The 7th annual Blogging While Brown conference hit New York City, gathering bloggers from across the country at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. The two-day conference, which kicked off on June 27, featured a bevy of blogging heavyweights, influencers, and well-known social media enthusiasts.
This year’s panelists and presenters included Senior Vice President/Chief Content Officer at Black Enterprise Alfred Edmond, Jr., Lamar and Ronnie Tyler, founders of Black and Married with Kids, and Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, creator of financial blog, The Budgetnista.com, among others. In addition to the panels and keynotes, there were countless opportunities for attendees to network with one another, as well connect with the big-name brands that helped make the conference happen. BWB welcomed returning and new sponsors such as AT&T, BlogHer, Black Enterprise, Comcast, Interactive One, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, and Kapor Center for Social Impact, to name a few.
The conference wasn’t short on invaluable information and resources, and, unlike other conferences, really encouraged bloggers to think as producers within technology (for example, during the coding panel, “Learn to Code 101”) and claim ownership over their own narratives.
“I’m committed to supporting Black bloggers,” said BWB founder Gina McCauley. “This is about Black people controlling their own destinies, and social media allows us to do that. At Blogging While Brown, we get to decide who we are; to tell that to the world…it’s in my best interest to continue to encourage them [bloggers] to produce, and continue to encourage them to stay up to date with technology, so they can show the beauty and diversity of Black people.”
With the conference in its 7th year, it has seen immense growth and diversity among the bloggers in attendance. During the pitch portion of “Girls Compete Women Cooperate: How to Use Bloggers in Your Niche to Build a Network,” the stage was filled with bloggers from different niches—everything from health and wellness and finance to fashion/beauty and hard-news sites. While Black women definitely dominate the blogosphere and social media, there were a sizeable number of males attending this year’s conference.
So, what are brands paying attention to when selecting bloggers to work with? Marketing and branding professional Tola Lawal, who presented during “Blogs and Brands,” advises bloggers to think outside of the box when it comes to their offerings, even suggesting events to provide that in-person experience. “Now, brands are paying attention to something that can produce them a 180 or a 360 program. It really should be something that encompasses everything, not just social media or digital,” said the founder of SixeOne7Creative.
Collaboration was another big point seasoned bloggers drove home to blogging newbies. The Budgetnista admits when she first started she thought she could do it alone, but quickly saw the value in guest blogging, content partnerships and collaboration. She and fellow finance bloggers Marsha Horton Barnes of Financial Empowerment, Kara Stevens of The Frugal Feminista, and Tonya Rapley and Victoria Williams of My Fab Finance joined forces to create The Frugal Fab 5. The quintet offered seven ways to collaborate such as starting a monthly Twitter chat, creating a blog series and hosting a sponsored event.
“Although someone is in the same realm as you, it doesn’t mean that they’re competition,” says Aliche. “It’s much better to collaborate because it grows your brand.”
Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.