Spark Sessions Recap +  Rules all Beauty Bloggers Should Follow!

Spark Sessions Recap + Rules all Beauty Bloggers Should Follow!

Sometimes we all need a bit of inspiration, a few life lessons and some quality time with a group of people that support and motivate you. This is exactly what the Spark Sessions conference was for me!

If you haven’t heard of Spark Sessions, it’s a non-profit organization in Toronto that puts on a yearly 2-day conference as well as intensive workshops to help beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers build their skills, network and take their blog to the next level.

Spark Session day 1

Natalie and I, Spark Sessions Day One

This year’s conference was less than two days after my return from Australia, but nothing, not even the craziest jetlag, was going to keep me from attending. Especially since one of my favourite bloggers, Natalie from Ivory Avenue, was travelling all the way from Montreal to come hang out!

Over the two days, there were 7 sessions I attended and 8 PR “speed dating” interviews I had that helped put things into perspective and really helped me figure a few things out about the future of this blog (and even my career). Here are my key takeaways, in a handy top 5 list:

GOLDEN RULES FOR BEAUTY BLOGGING

1. LOVE what you write about
Don’t become a blog bot and write about things you don’t believe in or truly care about. When you regurgitate a press release or rush though a post because you’re not into it, people can tell. (I can tell because you have typos all over your post!)

2. Be picky
This goes hand-in-hand with Rule #1. Don’t cover events or review products that don’t interest you. Over time, you’ll start to lose your passion and feel unmotivated. Hoarding all the PR samples is only going to land you a gig on the show Hoarders.

3. Stay true to who you are
Don’t change the way you write or the photos you take to please anyone. Everyone is a unique and special snowflake, so if you actually let your true personality shine through your blog will stand out!

4. Build Your Network!
This doesn’t just apply to building a network of PR contacts, it’s important to get to know other bloggers. This is an extremely supportive community and you may one day need their help for motivation, inspiration or a guest post (like that time I scheduled 3 weeks of guests posts so I could go to Australia). May I suggest joining the Canadian Beauty Bloggers network?

5. Fake it ’til you make it.
Ok, I already follow this rule, but it is important to keep in mind. So you just started out blogging, who cares. You can create content just as well as a blogger who has years of experience. Have confidence!

BUT most of all, there is no formula for being a successful beauty blogger (and really what is “success” in blogging anyway?) Just be nice and do what makes you happy!

 

Spark Sessions day two 3
For me, one of the most helpful sessions was The A-Z of Media Kits with Maxine McDonald of Langton Communications. I have been struggling with what to put into my media kit for over a year now, and she broke it down for us within about 35 minutes. If you’re interested in a more detailed write-up of the Media Kit workshop, feel free to leave me a note in the comments!

OTHER MEMORABLE MOMENTS INCLUDE…


Spark Sessions day two 4Finding out the alternate name to a backdrop is a “step and repeat”.


Spark Sessions day two 2Ruth from Benefit and her no BS approach to PR relationships.

Spark Sessions day two 1
Shawna and her light-up lipgloss.


Spark Sessions day 3Natalie and I hanging out in the Benefit Cosmetics lounge area.


Spark Sessions day 4I got my brows “wow’ed”


Spark Sessions day two 6Cheryl Hickey from ET as the closing keynote. She was so amazing!


Spark Sessions swagAnd of course, all the swag!

ALL IN ALL: While some people went to Spark Sessions looking for a way to turn blogging into a job or to connect with publishers to spread their content all over the country, what I realized is I LOVE blogging. I love writing about pretty things and fun experiences. See, I’m a copywriter by trade and write all day long for clients, so when I come home it’s all about me. I don’t want to turn this into a job because I already have a job as a writer! So what can you expect for 2015? A lot of the same: product reviews, lots of MAC, and probably a few more  event, travel and op-ed pieces.

I can’t thank the amazing team at Spark Sessions enough for all their hard work and dedication putting this conference together. Now onto next year’s workshops and conference!

Want to learn more about Spark Sessions? Head on over to their site and sign up for the newsletter!

  • Some great takeaways Julie! YOU are a unique snowflake and I love you <3 The conference really made me re-think the direction of my blog and why I started it in the first place!

  • Jayne

    I have a tattoo of a snowflake…so I am one step closer to being unique! Haha!
    I actually would love the media kit post because I think you would do a great job of disseminating the information succinctly! Sign me up!

  • Those are all really great messages to take from the conference, Julie! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Tanya Lovetere

    Thanks so much for all the info! This is very helpful.I would love to know more about what should be in your media kit. I have one and I think it sounds good but I’m not sure if brands feel the same. I wish there were events like this in my area. Beauty/Fashion blogs aren’t that big around here. Especially Beauty which is my main focus.

  • Sounds like you had an awesome time! Love the haul! 🙂 Interesting about what you said about not wanting to do this as your full time job. I feel like that’s what a lot of people see as the end goal, but it’s refreshing to see someone that just genuinely likes to blog as a hobby! 🙂

    • I think people need to realize there is no easy path from blogging to being a professional writer. There is so much competition and if your portfolio is only blog posts and beauty articles, you won’t have a lot of options. I went to school for 7 years to get the gig I have now. It was hard work and more than just a few articles here and there.

      • Yup I 100% agree. It’s not just a formula you can replicate on demand. Well it makes me happy that you were able to achieve success and everything was worth it for you!

  • Omg I need to print those tips out and tape it on a wall. I’ve been chatting with other bloggers a lot about this lately and it’s really hard sometimes not to get lost in all the free swag and the numbers game. It’s always key to remember what one’s original inspiration was for getting into blogging!

    • I see a lot of blog posts lately about the issue. The need to compete with oneself. The need to get all the swag and go to all the events. It gets especially hectic around the holidays and I know a lot of people are feeling uninspired, like marketing machines. I figure, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t end up reviewing everything. Pick and choose something you really love. I actually just purge 4 bags of PR swag I never used or reviewed and donated to charity. Made me feel good!

      • It’s totally hectic sometimes because you feel that you “should” be trying to create relationships out there and doing this or that. The word “should” is so evil a lot of the time!

  • I really need to go to the session next year. It really sounds like I missed out!

    • My fave part was the hangouts there. Hearing what other blogger types struggle with and just being around a bunch of people that can have an intellectual conversation about lipstick or a damn good winged eyeliner is pretty fulfilling.

  • I’m coming next year! James isn’t allowed to leave the province!

  • oh dude. i have typos all over the posts i love anyways….its probably one of my biggest failings as a blogger.

    hear hear to the ‘be picky’ tip