TIME TO (ONLINE) PARTAY

alt-for-everyone Guys. It's here. Another rad alt experience... and this time I don't even have to go anywhere! Or buy 8 new outfits!

Alt for Everyone kicks off this morning with Joy Cho's keynote about The Art of Being a Goal Getter... oh my, I love goals. I love Joy. I cannot wait.

I lurrve to share everything after these rad events, soooo take a look at my schedule and let me know which class you'd like to hear more about! I totally alt and tell - like kiss and tell except alt. Okay, sorry. I'm a bit sleep deprived this week...

+ PR on a Shoestring Budget + Craft the Perfect Pitch + Graphic Design for Bloggers 201 + How to Get Paid What You Are Worth + Graphic Design for Bloggers 301 + Pinterest Skills Every Blogger MUST Know + Working With Brands

So stoked to share some alt knowledge with you! In the meantime, follow along with my Alt for Everyone adventures on twitter and instagram! See you on the other side, amigos.

BE HAPPY CREW! Due to technical difficulties with linkytools, the Be Happy linkup will resume next week!! Get those happiness posts ready, y'all. Next week's linkup is going to be double the happiness...

If you do have happiness posts for this week, share them on twitter with #behappylinkup so we can still follow along! xo

Image by artsocial.

THE MEDIA KIT

artsocial This month for my blog happiness project, I've given myself the assignment of (finally) tackling my media kit once and for all. I want a media kit I LOVE, one I'm proud of... so I can confidently hand it over to Madewell when they contact me for a rad collaboration.

I think the reason I've put off revising my media kit is because, let's face it, the media kit is used to "sell" yourself and your brand. That gives me anxiety. But I've decided to act from my truth, rather than my fear... and the truth is I'm blogging professionally, and having my professional shiz in order is important to me. I'm happiest when I'm on my game.

Today I started thinking, maybe I'm looking at the media kit the wrong way. Instead of thinking of it as a scary document full of numbers and bragging and selling, what if I thought of it as a snapshot of artsocial? Like a business card or a carte de visite that I trade with interesting people I'd love to work with. That sounds so much better, huh?

Okay but for reals, what should go in a media kit? Here's a refresher from one of my favorite Alt Summit sessions, the media kit design camp...

Traffic: page views, unique visitors, time visitors spend on your site (over 3 minutes is better than average).

Engagement + online reach: social media numbers, bloglovin followers, RSS subscriptions (which you can find using feedburner).

Info about your readers: who are they, where are they? Do a survey that asks tangible questions like age, income, education, etc., and intangible questions like what they like, what they dislike.

Press mentions: start building a media resume! Keep track of those mentions, they mean a lot.

Advertising rates: break it down - sizes, price, discounts; tell them exactly what they get down to every last tweet. Offer different levels (psst – they’ll probably pick the middle or lower option. If you want x amount, offer two options higher than x. Be a business woman, yo).

Testimonials: people give more weight to an outside perspective on your brand.

+ Set yourself apart. What makes you different? Sometimes telling people what you’re NOT is the best way to go. For example, A Practical Wedding includes this quote in their media kit: “It’s a wedding blog, but not, you know, a wedding blog that will make you want to vomit.”

+ Show rather than tell. Make your media kit clear, easy to read, and visual. The media kit Bri Emery designed for Once Wed? Love. An example that came up during this session was DailyCandy – download a pdf of their media kit here.

Gah, such great advice from that Alt sesh. Okay, friends. By the end of the month I'll have a revised media kit I lurve. One worthy of artsocial. One with rad images and style... and, ya know, some numbers, too.

You guys want to see it when I'm done?

 

It’s Thursday and that means a whole gang of rad bloggers are talking about happiness! Join the movement below and on facebook.

be-happy-banner

Images by artsocial; sequin heart by ban.do; blue backdrop by The High Five Factory.

ALT SUMMIT: PART TWO

alt-summit You guys ready for round deux of my Alt Summit recap? Hooray! Let's get to it.

Building Offline Events

Oh guys, this was one of my favorite sessions. Creating the opportunity to connect in real life is so important. It's becoming a movement, I tell ya. An IRL movement. I can tell you right now, artsocial will be going offline this year...

Takeaways:

+ offline events create a unique opportunity to connect and collaborate with like-minded brands & those people who inspire you.

+ if you're thinking about doing an offline event, answer the following Qs: Why host an event? Who is it for? What will the event be? How will you do it? Your why + who will determine your what. It's important to know your mission, know your market, and to ask for help!

+ intentions evolve, don't rigidly hang on to your plan. Be ready to release certain things; go with where you're taken. Okay, that's just great LIFE advice. High five, Laura Mayes.

Advanced Blogging Skills

Takeaways:

+ editorial calendar. Start one. Now. An editorial calendar will help you articulate your vision and develop more unique content. You won't be tempted (subconsciously or not) to mimic other blogs if you have a plan. This is your chance to really push your content further! Bottom line: editorial calendars help authenticity & consistency.

+ assemble an advisory board a.k.a. a dare to dream team. This was a completely foreign concept to me... and I LOVE it. Create a team of people who can help you achieve what you want to achieve. This team is meant to fill in where you don't do well. Sit down and really think about what areas of your biz you either don't like, don't do well, or don't know anything about. Find people who can help you do the things you can't...

+ do what you do best and hire out the rest.

Photo Styling Design Camp

Takeaways:

+ planned chaos, folks. That's the good stuff. Don't just throw the confetti, make that shiz look good.

+ go prop shopping. Oh yeah, I can do that. Gather items for your photo shoot toolkit - basic props as well as fun accessories that match your brand's aesthetic. I immediately bought gold confetti when I got home... that just felt like something artsocial would buy at the craft store, don't ya think?

+ have different backgrounds on hand. Colored paper, gift wrap, faux wood grain paper, distressed wood from Craigslist - all great things to have on hand. Awesome tip: curve the gift wrap up in the background so there isn't a horizon line.

+ how to maintain a budget: set a budget before entering the store, use coupons, borrow props from brands or Etsy shops, and last but not least, there's also the option of buying a prop and returning it - in mint condition! - after using it. Hey, it's an option.

+ composing shots: use rule of thirds. If you're using an iphone, activate that grid, son! Align your "hero" or main object with one of the grid lines. It looks nicer than if the object was dead center... promise.

+ set up items so your eye moves around the image.

+ add the human element, i.e. take a (cute) bite of that cookie. Make it feel like people are there, like there's a party around the picture.

+ always use natural light. ALWAYS.

Life Lists Design Camp

It probably comes as no surprise that this was one of my favorite classes everrrr! I basically live for this stuff - for making big, brave declarations and goals... and actually doing them. I was so inspired by this class that it deserves a post all to itself. I'll definitely be talking about this one more as well as sharing what exactly is on my life list. I'm signing up for Go Mighty and creating my life list asap... et tu? Oh come on, let's do it together.

Media Kits Design Camp

As far as the real, technical, blogging nitty gritty - this was the best session.

Takeaways:

+ The basics: a media kit is the basic tool to sell your business. It gives info on who you are, what you do, and how big you are.

+ What goes in it? Traffic: page views, unique visitors, time visitors spend on your site (over 3 minutes is better than average). Engagement and/or online reach: social media numbers, RSS subscription, etc. Information about your readership: who are they, where are they? Do a survey that asks tangible questions like age, income, education, etc. and intangible questions like what they like, what they dislike. Press mentions: start building a media resume! Keep track of those mentions, they mean a lot. Advertising rates: break it down - sizes, price, discounts; tell them exactly what they get down to every last tweet. Offer different levels (psst - they'll probably pick the middle or lower option. If you want x amount, offer two options higher than x. Be a business woman.) Testimonials: people give more weight to an outside perspective on your brand.

+ Set yourself apart. What makes you different? Sometimes telling people what you're NOT is the best way to go. For example, A Practical Wedding includes this quote in their media kit: "It's a wedding blog, but not, you know, a wedding blog that will make you want to vomit."

+ Show rather than tell. Make your media kit clear, easy to read, and visual. The media kit Bri Emery designed for Once Wed? Love. An example that came up during this session was DailyCandy - download a pdf of their media kit here.

Now don't think you have to put allll of this in your media kit. I'd say focus on your strengths & your unique perspective. Make it look pretty and you're golden.

 

PHEW! So that was alt. What do you think? Crazy awesome, huh? Are you gonna go next year??

Check out part one of my alt review here! AND check out these amazing ladies on today's Be Happy linkup!

link up. be happy.

First image by Justin Hackworth, others by artsocial.

ALT SUMMIT: PART ONE

alt-summit Dudes. Let's do this. I asked you on Monday what you wanted to know about Alt Summit... well here we go! I've picked out the main takeaways from the first 5 sessions as well as answered a couple other Qs... I'm throwing a lot of information your way, so I decided to break this up into 2 parts.

01. collaboration with sponsors

Takeaways:

+ Seek out the right brands for your blog. Only work with brands that are a great fit for your mission and aesthetic. If McDonald's offered me mucho dinero to blog about them? Tempting, yes, but my answer would be EW, get away McDonalds. It's important to get really clear about your brand. What do you stand for? What do you want to be known for? Think about what's at the core of your brand and then seek out other like-minded brands that share your vision. That will ensure collaboration magic. + Another major, major point that was reiterated throughout the conference was the importance of compelling and creative content. Guys, that's what we do! We're content makers - creative geniuses if you will. It's easy to get caught up in the growth and monetization of blogging, but content must always be our number one priority. If your content is stellar, then growth and money will come naturally. So get to brainstorming, ya hear... or meditating ;) Original and interesting content trumps numbers. Even if you're a smaller blog, if you have a great idea and really believe in what you're doing, the right brands will want to be a part of it.

See the slideshow presentation from this session here!

02. how to earn money from your blog

One of the most powerful things I took away from alt with was the understanding that we should get paid for what we do! We deserve to make money. No excuses or apologies. While content is my priority, heck yeah I wanna get paid for it, and that will only allow me to create better content. Alt definitely helped me realize it's okay to go for what I really want.

Takeaways:

+ Affiliate links - when someone clicks on an affiliate link from your site and makes a purchase, you get paid bro. Here's a great list of affiliate programs. + E-courses - such a fun option for earning money! I'm horribly camera shy though... + Selling ads - whether you reach out to small shops or larger companies, make sure you have a solid media kit and be selective! Only work with shops and brands that are the right fit. + Ad networks - they help you find sponsorship opportunities, whether display ads or sponsored posts. Some ad networks include Lijit, Glam Media, Blogher, Sway Group, and Federated Media.

P.S. Nicole of Making it Lovely wrote a really great post on how her blog went from a hobby to a job... check it.

03. blog to shop

Are you wondering why I took Blog to Shop when I don't sell anything? Fair. I've always been super curious about having an online shop... I'd love to do that eventually. I'm just not sure what my shop would offer exactly. Someday, friends. It'll happen. Packaging up tiny gifts and sending them out just sounds so exciting...

Takeaways:

+ Sell without selling out: find the intersection between what you love and what sells. + Follow the sales trail: don't be surprised if it's not what you expected. Follow what works. + Connect with influencers: reach out to bloggers with a ton of pinterest followers, for example. Create collaborations with people who'd love to promote your work. + It's easier to keep repeat customers than find new customers: make every interaction positive and be consistent (i.e. your packaging should match the aesthetic of your blog/shop). + The highest sales are around mid-month (everyone's already paid rent and they've got their second check), this is a good time to promote your shop. + Best time to tweet, pin, or post your work is Monday-Wednesday, 11-1pm. BEST time is Wednesday around 1pm... who knew?

04. being a contributor

Takeaways:

+ Put yourself out there: build a successful site and share your work. Respond to those calls for contributors! Engage with bloggers you'd love to work with. Be confident, be persistent, be tough! + What blogs are looking for: a unique perspective, a strong voice, writing skills, passion + energy, creativity + initiative, and mad photo skills are a bonus. + Always negotiate payment: talk numbers with confidence and value your work. They're paying for creative genius... and that's costly. + Charge more for original posts & photos vs. roundups.

Goods sites to connect with:

+ Curbly + Momtastic (you don't have to be a mom to contribute to a mom blog!) + Vivint + Apartment Therapy + Design*Sponge + Gawkerverse

05. makers gotta make roundtable discussion

Oh this was one of my favorites! Sandra from Raincoast Cottage and Jennifer from Classic Play did an amazing job. We discussed topics like how to deal with jealousy, our inner critic, finding a balance, and building a community (online & offline). It was so refreshing to openly discuss issues like jealousy and self-doubt. It's something we all deal with... especially at a conference surrounded by incredibly talented and powerful women.

Takeaways + my thoughts:

+ Ask yourself why you're jealous: what skills are you wanting that so-and-so has? Use your jealous feelings to guide you to change. Don't get discouraged and put blinders on, instead thank your ego for showing you where you'd like to improve. Man, that's a tough one, huh? + Your critic is not your truth: you don't have to listen to every thought that comes into your head (something Eckhart Tolle says and I luurve it). + You are more than one post, one tweet, one project; you're a whole body of work. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to post everyday or get upset when you don't get to everything on your to-do list. You have a whole foundation of awesomeness already.

Wow, big thank you to Sandra & Jennifer!

Taxes

In Monday's post, Em asked about taxes as a blogger and becoming a LLC. While I didn't attend any alt sessions on the topic, I did get to meet my amazing CPA, Helena Swyter of Sweeter CPA. She's so knowledgeable, guys. She'd definitely be able to help you out with any tax Qs. The alt blog also has some great info on the subject... AND Helena's teaching an alt online class, Ask an Accountant, on February 18th.

I will say this - I was kind of surprised at what I loved most about alt. I thought my favorite thing would be all of the invaluable information I'd be getting during the sessions... but, nope. That wasn't my favorite. There was some good info, but honestly alt's online classes are just as helpful. Sorry alt, but it's true. I still love you. Srsly the BEST part was meeting all of these incredible women (and man) in person. They're even more awesome in real life. I'm so grateful to be a part of this creative community... alt has made me realize the importance of building community and engaging with the people I really love. That's the good stuff.

To be continued...

link up. be happy.

Photo found here by Brooke Dennis. Check out all the awesome alt photos here!

IN LOVE: ALT SUMMIT

alt-summit WOWza, guys. The last few days have been pretty wild. The amazing people, information, parties, swag - oh my gah, it's all still spinning around in my head. While I'd love to sit here and gush for hours about alt, I'm exhausted. Alt is exhausting and overwhelming... but in the best way possible.

I'm planning a big share-all post about my alt experience for Thursday. But before I go on and on about it - what do YOU want to know?? Ask me anything, everything! I want my alt recap to be helpful for you guys. Leave your question in the comments and I'll answer ALL of them. Take advantage, yo. You know I'll give you the dirt...

Don't know what to ask because you don't know what the heck I did for 3 days? Okay, fair. Here's a list of the sessions I took that I would luurve to discuss with you:

01. collaboration with sponsors 02. how to earn money from your blog 03. blog to shop 04. being a contributor 05. makers gotta make roundtable discussion 06. building offline events 07. advanced blogging skills 08. photo styling design camp 09. life lists design camp 10. media kits design camp

Srsly, ask me anything... it doesn't have to relate to the above list. I can't wait to talk more about alt and answer your Qs!!

Okay, off to gather my thoughts and sort out a giant stack of biz cards... and maybe take a nap.

 

Psst – this is a collaborative series with bedsidesign, check out what she’s IN LOVE with this week…! See our pins for the IN LOVE series on pinterest.

Images by artsocial.

BE CREATIVE / 03

just-be-cool Okay, it happened. I hit my first block. After a few weeks of pure excitement about this Be Creative project and embracing SO many new mantras, meditations, and baby steps in the right direction - I relapsed and reverted back to my old thought patterns.

For the past few days, I wasn't able to clear my head during meditation and I could barely remember my dreams - did I mention I've been keeping a dream journal? My dreams are always redonk, but I've read keeping a dream journal helps increase our awareness and ability to connect the dots that can lead to - boom - awesome ideas. So we'll see if my dreams about tree houses and mushroom ravioli lead to any major breakthroughs... you never know.

What happened that I suddenly hit a creativity wall? I got stressed. Almost the instant I let myself start worrying about a particular major conference happening this week, my mind began spinning. BIG (obvious) lesson in creativity: being frazzled never leads to greater creativity.

Immediately recognizing that I'd gone off path - the frantic feeling of omg, what do I have to do next? was a clue - I knew I had to find a way out of this nervous, frenzied state of mind. No good comes of that.

Guys. I've discovered the best way to eliminate stress ever. I'm not even joking... and it has nothing to do with booze. The most effective way to eliminate fears/anxiety/worry - basically any negative feeling - is to let go of judgement. Good or bad. In a recent meditation (p.s. I'm using Deepak Chopra's guided meditations, download them here! So worth it.), I was presented with the challenge to go through my day not judging anything.

Doesn't seem so hard, right? UM it was crazy hard! I basically repeated to myself "Today, I will judge nothing that occurs," approximately 30,000 times. It was a very conscious decision I had to make over and over again... but it was surprisingly effective.

It may seem silly, but practicing non-judgement was the most liberating exercise I've tried so far for the Be Creative project. Once I started non-judging, I felt so much more peaceful. I was no longer obsessing over the wording of an email or the design of a blog post. These things weren't good OR bad, they were just an email and a blog post. I wasn't getting caught up in the worrying or the excitement of anything. As a result, my mind was much freer to make decisions and receive new creative ideas.

When things get stressful, it's so easy to slide back to my old way of thinking (ahem worrying). This week, there will surely be many opportunities to get stressed or overwhelmed. So I plan on repeating to myself "Today, I will judge nothing that occurs," another 30,000 times. This week, I'm determined to carry peace with me wherever I go... and TONS of business cards.

See you soon, friends! This girl is Alt-bound. xo!

 

Images: one (by Lucas Passmore) | two (by The Vaguely) | three (by ban.do)

THE BUTTERFLIES

artsocial-biz-cards Wow, I can't believe it's only been 5 months since I started my blog happiness project. SO much has changed... and more change is a-comin. For month 5, I kept my goal simple:

January: Learn from the best. Attend the conference Alt Summit in SLC. Aww yeeah.

Did I keep my goal simple because I thought I'd be insanely excited/nervous and unable to focus on anything else that entire month? Maybe. Let's just say I'm glad I've started daily meditation.

While it's simple, just go to a conference, it holds a lot more meaning for me. I have a feeling it's going to be a life-changing experience. Bold statement, I know... and I think it'll be life-changing NOT because of the uh-mazing brands that will be wanting to work with bloggers; it's not the dinner I'll be attending on Wednesday hosted by Minted; it's not even the surprise guest who will be there (Jessica Alba!)... nope, that's not why it'll be life-changing.

Here's what I'm thinking: even if I don't connect with any brands and I come home with zero new connections - it would still be a success. Just being there will be a huge step for me and artsocial. With 650 people there, I'm sure I'll make some connections, but what I'm getting at is even without all that social networking shtuff, underneath that is the fact that going, simply going and being there, means I'm betting on myself. It means I'm declaring to the world that I believe in what I'm doing and even though I have my fears, I'm doing it anyways and with a whole buncha moxie.

The most important thing you can do is believe in yourself. Conference or no conference. It's time to push yourself and own the path you're on 1000%. If you've got your back, the universe has got your back... and I've got your back, too. I know what you're capable of. Get it, girrrl.

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm crazy excited and full of butterflies... I think it's going to be big and I'm oh so ready.

 

Are you going to Alt?? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! Are you nervous, too?

link up. be happy.

Image by artsocial.

IN LOVE: ALT SUMMIT ATTIRE

Guys. Alt Summit SLC is officially next month... eep! It'll be my first time going to this incredibly rad conference. Right now I'm equal parts excited / nervous / in complete disbelief I'm actually going. Of course, one of my concerns is what to wear... thank gawd there's a free Alt class next week that covers this very topic (thank you times a million, Bing!). Silly? Maybe. Necessary? Hells to the yes. Until then, here's the Alt wardrobe wishlist I've been building in my head... and on pinterest.

Cute flats, sweaters, fancy pants... what do ya think? Who else is going to Alt? I'd love to hear from you! What are you guys wearing??

 

1. Tipsy Kate Spade flats | 2. J.Crew bobbled sweater | 3. mini ban.do hearts | 4. Madewell tote | 5. boyfriend blazer | 6. ASOS collar necklace | 7. ASOS skinny crop pant

Psst – this is a collaborative series with bedsidesign, check out what she’s IN LOVE with this week…! See our pins for the IN LOVE series on pinterest.

Define Yourself

What's your blog personality? Not the kind of thing I think about everyday. After taking the Alt Summit class, Turn Your Blog into a Brand (And Then a Business), with the phenom Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34, it's all I've been thinking about!

Here are a couple of my favorite points... and also the points I stay up way too late thinking about.

Clearly Identify Your Purpose

What are you trying to do with your blog? Seems like an easy question, right? Gah, yes and no. Just like choosing a Master's thesis topic, one must narrow (ok, no more grad school nerd analogies). Even if you're not sure you want your blog to be a brand or a business, it's so important to have a focus, a direction, a mission that keeps you in check. Is this post about turquoise M&Ms in line with my brand purpose? Umm no. You know, just as an example. I wasn't really going to write about turquoise M&Ms... anymore.

Define Your Blog/Brand Personality

Erin put it this way - if you saw your blog walking down the street, how would you want it to be described? Choose 3-5 adjectives that really define what you want your blog to represent and then stick to it, map everything back to those adjectives. And that includes your tweets, your instagrams, even your pins on Pinterest.

Lastly...

Be Picky

Not everything is cute and not everything fits in with your purpose and personality as a blogger. Gotta stay true to you, doesn't matter how badly your aunt wants you to advertise her new shell art on your sidebar - again, totally a for instance...

Ok, time to go contemplate my blog personality.

image cred: Louis Vuitton via Miss Moss | CC Kuo via Miss Moss

Let's Do This

Today is the day. For what, you ask? Inspiration, motivation, and the like. First up, I'll be watching the livestream of the Lucky FABB conference from the comfort of my l'office (loft office). You may be wondering why I, an art blogger and not-too-fashionable lady, would be watching a conference for fashion and beauty bloggers. Well, friends, bloggin' is bloggin' and I'm always looking for an inspirational nudge, a push, a shove, an aha moment that reassures me that I can succeed doing this blogging thang. Do you guys ever feel unsure of your blogging destiny?

I loooove this little blog, I can't imagine not doing it. And lately I've been thinking that the MOST important thing for any blog is an honest and genuine voice... and you know, awesome images, gotta be cute. But in the name of keepin' it real, I can't wait to hear Lucky FABB's panel "Stay True to Your Voice."

THEN, another rad Alt Summit class at 3pm all about turning your blog into a brand and a business with the amazing Erin Hiemstra. How amazing are these Alt classes! $15, one hour, incredible advice, really can't beat that. I'll admit I'm addicted to them, and I'm ok with it. In fact, I encourage you to become addicted too. They're amazing.

So let's do this... hopefully I'll have some inspirational gems to share with you later this week! Happy Monday!

Today Print by the awesome Etsy shop Vapor.Qualquer