After an exciting period of build-up, the day of the world’s first Health & Blogging summit finally dawned on us on the 15th April 2017. I was an ambassador for this event through the Health Bloggers Community (HBC), to promote the event and to help out on the day itself. Here is a sneak peek from behind the scenes and a couple of highlights!
A crazy morning
When I arrived at the trendy Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, Laura, one of the faces behind the Health Bloggers Community, and Chris, our Boss Lady’s other half were already busy little bees co-ordinating the delivery and loading off of hundreds of goodie-bags. The sight of goodie bag mountains filling up the Pantry Kitchen area gave me some butterflies in my tummy – in just over an hour, hundreds of bloggers would start flooding in through the doors!
Fortunately, the rest of the ambassadors started to appear, too, coming to our rescue! Together with Lea from Can eat Attitude, Vicky from The Flourishing Pantry and Rachel from Healthy and Psyched, we formed a team to sort and fill up the goodie bags with some additional treats in the back room, operating at the efficiency of a conveyor belt system! Miraculously, no Bounce Energy Balls were eaten in the process. #OneTeamOneDream. In the meanwhile, the Bounce Balls crew turned up, too, setting up their drool-worthy breakfast buffet in the Pantry Kitchen. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to tuck in after exercising so much self-restraint earlier on.
Breakfast is ready!
Finally, the last thing left to do was to put out some programme leaflets and prepare the welcome desk to sign in the attendees. What followed afterwards remains a blur as we were crowd-controlling, handing out goodie-bags, getting name tags written up, directing people to the breakfast bar and answering questions about the programme of events – all at the same time! Phew. It was lovely to spot some familiar faces and Insta-buddies in the crowds, some of whom I met in ‘real life’ for the first time!
As the day progressed, our well-fed bloggers found their way around, attending the various workshops, discussion panels, fitness classes and networking with healthy living brands. This meant that I finally had the chance to check out what was going on!
As promised, here are a couple of highlights for me:-
‘How to launch your editorial career in health & wellness’ panel discussion
This discussion was led by Laura who interviewed Lauren Armes (founder of the Well to Do Magazine), Amy Hopkinson (editor at Women’s Health Magazine) and Rhiannon Lambert (nutritionist at Rhitrition).
The first thing that they established was that this is a particularly great time for healthy living brands and bloggers to grow as people are becoming more health-conscious, providing a large and receptive audience to our messages. However, unfortunately, this has also given the rise to pseudoscience whereby lots of people are creating huge amounts of content on fitness, wellbeing and nutrition, often without the necessary qualifications or experience to back themselves up. As influencers it is important to realise that we all have a responsibility towards our audience, so we must always make sure that we create value through factually right, well-researched and evidence based content. Obviously, we can’t be experts in all areas, so there is no shame in asking for help from professionals to verify our content before we put it out. Who knows, it could even lead to fruitful collaborations in the future!
Some great food for thought from the panel
Sadly, this industry is not as well regulated as for example the medical industry, so we are called to be vigilant and know what sources the information is coming from, even check the qualifications and background of the content creator for credibility.
We must also acknowledge that it is not an easy climate to create content under. There has never been a greater pressure to produce live content ‘on demand’, quickly. It is easy to see how this can be detrimental to quality. One way to rise above this is to never lose sight of our purpose (why we started writing in the first place), staying true to ourselves and refusing to be defined by our follower numbers. We should be using social media as a means to an end, and let the quality, rather than quantity of our writing make us stand out.
The discussion continued with looking at ways for bloggers to work with brands and publishers. In a nutshell, it all comes down to knowing what you stand for and what experience and value you can offer to the targeted brand. Obviously, it goes without saying that you should always do your research about the brand you are looking to approach, so that in your pitch you can focus on how collaborating with you will benefit them and help them achieve their objectives.
It always helps to have a strong portfolio of experience such as writing for online magazines and collaborating with other brands as well as building your own network with other influencers. At the end of the day, still a lot comes down to relationships. It can also help to find a role model who has already achieved what you want to achieve and take guidance and advice from them. However, sometimes getting noticed can come down to small things such as a punchy, eye-catching email subject.
‘Collaborating with brands as a digital influencer’ panel discussion
In this panel, our Boss Lady Fab Giovanetti interviewed Dr Hazel Wallace, also known as The Food Medic. Hazel is also a brand ambassador for Linwoods Health Foods and have collaborated with numerous other healthy living brands as well.
Hazel and Fab
I have jotted down a couple of top tips from Hazel if you are looking to work with brands:-
- No matter how much you love blogging and interacting on social media, do not let it completely take over your life. If you spread yourself too thinly, it can easily jeopardise quality (some common themes emerging here!). Sometimes the best word to say is ‘no’.
- Once you become an established blogger, it may be helpful to use an agency to manage your relationship with brands and to help you tap into new collaboration opportunities. However, it does come at a cost so this option is great if you are a big influencer in demand, already making money out of your blog.
- Professionalism and respect are always the key components for building new relationships – if a brand is repeatedly harassing you, not taking ‘no’ for an answer, or going behind your agency’s back, it might be time to turn away.
- Most bloggers work with various different brands producing one-off content, which could potentially lead to readers questioning the bloggers’ authenticity and brand loyalty. There is nothing wrong with working with many different brands, however, you should always ask yourself whether their products/services are a true representation of your brand and how they fit into the ethos of your blog. Sacrificing your authenticity for financial gain could be detrimental to your reputation – a recent example that jumps to my mind is the ill-conceived partnership that GreatRun has formed with HerbaLife, the MLM company with rather questionable operating ethics. This has caused a huge uproar and disapproval within the health and fitness community. (As a result, GreatRun terminated the partnership a few days later.)
- Charging for blog posts and other miscellaneous services are still seen as a taboo topic and indeed a lot of bloggers tend to undervalue themselves when it comes to discussing payment for sponsored content. However, most brands are open to negotiation and if you do not drive this as being your own boss, no one else will. To establish how much you should be charging, it could help to break down to hourly rate the work you are putting into producing the content.
‘How do we foolproof ourselves against foolish fitness?’ panel discussion
This panel interview was led by Alice Liveing, better known as Clean Eating Alice. She picked the brains of Luke Worthington (ranked as one of the Top 5 PTs in London and also her PT); Amy Hopkinson (editor at Women’s Health Magazine – also trained by Luke) and Johnny Lomax (founder and owner of Lomax Gym).
I found the discussion quite interesting with many great take-home messages, ranging from why you might not be achieving your fitness goals, the importance of strength training, the many different elements of recovery. What really resonated with me was talking about the competitive nature of fitness, often leading to overtraining and the glorification of intensity.
The panel ‘warming up’
A lot of the pressure comes from social media where we are fed daily images of others churning out sweaty workouts and training hard-core. Instagram-worthy #FitnessMotivation seems to be all about lifting monster weights, boasting about nearly throwing up in a HIIT class, or showing off our 6 packs in the mirror. In reality though, consistency of effort often trumps the intensity of effort – accept that not every workout you do will be ‘super hard core’ or your ‘best ever’ session (but that doesn’t discount it) and sometimes ‘life happens’ when you simply can’t train as much as you want to, so it’s all about balance. Putting things into perspective can also help – look at fitness as part of your life (which fits in with your lifestyle, abilities and needs), rather than something that gives sole meaning to your life. Sometimes just slowing down can present a greater challenge – for example, think about pushups: you might be able to bust out 20 quick ones, however, when you try to do these slowly, you might be begging for mercy after only a handful.
The discussion ended with the conclusion that as fitness influencers, we should always consider our responsibility about what we put out on our website or social media platforms (again, I can see some patterns emerging here, which is quite comforting!). Personally, I reached the same conclusion for myself some time ago, so that’s partly the reason I studied towards a Personal Trainer qualification and pursued further learning by completing a Kettlebell Trainer course. This way I can speak with more authority and be a ‘trusted advisor’ for my readers.
Discovering new brands and gorging on delicious treats
It was nice to see some of my favourite brands such as BOL Foods who provided us with a delicious lunch (oh, those little ‘pots of joy’!), and Just Bee Drinks and Missfits Nutrition who quenched our thirst with some refreshments in the afternoon. Just the food and the goodie bags stuffed with delicious treats would have made it worthwhile to come to the event, if nothing else had been on the programme!
Lunch and refreshments
Inbetween panel sessions and workshops, I managed to sneak into the ‘Winter Garden’ to sample some healthy snacks and chat to the brands. Some of my favourites included We Are Tea – they have partnered with one of the UK’s most established nutritionists to create a range of health and wellbeing teas, only using natural ingredients. I have to admit that whenever I see a tea brand promoting themselves as a wellness brand (such as the dubious teatox products), I get slightly suspicious. However, I really loved their ‘no fad diets’ philosophy and their genuinely delicious concoctions.
I also fell in love with Sukin, who pride themselves on being Australia’s best selling natural skin care brand. I have since then tried their Facial Scrub with Jojoba Beads and Bamboo Charcoal and their Rosehip Hydrating Day Cream with Pomegranate and Kakadu Plum. (I swear this one actually smells like Victoria sponge cake!)
Sampling some tasty treats
Super friendly and inspiring atmosphere
Last, but not least, I really enjoyed catching up with my buddies and getting to know some new bloggers and Instagrammers. A lot of people came on their own, and it was amazing to see how a passion we all share helped us connect with each other, in some cases, even leading to forming new friendships.
What I especially I liked was the fact that the same, consistent messages were filtering through the various discussions and interviews about quality, integrity, credibility and responsibility. I genuinely think that a community like HBC and an event like this truly has the power to bring together, educate, and shape the agenda of the players in the fitness and health industry, so that united, we can make a difference and do good.
The ambassador crew, Fab and Laura (me on the far left)
Hopefully this has persuaded you to try blogging events if you have been sitting on the fence about it until now, or are unsure what to expect. Maybe I will see you at the next HBC blogger meetup in June?
Have you ever attended blogger events? If so, which one is the best one you have ever been to?
Photo credits: Health Bloggers Community Facebook page