I get asked all the time to sum up my blog into one category. Am I a beauty blogger, a fashion blogger or a mummy blogger? To be honest I kind of resent the fact that I have to “fit in” anywhere. I’m confident enough to believe that I’m unique and coined the term “Vanity Blogger”. As a vanity blogger you just write about you, what you’re interests are, what your passionate about with the freedom to delve into any category you like. It’s like a lifestyle blogger who’s very self indulgent, shares the everyday mundane, the deep inner thoughts and the beautiful things that surround or adorns her.
The more events I’m invited to attend, the more I realise that since the Australian blogosphere has exploded in the last 24 months, I’m loosing my freedom to write with free reign if I want to continue doing sponsored work. Specific “niche” blogs are popping up all over the place. For a brand or advertiser, a blog targeting a specific audience that matches their demographic is more appealing to invest in, no matter how varied your range of skills. The engagement rate over all your social media platforms or the longevity of your site.
Not all brands are like that though, many are still dipping their toes into social media, trying to wrap their heads around the concept. Developing strategies and figuring out where bloggers fit into it all. Their risk management flags are waving about like crazy. They want to give generously but also be mindful of their margins. They want to be casual and approachable yet still professional.
As social media (and it’s captive audience) grows, brands are becoming more and more transparent. We’re pushing aside the logos and the brands and peeking inside, seeing and meeting the people who make it all happen. They’re no longer safe guarded by PRs or big shiny buildings. Facebook, instagram and especially twitter expose them to the world and as with most things in life it’s a two sided coin. Some brands show their personality well, they think before they tweet, they’re involved and engaged. Others are unresponsive, blank of emotion and stuck in the old proven ways of traditional media.
Australian bloggers are a new breed. We’ve learnt from some of the mistakes made in the US when it comes to fair pricing for time, talent and readership and we’ve also learnt about the legalities involved and responsibility having a voice grants us. Brands are the same, they’ve learnt the same lessons from watching their overseas partners rise and fall and rise again. Bloggers and brands are becoming braver and I don’t know about you but it excites me.
There is an opportunity to experiment, to say no, to say yes. To be approached with wads of money or a fancy invitation to a swanky event and be able to say no if it doesn’t fit you, who you are, what you believe in and what you share online… knowing full well that another similar opportunity could be just around the corner. The brands bloggers could target for sponsorship 18 months ago were few and far between, you celebrated being sent a box of cereal. Now bloggers inboxes are being bombarded and sometimes trying to find what fits us best can be overwhelming.
*bling* an email arrives in my inbox and it’s from Brand Meets Blog for a LOreal event at the Hyatt. These are a few of the things that run through my mind before I accept…
- What day/time is it? Would Steve be able to care for Aidan? How will I be getting there?
- What would I get out of attending? Would I be meeting the PR agent or the marketing manager of OLreal? How many people are going? Would I even get one on one time with the LOreal team?
- What would my readers get out of my attendance? Will there be freebies on offer that I could giveaway after the event? Will I be educated on their products so I can relay news from the horses mouth to my readers? Will my readers enjoy reading about the event or seeing photos of me with my friends?
- What would LOreal get out of me attending? Do they expect me to take photos with my big camera? Would they still want to work with me even if I didn’t Instagram during/about the event? Do they want my “voice” or just my network? Will there be a press photographer and photos of the event made available?
- What will I wear? Should I wear something sponsored? I’ve never been to the Hyatt, should I dress up or will it be laid back? If I’m taking photos should I wear more comfortable shoes?
In case you’re interested I wore the Melon Sherbet Cocktail Dress from 17 Sundays with black patent peeptoe heels from Payless. The girls and I bonded over in NYC as they were a part of the Indie Runway Show at FFFWeek. I hadn’t worn any of their pieces before as they seemed more urban/grunge that I would normally go for but after seeing them on the runway in person I was keen to experiment. This little number is really comfortable and I loved the squares of black glomesh adorning the bust, so me! The skirt wrinkles a bit but as you can tell some the photos you can hardly see it. I think it will be great to wear during summer too as it’s so light.
The team presenting at the LOreal event were really receptive. The bloggers who attended are pretty seasoned when it comes to press events and product launches so I think they gained a lot of insights into how to engage with blogs in the future. My hat goes off to LOreal and Lousia from Brand Meets Blog for a glittering event full of information, the chance to meet the people steering the brand and for keeping the group of attendees intimate and relevant… oh and the macaroons and eclairs, they were pretty delightful too!
I think relevance is key when it comes to brand associations, no matter what category you (or others) place yourself in. I get invited to luxury product events but have held off because in reality I could never justify spending $500 on a handbag or $300 on a jar of face cream… if I ever do, slap me, for my own sake. Like my friends, my readers and I share common interests, ideals and sense of style, it’s these things that connect us even though we may have never met in person. If I start sharing experiences or products outside of my own realistic realm, my truth, my voice would be tainted… unless someone shouts me a first class flight, that would be like winning the lottery!
After the event most of us chilled out in the bar and talked candidly about things you can only talk about with other bloggers in dimly lit rooms. You can tell from the expressions that we all had something to share, something to vent and hard hitting questions to ask.
Our laptops and computers can be isolating places to work and create, getting together at events like this isn’t just about the brands, networking or the opportunities. It’s about wine, relaxing, talking shop and laughing til your belly hurts and your eyes water. The bloggers I know haven’t sold their souls or waned to the advertising dollar forsaking their readers for the odd giveaway or box of cereal. These women (some aren’t even pictured in this post) are smart, engaging, business savvy and forever open to feedback and personal development.