It has been a very very long time since I hung out with bloggers. As in, just completely chillaxed --- no speaking, no agendas, just having fun, and connecting with the community.
Strangely enough, I used to run an Adelaide Bloggers' community (from 2008 to 2009, I think). I loved it. Many of the friends I made then are still people I consider friends up to now.
So yeah, even though I still blog and talk to other bloggers regularly online, I haven't really connected with many bloggers at once in person.
Indeed, I have been missing the whole blogging scene.
When I first started blogging, there were hardly any groups, and meetups were hard to come by. Especially here in Adelaide.
Now, the whole blogging scene here has been evolving and growing.
People like Celeste Wong have been doing amazing things over the last few years to make blogging grow on this side of the pond.
Last year, Celeste launched the first Adelaide Beauty Conference, a beauty blogging conference. And this year, Celeste, together with the amazing team of Sherry, Stacey, and Steph, staged a successful second ABC with about 20 participants.
I'm really excited to meet many young and upcoming bloggers in the beauty/fashion/lifestyles niche, partly because it reminds me of hanging out with my old AboutWeblogs/b5media crew. Especially the beginnings of the AW network, one of the first women's blogging network at the time.
I'm also thrilled to see so many local Australian businesses supporting the conference, as evidenced by the massive haul that you see in the photo here. And yes, since this year's theme for ABC2012 is purely Australian, all those goodies were sponsored by local businesses.
I must admit, I did not quite expect going home with not one, not two, but FOUR goodie bags from the conference. It was quite a workout taking them all home. And, I didn't even win any extra prizes like some of the other girls at the event, which I don't mind really. Besides, everyone at the event now knows that I'm not lying when I say that I truly suck at party games. Ahem. 🙂
To me, however, it's not the number of freebies that made me feel excited. It was the knowledge that businesses - particularly, Australian businesses - are opening up to working with the blogging community. Granted, there's still a lot of lessons that we all need to learn when it comes to Brand - Blogger relationships. But, I see this as a real shift.
Perhaps, as more and more businesses learn to work with bloggers, and more and more bloggers learn to work with brands, we can start developing practices that would work really well for all those involved.
In fact, during the day-long event, there were two parts of the conference that stood out to me:
1. When one of the sponsors, The Purist Company (an all natural skincare company that's Australian with a global reach), conducted a hands-on skincare workshop, I was really impressed. As in, impressed long before they handed us any freebies or goodie bags. I just thought it was a great way to share what their brand was all about. And yeah, nothing beats being able to touch and interact with a product to understand the experience better. Plus, they also explained the science behind what they do. It wasn't just selling, selling, selling... One of the speakers even shared personal links to the product... The story of why she believes in what she does. I actually learned something about what it means to know what you're putting on your skin, your body. I think the experience was more powerful than any advertising I could have ever encountered. And, I am actually really looking forward to testing the products out. So yes, brands could do well to learn something from that session, when it comes to engaging bloggers at an event.
And yes, as someone who also represents brands, it was something I found very insightful.
2. At the end of the day, there was a bloggers' panel where Celeste, as well as guest panelists Christina Soong (one of my favourite people) + Melissa Loh (who flew all the way from Brisbane, at her own expense!). They talked about what it means to blog for profit and/or fun. I enjoyed listening to the conversations, partly because it is very interesting to see this happening here. Now. In Adelaide. It is making me feel hopeful that many more local businesses, charities, and other organisations would see the benefit of taking on the world of blogs.
That's why I do feel grateful that I have been invited to this event by the wonderfully talented and lovely ABC team. Yes, even though I am not really a massive beauty blogger*, having only very little mentions of such things on this blog (and only dabbling with a fashion/beauty blog once upon a time, which has now been converted into "Fashion and Beauty for Good").
It was so great meeting bloggers from different stages of their blogging life (some of them, already really doing well)... And just enjoying each other's company.
And, guess what? I am already looking forward to my next blogging get together: Eat Drink Blog 2013 - Australian Food and Drink Blogging Conference. And yes, it will be held in Adelaide for the first time. In November. I will be speaking alongside some amazing bloggers/writers. Christina (yes, that amazing lady again!) is co-organising this event and their team has already put together an incredible program. Will probably try to write more about this later.
Oh, and yes, back on the original topic of this blog post: Celeste has also invited me to submit an article for the Adelaide Beauty Conference program. Particularly looking at how bloggers can work with brands. I've published this article at my still-to-be-launched side project website: CauseBrandSocial**. The article: 8 Tips for Bloggers Who Wish to Work with Brands. Wrote it from the perspective of someone who has worked with brands as a blogger over the years, as well as someone who represents brands (both the corporate and the not-for-profit variety).
* Funny this. I recall helping out a handful of bloggers to start their own fashion/beauty blogs, including my sis, but never got into it fully. My sis, in fact, has been encouraging me to do it. 🙂
** Yes, I will probably write more about this side project some time. For now, it's very much a work-in-progress, and I have yet to figure out how this will evolve. You're welcome to visit, register, and/or sign up for notifications, if you wish. No pressure, though. 😉
P.S. --- As you can probably imagine, I don't think I'll be keeping all those freebies from the Adelaide Beauty Conference. That's why I'm thinking of ways to share the love. As soon as I get the time to sort some of these things out, I might actually do a giveaway. Something I haven't done in ages! So yeah, do stay tuned.
P. P. S. --- Writing of brands and blogging, I thought I might just briefly mention this blogging competition that I am running for one of my clients. No obligations. Just register your interest to receive and to try the product they just launched. If you like it enough to blog about it, great. You can go back to the contest page and share your URL. If not, that's okay. If you do, however, blog and share on the contest page, them you will be eligible to win the top prize of AU $1,000 + one year supply of products. And yes, there is a reason I choose to work with certain brands. If you want to know why I chose this particular brand, please read my client welcome post for Nad's over at my company site.
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.