Yesterday I went to my fist official blogger event.
I have been pretty resistant to such things for a long time – I mean I’ve been blogging for years, and haven’t been to one til now, and I think that says a lot in itself.
As a blogger who loves her little collection of pixels, and is very protective of them, I never want to sacrifice honesty and authenticity to monetisation and advertising. Consequently I’ve said a polite but unequivocal ‘no’ to the brands that have approached me in the past, because I’ve felt that most of them were pretty disinterested in me and my audience beyond what they could manipulate me into saying by giving me free stuff. Not my bag, yo.
But yesterday’s event was run by Spotlight.
Spotlight is a brand I already have a relationship with, and I’ve found them to be useful independently and organically. They didn’t have to make me love them, because I already did. I felt happy going along to support them and learn more about them because they were already useful and valuable to me.
Some weeks ago, they sent me a plain, papier mache deer’s head, and asked me to decorate it for a little exhibition that they were holding at a blogger event. And I simply couldn’t say ‘yes’ quickly enough.
In news that will surprise no one, I covered mine with collaged antique flowers, and dipped the horns in gold.
And the day was really great!
I learned a lot, and I thought I’d write a wee post about that in case you’re thinking about beginning to engage with brands as a blogger yourself.
So, here’s my advice for what to do when attending a blogger event – written specifically for the new and nervous!
1. Be discerning about the events you choose to go to.
This follows on from what I said in my introduction. I’m not interested in becoming a spruiker for any old business or product. But I am interested in working with brands that are genuinely useful and interesting to me. I shop at Spotlight pretty much weekly (as SJ will confirm with a patient sigh). I like them and I have real use for what they offer. I knew that I’d find things to interest and excite me at this event, and that I wouldn’t be compromising my integrity or undermining my brand by sharing the event on my instagram or blog.
Being picky about the events you attend means that you waste nobody’s time – not your readers’, not the event organisers’, and especially not your own.
2. Be brave.
Arriving to a room full of people, all crammed in and chattering excitedly can be really scary. I will confess I was anxious when I arrived, and a bit shy. But then I had a realisation: I already had something in common with everyone in that room (blogging and crafting), and a built in topic of conversation (the event).
Once I embraced that knowledge it became a lot easier to strike up conversations with strangers, and get to know people. I ended up meeting some awesome creative souls, and found myself genuinely inspired by some of their projects:
For example, Rachel Burke’s Apomogy project is one of the simplest and coolest ideas I’ve ever seen, and it was so rad to meet her and hear about what she’s doing.
3. Bring business cards
Once you’ve met and chatted to people, you’ll probably find that you want to continue the conversation and the acquaintance after the event. Having a business card is the easiest way to give someone your details – especially if their hands are full with goodie bags and snacks, or their phone is dead from instagramming too hard.
It also has the added bonus of making you look like you are a serious blogger with a commitment to your brand and your work. Which never hurts.
4. Have a one-liner about who you are.
The fist thing you’re likely to be asked at an event like this is who you are and what you blog about. The first couple of times I was asked this I gave a sort of rambly “I do, like, memory keeping, and papercraft… but also recipes… and I’m gay so sometimes I get a bit political, but I try to save that for important things, and then I also do kids craft as well, and sometimes other things, you know…?”
People’s eyes glazed over after three seconds, and I knew I sounded like a total amateur.
I knew I had to do better that that, so I regrouped with a mini hamburger while Arty made a foam crown, and distilled my answer to “I’m a family blogger, and I focus mostly on craft and food, with occasional forays into LGBTIQ issues.” Once I’d done that I suddenly found myself feeling a lot more confident, and being a lot more engaging. I only wish I’d thought to do it before the event, and hadn’t had to come up with it on the fly!
5. Be on the lookout for stuff that’s specifically relevant to you and your audience.
Chances are, any event you attend will be pitched at a range of interests. Spotlight’s a big brand, and they supply products to all kinds of crafters with all kinds of interests. Not everything there was going to be for me.
But there were some things that really leapt out at me and made me go “ooh, yes! I want to use/try/play with that!”, or “hey, that completely aligns with my values!”
I paid attention to the things I was naturally drawn to, made a point of finding out more, and ended up coming away with the feeling that I had learned about some valuable stuff.
For example, next time I am at Spotlight and need a bag, I will be 100% buying one of their ‘Stitch in Time’ cloth bags – they’re handmade by women in developing countries who are paid a living wage to produce them. This saves women from working in sweat shops, and gives them the means to clothe, feed, and educate themselves and their families. Any project that is about educating and empowering women has my full support, so these bags are my new favourite Spotlight product.
I had a great time at this event, and I’m looking forward to celebrating National Craft Month with Spotlight in April. If you’re a crafty soul, you might want to get involved in the events they’re running – sewists will love the Fabric Fiesta, and crafters will be all about the Crafty Party, held at all Spotlight stores. There will be sales, free patterns, demos and all kinds of other great incentives to get inspired and get making. I think we can all get behind those ideas!
See you there!
P.S. Here’s a pinnable image for sharing these tips: