Sunday, March 30, 2008

MidLife Bloggers - We're Here!

There's a conversation going on at BlogHer that I've been having with myself for more than a year: Where are all the middle-aged women bloggers? | BlogHer?
Cecelia over at MetaFootnotes started it several weeks ago when she introduced herself to BlogHer. She wrote about trying to find "a voice that I want to hear." That voice is of a woman in her midlife (fill in the age range yourself; these days when 60 is the new 50 and 50 is the new 40--who knows).
"I'll admit it. I envy the mommybloggers. Twenty years ago . . . I would have found those sites a lifeline, a very Godsend. But, despite the obvious fact that theirs are among the most powerful and prolific voices on the Web, the Mommys don't speak to or for me. I have different issues now, and I'd like to talk about them and hear others talk as well."
Cecelia finishes by putting a call out:
"If you are a woman of a certain age (and doesn't that sound better than middle-aged?) and know of blogs that talk comprehensively about this wonderful, frustrating stage of life, please let me know."
Almost four weeks later, we're still talking and the topic is getting stronger and stronger. I'm going to link at the end to all the women who have (thus far) taken part in the conversation, but in this post, I want to highlight a few voices, as well as my own experience.

I've been blogging for, I dunno, four years now (see how the memory goes!) and for much of that time I've felt like I am swimming upstream. Or--here's another metaphor--battering on a door, saying 'Let me in. Hear me. Speak to me.' The problem isn't ageism. There are blogs out there that speak eloquently to and for the Elders. BlogHer has a subcategory just for them and Denise, who's the Community Manager at Blogher, point to that site." However, I am not an Elder. My interests have nothing to do with issues of getting old and infirm and living on a fixed income.

My interests are more in line with Tanis, who doesn't have a blog yet (but should!):
"I'm looking for an arena to be heard and to listen. A place to discuss teenagers, new relationships and a not so new body, a busy career or lack of one. Self discovery, confidence, what to wear, family dynamics, alone time and what comes next in life."
I too want to see myself on BlogHer. I brought it up last year at BlogHer '07, and I was told that someone was going to be doing it. But someone isn't. Debra Roby of A Stitch in Time says that's because it's too broad a topic. Middle-aged women don't blog about their issues "any more than young bloggers specifically blog about what it's like to be a college student, or a quarterlifer." Well actually, Debra, young bloggers do blog about exactly that.

My sense is that the reason we midlifers aren't seen and focused on as a viable community within BlogHer is that the powers that be, the decision-makers of BlogHer aren't in our demographic. That's somewhere down the line, when I get older, but definitely not now, is what I imagine them saying. Now I'm about getting and doing and being and making and--wow! there's the whole world out there to conquer.

A good part of that conquering the world is making BlogHer a respected entity, building it into a viable player within the world of commerce. The Mommybloggers are at the top of the mountain, an acknowledged force to be reckoned with in terms of business, and an advertiser's dream. So in selling BlogHer, it's probably easier to sell them. Except--we, the midlife women, are a big, big piece of the advertising pie as well. We're the ones with discretionary income; we're the bigger spenders. So says Marti Barletta, who's known as the "First Lady of marketing to women" in her book PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Business of Boomer Big Spenders. This was the pitch that I made last summer after BlogHer, and this was the pitch that I guess was a dead ball. But I'm at it again.

As is Gena, from Out On The Stoop, issued a challenge to someone to "whip up a sample post and show folks what's needed." Karen from MidLife's A Trip, took her up on it. You can read her post as part of the comments here. She said something in one of her comments that really resonated with me. "I'm usually one of the oldest on the sites I visit--not a mommy blogger yet not an elderblogger either. It's kind of like being the middle child in a family--sometimes you feel like you don't quite fit in."

That's how I've felt. I'm not done being and becoming. I'm not finished have adventures, going places, trying and failing and trying again and, then, succeeding. In short, I'm not done living, and I want my site, my BlogHer to reflect that.

Here are some other midlife women who feel the same:
Carol at A Different Nest
Jill at Writes Like She Talks
Pundit Mom
Anali at Analis First Amendment
Rhonda at Recipe Carousel
Tara at The Princess and The Pea
Diary of a Midlife Crisis
Pamela Jeanne at Coming2Terms
Granny Sue

I can't tell you the exact age range of these women. Some are in their 40s, some 50s, some 60s. I can't tell you what all they write about either. There is no essential MidLife Woman, just as there is no essential Mommyblogger. What I can tell you is that they're looking for something they're not getting right now, a voice, and if not at BlogHer, then where?

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