“If you’re on the cusp of something, it probably is something big so stay true to it.”
Lucky Fashion And Beauty Bloggers conference (FABBWest) held in Santa Monica at Annenberg Community Beach House yesterday (30.04.2012) gave incredible insight into the world of bloggers; exploring brand-blogger relationships, blogger niche, blog audience and why this is just the beginning. From Alba (Jessica) to Zukerberg (Randi) there was something for every blogger; old and new, to take away from this conference. They talked, they tweeted, they mixed and we all got educated on the power of bloggers, the effect of social media and just how to strike the right balance. Trust me; I felt the power all the way from my bedroom in London.
If you put your mind to it, you, more than likely, can achieve it, was the underlying message from Zac Posen who I find so adorably cool. “Everything is achievable to everyone in this world.”He came from the more spiritual aspect of building your brand and understanding the complete aspects of your business. Posen advised that, before one is a brand, one is a person with a real life therefore; “embrace the rarity of your life and don’t be afraid to grow old” growing old is growing up and as you grow, so too does your life. In everything you do; you grow, you live and you learn. There are no guarantees in life, there is only trying and getting results; pass or fail, you determine what you want to learn from the experience because life is full of them. Your successes and your failures are your personal journeys. It was a ying-yang moment. On the business of being a brand, hard work pays and laziness destroys, simply put. But there are layers to your brand and it is up to you to understand the intricacies of your ventures and the complete aspects of your brand in order to succeed. As a designer, you have to exhaust all aspects of your brand; designers shall not live by couture alone, neither will they survive on RTW, hence the collaboration with high street retailers. Explore the full potential of your brand; go outside of your comfort zone, because if you stick to one formula “you’ll be lucky to break-even.” There is life and space outside of high fashion, explore it. Whether one is a fashion brand or a blogger, complete understanding of your potential is pertinent to your success.
Finding your voice and owning it, was a repetitive theme of LuckyFABB because as a blogger, your voice is your identity, your Unique Selling Point, it is what endears a brand to you. It’s in how you tell a story to your audience, because blogging is all about telling a story in a way particular to you, whether it be about the way you wear what you wear or a cupcake you’ve recently eaten, when you blog, you tell a story so keep it enthralling, keep it interesting and most importantly, tell it in your own unique way because that is the essence of you. Have a Point of View.
As a blogger you are a professional but before you become the professional you have to know who you are. If you don’t know who you are, then you are not ready to become this professional you seek to be. Don’t blog for the sake of going along with the trend, blog because you are passionate about it and can keep the dialogue and the process going. If you just want to have your say and be done with it, then by all means tweet about it, but if you have something more you want to say and can build upon it, blog about it BUT “if you find yourself continually blogging about mascara, then (do us all a favour and) STOP!” There are only so many brands of mascara one can handle. The moral of the panel; engage, build and don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, even if it means going “a little “old school”.Explore something new, break new ground even if said grounds are in the past. Otherwise “don’t blog until you are 30!”
Everything you put on the internet is your responsibility, whilst it may not “represent the thoughts of your employer”;they represent the thoughts of YOU. You are accountable for everything you put out there; “you don’t have to answer to anybody but yourself so if it’s cool with you, then its (all good).’ John Jannuzzi. People fear what they don’t understand, hate what they can’t conquer and fear inspires hate. Haters are out there, aplenty, but you choose how to respond to your haters and decide how they affect you. Those who hate on you for the most part are those who can’t do the things you’re doing; those who can’t do, will judge, and if you put yourself out there prepare to be judged but do have the thick skin to shut them out because they don’t matter and “those who matter definitely do not mind”.However and here’s where I am utterly in love with Ashley Madekwe from Revenge and seriously want to party with her; “if you hate on me on twitter, I will call you out.” Sometimes approaching things head on is best. Other times when someone is “cray” you really can’t help them; Jeannie mai, so you just let them be, but at other times, holla at the haters.
So, what exactly are the functions of bloggers within their chosen industry? You ask? Quite simply put; Bloggers are the“pulse and lifeline” of their industry, they are everything that television is not. The interaction is instantaneous, before you hear it on the news it breaks on twitter, on the blogosphere. The news is out there, no longer in your TV set and it is inspiring dialogue. Social media is an essential power tool for bloggers; “Twitter is about community and connection”, you connect with someone you have never met, foster relationships with them, they become a part of your virtual life and isn’t that how we live life these days? Virtually? Pinterest is a visual definition of your tastes and interests and blogs…well they are everything really. So, bloggers do a lot when it comes to bridging gaps with audiences within an industry because they keep the conversation continual.
The most important thing for bloggers, which was being repeated through the different panels and discussions, is to be in the know, especially about yourself; know your niche, know your voice, know your audience and the rest is up for grabs.
The blogger-agent trend has always been a bit of a stickler for some brands simply because blogging is all about authentic reach without the middle man involved however, bloggers who work with agents need to keep all parties involved, in the loop. Brands come to you as a blogger for your uniqueness; don’t recycle an old idea for the sake of dollar signs. Brands are just as different and unique in their own aesthetic, as bloggers, so be open and honest in your dealings with them. And whilst we’re at it, there is only “so much dollars” to go around therefore, not every relationship should be transactional. Sometimes the best types of relationships don’t have dollar amount at the end of them. However, bloggers should be compensated for a job well done, because theirs is a service rendered on so many platforms. Brands; don’t short-change the blogger; if a brand is going to pay a professional or professionals to render a service you expect a blogger to provide, then, as a brand, you should pay the blogger the same fee. Let’s call a spade a spade.
As a blogger, let your essence be your guide; “there is power in saying NO.” Let your essence dictate the way you build your brand. Don’t be afraid to say no, it is the most priceless advice ever given, the most empowering message ever delivered. If it’s not right for you, don’t be afraid to walk away from it. Your blog is your brand so treat it as so, don’t jump at everything out there, know what you want, your vision and go after that. Take your time to build things up, start slowly because immediacy can be tedious; “Build, Grow, Monetise…” Blogging 101.
Remain authentic and be open and honest with your readers, even if you are reviewing a gifted product, never lose your touch or your voice, they will respect you more for it and keep coming back to you. As Macala Wright puts it; FULL DISCLOSURE is an absolute MUST.
As a brand; blogger or individual, you are cool by your association so should your collaborations i.e. the collaboration between DKNY and Bagsnob is a perfect example of the power of creativity and authenticity. Snob aficionados, Tina Craig and Kelly Cook didn’t just go and “curate” what they thought the collection should be, according to Tina; “DKNY was not into bloggers “curating” I went to her w/idea, she said fine but you are doing all the work” (tweet speak) and they were given full creative freedom over the concept because it was their vision. It is not enough to have an idea, you have to act on it and see it through, be involved in every aspect from start to finish, it is how you are able to build your brand, and it gives you essence and authority.
Being a fashion blogger goes beyond the parameters of taking pretty pictures and sitting front row of fashion shows, “you have to know the history of the industry you are in and the history of the brand you are seeing” Macala Wright. You have to get an education in the business of fashion because your blog is your brand and your brand is ultimately your business. Read, Research and get a complete education. Be at the cusp of it all.
Before I go on, I would like to declare my new found love for Jeff Rudes from JBrand Jeans. #justsaying. His discussion with Brandon Holley EIC of Lucky Magazine was as insightful as it was funny. In a nutshell he advises; you have to think about your customer, know your voice, think about the integrity of what you are creating, know your audience and know why they come back to you. Keep your readers interested and curious all the time. Stay true to who you are and do not DILUTE your taste. This above all; NO MATTER HOW BIG YOU GET, KEEP YOUR COOLNESS. Remember why you started. I mean if he were any cooler he’d ice cold. Right?
And Randi Zuckerberg, whom I would like to babysit her cute son, and she promised I could, had this to leave us with; “NEVER BE MEAN TO ANYONE BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHO IS GOING TO BE A GREAT CONTACT.” Sound advice.
So all in all, the Brand-Blogger-Business is only going to get bigger but before you type that first post, know exactly what it is you are about. Put the very best of you out there, on good days, bad days and all days and you will get your rewards. It’s the way of the world. Believe in yourself because no one is going to do this for you.