One Blogger's Lightbulb Moment
How San Diegan Rick Calvert co-founded the largest blog conference in the U.S.
BlogWorld is regarded as the biggest social media and blog conference in the country—attracting the top names and brands in the social space. But a mere six years ago, BlogWorld was just an idea tossed around over paninis at an Escondido Panera Bread. To hear how this transformation happened, we sat down with Rick Calvert, co-founder of the trade show and a lifetime San Diegan.
San Diego Magazine: How did you come up with the idea for BlogWorld?
Rick Calvert: Back in 2005 I started a political blog called The Real Ugly American, and it took off. Pretty quickly I attracted a good-sized audience and advertisers were approaching me, so I thought I’d go to a blogging trade show to figure out if I could make some real money from this hobby of mine. And I found out there wasn’t one.
SDM: The conference is now 5 years old. How have you seen it grow?
RC: Well, it has obviously grown in size (we now have more than 4,000 people) but it has also grown in mainstream acceptance. This year was significant because we were actually approached by BookExpo, a 20,000-person trade show for the publishing industry, and asked to co-locate our event with theirs. They said that they see how blogging is changing the future of publishing and that they thought the two events belonged together.
SDM: So blogs are now as mainstream as books?
RC: All trade shows are a reflection of their industry, so the fact that our show is growing means that blogging and social media continues to grow. Companies are now creating chief social media officers and looking for a place to help educate these people. We are seeing more and more podcasters and bloggers making a living creating content.
SDM: At what point did the blog concept really explode?
RC: You know, the honest answer is, I still don’t think we are there yet. For all the hype that you hear about blogging and social media, most people still don’t understand what it is and how it works.
SDM: This year the conference moved from Vegas to New York and L.A. Why not San Diego?
RC: I really wanted to move to San Diego and we talked with the convention center, but we couldn’t get the dates we needed. I am a lifetime resident, though, so I would love for BlogWorld to be in SD.
SDM: Speaking of San Diego, what do you think of our local social media scene?
RC: I think we are both high tech and casual and laid back: We are the high-tech city you want to live in.
SDM: Which local companies have caught your eye?
RC: The coolest start-up tech that I know in San Diego right now is a company called Tap Hunter that has an app to help you find which bars and restaurants have your favorite beer on tap.
BlogWorld Los Angeles will take place Nov. 3-5.