Michael Brandy, Deseret News
SANDY — They're women of all different sizes and ages — some pushing strollers, others cradling a Diet Coke and many of them typing on phones and laptops, updating a constant stream of Twitter blurbs, Facebook statuses and blog posts.
They're bloggers, specifically the Mormon mommy variety, and 375 of them met in Sandy over the weekend for the first-ever Casual Blogger Conference.
"We're mothers first and bloggers second," said Eliza Scharton, who founded the conference. "Blogging brings back that neighbor element from the '50s, where you talked to your neighbor over the back fence, but this time your neighbor is across the country."
Scharton, a Kaysville resident, also is a co-founder of Mormon Mommy Blogs, which she describes as a content-clean hub for Christians — men, single women and childless couples regularly contribute, too. It's exploded since its start 18 months ago, now with 2,000 blogs listed.
The blog conference was Scharton's brainchild, as she wanted an all-female blog event that focused on the craft — the art of storytelling, taking great photos, balancing an online life and writing through pain. Hence the conference theme: "Live. Laugh. Blog."
"So many women say, 'I'm just a mommy blogger.' There's no such thing," Scharton said. "It records your life, enhances it and inspires others."
A growing trend
Nationwide, more women are going online and changing the way females communicate. Half of the women in the country interact through social media, and 23 million interact with blogs, according to research by BlogHer Inc.
That number is arguably higher among Mormon women, where it seems to be a rite of passage after the honeymoon to start a blog.
Casey Mullins of mooshinindy.com describes the Mormon blogging world as a variation of the "6 Degrees" game. Open up a blog of one Mormon friend, click on the side links of their friends and keep going until you find someone else you know.
"We found out my husband's cousin was pregnant that way," Mullins said.
A Salt Lake native, Mullins moved to Indiana in 2006 and she started her blog to keep in touch with family back in the Beehive State. One of the biggest names at the conference (she's reviewed products for HP and Frigidaire and has spoken at dozens of blog events), Mullins wouldn't define herself as a Mormon mommy blogger but as a woman who blogs and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her business card proudly proclaims her motherhood role, with "mom" between her first and last name.
Her wit and candor — she's blogged about infertility and a suicide attempt — has made Mullin's blog unique among Mormon bloggers.
The blogging community amongst Mormon mothers is one-of-a-kind, she said. Mullins describes a blogging conference in Indiana where roughly 10 percent of the attendees are women. Even fewer write about their lives as mothers.
"You could never get this anywhere else," she said of the Utah-based conference.
With 85 percent of bloggers and their readers making the household purchasing decisions, companies are taking notice of blogs.
"When we tell them, 'We're having 300 people here who do the household shopping, and they'll be hostage here for two whole days, do you want to come?' They went, 'Ding ding ding!' " Caroline Bingham said of securing the 28 sponsors and 22 vendors for the conference.
Bingham, who blogs at thebinghamdiaries.com, is the co-founder of Mormon Mommy Blogs and the Casual Blogger Conference.
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