-Staff Writer-

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – For the third year “Blogging While Brown” bloggers gathered to look at the industry, learn new techniques and how collectively they can make an impact.

“We want to begin to use the Internet to impact political campaigns. We want to fundraise for candidates, contribute to PACs and influence politically oriented issues,” founder and widely known blogger Gina McCauley, www.whataboutourdaughters.com, told The Final Call.

“We want to use the Internet to develop policy, push it and seek change. We want to endorse candidates and campaigns.”


The conference was a Who’s Who of bloggers. Major writers from Patrice Yursik of Afrobella, Baratunde Thurston from the onion.com to Cheryl Contee from jackandjillpolitics.com to Anil Dashes of dashes.com to Chris Rabb of chrisrabb.com headlined the day.

“This was my first conference and it was impressive. The number of people who are willing to invest time and money who for most of them blogging is a hobby. It’s amazing to me. The opportunity to see in person so many people I follow on Twitter and read their blogs. I’m star struck,” Patrice Muhammad told The Final Call. She writes thefascinatingsista.blogspot.com.

“This was a last minute decision for me when I heard that there were nearly 200 people registered. I’m a newspaper publisher in Lexington, Kentucky and NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers of America) is having a conference in New York but I choose to come here. This is also a hobby for me but the connections I’ve made are incredible.”

Panel sessions included Federal Trade Commission Blog Advertising Guidelines, The Business of Blogging, Bloggers As Change Agents, and The Future of Blogging.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin spoke at the town hall meeting.

“I’m amazed at how many women are in this room. I would never have thought there were so many women bloggers. It’s eye opening for me to see this. Blogging drove most officials crazy but I like the honest, quickness and candor of social media,” said Ms. Franklin.

“When I came into office the focus was on local media. Two to three years into office I started using national media including blogs. Anyone elected into office today cannot ignore the blogs or bloggers.”

A 2009 Pew Study found Blacks trail the national average in broadband access at home, and have experienced below-average growth in home broadband adoption the past two years.

The lower level of home broadband access among Blacks, in conjunction with lower levels of ownership of “heavy” access devices — desktop and laptop computers — helps explain less frequent online access when the questions are framed in terms of traditional access.

The picture changes when including access on a handheld device, phone and with the broader measure of wireless use that includes laptops and other devices.

While low Internet use and access exists in the Black community, the online Black community has significant numbers of bloggers who address topics ranging from natural hair care to music to politics to parenting to social causes to relationships and everything in between.

The conference weekend began with a free Blogger’s Boot Camp. Nearly 50 registrants spent the morning learning how to start a blog.

Ms. McCauley, a lawyer by training welcomed the new would-be bloggers with her Blogger’s Boot Camp Course Materials, or everything you need to know to have a blog up and running in four hours.

Scott Hanselman who works for Microsft, has been blogging (hanselman.com) for eight years. He taught 32 Ways to keep Your Blog From Sucking. His top three tips, “Know your audience, keep personal things out of the post and don’t apologize for not blogging enough.”

“Focus on your expertise,” he told the captive audience. “Stay relevant and finally keep your blog interesting.”

After boot camp the group went to the Executive Office Building on a tour organized byCorey A. Ealons, who coordinates Black media outreach for the White House. He arranged for the group to meet with Melanie Barnes, head of the Domestic Policy Council, and himself.

Registration has already opened for next year’s conference July 8 and 9 in Los Angeles.

“This is the largest conference we’ve had to date. We used Twitter to get the word out and to other bloggers who also spread the word. Most people said they heard about it on Twitter,” said Amina Hanan, managing editor of the Michelle Obama Watch blog.

Next year’s conference will also include the first ever Black Social Media gathering.

“We will have a Social Media Convention. Many of us have niche areas,” explained Ms. McCauley. “Blogging While Brown will also have workshops on wireless technology. You don’t want to miss it.”