit, and when we come back, we're going to be talking about job search techniques and also the importance of storytelling and how to make asks, and then will be wrapping up.