Elisa Camahort PAGE
Co-Founder, COO, BlogHer
Featured Lady Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for BlogHer, left a lucrative Silicon Valley career in technology product management and became a blogosphere pioneer. One of the first professional and business bloggers on the web, Elisa and her two co-founders grew BlogHer to 48 full-time employees, 2,500 bloggers in the publishing company and tens of thousands of website members. Prior to launching BlogHer, Elisa owned a consulting business that was among the first to integrate corporate marketing strategies into the social media environment. As COO, she leads events, marketing, public relations and research for BlogHer, while working to ensure that all company operations deliver to plan.
During the dot-com bust, Elisa quit her high-level, high paying marketing job and began blogging as “a personal thing.” Elisa admits not having entrepreneurial aspirations because she thought she’d follow her mom’s career path climbing the corporate ladder. However, Elisa had two realizations during her time away from the traditional nine to five churn, one being that she wasn’t looking for another job in her former industry. “I just couldn’t do it,” she says. Elisa also recognized that the blogging activities she was playing with were actually a form of marketing. “It was my peanut butter and chocolate moment,” she says.
Prior to launching BlogHer with Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone in 2005, pundits were posing the question, “Where are the women?” Elisa says, “Specifically, people were asking where are all the women were in Fortune 500 companies, on the Op/Ed pages, on Sunday morning talk shows, in Congress and speaking at conferences.” So, Elisa, Jory and Lisa, who were all blogging in different spaces and had serendipitously met, wondered if there’d be any interest if they hosted a conference by and about women bloggers. Since the era was pre-Twitter and before Facebook was open to non-college students, they blogged about the idea and gained support. In 120 days all 300 tickets to the event sold out. “We received an immediate, positive and passionate response,” Elisa says.
Following the first BlogHer Conference, the trio reviewed the feedback and decided the attendees wanted three things. The first was another conference. Second, although it was nice to meet people, they sought a central place to revisit everyone everyday, so BlogHer.com was launched. The third request was a way to make money blogging, which in 2006 became the BlogHer Publishing Network. Initially using personal finances to get the company off the ground, Elisa says, “We were just three chicks with credit cards when we launched BlogHer.”
Elisa says that in early 2006, she, Lisa and Jory experienced a rough transition period when they agreed to phase out their own consulting clients and focus full-time on BlogHer. “We were paying people and growing organically, but had no steady income,” she explains. “I was fortunate to have saved two years of my full-time salary, but still accrued $25,000 on my credit cards and used a $25,000 home equity line of credit. I spent my life savings and racked up debt.”
Later that year, the co-founders realized the potential in ad revenue and knew they needed to go big in order to get the larger advertisers. “We recognized that someone in traditional, established media could leapfrog over us and do this,” Elisa says. “It would have been really frustrating if another entity did it instead of us.”
Although Elisa, Jory and Lisa weren’t planning on taking outside investors, after two years of bootstrapping the Redwood City, California based company got its first round of venture capital funding – right before the economy bottomed out. “We were fortunate to already be VC backed,” Elisa says. “We had been around for three years and were an established site.”
Today, BlogHer.com is the quintessential guide to and source for blogs by women. With 23 million unique visitors each month, its mission is to create opportunities for blogging women to pursue exposure, education, community and economic empowerment. The company provides the number one community for and guide to blogs by women via annual conferences, a web community and blogging news hub, as well as a publishing syndicate of more than 2,500 qualified, contextually targeted blog affiliates.
What we learned from Elisa: “Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen if I tried something and it failed?’ Paint the picture.”
Yes, They Did
“One of our best moments was landing an exclusive interview with then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama.”
“The economy is an ongoing challenge. We’ve hit our targets and fought for every dollar because you can’t know when it will ease up.”
“Our vision is that BlogHer is the future of media for women. BlogHer is a women’s media company, but it’s not a pink and purple silo. It’s all the lifestyle programming you’re used to seeing, plus politics and tech and hard news and finance and so on. We serve the whole woman, while women create the content and get paid for their words and work.”
This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.