Hi Edit and Posters! I hope you are having a wonderful start to 2011! I’ve been busy busy working on great new things for Elizabeth Anne Designs, as well as helping my good friends Cyd and Mojito Maven create brand spankin’ new sites!
I also just returned from Salt Lake City, where I attended the Altitude Design Summit. Not only did I get to spend loads of quality time with some fabulous ladies (like Cyd, Nole, Vane, Victoria, Emily, and Amanda), but I also was able to hear panelists like Heather Armstrong, Jordan Ferney, and Erin Loechner speak on a variety of topics including The Art of the Pitch, Advertising: Beyond the Banner, and Blogging Personal Stories.
I’d like to share a few overarching themes of the conference with ya’ll, and get your feedback on them.
The largest concept that repeated through the conference was blogging with integrity and honesty.
- Giving your readers full disclosure about any compensation for content
- Respecting your competitors and fellow bloggers
- Taking sponsored content only where you feel it fits with your audience
- Crediting all sources of content
We have all seen those blogs that bash other blogs, those who seem just the slightest bit sleazy with their sponsored content, who credit a blog and not the photographer when posting an image… Moral of the story? Don’t be that blog.
Although I don’t take ads or sponsored content on Edit and Post, I do on EAD, so this part of the summit was the most interesting to me. I came away from Alt with a few salient points on monetizing:
- Think outside the box when it comes to monetizing. Case in point? Check out I Wear Your Shirt. Literally, this is a group of people who will wear your company’s t-shirt around town for money. It’s so crazy it works, and I find it pretty awesome. Explore alternatives to banner ads, such as affiliate relationships and ad networks.
- Don’t undervalue yourself. I came away feeling like design bloggers are lightyears ahead of wedding bloggers in this respect.
- Monetize in a way that is in line with your readership (as in, if you blog about personal finances, a sponsored post on pet food probably isn’t a good way to make a buck!).
Every aspect of a blog will be better if you are engaging your audience and are authentic. One of my favorite panels, Blogging Personal Stories with Karey Mackin, Marta Dansie, and Stephanie Nielson, honed in on developing your voice and taking small things from your daily life and weaving them into your blog to tell a story. People love knowing things about other people and connecting with them.
Personally, I took the most learning opportunities from this theme and am excited about implementing some of my ideas on EAD.
So did you attend Alt this year? What do you think about the themes that the conference covered – does it get you thinking about your own blog?
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was fortunate enough to attend the Engage!10 luxury wedding business summit at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman last week. Created and produced by Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce of Engaging Concepts, the event was a chance to connect with many amazing friends, both old and new, in the wedding industry.
I posted a recap with some beautiful images of the conference and the Cayman Islands over on Elizabeth Anne Designs, but here on Edit and Post I wanted to delve into just a few of the recurring themes from the conference and my insights and takeaways based on the panel discussions and conversations with other attendees.
On the very first day in the very first panel discussion, Harmony Walton posed a question to a small group of us: “Where do you want to be in 10 years?” I sat there, relatively clueless, awaiting my turn to answer and wondering what the hell I’d say.
Because the truth is, I HAVE NO IDEA.
And you know what? I am OK with that.
During the past ten years my life has changed in ways that were both completely expected and incredibly surprising. I love the thrill of the unexpected. I thrive on change, constant revision, and self-examination. I came away from Engage! with several budding ideas of ways to change my business, and if I had a “goal” that I was single-mindedly set towards, I may not have been open-minded to these new strategies.
Know that the wedding industry is changing faster than we can even realize. Are you ready to change with it?
So many of the conversations that I participated in throughout the conference centered around growing your business when you provide a personal service. One conversation went like this:
Her: “I went back to work 5 days after having my baby because my clients needed me.”
Me: “Don’t you have a team working with you on the client’s wedding?”
Her: “Yes, but they only wanted me.”
Me: “Then you’re doing something wrong.”
So I tend to make blunt statements and brash generalizations, but here is my point (which I clarified to her during this conversation). There is only so much of you to go around. If you are giving a little piece of yourself to each and every client, soon you won’t have anything left. This is when burnout occurs. This is why businesses become stagnant.
I’m guilty of this – we are all guilty in one way or another – but it’s so important to keep perspective in an entrepreneurial business. In order to grow, you must find, train, and give creative control to your team. You must trust them. If you don’t trust them, how will your client trust them? And if your client doesn’t trust them, how will you be able to let go and focus on growing your business?
Are you giving a little piece of yourself to each of your clients? How many pieces do you have left?
One of my personal action plans from the conference is to put a great deal of thought into diversifying my business from the rest of my industry. Perhaps because it was so applicable to me, this subtle thought stood out to me as a conference “theme”, if there is such a thing at Engage!.
What am I doing to differentiate my business?
In the first moment of interacting with my business, do you see what I want you to see?
How do I stand out from the crowd?
If you are in the wedding industry and are considering attending an Engage! event, I would definitely recommend it. Engage! is not a “how to” or “what to” conference. Rather, it is a thought-provoking environment that allows you to connect with like-minded industry professionals and gives the opportunity for reflection on your business.