Amazing Alt Part Deux
All Images vie Alt Summit
We are fresh off an fun, inspiring, educational (+ mildly exhausting?) trip to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. As with our first trip, we learned more than it feels like our little (big?!) brains can handle. We’ve compile d our notes from the week to help us sift through to find the most noteworthy gems of advice as well as help to put together a to-do list to get all these learnings into action.
DESIGNING A LIFE YOU LOVE
This talk was given by work life balance expert and bestselling author Samantha Ettus.
It was the perfect way to kick off Alt! Samantha walked us through real life issues. She had Alt attendees share what they were currently struggling in their lives and then created an action plan for each individual. The point that resonated the most with me was her solution to creating life work boundaries. To figure out how many hours a week you need to work to do a good job. Then schedule that time as work time and schedule your “me/family” time and set boundaries between them.
BECOMING A PRO AT WORKING WITH BRANDS
This was a very helpful panel put on by Yana Puaca of Nomad Luxuries, Jessica Flannigan of Live the Fancy Life, Mugs Buckley of Chairish and Courtney O'Dell of Sweet C’s Designs.
You can download the handout plus entire presentation here.
All four women spoke on how to develop, foster and execute on brand relationships in a way that benefits both parties. It was a content rich presentation, but here are a few highlights that jumped out at us.
- Professionalism is key: You need to earn credibility and build trust. be taken seriously. Your blog might be about shoes, but your relationship is all business. Treat every interaction that way.
- Know your audience: Who is your end user? Who is the brand’s end user? Use this as s guide to finding potential partnerships.
- Pitch perfect email: Keep pitches short, sweet and to the point. Introduce yourself, share your goals, offer 2-3 creative ideas and then tell them what you can offer.
- Manage A successful collab: If you land the deal, be sure you deliver what you agreed on, one time and on budget. Consider throwing in something a little extra as an act of good faith. And always be sure to say thank you!
- Be willing to lose the deal: This is the best way to make sure you don't get wrapped up in the idea of “winning” and make a compromise you’re uncomfortable with.
- Outline the type of products or services you offer, and set prices before you begin enter the conversation. You’ll be more prepared to make a deal and less likely to give in on pricing.
- Who owns the work?: Map out the usage and editing rights early on so there are no surprises.
- Understand the end goal: is the goal to grow awareness? Drive sales? Increase site traffic? Grow an email list? Understanding what the brand is looking for will help make sure your goals align. Remember that driving sales difficult for external bloggers to be responsible for.
Solid Sponsored Agencies to work with: tapinfluence, Social Fabric, Blogger Meets Brand, Find Your Influence, Linquia
INSTAGRAM: GROWTH STRATEGIES AND BETTER IMAGES
This was a hands on, nitty gritty panel / tutorial led by three dominant players on Instagram: Heather Mildenstein, Kristan Raines and Annie Reeves. This discussion covered both tips for mapping our your Instagram strategy, and in the weeds tips for editing photos on the fly. Here is a quick run down of the takeaways we found more helpful.
- Find your voice: outline 2-3 keywords for what you want your feed to encapsulate and use those to guide your posts.
- Post consistently: Bare minimum of 1 a day with a cap at 4 per day.
- Don’t look at who’s unfollowers: it’s normal for people to leave, don’t get stuck on it. Focus on growth!
- Remind remind remind: People miss stuff and need reminders. It’s ok to be repetitive in different ways.
- Get creative with post types: There are a lot of things you can post that a relevant without always being product shots. A few ideas: blogger / brand features, idea roundups, customer highlights, quotes, giveaways and freebies, make your own hashtag and encourage people to use it, then feature posts from that feed.
- Networking pays off: participate in the conversation! Be sure to engage with other feeds and respond to every single comment you get.
- Keys to a successful giveaway: make it easy to enter (follow us, and comment and or tag), winner has no strings attached, multiple winners = more entries, keep it 24-72 hours max, don’t do too many - every week is too much.
- Consider an affiliate program: give a blogger a code, and every sale they get, we will give them a payout.
- What posts do people tag their friends in? This is a great way to gauge engagement and help brainstorm for new post ideas.
- Show behind the scenes: real life pictures are great insights into your process and brand
- Underexpose: When in doubt, this will get you more data and you’ll have more options with editing later
Editing within Instagram is a mistake. Use VSCO Cam or Snapseed for more editing control. (Favorite VSCO filters are N1, S3, C). Edit so your images don’t look edited.
I CARE ABOUT X, BUT I BLOG ABOUT Y
This session jumped out at me (Nell) honestly because I feel like I run a children’s clothing company, but I don't really care about children’s clothes! I actually see this conflict as a very good thing—it’s what makes our company unique—but it’s still a conflict that is sometimes tough to resolve in our brand conversation and development.
This panel was loaded with some pioneers of blogging, Chrysula Winegar of When you Wake up a Mother, Heather Armstrong of Dooce, Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie, and Krystal Knight of The Feisty House. These women all have blogs that on the surface are pretty soft and friendly topics: motherhood, pop culture, lifestyle. But they all have found a way to weave in complex and uncomfortable topics into their editorial plans. Think adoption, depression, Black Lives Matter, mass shootings and human rights advocacy.
It’s not always clear if / when / how to post on topics like this - there are the most helpful tips I took from the panel:
- Link round up: This can be a great way to point to post you think are important or noteworthy, but in a softer way. You can include subdued themes like diversity in these roundups without overtly calling them out. I.E. “What I want you to know series”, “Things to think on”.
Post Elsewhere: Sometimes something that isn't right for your blog is great for someone else’s. Do a guest post somewhere that will be a good fit. Try other blogs or major publications like Medium.
- Just do it. If it’s important to you, and it’s written in a voice you stand behind, then sometimes you just need to do it.
HOW TO WIN AT CONTENT
This talk was incredibly refreshing having spent so much of my (Nell) career focusing on Content (Celebrations.com). It was amazing to hear the team from A Practical Wedding discuss the ins and outs of revamping their entire content strategy. This presentation was incredibly rich with content (!) and could honestly be a series of posts in itself. I did my best to trim this down to the bare bones super highlights.
- Basics of good content: Make it useful, speak to your audience, high quality, consistent.
- Develop Content Franchises: Categories or buckets every post should fit in. Some examples are categories within your theme as well as SEO driven content, Viral content, audience requested content, etc.
- Content Marketing: Publishing is the easy part - you have to be your own hype person. Bring your content to where people are - they do not come to you. Make sure all posts are publicized.
Helpful tools: Alexa (ranks sites and gives a lay of the lans in the market), CoSchedule (headline analyzer), Latergram (Instagram Scheduling), Quantcast (great way to see how you measure up against the competition, Heatmap (where is your audience clicking?)
- SEO driven content is important: It’s not all about new stuff, old content can be as valuable as new if people find it more useful. SEO content often delivers a more qualified visitor. Google Keyword Planner is a tool hidden within google adwords that can be extremely helpful in finding keywords.
- Traffic alone does not guarantee a sustainable business; high quality traffic does
- Pay to play on Facebook: if you’re not paying to promote your page, you’re not going to get distributed on FB. Do the minimum daily ad buy to increase your impressions.
- A/B test EVERYTHING.
- Add value to the inbox: Newsletters need more than just selling. Minted does a great job of adding value and building community.
YOUR BRAND WORKSHOP
This workshop covered turning your ideas, assets and services into a brand and selling a cohesive product. It was led by photographer and brand coach, Jasmine Star. This presentation was super helpful, but honestly it was more of an amazing pep talk. We left feeling super energized and ready to take Hi Little One to the next level. Ready to work it!
Jasmine walked us through a few of her worksheets to help you identify your brand and your ideal client. Everything else should flow from there.
Some questions to understand your brand:
- What problem do you solve?
- What do you help people achieve?
- What fears do you diminish?
List your liabilities & assets:
- Liabilities: What do you lack or need to improve on?
- Assets: What skills, traits, equipment do you have in your corner?
Then she called out a very important thing to remember: You are uniquely qualified to offer a service or products based on your gifts + talents. Find the thing that makes you different and highlight that. Don’t hide your differences, display them. That’s what makes you, you, and people can’t compete with that.
Who is your ideal client?:
- Where do they live?
- How old are they?
- Marital status?
- What do they do for a living?
- How much do they earn?
- How do they spend your time?
- What are they sharing on their friends wall?
- What TV shows do they watch?
Like attracts like; find the people that get you. The one thing all successful brands have in common successful brands know who they are, what they do, and who they speak to. You’re not going to get everything right the first time. Probably not the second time either, but failure is feedback and should be treated as such. Always ask two questions of your misses, mistakes or shortcomings: 1) what did I learn? 2) what will I do differently?
And a final tidbit that I really liked was the insight that in order to exceed expectations, you must first manage expectations. I love the light that sheds on your responsibility in setting up client relationships. Make sure everyone knows where they stand.
GROWING YOUR COMMUNITY
Minnie Romanovich, NYC based stylist, Morgan Kayen of Bloglovin', Lindsey Miller Peterson, Social Media Marketing teacher in Salt Lake City and works with the Tyler Robinson Foundation and Cathleya Schroeckenstein from Momtastic and Wedding Bee. This amazing group of women went through the key questions to ask yourself in order to grow your community.
Tips for Growing Your Community:
- Key Drivers For Community: Gain awareness by engaging your community online -recognize people in your community.
- Leverage Your Community To Sell Your Products: Ask questions about your product, what would you like to see etc.. Get them engaged in your posts.
- Measure Your Analytics: You need to track your numbers, find the trends in what’s moving your community. You can do this by creating a simple spreadsheet or by using Google Analytics.
- Leverage Your Community for Post Ideas: Look for common themes within your best performing posts.
How to Manage different Social Media Sites
- You don’t always need to post original content on each. You can use what is posted on facebook and post to Instagram.
- Try scheduling in facebook to see if it makes a difference to your community and your engagement
- Consider switching to a Pinterest Business Account - great metrics
THE ART & SCIENCE OF PINTEREST
This was a very thorough and technical presentation by Kevin Knight, Head of Creative & Brand Strategy Pinterest. Pinterest is a catalog of ideas—the best pins are ideas—and it’s big, 100 million users (75% on mobile Pinterest).
What Makes a Great Pin?
- Vertical Pins outperform Horizontal Pins
- Great pins give good information- not just a caption
- Make sure your pins don’t look like banner ads-avoid borders and blocks of logos or distracting text
- Don’t use hashtags
How To Make A Pin More Helpful: Pinterest Strategy
- Detailed descriptions: include product description,sizes, etc
- Instructions and How To Pins
- Lists: i.e 10 ways to...
- Text overlays are good, but don’t use too often
- Branded Pins: Make sure the pin doesn’t look like an advertisement
- Logos: Give pins credibility with tasteful branding that doesn’t distract. Integrate the product into photo instead of the logo
- Branded colors & setting: no right color to use on Pinterest
Alexandra Evjen, a Pinterest Influencer from @avestyles gave us her strategies on being successful on Pinterest. To start, she advocated switching to a business account over a personal one, shared her golden rule: be apart of the Community- don’t just use for marketing.
Tips for Success on Pinterest:
- Showcase your lifestyle -what are you like, where do you live, what food do you like, where do you shop
- Have 25-35 Boards
- Use short titles to avoid cut off board titles
- Have detailed board descriptions with commonly searched words
- Most popular boards to the top of your profile
- Create a cohesive color story
- Categorize your boards. this helps your account visually and with search.
- Follow people
- Always have a food board; they are the most popular boards on pinterest!
- 90% of what you pin should be a re-pin, 10% should be original content
- 5-10 pins a day (total) to various boards
- Link back to the specific blog post
- Add Google Analytics campaign tags to track performance
- Use rich pins wherever possible. You can apply for this on Pinterest Business.
- Give it time. It takes 7-9 days to see the initial effect of a pin, but the lifespan of a specific pin is well over a year
BEGINNING SOCIAL MEDIA
This panel was lead by Lorena Garcia and Sakura Considine from Bloguettes and Asia Rau Vinton, Owner and Creative Director @sparrowsoirees. The overarching theme of this panel was that it’s not about what you post, it’s how you post it!
- Biggest audience, everyone uses it! There are 2 billion people on facebook, all ages.
- Provides a great landing page for your business- all contact info etc…
- Excellent source for traffic to your site. It’s very easy to boost posts and call out links that are easily clicked through.
- Great way to gain exposure - think of it as your portfolio
- Build your tribe by engaging- comment
- Most visual platform
- Pay attention to your “Grid”. This needs to be visually pleasing and well branded
- Be patient. Pinterest has the slowest response time / longest post life of the major social platforms.
- Remember that people are on Pinterest to get inspired
- Can also be used for market research and a planning tool
- Neat tool: Pinterest.com/source/[your domain] you can find what people are pinning from your site