The ShesConnected Conference...what an experience it was!! I arrived at the Sheraton Centre Toronto shortly after noon last Thursday September 29, ready to meet and learn. And did I ever!!
Among the amazing people that I met at SCCTO, here are a few that I absolutely must mention:
Donna Marie Antoniadis ~ Co-Founder & CEO, ShesConnected Multimedia Corp.
She started ShesConnected after realizing that no social networking websites catered to her and understood the difficulty of juggling personal and professional lives. She is one powerful woman! I loved watching her speak with the panels and the audience, intervening and clarifying information when needed.
Mark Grindeland ~ Co-Founder & Chairman, ShesConnected Multimedia Corp.
He has over 25 years of experience with some of the world’s leading consumer brands. He moderated the final panel, "The 10 Rules Of The Road", discussing how to make it all work (the relationship between Bloggers & Brands), and summarizing key points from the last day and a half. I loved watching him speak - he summed up the conference perfectly.
Sherry Abbott ~ Executive Director, Canadian Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association
This woman is incredible, a true inspiration. She is a twenty-year survivor of a rare form of ovarian cancer, and she is committed to helping those whose lives are affected by cancer. She helped to establish the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, Canada's only cancer charity dedicated to empowering women to manage the appearance-related effects of cancer and its treatment. I was lucky to have met her in person, as well as watch her speak on a panel. She is a beautiful person who is doing amazing things for women.
Christine Cushing ~ TV Personality, Chef & Entrepreneur
Born in Athens, Greece, Christine immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of one. Christine went from graduating at the top of her class at the Paris based Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, to hosting "Christine Cushing Live" for four seasons. Her newest show "Fearless In The Kitchen" is now in its third season. She also has a product line including natural pasta sauces and extra virgin olive oil from the island of Crete. It was an honour to meet her in person, as I have been following her career since the very first episode of her Live show. It was a lot of fun chatting with her, and I'm so ready to try out the (signed) cookbook that she gave me!
Along with these brilliant, inspiring people, I had the awesome opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, many that I have been following for the past year. I also had the chance to speak with Brand representatives, from The Royal Canadian Mint to Ford Canada to Maple Leaf Foods, as well as grab some swag from each participating Brand.
As this was a total learning experience for me, I thought I'd share some of the things that I learned.
- 80% of the women who read blogs regularly base purchasing decisions on what they've read in blogs.
- Brands dealing with Bloggers, and Bloggers dealing with Brands are very new to both parties. Both have to work and negotiate together to come to a happy medium.
- Brands are working on changing their marketing strategies. They can't work with Bloggers as they do advertising agencies. Numbers are what's important in advertising, this is not the case with Bloggers.
- Brands do not know what Bloggers should, or expect to be paid for their services. Therefore, it is imperative that Bloggers have a Rate Card or Media Kit clearly stating their financial expectations.
- It is ok to review a box of cereal, and receive a free box of cereal in return. Everyone starts somewhere!
- Product Reviews are a great way to start benefiting financially from your blog, offering a short-term relationship with a Brand. Affiliate/Ambassador Programs run on a long-term contract, usually 6-12 months. A Blogger can build a long-term relationship with a Brand through an Affiliate/Ambassador Program.
- In most cases, readers/followers trust the Blogger that they follow. Therefore, a paid review should not be considered any less relevant or genuine than a non-paid review.
- Use the power of your blog to do good in the world. Promote charities that are close to your heart. Encourage readers to make a difference.
One major bonus of being at the conference was getting to spend "real life" time with my good friend Lena. Tweeting and Facebooking are great ways to stay in touch with friends, but there's nothing like spending time together in person. Lena has been such a support to me and my blog since the very start, and it was so much fun to experience my very first social media conference with her!
Where I'm At...
I'm still not sure if monetary gain through my blog is in my future. But I certainly won't rule it out. I am content with the product review items that I have received, and am having fun with two Ambassador Programs. For now, I am happy with writing about what I want to write about, while enjoying little extras along the way. My blog is my creative outlet, my way to help those looking for help, and a fabulous way to document my thoughts and feelings during this very special time in my life. As for the future, I don't know where my blog will lead me. But I look forward to finding out!