Founded in 2007, Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) is a self-funded organization that cultivates a community for fashion bloggers to share their experiences. With over 55,000 active members, IFB has become the go-to source for insider tips and industry information.
For the past couple of years, founder Jennine Jacob and the IFB team have been hosting a twice-yearly conference for bloggers. IFBcon is a two-day event, scheduled around New York Fashion Week, that brings together bloggers from around the world to network and learn from the best. Expert panels, brand presentations, and sponsor demos, are just a few of the exciting events that take place during the conference.
Since TWF is lucky enough to have bloggers on the team, we were able to attend the event and soak it all up. With six different panels of experts, there was a lot of advice and memorable information presented. We’ve narrowed down the day’s events to give you an all-encompassing recap.
On monetizing content, panelists, those of which included David Weinrot of Beso, Amy Levin of College Fashionista, and Tina Craig of Bag Snob, spoke about partnering with brands and retailers. Experienced bloggers Tina Craig and Amy Levin recommended calling the department stores and retailers you want to work with, answering every e-mail and figuring out exactly what you can bring to the table. The strongest point was that creating a strong brand is the first and most important step for any business or individual. “Don’t go looking for the money. Have a strong brand and strong site and success will come.” – Tina Craig (Bag Snob)
The next panel, sponsored by digital magazine platform, Glossi, was all about social media. Starting with social media strategy, each of the panelists spoke about the do’s and don’ts of building a solid social media presence. Brian Diefeo of Mobile Media Lab spoke of finding a “balance between what to post and keeping it real.”
Many of the panelists echoed Brian’s advice of staying true to your brand, adding that having a clear goal for social media is a huge part of a successful strategy. Felicia Walker Benson of ThisThatBeauty said, “Have a goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish? Then figure out what (social media) platforms will help you reach that goal.”
The panel went on to discuss social media etiquette, something that is an issue for brands and individuals alike. Matt Edelman of Glossi highlighted the importance of being responsive and not leaving anyone, no matter their follower base, hanging. On that same note, Dina Fierro of the HL Group, a marketing and media company that works with brands, said that in order to be successful in social media, you have to “be useful, be interesting, or be clever.” Figure out how to do one of those things, and you can gain a significant following on multiple social media channels.
But perhaps some of the best, and seemingly most obvious advice from the social media panel was from Christine Olsen of the CDFA. “Recognize that you are a spokesperson for your brand. Be kind.” A point that, in our opinion, can’t be emphasized enough.
Brands & Bloggers
Next up was a panel discussing brands and bloggers. Considering that some of our friends and clients (Fohr Card and Olapic to name a few) have business models built around the idea of brands interacting with individuals and bloggers, we were very interested to hear what would come out of this particular panel. It did not disappoint.
Speaking on this issue were Alle Fister, Principal at PR firm Bollare, Laura Ellner from the blog On the Racks, Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam and Ara Katz of BeachMint. From affiliate links, to partnerships and collaborations, it was interesting to hear the different ways in which bloggers and brands work together. Alle Fister talked about the importance of “you knowing you.” Whether a blogger or a business, it is important your voice is consistent and clear. Being true to yourself or your company’s personality makes it easier for brands to work with you. In addition she advised coming up with clear goals and establishing a track record, something you can put on the table for the brands. These points, along with follow through, will make for a good brand relationship.
As the day continued on, Lisa Salzer, the CEO and Founder of vintage inspired jewelry line Lulu Frost, spoke to the conference about making it in the fashion business. Lisa presented a simple equation that is important for all budding entrepreneurs. Success equals opportunities plus preparedness. When asked how she got to where she is today (Jcrew collaboration included), Lisa replied “hard work, cold calling” and the ability to “ask for advice.”
Following a brief presentation by Rakuten Linkshare, a leader in affiliate linking, and a discussion on the specifics of affiliate linking, was a panel on longevity. Although the questions presented were aimed at longevity in the blogging sphere, the answers given can be applied to all types of businesses. Karen Blanchard of Where Did You Get That, Stephanie Horbaczewski of StyleHaul, Susie Lau of Style Bubble, Jeannine Morris of Beauty Sweet Spot, Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller, Andrea Lavinthal from People Style Watch and both Geri Hirsh and Erin Falconer of LEAFtv spoke to keeping your voice consistent. “Even if content shifts, always keep who you are, your voice consistent,” Susie Lau said.
To close out the panel, popular blogger Leandra Medine shared a bit of advice that she was given years ago with the crowd. “ Never dumb down to your readers, let them rise to your level.” This sound advice was given to her by celebrity stylist and TV personality Stacey London, and we couldn’t agree more.
The Future of Blogging
As with most every industry, the future of blogging is uncertain, but that won’t stop anyone from predicting. The last panel, on this subject and the fashion industry as a whole, panelists spoke about the shifts in advertising, from static ads to collaborations and sponsored posts, as well as the growth of social media. There are always new social media platforms, such as Vine (and yes, we’re on Vine) being introduced, changing the way we all interact. Well known blogger, Liz Cherkasova of Late Afternoon spoke about curating content unique for each social media platform, and only participating in the channels which you enjoy or find traction. If Vine isn’t your thing, then don’t focus on using it. Simple advice to carry into the future.
The day was filled with great advice, amazing fashion and a sense of community that usually isn’t associated with the events surrounding New York Fashion Week. Although the conference was created specifically for fashion and beauty bloggers, the major takeaways can be applied to any individual, startup, or company: Have clear goals, keep a consistant voice, interact with your followers, and, of course, be kind.
Kellie Friedman is the Research & Editorial Intern for TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
Featured image by us, and others by IFB.