If there's anything I learned at the IFB conference, it's that not all bloggers are created equal. I am of the camp that still blogs for leisure. It's fun for me and I like sharing about some cool things I'm in to. At the conference, I was in the company of bloggers who do it for a living, whether falling into it for the love of fashion or a natural evolution from a lifetime of writing. I think Evolving Influence did a great job appealing to bloggers like myself as well as to those who are looking to make (or are currently making) a career out of it.
One session in particular stuck out to me.
Moderated by Kristina Medhus (Pretty Shiny Sparkly) and featuring: Sasha Wilkins (Liberty London Girl), Rebecca Stice (Clothes Horse), Kristin Knox (The Clothes Whisperer), Lindsey Calla (Saucy Glossie) and Rachna Shah (KCD),
"Working with Brands Gracefully" gave some really great insight into how brands and fashion bloggers can work together successfully. The panel addressed the sensitive subjects of gifting and brand ambassadorship while maintaining credibility and keeping your personal brand true and intact. Here are some of my favorite points shared during the talk:
- Be honest with your readers. Be clear about paid posts ("This is an advertorial" or include mention of working with the brand organically in your post)
- Maintain creative and editorial control. The brand will have some input on what they want you to say, but remember to stay in line with your personal brand and your blog's purpose. Would you write about a free facial when your blog is focused on outfits and styling?
- Be smart about how you deal with gifting. Accepting offers and product from brands shouldn't be about "getting free stuff." It's a chance for you as a blogger - an influencer - to share knowledge with your readers that stretches across various boundaries (geographical, financial, etc.) It's rarely about displaying a brand in a positive light just because they give you something. They want honest feedback, and as a blogger, you should feel like you can share your truthful opinion about a product or service. Successful partnerships between brands and bloggers build over useful reviews and feedback.
- Be ready! Brands will sometimes offer bloggers brand ambassadorship, essentially creating a long-term relationship with that blogger to help promote the brand. For bloggers, that means your readers have access to events and insight into things they wouldn't otherwise have. If you want your favorite brands to reach out to your blog, get your press kit ready so you can show them the value of working with you.
- Earn your brand ambassador status! Prove to brands that you're passionate about what they're doing. They'll respond when you bring ideas to the table.
- Protect yourself. If you do work with brands, you'll be sharing ideas and thoughts all your own. Make sure to get a non-disclosure agreement drafted and signed by both parties.
- So...what metrics are important to brands? Ahh, the age-old question asked by bloggers, brands and social media agencies alike :) There's no true answer for that, but the two things to remember are: analyze what you can, and remember that numbers aren't the only thing that matters. Be able to speak intelligently about your audience and traffic.
Hope these gems of advice can help you! For more from the Evolving Influence conference, check out the live blogs on IFB.