working with brands gracefully before the panel/aldo s/s 2011 campaign photo/a blogger being fitter for her free pair of levis’/levis’ curve id samples/geri hirsch, leandra medine and richard tong for who owns your blog panel/fine and dandy bowtie/rise of the professional blogger panel, from left to right: chiara ferragni, josh rubin, wendy lam, karen robinovitz, faram krentcil, yvan rodic, karla deras/adrian mainella/lazaro hernandez & jack mccollough of proenza schouler
i think i’ve put off writing this post for long enough. besides a little birdie told me it’s only ok to talk about fashion week for one week after it’s over. so on wednesday i am officially out of time. this post is really the reason why i went to new york in the first place. the ever so talked about independent fashion blogger’s evolving influence blogger’s conference (a mouth full indeed). luckily for me, i heard about it before it went public via and using my quick wit and decision making, dished out $60 usd to buy myself a ticket… and decide whether i will actually go later. it was a smart move on my part i think, and therefore deserves a pat on the back, as the tickets sold out in a few short days. i will take the time right now to thank from the bottom of my heart, the great team at bellissima for sponsoring my attendance and flight to new york city. without them i don’t think the decision would have been as easy as it was, even though i would probably have sacrificed my first born to be there. READ MORE AFTER THE JUMP.

i really tried coming up with some spectacular outfit for this event, after all this was going to be a place full of bloggers, full of constant documenting. i can only blame myself, for not foreseeing the cold weather. i grew up by the sea, i should know how deceiving the thermometer is when you are by the water. regardless i still put on those high steve madden shoes, to take the subway then walk a couple of blocks (why oh why). my feet never hurt so badly after sitting for 10 hours.
the event itself was sort of anticlimactic. more for networking than actually learning much of anything i thought. i mean, yes i get it, you have to have a huge following to get advertising, you have to be connected… all the freaking time, you have to join every social networking site, plus all personal style websites and be on top of your game 24/7. as much as i wish that i could do this, i don’t actually ever want to do this. don’t get me wrong, i looooooove my blog, i put time and effort into it like you couldn’t imagine, hell i went to new york just so i could blog about it. i am so fascinated by this blogging phenomenon. but the computer is already taking over my life and i don’t even consider myself that much of an avid social network-er. the truth is, and they forgot to mention this to us during the conference, that it’s as much about creativity and talent as it is about having connections in all the right places. it’s the internet, sure, it’s limitless and global, but if you live in the middle of nowhere, tennessee, or calgary in my case, you can forget about having the same kind of reach. not to bring down the mood or anything. watching the guest bloggers in the panel and their interactions with one another it’s no secret they already belong to some exclusive club (over 5000 followers club?). i love my followers, i wish that more people logged on and followed, comparatively speaking i know that i have the right ingredients. looking at some of the blogs on the web, some of the blogs that were part of the conference even, i really ask myself how am i not up there? i feel sometimes like i caught on and joined too late. ok so this had to come out sometime. now that’s off my chest what have we learned?
four panel discussions, a couple inarticulate bloggers later and i have this to share with you:
1. who owns your blog content?
copyright isn’t very effective (peek at my attribution line at the bottom of my blog), trademarking is the way to go. man repeller did it, among other phrases on her blog. personally i don’t exaclty think i can trademark my first name, or i guess i could, but how do you fight that, someone uses it and i sue them? i don’t know. i don’t carry spare change around with me to go about suing everyone. bad idea. the panel agrees. richard tong of tumblr suggests linkage. link link link. link every photo you use from another site, link everytime you mention another blogger. if only everyone followed the same code of conduct. i link you, you link me. so the only thing you can do it act ethically and hope karma will follow. evelyn tollinche, from mtv (she doesn’t have a link… but probably google alert) was the legal advice (or non-advice as she made clear) on the panel. as far as she goes, she really didn’t want to be there, she will forever become etched in my memory as the eye roller. not exactly a good way to make everyone in the audience feel as if their $60 dollars was well spent. two of the bloggers did make a great impression, however, the moderator, mr. newton as well as geri hisch (of because i’m addicted), who definately takes the cake for the preetiest girl on the panel. so not that it matters to either geri or mr. netwon but welcome to my blog roll! (and followed blogs, because they aren’t always in sync).
2. the business of blogging
in my notebook from that day, this is the panel that generated the most material for me.
the panel: keiko lynn, piera gelardi from refinery29, craig arend (altamira:models off duty), caitlin ni chathain from gucci, gregory shove from halogen, tony wang from post fashionism. moderated by vahni grorgoulakos of grit & glamour.
all about influence. sponsorships and partnerships tell a rich story to promote different collaborations, obviously those come once your influence has reached a certain level. once your blog generates enough interest the brands will certainly come, but what of your patience? you can go to the brands as well. BUT don’t start off your relationship by wanting, start with offering something from yourself first. suggest an interesting project you can do together, get in on their radar. first impressions count the most, so don’t ruin yours. every blogger should have a media kit (i should jump on that train anytime now… anytime). need help with building your own? well it just so happens independent fashion bloggers wrote an article to help you with just that (click here). focus your blog on one thing, do it and do it well (thanks for this one). the importance of offering brands what they want lies in your voice. brands approach you because they like your voice, and that shouldn’t change with sponsorships (when a product on your blog is sponsored or gifted you should always acknowledge this to your audience). brands look for calibre of content, value and interest. quality over quantity and if you can, both.  90% of advertising comes from digital agencies (or pr firms), not brands directly. many brands are behind with social networking, they often turn to those agencies which can in turn identify the power of blogs. if for example you look at a story on a site like and then you look at the same story on a smaller site ike (although i would argue the discrepancy of the size of the two at this point), the impact is always greater from the smaller site. agencies acknowledge the influence a blogger has to sell their product. if you have 1000 followers and you only sell to 100 you are definitely an asset, but if you only have 100 followers and you sold to all 100 then you’re talking. it’s all relative (except notice that 100 followers doesn’t exactly get you noticed in the first place, so thanks for that as well).
how do you determine how much money you should be paid from a brand?
many of the panelists agree that it’s often not worth sacrificing your clean blog space for ad units. you want a visually pleasing site free of clutter, advertise only if you stand behind the product 100%, the recognition will come, and most of the bigger names in blogging only make maybe 20% of their total revenues from ad space sold on their actual site (versus endorsements and alike). pro bono work can get your name out there also, but be careful what projects you attach your name to. many brands fail to see the difference between influence and reach, which are not always measured in the same terms. gregory shove suggested klout as a way to measure your influence, which is slowly becoming the standard. the trouble with klout is that it only measures twitter, facebook and soon linkedin. blogs? not so much, so how can you measure your influence if your blog has been around for a while, but your facebook site for example just went live? not even klout has the answer (i checked).
advice from the panel: if you want advertising use the approach of contacting a brand 4 times over a 6 month period and not once ask for money, or gifts, and the first time they ask to advertise with you say no (seems like a hard sell to me, especially after 6 months of courting), but this is coming from brands themselves so there must be some truth to it. always give them a low price, a medium price and a high price, almost always they will take the medium price. make sure you mention that whatever collaboration you are working on, and if it works out, you can do something together in the future.
300 x 600 ad view: see if your blog has the capacity to hold an ad this size, many brands will prefer to dish out more money to put on a bigger ad, because historically those are the ads people are more likely to click on.
and of course facebook and tiwtter, how they play into your blog’s success. social networking nightmare is what i see but hey, link every one through the other, it’s bound to increase your viral content. but remember to keep each individual, don’t post the same content on all three, and create a network that people want to come back to (ie. they go to your blog but they will also check out your twitter for something fresh and different).
keiko said it best, bloggers are hyperconsumers. the way that we engage media is evolving, magazines are adapting also, the market has become super saturated with bloggers. this phenomenon has given more power to bloggers than it has to magazine editors themselves. i for one can concur completely, how much money i spent after looking at blogs versus magazines is outstanding. bloggers are more accessible. not all of us have to be fashion experts to be part of the fashion world, not all of us have to be able to afford expensive designer pieces to be able to say that you have a sense of style. the blogosphere has created an audience and room for everyone, it has become a bridge between the editorial world and the audience themselves.
so remember. don’t clutter, be personable with brands, don’t be a pest. phone instead of e-mail and get yourself a facebook fan page. (click here for mine… and please do like it)
3. working with brands gracefully
panel just reiterated all points covered in 2. balancing transparency with working with a brand, the difference between promotional and editorial posts (you should always differentiate for your readers). the important point here was to state upfront that a gift may not be posted nor that the blogger will write about it positively. sasha wilkins was the most informative of the bunch, a former editor of sunday times and harper’s bazaar, she offered insight into putting a value on your own work. ‘if you place a value on me don’t be surprised that i put a value on me’, basically don’t undervalue yourself  and most importantly don’t let brands coax you into offering them a service that is cheaper than what the value of that service really is. not every brand understands blogs and it’s our job (the bloggers) to educate them. if you want to be treated like a professional then act like a professional. i encountered a situation where exactly this happened, a brand approached me and i wasn’t interested in giving up ad space on my blog for any less than what i deemed its worth, the brand turned around and went to a fellow blogger, who i can only assume (from my previous conversations with her) valued her space at a much lower price than i did. i can’t say that i was ecstatic, but the brand chose to go for the lower numbers than appreciating the true reach of the blog. this was simply out of my hands. remember about the power of saying no, don’t agree to everything, always share with the brand everything you have to share about your blog, give up your numbers (the combination of traffic and influence and content is what will sell in the end). and always remember to say what you want. remember the premise of creating your blog, you don’t have to filter your thoughts (though you should censor them). create a signature for your e-mail and when you send back replies make sure all your social media information is there for the brand to see.
4. rise of the professional blogger
when i said that the blogging world is an exclusive club i was thinking about this particular group (third picture from the bottom), karen (in the middle) and her agency (digital brand architects) must have been sponsoring this event because nearly half of the bloggers attending the discussions were her clients, of course she did not forget to market herself accordingly. yes we get it, every blogger needs representation. wouldn’t that be wonderful. i am not going to lie, i e-mailed them, let’s see what happens. let me just get this out of the way and say, thank goodness that karla has an agent, i don’t know how the poor girl would do if she was up there all on her own, definitely not the brightest cookie in the cookie jar, that’s a fact. she also made sure to mention that she is not in it to be famous (and therefore she got herself an agent…).
faran offered a unique perspective, being one of the founders of said, which as we all know has become a great source of all things fashion. faran also advises to get a daytime fashion job before you quit working at the expense of your blog, and learn how the fashion industry works (does modeling count? can i check this one off?)
the media world has been flipped on it’s head, bloggers are changing the way the world works. so we are experiencing an amazing renaissance in the world right now, the way that technology drives markets and people. the voices that it creates and the constant flow of information, everything is always in motion, nothing lasts. it’s a scary world out there and if we don’t adapt then what? i guess the best we can count on is that our lives become unaffected, but do we want to be left behind? ‘rat race’ has been given a whole new meaning. it’s not even about being famous as it is about being heard and acknowledged. in this self regulating business where the sky is the limit and where the terms and rules are still yet unknown there is a lot of competition, a lot of politics. as i am writing this i realize more and more how bloggers can be mistakenly viewed as sales people. and i rally hope that isn’t the case, because i really suck at selling. i like the term influence, i prefer it. i can only hope that someday i will be asked to join the exclusive club, preferably before i turn 30. anyone?… without compromising my values… let me just put that out there first.
the night felt a lot longer than i expected, by the time proenza schouler came out i stopped taking notes. it was a fascinating talk, full of promise for all those bloggers just starting out. a brand that understands all the points that were touched on in the panels throughout the day. a young brand that is growing together with the advancements in technology and the internet. at some level we are all lab rats for the generations to come, will this work? will it not? what else could there possibly be?
you may all be wondering about the the gift bags. after the promise of the amazing gift bag, which was one of the selling points persuading my ever so needed attendance at the conference, they were kind of disappointing. mac cosmetics gave out makeup (always nice), levis’ gave out free pairs of jeans to all present (this i must admit was the best gift of the night, not counting all the precious memories of course) and juicy couture, a barbie pink heart charm bracelet (do with this one as you wish, but i will be re-gifting it to some 8 year old in my nephews’ class). aldo was one of the sponsors, i am still not sure, how, beyond setting up a booth with a preview of their new designer collaboration, they contributed to the overall ambiance of the day.
highlights definitely included running into some familiar faces. enrique (a fellow calgarian) from fine and dandy was there together with his boyfriend who was helping run the discussions. adrian mainella, former host of fashion file and now the vp of communications for joe fresh made an appearance, and what a pleasure it was meeting with him. a truly great personality, and a trove of fashion knowledge to boot. and last but in no way the least, miss jessie from denimology, whom i have been working with for the past month, but never actually met, was waiting for me at the levis’ booth. it was great making new contacts and asking questions and being a part of a greater community of like minded people.
at this point, eventually running out of juice, like i thought i would, i wish that i was equipped with better writing skills. a full day of blogging and a LOT to share. i can only hope that i gave you at least a small glimpse into what you might, or might not have missed…  and now, onto spell check… yikes!

10 Responses

  1. Justyna says:

    AMAZING! Love reading your crib notes, and it seems I’ll just HAVE to go next year! Fantastic, glad you went, glad I’m vicariously experiencing it through your article! Well done! (but where’s a pic of you, lady??)

  2. Vejrubia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Ania.

  3. Wow, thanks so much for sharing all of this! Hopefully I’ll be able to attend next year.

  4. Ania B says:

    Justyna, it’s cause I was by myself, all these bloggers had their bf lol. I couldn’t afford to drag Rob with me. gots to start making more money clearly 🙂

  5. Petra says:

    great and very interesting post. lots to think about 🙂

  6. Ania, your notes are terrific– I have been waiting for this! I think I snorted a couple times in laughter and derision (not at you, of course!). I love your honest point of view and it looks like there was definitely a lot to take in (as well as not). Thanks so much for sharing! -Angela

  7. Luca says:

    What an beautiful blog!
    I love it!
    Would you like to visit my blog too?

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  8. Such a great post!

    Thanks for sharing!


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