It was only after booking a ticket to The Only Way Is Blogging that I discovered the event is primarily aimed at fashion and beauty bloggers. And that tends to mean girls, and lots of ‘em. A sea of oestrogen! However much I love Legally Blonde (and I really do), it’s no secret that I’m not exactly TOWIB’s target market. Still, never one to shy away from something a bit different I decided to attend anyway. And this is what happened…
Blogger Bonding Session
I totally get what they were trying to do here; the mention of prizes was all about appealing to people’s competitive nature. People who are a little shy are more likely to gather URLs with that goal in place, and people who are very shy will be approached by people looking to bump up their numbers. Is the system perfect? No, it resulted in frantic, fleeting conversations. But so does speed dating. The point of both is not to have drawn out conversations, but to make potential connections that you may or may not strengthen after the event.
I appreciate that this may not have been relevant to some people, but for those occasionally approached by PR agencies and magazines it’s interesting to know where they might have been found and why they are considered noteworthy. Incidentally, I set up a Bloglovin’ as a result of discussion that emerged from the panel (ahem, it’s on the right if you’re keen) and also added myself to the UK bloggers map. I also found the members of the panel incredibly receptive to questions and comments, which really impressed me.
I’m fully aware that this is a contentious issue; the idea of using a blog to make money is one that some people aren’t happy with, and that’s just who they are. However, with services like Ad.ly already in place for celebrities, generating an (extra) income from one’s personal brand is becoming increasingly common; Zooey Deschanel frequently promotes her Hello Giggles blog, Ashton Kutcher managed to plug startups he has invested in on Two and a Half Men etc etc. I know there was some discussion (read: argument) about whether or not it was immoral to place a completely positive post disguised as your opinion. HOWEVER, and this is something I think is key, it’s worth remembering that the subject was sponsored posts, not being sent sample products.
In the past, I have been sent samples (mostly books) with the understanding that I should be completely honest about them. If, however, I was paid to promote a product it would have to be something I was either already intending to purchase or suspect that I would enjoy using. As soon as money changes hands, this has become a business transaction; to put it another way, a job. If someone who worked at McDonald’s spent all day telling the customers how awful they think the food is they wouldn’t last five minutes.
For those who didn’t find the first part of the Ebuzzing talk relevant, whether it due to the fact that they didn’t want to do sponsored posts or the fact that their blog doesn’t get enough traffic, surely everyone got some useful tips from the second part of the talk? Yes, the speakers were a little clumsy (likely due to the fact that a member of their team due to give parts of the talk was absent), but I came away with notes to do things like rename my images to keywords, be more objective, write with authority, tailor the writing that accompanies my URL in search results and avoid puns. And I’m already noticing more traffic based on the changes I’ve made thus far. Nothing mind-blowing, but every little helps, right?
The networking aspect of the day shone for me; it’s always interesting to get that many people interesting in the same things in a room. I appreciate that I’m something of a unique case, but as well as finding a couple of people who I’m planning to meet up with again, I also got a couple of leads on doing some freelance work and a huge amount of new blogs/tweeters to check out. Very disappointing that some people have criticised Hayley for chiming in during talks and being ‘too involved’ – TOWIB is her baby after all, and it’s obvious that this stemmed from anxiety that people wouldn’t have a good time or understand the topics of discussion.
No, this is not a sponsored post (lol). Yes, I was very hungry, but we did only pay a fiver. No, I didn’t think the event was perfect. Yes, some girls clearly thought I was just there to get into their pants (I wasn’t). Overall, though, my first experience of TOWIB is that it was a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. Mind you, I left before they brought the wigs out. Electric blue is so not my colour.