The Go Mighty team has been building a community of people who make things happen. Come be part of it.
I’m teaching a one-week Life List Workshop through Skillshare, starting April 8. It’s online, it’s only $20, and you should do it.
As part of the class, the Go Mighty team is choosing one participant (or group of participants, if you feel like doing a team project) to receive a $1,000 grant toward turning a dream into an action.
If you’ve been wanting to make a Life List, or meaning to choose a few goals to tackle, or thinking about supporting others who are working on their lists, you could do that later. But later is dumb. Instead, let’s do it right now:
See you there, doers. I will bring pizza.
(Photo from Oh Happy Day!)
I’ve had a version of these business cards for years, though never as lovely as the ones Jordan made as a gift, above. (Thank you again, sweets.)
They’re blank on the back, so I write in whatever information I’d like a particular person to have. I can put an @ in front of the “Maggie,” write just my phone number, a little note, whatever.
For me, they’re perfect — evergreen information, versatile, google-able only insofar as I’d like them to be, and they double as social cards so I don’t feel like I’m “doing business” at a party when someone asks for my contact information. Yes, I know I am alone in thinking about this. Allow me my WASPy pleasures, they make me feel alive.
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?
This is every item of clothing I packed for seven days in Dublin. I’m doing a campaign for L.L.Bean’s Signature Collection and they sent me a giant box of clothes, so I’m wearing a few of those items below. That means you can actually obtain some of these pieces, instead of cursing me when I tell you that everything you love was purchased at a vintage shop in 2001.
For example, this perfectly faded brown dress with polka dots? It’s L.L.Bean’s Silk Habutai Dress, and it’s so Little Orphan Annie. Except it’s made of heavy silk, but who says orphans can’t have nice things? Jerks, that’s who.
Anyway, as I mentioned recently, belts are a challenge for me. I’ve been trying to up my game on that front, so I bought a few from H&M and this is my first attempt. I felt so pulled together, ya’ll. The cardigan I’m belting here is also H&M, but it’s from the men’s section, which is where they keep all the good stuff.
The grey tights are Target, and the magic travel boots are from Argentina. They’ve gotten me through more trips than I can count.
Let’s get a closer look at those blue polka dots:
Hello, little buddies.
This is my travel outfit, hence the action pose. It’s a knit dress I got at a thrift store, worn with an H&M elastic belt and the aforementioned tights and boots. I also wore a grey sweater wrap that I didn’t get a photo of, but you can see it in my New York post from a couple years ago. It doubles as an airplane blanket.
I’m wearing the dress on the way back home too, so I’ll be washing it in the bathtub while I’m here. Airplane germs gross me out. Another reason to do a quick rinse:
This is the dress worn as a top. I’ve cleverly safety pinned the sides to the outside layer of my Express Ultra Skinny Stella jean pockets. You can also use extra large safety pins to do a gathering effect on the sides of your dress, which is slightly more labor intensive, but arguably more effective. There are those boots again. I love you, boots.
The necklace is also H&M, it makes everything a little more current. Unlike these killer sleeves. What’s up 1983? We miss your economy.
The circle scarf is H&M, and I love how easy it is to mess with proportions when you’re wearing it. Also, coziness.
These are my Rudolf Dassler PUMAs, which I adore, so of course they rub away the skin over my Achilles tendon. I’ve been trying to decide whether I strictly need that skin, so I’ve taken to tying them lower. This frees up a lot of extra lace, hence the creative lace tying. I like the way it looks, so I’ve been doing that with all my sneakers now.
This is a packing minimization outfit. We’re revisiting the cardigan, boots, and jeans.
I forget where the shirt came from, but I bought it because I liked the gathering around the neck and cuffs. You have to iron it like crazy though, and I only seem to have time for that when I’m on vacation.
The hat is hand knit, I got it at a thrift store where I get almost all of my hand-knit items. For the record, if someone hand knits you something and you send it to a thrift store? I’m pretty sure you need to go to confession, or sacrifice a goat or something. Or at least learn how to knit things that other people can then throw away — full circle.
I try to pack PJs I can wear as clothes in a pinch, so this is a tank top and cropped sweats from who knows where. I wear the tank under stuff for an extra layer if it’s cold. The comfy pants are nice if I get sick and want to be cozy, or if my flight is delayed and everything I’m wearing is coated in airport goo.
Chic librarian is my preferred look, so this is my favorite outfit for the trip.
These are L.L.Bean’s Cuffed Cropped Pant. They are fantastic. I’d normally wear them with a chunky heel, but we’re walking on cobblestones in the rain here, so these are cheap, destroyable flats from Target.
The cashmere cardigan is from the Alameda Flea Market, the Peter Pan collar top was 99 cents on eBay, and the modernized cat-eye glasses are Dolce and Gabbana. The hair scarf is actually a belt from a polyester ’70s dress I got at a thrift store when I was in high school. Yeah. It’s time to clean out my closet.
Thanks to the team at L.L.Bean Signature Collection for sponsoring this post.
Next time I have a clambake, you are so invited.
In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, every Monday I post articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2002. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.
Black is easy. Black is mythic. It can make you look 120 pounds when you weigh 250. Black is the new…well, you’ve heard it. But do you own anything that makes you laugh when you put it on? Not even a pair of ducky yellow boots tucked into the back corner of your closet?
If not, you need more happy clothes. Even in big cities where women tend to be more adventurous with their clothing, you can count ten women in muted colors for every one woman wearing a bright blue raincoat or green trousers. This is why designers have such an easy time hooking us with their color du season. We’re starved for something juicy.
And you can be juicy. Oh, yes.
Now in Technicolor
Color gets you noticed, especially when everyone else looks as though they’re in mourning. Think of who gets photographed at the Oscars: Nicole Kidman in her chartreuse Galliano, Gwyneth Paltrow in her glowing pink Ralph Lauren, Kate Winslet in her flowering red Ben de Lisi. Remember Helen Hunt’s black Gucci cloak dress? Or Julianne Moore’s sheer black Chanel? Yeah, neither does anyone else.
Get some glad rags. If your closet lacks color, refuse to buy any more navy, beige, brown, or black until your wardrobe is more vibrant. You may hear the inner voice that your mother so cultivated, shouting, ‘A pink suede skirt? That won’t go with anything!’ Perhaps. But it will make you want to shimmy.
Don’t wear green if green makes you look dead. How can you tell? Stand near a window in the store so you can see the color and your skin tone in a natural light. Now hold the item in question up to your face. Do you glow a little, or do you look hungover? If you are hungover and you still glow a little, snap that baby up. Also pay attention to people’s comments. If they ask whether you’re feeling tired when you wear your green sweater, chuck it. If they ask whether you’ve just had your hair cut, buy some more skirts to go with your fabulous green sweater.
Eschew black for special occasions. Consider your little black dress a standby for events that catch you off guard, not a default. If you know a fete is coming, find an outfit that will own the room, something that snaps. This will make you easy to find in a crowd, which makes it easier for charming strangers to hit on you.
Invest in a bright coat. It looks fantastic with an all-neutral outfit, and can make even a T-shirt and jeans look stylish. A colorful coat also adds some flare to more conservative work outfits.
Wear more red. It’s the only color that’s both bold and classic, and every woman can find a shade that flatters her. If you’re not sure what looks good on you, go to an upscale makeup counter and ask them to help you find a red lipstick that works with your complexion. Once you’ve found something attractive, you can buy red clothing with the same base shades. Nothing beats a red dress for sex appeal. If you don’t believe me, lick your finger, press it to your hip, and make a sizzling sound. Now isn’t that more convincing when you’re wearing red?
Mix and Match
The best way to figure out what colors work well together is to pay attention to fashion spreads and imitate the combinations you like. Hard-and-fast fashion rules on what matches and what doesn’t are somewhat naive. Styles are in constant flux. While neon pink with lime green would have been fine in the ’80s, today it would be a cause for concern. Some basic guidelines:
Stick to two or three colors per outfit. The rainbow effect hasn’t worked since you were six. If you’re pairing solids, choose two colors and work with those, perhaps adding a touch of a third color in your earrings or with a pair of strappy shoes.
Dress in color families. When you’ve collected enough pieces in a single color family, consider wearing them together once in awhile. Of course, they should be shades that match, mint green isn’t so hot with olive drab, and they should also be tones that vary. Wearing exactly the same shade of a bright color from head to toe can be an assault on passersby, but pairing a barely turquoise angora sweater with a robin’s-egg wool skirt looks smashing. Avoid an undesirable schizophrenic effect by offsetting a monochromatic outfit with a swingy little jacket and shoes in neutral shades or accessories in a complementary, but distinctly different, color.
Pay attention to color tones. Pastels work better with other light colors, while saturated colors work well together. Pale pink is beautiful with beige, but dark pinks are nicer with a chocolate color.
Pucci Over Pinstripe
Patterned clothing isn’t nearly as versatile as solids. There are a few exceptions—pinstripes, Burberry plaid—but patterns are often a liability. They hang forlornly in your closet because they don’t go with anything; they’re the reason that your white T-shirt is always in the wash.
Still, patterns are fun, and fun is the point. So if you’re going to buy a few things that don’t match much, buy outrageous things. See that bright green ’60s print with huge blue barracudas swimming all over it? That’s what I’m talking about. See that little tank top with the giant spiky flowers in fuchsia, and red? There are forty others like it on the sale rack, because no one else was brave enough to wear them. You don’t have those kinds of hang-ups. Vintage shops and deeply discounted sales racks are the best places to find striking prints.
Those who feel exposed in a crazy, dramatic pattern can balance it with classic clothing in a conservative cut. If you’re not particularly adept at choosing colors that work together, select a neutral or a shade featured prominently in the pattern. Your new barracuda pants would look great with a slate gray T-shirt. Your floral tank would be sweet with a little red skirt.
Tennis Bracelets Are for Sissies
If you’re not a brave girl, or you don’t have enough extra cash to invest in a fuchsia section of your closet, start with accessories. You can dress as conservatively as you like and still look dashing if you wear bold jewelry. What do I mean by bold? Colorful, and big.
Find two or three bright colors that you love—a lipstick crimson, Tiffany’s blue—and begin to collect scarves, pins, and bracelets in those colors. Bright, dramatic jewelry is especially nice with clothes that take no chances. A beige T-shirt, jeans, and sandals looks ho-hum until you add a chunky orange necklace. Your little black dress stands out if you added aquamarine chandelier earrings or a pink tassel necklace that falls to your waist.
The extra bonus with dramatic jewelry is that you can always remove it and stuff it in your purse if you feel overdressed or silly. This is not as true of thigh-high leather boots that lace up the back.
Bold and Brave
Nothing looks good on a woman who isn’t brave, and it takes a brave woman to wear orange pants. Not everyone will like what you’re wearing, but a few people will love it as much as you do. Those people are the correct ones.
Fashionable women are willing to wear what other women won’t (yet). They have a sense of humor about what they put on their bodies, and they’re often respected less for their artistry than their chutzpah.
What the rest of us need to figure out is how to be daring without being reckless. Playing with color is the most foolproof way to do that. Next time, buy the pink suede skirt. It’s practical.
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.
Bon Appétit just published an interview with me on their site, A Mighty Girl’s Quest to Taste 1,000 Kinds of Fruit. Isn’t that cool? I think so too. Go have a look.