So while I was at ALT Summit, I did a panel on the business of blogging with Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind and Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101. I always enjoy presenting, but something about the chemistry with those two girls made this conversation extra engaging for me.
I finally remembered to ask someone to record my presentation, but neglected to bring her a tripod. (Thanks for your forbearance, Kelly.) Here’s a slightly shaky video of my portion of the presentation:
I know a lot of you are bloggers trying to bring in a little income, so here are the main points of our entire presentation — each of us took on four tips.
Beyond the Banner:
A 12-Step Program for Successful Content Campaigns
Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind:
1. Re-invent the wheel.
Creative campaigns are fun and memorable. Consider Jason, who’s renting out his torso at I Wear Your Shirt. What do you have to offer that’s a little offbeat?
2. Test the waters first.
Before you jump into a huge commitment with a single advertiser, put a toe in the water. This way you’ll know more about how your readers will respond, learn how to price yourself through trial and error, and figure out which campaigns make you want to take a nap, and which are fun.
3. Know your professional strengths.
If you’re crappy at project management or staying on top of communications with clients, hire someone to do that for you while you produce content.
4. Less is more.
Erin likes to keep a ratio of 95 percent content to 5 percent sponsored posts. You’ll find your own ratio, but be mindful that you’re giving your readers something of value while you’re paying the rent.
Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101:
5. It’s not all about you.
Think about the sponsor, what are their wants and needs? Let that shape the program you propose.
6. Measure your digital footprint.
Remember that your blog probably isn’t your only online presence. You may have readers on Twitter, Facebook, or even a newsletter. Think of the whole package.
7. Know thyself.
If your gut tells you that an advertiser doesn’t seem like the right fit, say no. Your readers know you, and they’ll obviously be able to tell if you’re promoting something and your heart isn’t in it.
No one likes to feel misled. Let your audience know who’s paying you and for what.
And me, Maggie Mason from Mighty Girl:
9. Consider events.
Throw a party for a local boutique, host an event in conjunction with a larger conference, or start a little retreat and build from there. If you enjoy throwing events, they can be a good way to build a tighter community while you grow your business.
10. Remember advertisers are people.
People who want to give you money are not your enemies, so keep the conversation going. If you start to feel adversarial about a proposed campaign, suggest other ways to work with a brand that might be more interesting to you and your readers. Even the largest brand has a team of people behind it, people with faces and families, who care about their product succeeding.
11. Pitch to your passions.
Seek out advertisers to support the content you’re already producing by being smart about how you package it. Can you tell people what your site is about in a single sentence? Is there a memorable narrative in your life story – maybe you’re building a house, starting your life over, becoming a new parent? Focus on that when you approach potential sponsors.
12. Know your worth.
Don’t just look at your daily unique visitors when you’re pricing a campaign. Consider your ability to amplify on Twitter, Facebook, via newsletter. Think about engagement — if you have a small audience of readers who are passionate about a particular subject and will leave lots of comments, that’s valuable to an advertiser. And don’t forget to take your time into account. Your work is probably worth more than you think.
That’s it! Are you trying to figure out how to make your living as a blogger? What did we forget?
I try to travel without checking luggage, and Packing Light is a series about what I pack to get that done.
I haven’t done a lot of winter suitcases, so I thought I’d do a post about what I packed to speak at ALT Summit. The jeans are from The Limited, and I need to imagine a gospel choir singing and Jesus rays breaking through the clouds as I type this next part: They were the first pair I tried on. I’m a size 8 to 10 in jeans, and the ones at The Limited have a perfect waist to bum ratio for my figure, so the waistline doesn’t gap. The boots are my magic Buenos Aires boots from the trip we took when Hank was a baby.
The undershirt is an acid yellow top I got at Old Navy in a frenzied stock up on layering pieces when they had the $5 sale before Christmas. I like to buy unusual colors so I can combine them with neutrals and have it look all artsy, which is what I’m going for with this grey Dolman sleeve sweater, also from a sale at The Limited (twenty bucks, baby!).
Laura took this lovely photo of me in my outfit for the “Old Hollywood” party. I took that to mean retro-Oscars, but most other ladies wore chic little cocktail dresses, which means I was grievously overdressed. Upside, I arrived after dinner and drinks, so I was mostly too illuminated to care much.
This is a cheap feather hair clip I often use to spruce up dress straps. It can add va-voom to the most mundane spaghetti strap number.
Update: I got the clip at a cheesy costume shop on the Haight, the one with all the wigs and spandex zebra print outfits. I looked for a similar one online but couldn’t find it. If you do, let me know and I’ll post a link in a later post. Also, this can get crushed in a suitcase, so I pack it in a hard-sided cardboard box that’s maybe three inches high.
My hair is getting too long for ponytails, it just tends to look scraggly, so this is my version of the quick updo. I twist back the front sections, then do a loose chignon in the back.
The shoes are a hand-me-down from my sister. I like the surprise lattice work in back.
I got the shirt and belt on sale at JCrew and I wear them both constantly. The cashmere sweater is a vintage Pringle from the Alameda Flea Market (twenty bucks!). The brooch is by Elefante, e a Vida, and I adore it. Miriam’s work is my go-to gift for beloved girlfriends, all of whom I’m pinning one by one.
I got this fake fur jacket years ago at a thrift store in Sacramento. It brings back amazing memories of having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on sunny winter mornings. My roomie at the time had a giant giraffe-print coat, and we’d wrap up so we could sit outside without waiting for a table. I swear I can smell mint tea every time I put it on, and it’s crazy warm.
Update: I wore the jacket and boots on the plane, so I didn’t have to fit those in the suitcase. Next time I’ll remember to include a shot of the case packed. I also roll my clothing to save space, though the long dress I just folded over and stored in a top panel of the case.
Leggings by H&M, as is the zip-front sweater.
These leg warmers are also H&M, and they are divine. They make it more feasible to wear leggings as pants, and you can really wear them with anything when you want to throw in a little trendy kick.
(Someone asked in comments what I’m wearing on my lips in this photo. I think it’s just Burt’s Bees peppermint chapstick.)
And finally, you must own one of these American Apparel circle scarves. I never take mine off, and there’s so many ways to wear it, I give a full-on infomercial to anyone who will listen. Sorry about that, Karen and Erin. But you love the scarf don’t you? I thought so.
This is Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind, prepare to be jealous of her boots.
Hello, Erin. Please mail me your shoes. In exchange, I will be your best friend 4-evah.
Also, the print on her shirt is an elephant, and it has ears! Ears, people. Doesn’t that make you want to hug her?
As you can see, Erin dresses with a great sense of humor. But then there are the boots.
She’s dead serious about the boots.
This is Victoria Smith from sfgirlbybay. I suggested she wear a Tricorne with this fantastic bow shirt, but she demurred.
I took some photos of the cute outfits while I was at ALT. This is the very charming Shayna Roosevelt of Room Creative. She has one of those smiles that starts with her eyes.
Sorry for the site weirdness over the last couple of days. We were changing servers, and it went less smoothly than I had hoped. Thanks for hanging in there with me. While my site was doing backflips, I was on my way to speak at Alt:
The plane landed yesterday without crashing, which was heartening, and I finally got to meet Miss Marlo.
Heather makes good babies.