ProcrastiNails: Recap of the Spark Sessions 2014 Fashion & Beauty Blogger Conference [Day 1]

Today was Day 1 of 2 for the Spark Sessions 2014 Fashion & Beauty Blogger Conference, and man am I tired. Evening shift work does NOT go well with waking up at 6am (or leaving the house by 7:30am!). But I did it, and it was worth it. 🙂 Want to know about all the excitement and information (and nail polish!) from today’s event? Check under the cut for details!

Yesterday there were a few things I did to prepare for this conference:

  • Pick up a new notebook,
  • Figure out what to wear,
  • Buy all the supplies for my shoe box for The Shoebox Project (more on that in a minute), and
  • Make a design and paint my nails. 

What do they say about the best laid plans and all that? Yeah, as predicted the jewel-toned roses I did on my nails last night didn’t live up to my expectations, so I ended up throwing on a much more simple look last minute: 

There’s nothing wrong with this look, per say… OPI Love.Angel.Music.Baby. is my go-to last minute polish (because I love it a whole lot) and negative space looks are popular right now. Awesome. I just feel that as one of the few nail bloggers going to this event I should have stepped up my game a bit more… Ah well.

Speaking of popular nails, all the girls whose nails I saw were perfectly on-trend – a great mix of deep, vampy fall colours and creative uses of negative space. Lovely! I meant to get some pictures but there was so much going on that I never got around to it. Maybe tomorrow.

Before we get into the actual conference coverage, I want to take a minute to show you what I put together for The Shoebox Project:

The items that filled my shoebox for The Shoebox Project

The Shoebox Project is a Canadian charity that accepts donations in the form of decorated shoeboxes that are filled with $50 worth of personal and beauty items, which will be delivered to a woman in a local shelter during the holidays. I think it’s an amazing idea and you don’t realize how quickly $50 goes! I picked up some nail polish (of course), some jewelry, the softest socks I’ve ever felt, and a few other goodies. You don’t get to see my decorated box because…. It looked a lot better in my head than it did after execution. Haha. Despite that, this is an awesome charity and they have collection drives all over Canada so check them out if you can!

Now, on to the conference!

Sara K. (EIC, 29Secrets), Madelyn C. (Editor, StyleList Canada) and
Sabrina M. (Style and Designer Writer, Now!) speaking at the Attracting and Managing Contributors panel

The speakers were all amazing and very knowledgeable in their areas. Something I really appreciated was that there was lots of time after each for audience questions, and my fellow bloggers did not disappoint when it came to thoughtful questions! I learned a lot and have a ton of ideas I want to give more thought to.

Here are some of my favourite points from across the panels: 

  • Don’t be scared to reach out to editors with pitches – if you do reach out, make sure to let your personality shine through in the first four or five sentences, attach your writing samples to the email, and don’t take it personally if they don’t respond.
  • Being “better” isn’t good enough anymore – the market is saturated with good bloggers, so you need to find something different that you can market that makes you individual.
  • The only way you can find your inner voice is to use it – read and write as much as you can and don’t be afraid to edit things down.
  • Be true to your own brand – become known for who you are not what you do, and don’t worry about justifying yourself.
  • You need to decide which will be more effective for you in the long-run – taking risks or being ignored
  • When it comes to pitching to PR agents they like to see 3 or 4 strong platforms with a unique voice. The two individuals in the Digital Media: Where to be and How to Measure session agreed the most important metrics for the initial conversation are region, age and gender of your visitors, and it’s important to know of and pitch for your audience.

Lots of great stuff, right? 🙂

All ready for note-taking with my notebook and coffee at 8:30am!

I’m also going to take a minute to cover some of the legal information that was shared in the Laying Down the Law: Legal Issues Every Blogger Should Know session presented by Wynnie Chan (Attorney, Bereskin & Parr LLP) because I think it’s important (NOTE: this is all for Canadian laws and none of this should be considered legal advice): 

  • Make sure your blog has a copyright notice and terms of use.
  • Give credit whenever you use images and whenever possible ask for permission. 
    • When it comes to using images for reviews (for example when you pull an image from the Sephora website) you can cite the source and use it under the “criticism for review” copyright exception, but you can’t use it to make your blog look “pretty” (for example setting it as a tiled background for your blog) because you open yourself up to legal action. 
    • If someone copies text from another source and it goes to court what they’ll look at is how substantial the copied part was on a qualitative basis to make their decision. 
    • If you’re going to be sued it has to be done within 3 years of discovery. 
  • When it comes to “native advertising” (sponsored posts, affiliates, etc.) there are currently no clear guidelines in Canada but it’s good practice to disclose at the top of your post – don’t mislead readers that it’s an unbiased review.

Phew! That’s a lot of info! Let’s move on to more of the lighter stuff before we wrap up, shall we? 🙂

The sponsor table set up by crowdsocial

The first day of the conference came with a lot of time and opportunities to meet with various companies and sponsors. The first booth I saw (and one my favourites) was for crowdsocial which is a new influencer/reviewer site in Canada launching in January 2015. They had gifts from some of their partners available and also had a TON of macaroons. Essie and macaroons? A table sent from heaven!

The polish (Essie Naughty Nautical) and macaroon I picked up from crowdsocial

Seriously you’d think macaroons were the theme of the day, they were all over the place. Mmmm.

The Nicole by OPI booth

My other favourite booth of the day was the Nicole by OPI one… Because they had their new 2015 shades out for us to play with! You could tell there weren’t many other nail bloggers around because no one else seemed excited about this preview and no one seemed overly bothered by the fact I settled in to swatch ALL of them before I would move.

And speaking of… I have some mini swatches for you!

Nicole by OPI 2015 shades

Nicole by OPI 2015 shades

Not my best swatch job, I’ll admit. But considering I wasn’t prepared for this I think swatches on paper will do the job for now. (Rumor has it there are NOPI polishes in our gift bags so you might see a real swatch or two in the next while!) 

Which ones do you like best? I think A Heart of Gold is my favourite (it reminds me a bit of L.A.M.B. on my nails right now!), In Sync with Pink and Who Are You Calling a Shrimp?

Distance from my seat to the wall? 2 feet, but the wall was curved!

And to end this post I have a little laugh to share with you… So the facilities are really gorgeous (it’s a place called District 28 near Queen and Leslie) but there’s one wall that I’m sure is great for photography but not so much bloggers trying to walk behind a table sneakily… It’s curved in a way you underestimate, and one of those is the seat I was in all day. Small space + curved wall = you’re not gonna make it, please don’t try. Maybe I’ll sit somewhere else tomorrow…

And now that I’ve written this up I’m off to bed so I can wake up early and do it all over again tomorrow! Tomorrow we have the sessions on media kits, ad networks, and rebranding your blog among others.

My final post probably won’t be up until Monday or Tuesday (since I have to go to work after the conference tomorrow – ugh!) so I’ll see you then! Thanks for visiting! 🙂

[You can find out more about Spark Sessions by visiting their website, twitter, instagram or facebook.]