Blog Conferences are Not a Vacation (Even Though They’re Fun)

Blog Conferences are Not a Vacation (Even Though They're Fun)

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on “The Mommy Business Trip“.  The writer discussed blog conferences as well as sales conferences for direct sales companies, yoga conferences, and more.  Which, great! Finally work at home moms are getting the respect they deserve, with a piece in the WSJ!

Not so fast.  Katherine Rosman, the author of the piece, can’t keep the mocking tone out of her piece.  She quotes Yoga Journal conference coordinator Elana Maggal saying, “”It’s a fun and educational thing to do for people who are married with children and need a legitimate reason to leave home,” she says.”

This how the rest of the story goes.  The theme seems to be these silly women are away from the children for a weekend! It must be a vacation if there are no kids!  And mommies are having a good time! This can’t be business.  Especially if they are bloggers or artisans selling crafts.

Ms. Rosman profiles a couple of conference attendees who have husbands who travel extensively on business.  She does not point out that the husbands stay in hotel rooms or may have drinks with colleagues, but goes to great lengths to portray business trip mommies as boozy, party seeking amateurs.

“Last month, 360 people traveled to Ventura, Calif., for the second annual Craftcation Conference, a four-day DIY-bacchanal at which attendees learn to market and promote their macramé and kombucha.

Women owned businesses (such as selling crafts, blogging, or even being a yoga instructor) are subtly mocked as “part time ventures” that “aren’t about the income”.

Really?  Women in business deserve better than this.

These attendees at conferences are entrepreneurs, most of whom are attending at their own expense.  We don’t have bosses giving us the corporate credit card to cover lunch.   Bloggers attending a conference also are working the whole time.  Walk through any blog conference and you’ll find tight knots of women huddled over their laptop, “minding the shop” even as they are making connections and furthering their education.

A class on “how to take stylish Instagram pictures” isn’t fluff.  It’s part of our bread and butter.  Blog Elevated is having sessions on search engine optimization, small business accounting, legal aspects of blogging, and professional photography.  That’s serious work and we have serious experts coming to teach.  We’ll have a dance party and drinks, we’ll do lunch together, and we may even have cupcakes but that doesn’t mean we are not working.

Funny how Mom 2.0 is shown as silly for having mint juleps and a barbecue, but the Wall Street Journal itself considers its conferences to be serious business despite being held at a resort with a “world class spa and a nine-hole golf course“, “Nightcap gatherings”, and sessions held at Bob’s Bar.  Nevertheless, WSJ prints descriptions of conferences targeted at women are described as “fun” and “silly”.

Our  work may be on WordPress and social platforms.  Yes, we Instagram and we rock our Facebook pages and we engage on Twitter.  That doesn’t make it any less worthy than an article written for a news journal.

We are bold entrepreneurs, making sacrifices and hard choices.  We give up our W2 employment and 401(k) plans to strike out on our own and build something ourselves, all the while taking care of our families.  We are strong women who refuse to choose between children and career and instead are forging our own path.

We find others on this same path and come together to learn, to talk, to encourage.

Just because a woman has children, doesn’t make her business trips into a vacation.

Just because a mother works part time, doesn’t mean her work is meaningless and her income inconsequential.

Just because a blogger socializes at a conference, doesn’t mean she is not working hard.

Bloggers are masters of many disciplines. We are the renaissance men and women of the digital age.  And we are the next generation of online influencers.  Shame on the Wall Street Journal for marginalizing and patronizing us.

I think that women would still attend Mom 2.0 even if there weren’t hats involved.  Katherine Stone, featured in the article as someone who “wants to leave her husband and her children” agrees and her piece on how she was mischaracterized is a good read.

But let’s ask the experts- YOU.  You are the ones sacrificing to come to blog conferences.  You are the ones traveling to new cities at your own expense.  I suspect it’s not just for a mint julep.  Why do YOU come to conferences?