3 Lessons to Learn From BlogHer's Trio of Pioneers
Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone created a community of women's bloggers and a business model. Their guiding principles can be instructive to many startup founders.
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In 2005, BlogHer founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins wanted to know where all the women bloggers were.
Back then, it was the Wild, Wild West days of blogging. But if you don't ask, you'll never get an answer.
So Stone, Camahort Page and Des Jardins invited women who were active online to meet up in person.
More than 300 women showed up. These three pioneers pulled something off that many people only dream of doing: They built a company -- and a successful brand.
BlogHer has grown into an audience of 100 million across premium blogs, websites, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and aims to educate, empower and bring more exposure to women writers. "Since 2009, BlogHer Inc. has paid out $36 million to 5,700 bloggers and social media influencers who embrace our editorial guidelines and produce community content," according to the company's website.
The company's publishing network grants revenue from ad campaigns to participant bloggers, who can also be can be part of "blog-based sponsor pograms."
I had the opportunity to sit down with the founders of BlogHer to learn more about their story at a recent conference.
Related: Sheryl Sandberg Encourages Women Bloggers to 'Lean In'
1. Develop a strong team.
Opposites attract. But when forming a partnership, the differences have to be complementary.
Stone, Camahort Page and Des Jardins don't share the same background, skills or expertise. Their personalities are similar, however, and their differences help them complement one another's skills perfectly.
"We have complementary skills, which makes it a lot easier to be collaborative and not competitive," Stone says. "Our collective intelligence makes for much more of a superpower than if all three of us came from the same background."
When looking to build your team, don't hire those whose skills and expertise closely mirror yours. As the driver of the bus, fill the seats with the right people -- individuals who want to go in the same direction and who can do parts of the job requiring different skill sets and experience.
Related: 15 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015
2. Pull your own weight.
So many partnerships fail because someone isn't pitching in. Sure, it's fun to be visionary, to talk about the big picture and plans for the future. But then you have to get to work.
Stone, Camahort Page and Des Jardins have no problems rolling up their sleeves and doing what needs to be done and they each share a similar level of intensity for getting the job done.
That's not to say everything has always gone smoothly. They'll be the first to tell you that they've butted heads a few times over the years. But you'd never know it.
"We fight fair," Stone says. "We've been able to fight for years without it being personal."
Don't be afraid to have hard conversations. When something doesn't go as planned, deal with it quickly and honestly. Make it about the solution, not someone's personality. Then move forward -- together.
3. Ask your customers what they want.
You can do all the market research in the world, but sometimes, you just have to flat out ask people what they want. And it turns out, they'll tell you.
Stone, Camahort Page and Des Jardins knew just how important it was to find out exactly what women bloggers wanted.
They asked. Their community answered: They wanted ways to get together with other bloggers. They wanted to be compensated for their work.
BlogHer responded with more conferences, with an ad network and social-media enhanced publishing platforms. And by doing so, BlogHer quickly opened up opportunities for everyone.
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