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defining yourself online | tips and tricks from the #BloggerBrandWorkshop

Happy Monday all, I hope the Bank Holiday is treating you well and you’ve either had lots of fun or relished in doing absolutely sod all in the sunshine.  Either makes for a weekend equally well spent.  I’m sitting in the garden with my laptop under a parasol so I mean, that’s as good a start as any, right?  A rather ideal setup to finally share my thoughts following an event I attended a month ago now – better late than never.  So yes, I spent a sunny day down in London at the beginning of April, met up with the lovely Lilla in the afternoon, and headed to the #BloggerBrandWorkshop in the evening.

Whilst I’m not posting as often at the moment, I’m having a good old think about what I want Joli House to be as I approach my 5 year blogging b-day (5 YEARS! What the hell) so this workshop came along at just the right time.  Anna Hart of South Molton Street Style and OneRoofSocial gave us an insight into the whole world of blogger/brand collaborations with experience on both sides.

The standout point from the  workshop was the importance of defining yourself (as a blogger), your brand, and your audience – knowing who you are, who they are, and what you’re actually trying to achieve.  What’s the whole point of your little corner of the internet, huh?  Sounds simple, but is deceptively tricky to do.  Anna gave us a few activities to try out at the workshop, including describing our blog to someone else for them to guess our dream collaboration from our description.  Again, this one is harder than it sounds.  A niche of ‘sometimes travel, sometimes clothes, sometimes lifestyle and sometimes just a ‘brain dump’ doesn’t exactly make it crystal clear who my dream collab would be.  In an ideal world, you’d be able to guess it from just one line in an Instagram bio… must work on that one.

It’s all well and good saying you ‘don’t have a niche’ or just ‘do whatever you feel like’, but realistically (unless you’re very lucky), that isn’t going to get you anywhere.  We consume information so bloody quickly and have so much competition these days – in the context of the blogging world here, but relevant across all industries and aspects of life – that we don’t have time to spend getting to know people slowly.  Sure, sometimes there’s time to peel back the layers like an onion and get to know someone slowly, but we can’t do that for everyone.  I recently said in a conversation that  I’m more of a potato myself (peel one layer, and you’re done), but I still need to work on being clearer.  First impressions count for soooo much; it needs to be clear right away who you are, and what you’re about.

Oh and Tasmin read my mind and wrote about ‘defining yourself’ and why labels aren’t a bad thing last week – go check her post out!

Points I noted down at the workshop (the standout parts that made the notebook):

— A pitch should be about what you can offer, not just why you’re a good fit for the brand because you’ve been using their stuff since you were 3 months old.  How can you draw awareness and offer something they don’t have?

— There are obvious parallels between blogs and traditional print magazines, and it can be useful to think of the ‘Influencer Marketplace’ as a newspaper stand with different types of magazines.  Are you a daily, weekly, monthly, or fancy-artistic-not-sure-what-the-meaning-is quarterly?  How much focus do you place on sharing current items and driving sales now-now-now?  Are you more about the long-form, memorable content that’s the equivalent of a hefty coffee table read?

— a good ratio to aim for is 80:20, with 20% sponsored and the majority not.  Only take on the sponsored content that’s genuinely relevant because it’s just not worth it in the long run.

— Present your insights as percentages rather than numbers.  ‘95% of my followers have shown interest in brands like yours’ is more useful than just giving a flat figure.

— Take note of exactly who has emailed you.  A PR agency is often given the task of finding influencers to promote a brand, but isn’t given budget – it isn’t their fault they have no money to give you, but they can’t expect guaranteed content in exchange for a dress either.  Don’t shoot the messenger, but don’t promise work for free is the answer to that one.  In house marketing teams are more likely to have budget, but ‘online marketing’ are usually the ones with the money.  So it’s worth taking into account the job title in the email signature when drafting a response.

— Always make a brief, outline exactly what you’re offering, and have the brand approve it in writing.  Common sense really that if your blog is going to become a business, then you need to treat it as such.  If everyone always delivered what they promised and brands always paid on time then this probably wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but we’ve all learnt the hard way that it’s good to have an email trail to drag up when you’re wondering why you *still* haven’t been paid 6 months later.

— It can feel a bit pretentious to say ‘I am my own brand’ but in this day and age, you are.  Certainly in the blogging/social media sphere anyway, and (sometimes regrettably) that overlaps with other spheres too.  Since you are your own brand, it’s better to create something that genuinely reflects you, because there’s no way it’ll be coherent or consistent otherwise.  Think about what you can achieve effortlessly, and go from there.

— Instagram is the glue that holds everything else together.  You can fight it or you can embrace it – either way, the importance of Instagram isn’t going anywhere soon.  Insta stories are becoming especially important.

— Make the most of your old content.  Check that links in your most popular posts are directed to something current, even if the posts themselves aren’t your favourites, make them work anyway.  Ancient post about denim shirtdresses that you’d no way write now, but somehow gets a lot of traffic?  Affiliate link the hell out of those shirtdresses and make the most of it.  Affiliate marketing is a good place to start in order to show brands ‘look I sell stuff for you’.

— A final point from Anna – full time blogging is sensationalised.

In the interest of doing as I’m told, I’m gonna lay my cards on the table now.  Just in case anyone stumbles across my blog and wants a quick summary of who Lily is and what this blog is about, here goes!

— I’m a young woman who doesn’t religiously follow fashion, but does really appreciate how different clothes can make you feel and spends too long deciding what to wear.  When asked to describe my style in 3 words for an interview lately, the best I could do was classic, preppy, and sometimes a little bit quirky.  I’m definitely not edgy in the slightest, and if I had to choose one item to wear every single day it would be a bodycon midi dress.  I like to share brands that work for all different ages, classic pieces, and fun items that spice up simple outfits.

— I’m 20 years old, but the majority of my readers are older than me.  25-34, to be precise.

— My ‘thing’ has always been crafts.  I first learnt to cross stitch, then knit, then sew, the crochet, and spent a significant amount of time as a preteen/young teenager designing, writing, and selling patterns.  I don’t like having idle hands.  Writing patterns is no longer a viable venture for me (more often than once in a blue moon, anyway) but I’m looking into other ways to turn my crafty side into a business.  Knitting isn’t just for grannies – I’ll champion that one til the cows come home.

— Fitness is a big part of my life.  Keeping fit keeps me sane, I love the gym, and I love trying new workouts.  I’m no pro and can’t offer *proper* advice on which exercises to do or whatever, but I do like to share fitness-y stuff on my blog regardless.

— I bloody love travelling.  My favourite trip to date was to Austria last year – goodness me I don’t think I’ll ever see somewhere so beautiful.  I love solo travels, city breaks, outdoorsy trips, and making the most of a very short time in interesting places.  Travel diaries where I literally share what I did, where I ate, and silly anecdotes about the trip are both my favourites to write and the ones that my readers (apparently!) find most useful.

The evening ended with an introduction of a new piece of bloggy kit from the guys at Microsoft – the new Surface Pro and MS Office that I would like very much please and thank you.  The laptop because it’s a slim and snazzy piece of kit that looks perfect for blogging on the go, and the new MS Office because it’s full of handy features that really would make life easier.  A “researcher” tool that automatically adds citations and references for you?  Would it like to write my uni assignments for me too?  Yes please.  Time for an upgrade I think.

Well, this has turned out far longer a post than intended.  Clearly the #BloggerBrandWorkshop was just extremely useful in making me think about blogging slightly differently.  And providing excellent sparkly cupcakes.  I had to dash for my train so didn’t make the group photo, but yes – thanks for having me!

Lily Kate x

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Nancy
    7th May 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Congratulations on your anniversary!

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