Every since I started my blog, I knew I had to go to one of the Create & Cultivate conferences. I became obsessed with the notion that so many amazing influencers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, companies, and well just amazing women would join together at one event. Not only does everyone come together in amazing cities to celebrate success at Create & Cultivate, but panelists share with everyone the advice that they wish they had right away at the beginning of their careers. It truly is a conference focused on collaboration and not competition which left me with the biggest smile and feeling that I am on the right path with doing what I love.
First, it’s important to note that this conference always sells out. I mean no matter what city they go to, it does! So when I saw they were coming to NYC I bought my ticket right away and before I knew it, I was flying solo to my first conference! Now what could be a scary thing, really excited me. I knew that it was such a great opportunity to meet new faces and friends, which I totally did, and I just focused on putting myself out there!
After grabbing the train into the city Friday, I hopped over to The Mezzanine where there was a quick happy hour for attendees. This was a gorgeous venue that provided an awesome opportunity to mingle with other women and start connecting across the board with girls from all over the country. All the ladies I met were just as excited as I was for the conference and it was so cool to see how everyone was so different in their backgrounds and passions.
The morning finally arrived and I made it to the event space at The Knockdown Center bright and early. Let’s just say it was picture perfect. After walking in, my mouth dropped at the dream world I had entered. It was filled with colorful displays from brands and a gorgeous stage that awaited panelists. I quickly grabbed my first cup of coffee and joined breakfast out in the outdoor picnic area with some new friends I had made. After some pretty amazing Jamba Juice for breakfast, we were off to our first panel of many. Each panel that day had a specific focus they addressed and panelists shared so much helpful information. They were all so down to early and truly spoke from the heart about how to create meaningful content that is authentic and successful.
Here is a play-by-play of some of the panels I attended and what I took away as most important when starting out as a blogger or a brand:
Panel: Style Me Savvy (Jean Wang, Helena Glazer, Hilary Sloan, Brooke Brinkman, & Andi Dorfman)
- Invest in everything and it will get you noticed. Think of your followers as customers and go above and beyond to every follower.
- You should always question if your content is strong enough and be sure to use your own voice.
- Be the data scientist of your brand. Be informed with who your audience is and what really works for YOU. I loved when Andi Dorfman said, “The photos I am most engaged in seem to do the best. Do things you ACTUALLY love!”
- Gain inspiration. The Brooklyn Blonde quoted that you should “focus on being the best you can be. Basically look at who inspires you and try to achieve that. ” She said she follows others for inspiration more than anything. But beware, you never want to get too caught up in someone else’s success or life. Overall, remember why you started and maintain your originality.
- Ask your self constantly, ” What are people responding to?” and “Where are they engaged the most?”
- Identify your purpose whenever you post or write. Ask yourself, “Is this true to my mission?” and “Is this going to help me?’ If not, it will never be a success for you.
- Brands are always looking for someone who seems totally authentic and will run away from anything or anyone not. Don’t chase the money, you’ll never win the race.
- Be the best version of you.
- The key is to finding your aesthetic and looking at what you are drawn to. One way to do this is create a picture scene that shows your mood & style. Pinterest is great for this!
- Identify brands you’d love to work with and engage with them.
- To get the attention of brands, look at the following:
- Your mission and purpose along with theirs
- Follow those brands and purchase their products
- Make them a part of your content on the regular
- Keep an eye on a “similar box” (luxury brands will get luxury brand attention)
- Know your followers. Look at engagement and conversion rates.
- When linking to products, link to every brand and connect to all different price points with similar styles.
- Keep this in mind, “By 2019, the instagram industry will be a 2.4 billion dollar industry.”
Panel: Content Meets Commerce ( Lauryn Evarts, Mary Orton, Courtney Quinn, Cynthia Andrew)
- Try to be different and don’t worry about an “overcrowding” of influencers. Think of it like a restaurant and how there is room for everybody!
- Be “so niche” and focus on just the top of the triangle. In other words, do not try to do beauty, lifestyle, fashion, travel all at once. Do one thing very well first.
- People crave behind the scenes.. document, don’t create! That’s right..keep going with snapchat and insta-stories!
- Open up the dialogue with others on how you can make money blogging. Educate others how you CAN be genuine AND sponsored!
- Don’t sell your soul to a brand. If someone makes you do something their way, then don’t do it. If you are consider working with a brand ask yourself, ” Would I actually spend MY money on this?” You should call the shots and always be true to how you would do something.
- Find your platform where you thrive. Whether it is snapchat, twitter, insta-stories, or instagram find your niche!
- Longetivity is key. As you grow ask yourself what will your next steps be and if you can, create something of your own. This could be a book or app. Basically, find the space you own.
Panel: Caption This (Naomi Davis, Carly A. Heitlinger, Kat Tanita, Lainy Hedaya, Eva Amurri Martino, Kaitlyn Schiltz)
- Do your research and see who brands work with.
- Always negotiate even if a brand does not have a budget. Know your worth!
- Make them start with a number before you do! Ask what they are willing to pay for your time. Then, counter back now that you have that knowledge.
- Break down all your work for the money. Be sure to put value to your time with taking photographs, writing the post, etc.
- Focus on Analytics. Push out to brands this data and sharing your conversion rates is key.
Piera Gelardi and Jacklyn Johnson in Conversation
- If it dosen’t fit, tailor it to fit you better.
- Creating and success is like wedging a door, it opens a little bit at a time. But it will eventually open!
I was able to finish the conference with listening to Gloria Steinem speak about the future of women amongst a crowd of amazing and motivated ladies. Goosebumps. Two things she said really stuck with me. They were:
- “The secret of age is you are still the same person”
- “Remember you don’t need to be told what to do- you know what to do”
If I took away anything it was ultimately that all you have to do is be your unique self and find your niche. Everyone has one! The key is to just do you! If you put yourself out there, be authentic, and find joy in what you are doing, you will find a successful path. Oh and you’ll also probably meet a whole lot of bad ass women on the way.