Blogalicious Day 1

WASHINGTON, D.C.—I did it, MotherTalkers. I went from a red-eye flight Friday morning right to work at the Blogalicious Conference. It is an annual conference for and by African American and Latina bloggers, and all who want to reach out to us.

First of all, I learned that I was nominated by my fellow Latino bloggers for the “Best Activist Blogger“ category in the Latinos in Social Media Awards. LATISM is an online network of 140,000+ Latinos, and I am honored to be recognized among so much talent. If you feel inclined – pretty please! – vote for me here.  :)

The Blogalicious Conference itself was small – 320 in attendance. I liked that I could take my time networking and actually meet everyone there. I also could attend as many sessions and parties I wanted without any scheduling conflicts, something I am not used to at the larger conferences like BlogHer and Netroots Nation.

I spent a lot of time with my fellow Latina bloggers, like Dariela Cruz from the Mami Talks blog and LATISM founder and chair, Ana Roca Castro:

Ana, by the way, is my twin. She is half-Dominican, half-Cuban and we have the exact hair. I am in awe of her accomplishments and energy: not only did she found LATISM, and has held impressive positions in the UN and public sector, she is also the mother of four children. Her LATISM colleague Elianne Ramos and I posed with other Latina bloggers for this reunion shot:

In the front row with me is Maura Hernandez, from the blog The Other Side of the Tortilla, who has contributed a story to MotherTalkers here. Smack in the middle of the pack is Ana Flores from Spanglish Baby, a great blog about raising bilingual children. Right behind her is Viviana Hurtado, who has a political blog I sometimes read called the Wise Latina Club — just to give you a flavor of the great Latina writing on the web. Outside of MotherTalkers, of course! :)

The Blogalicious opening keynote was a 30-year-old marketing guru – yeah, I felt under accomplished! – Jesse Jones, who has worked in the music label, Sony BMG, and has worked with some of the biggest brands, like Nautica. While these brands still look at numbers – how many twitter followers they have or how many blog readers they have – I agreed with Jones. Ultimately, it is better for companies to gain 50 loyal followers than 5,000 random followers.

I really believe that this is the future of marketing, whether it be for a company or non-profit organization. The bloggers, or people, who already feel passionate about a product or cause and are already publicizing it for free are the future employees of that company.

Of course, not all organizations and companies “get it.“ There are many who are still focused on the “numbers“ – how many blog readers or Facebook friends a potential employee has. But, ultimately, like the newspapers, they will learn that blindly reaching out to random people will not lead to more sales. Loyalty will. I was in complete agreement with Jones there.

We took a break and snacked on delicious cupcakes provided by the American Cancer Society:

The American Cancer Society has this wonderful initiative called More Birthdays, which is helping draw attention to their work from providing cancer patients with lodging and support to cancer research. There was a haunting testimonial by Susan, the publisher of the Toddler Planet blog. She was wheeled in as she has metastatic breast cancer in her spine, neck, ribs, and hips. She also has two sons: a 4-year-old and 6-year-old. Shudder.

“Pink ribbons are pretty, but research is what works,” she said.

I could feel the shivers throughout the room, and there was not a single dry eye. Talk about a perspective check. I could not stop thinking about her as I roamed the halls of the Gaylord Convention Center in Maryland, and sat through sessions. I missed my husband and kids, and wanted to hold them.

I hate to end on such a depressing note, but this blog is getting rather long so I will continue later this week.