ALT Summit Presentation

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.

8. Disclose.
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?

Top 30 Etsy Shops for Small Business Saturday

When I’m shopping online, Etsy merchants get a lot of my cash. I love the idea of a payment arriving just in time for a seller to afford beers that night (or rent that month). Buying gifts from a small business feels like a present for two people — the person I’m shopping for, and the person who gets my money.

This coming Saturday is Small Business Saturday, and American Express is sponsoring this post in hopes of spreading the word about doing your holiday shopping with the little guys instead of commercial box stores. I’m into that, so I’ve put together this guide of my 30 favorite Etsy shops. Also, for every “like” on theirFacebook page, American Express donates $1 to Girls Inc., which helps foster leadership skills in young girls. I’m into that too, so please click with extreme prejudice. Free money for do-gooders! Yay.

Ready? Let’s go shopping.

Cosas Minimas

Papercutdiecut

Holly Stalder

Vivien Cheng

York Town Road

Donmoti Jewelry

Elefante, e a vida

Isette

Jaimejo

Lemonade Handmade

Mama’s Little Babies

Melanie Favreau Jeweller

Still Tree Jewelry

April Scott

Skunkboy Creatures

Something’s Hiding in Here

Alisha Gould Designs

Ilee Papergoods

Satsuma Press

Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress

Abagail Brown

Hey Yo Yo

Element Clay Studio

Melabo

Pigeon Toe Ceramics

Whitney Smith

BROOKLYNrehab

DomistiKate

Found Vintage Style

High Street Market

That’s it. Please apologize to your wallet for me, and remember that one click of the grey “like” button below is worth a buck to Girls Inc., so let’s rock that out. Please let me know about your favorite small merchants, artists, handmakers, and Etsy sellers in comments. I’d love to do a larger roundup as a shopping guide before the holidays.

Small Business Saturday

Big thanks to American Express for sponsoring this post, and donating cold hard cash to Girls Inc. for every Facebook “like” this campaign garners. Thanks to Mighty Girl readers for raising the funds with your clicks. You guys are stand up sorts.

Winner of the Mighty Summit Necklace and Brooch

Congratulations to commenter number 533, Dawn, who just won a necklace from Feisty Elle and a brooch from Mama’s Little Babies with her comment:

“Dear crazy over extended younger self,

Stop and take a breath every once in a while. It is good for the soul. And for all that is good in this world stop being so hard on yourself. You are doing amazing things with your life and you will continue to and stop calling yourself fat!

Love, your older self who looks at pictures and wonders how I ever thought I was fat.”

Hooray for you, Dawn! Pretty stuff coming your way.

Giveaway: Mighty Summit Necklace and Print

Today’s giveaway is a little more symbolic. First up is the Quintet Necklace, by one of my favorite etsy jewelers Lemonade Handmade:

Gold Rings Necklace — the Quintet by Lemonade Handmade

I’ve mentioned this necklace before, we gave one to each of the attendees to symbolize the five Life List goals they hoped to accomplish in the coming year. (Nicole did a lovely write up about it.) I love the necklace for its simplicity, and I like the idea of five golden rings being little commitments to yourself. I’ve been wearing mine every day since the Summit. Lovely.

Every year, we have an artist make limited edition prints to commemorate the weekend. This year Alma and Mike Loveland of Ollibird.com did block prints of the vintage blankets we lug onsite to keep everyone warm.

Alma, whose yellow sweater you may remember from a previous post, did the illustrations.

Mike hand painted the blankets for a little pop of color.

Mike and Alma teach all kinds of art and computer classes and they live in the Salt Lake City area. In fact, they’re hosting an art weekend in Salt Lake at this very moment, so head over if you’re in town.

The finished prints each featured a different color, but yours will be plum.

To enter, please tell us about your proudest accomplishment in comments. And the drawings are still open for our the Mighty Summit Giftbag and the Summit Necklace and Brooch giveaway, so throw your hat in there too.

Fine print: Please only leave one comment for each giveaway, because it’s the nice thing to do, and also because multiple entries will be disqualified. I’ll use random.org to select the winner, and I’ll announce who won at the top of this post and in a separate post next Thursday.

Giveaway: Mighty Summit Necklace and Brooch

Today’s giveaway features two California jewelry artists.

Textured Drop Necklace By Feisty Elle

Every time I wear this piece by Leslie Yang, I get compliments. I’ve actually had people stop me in the street to ask where I got it. It’s made of bamboo, so it’s surprisingly lightweight. I don’t even notice I have it on, and I love how effortlessly it elevates an outfit.



Can You Hear Me Now Brooch by Mama’s Little Babies

Mama’s Little Baby brooches are so witty. This guy is my favorite, but I also feel affectionate toward the artichoke and Gunther, the World Famous Lion Tamer.

Cute, right? I know!

To enter, please leave a piece of advice for your younger self. And don’t forget to check back this week for more contests.

Fine print: Please only leave one comment, because it’s the nice thing to do, and also because multiple entries will be disqualified. I’ll use random.org to select the winner, and I’ll announce who won at the top of this post and in a separate post next Wednesday.

Giveaway: Mighty Summit Gift Bag

When we were pulling together gifts for the Mighty Summit, we set a few aside to give away. There will be Summit giveaways on Mighty Girl all this week, but this first one is a doozy. Here’s what’s up for grabs today:

Tieks by Gavrieli

I bought a pair of these perfect ultimate travel shoes a while back, and they’re one of my new favorite things. Tieks fold in half so you can stuff them in your purse, but the quality is amazing. They come in all sorts of candy colors and metallics — plus they pack flat and slip off easily when you’re heading through airport security. The winner gets to choose any pair for $135 and under. I recommend orange.

Photojojo’s Tokyo Dreamer Strap

I can’t believe how long it took me to replace my ugly, logoed camera strap. Photojojo’s Tokyo Dreamer strap really dresses up your camera, and even has a little pocket for extra memory cards or a lens cloth.

Lola Epiphanie Camera Bag by Maile Wilson

Maile was an attendee at this year’s Summit, and she brought along her bright Epiphanie camera bags. I use mine as my everyday purse and have finally stopped busting expensive lenses and gadgets by wrapping them in hand towels and shoving them into an un-padded purse. Now I can have my SLR, my flip, and my phone(s) with me without anything banging together and cracking or getting scratched by my keys.

And that’s it for today. Pretty good, huh? To enter to win, please leave a comment about something on your Life List.

Now for the fine print: Please only leave one comment, because it’s the nice thing to do, and also because multiple entries will be disqualified. I’ll use random.org to select the winner, and I’ll announce who won at the top of this post and in a separate post next Tuesday.

Did you win?


Epiphanie’s Lola Bag


Photojojo’s Fuji Instax Minis

Did you win? You did if your name is Amber and you’re commenter number 202! Please report to the front desk, Amber. You have clearly done some very nice things for people, in this or other lifetimes.

As for the rest of you, holy holy there were a lot of you. Thank you for entering and for reading. And stay tuned for another big giveaway soon. The Mighty Summit is in a few weeks, and we’ll be setting aside one of those gift bags as well.

Gift Bag Giveaway: Epiphanie Bag and Photojojo Instant Camera

So! The gift bags for the Federated Media cocktail party in New York were kind of jaw dropping thanks to a couple of good friends. Maile from Epiphanie Bags, the woman who did our family photoshoot, offered to give us a bunch of her camera bags:

Then our friends downstairs at Photojojo said they could get us some Fuji Instax Minis and film:

Are these gift bags ludicrous? Yes they are. Do you want one?

Leave a comment telling us something on your life list by Monday, August 30 at noon PST. Your comment enters you for a chance to win the Lola Epiphanie camerabag and Photojojo’s Fuji Instax Mini 25 Instant Camera. I hope you win, because I like you very much. Thanks for reading.

Now for the fine print: Please only leave one comment, because it’s the nice thing to do, and also because multiple entries will be disqualified. I’ll use random.org to select the winner, and I’ll announce who won at the top of this post and in a separate post on Monday.

Business Advice

A teacher recently emailed asking what advice I would give high school students who want to start their own businesses. Here’s what I said:

1. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that something is too competitive. Once you subtract the people who don’t work very hard, or the people who aren’t as good as you, your competition shrinks dramatically.

2. That said, an original idea sells itself. Instead of spending a year pushing the same product everyone else has, spend that time thinking of a product or service that no one else offers. If you do, you won’t need to do much marketing, people will find you.

3. Don’t believe the myth that “if you liked your job, no one would pay you to do it.” It’s essential that you love your work for you to be as happy and financially successful as possible in your life. The person who loves her job will always beat out the person who’s doing it for the paycheck.

I’m curious about what you guys would say. What’s your take on success?