Last weekend, I was whisked away to Atlanta, Georgia (my first time there!) For a very special convention called Create & Cultivate. The name is so apt--creators abound, creator teach others how to create, and everyone harnesses and cultivates their skills. On top of everything, it's a very femme-power convention, focusing on all-femme panels and dedicated to building other women and femmes up.
I was put up at the beautiful W Hotel Downtown Atlanta; words can't describe how chic it was (just look at that adult treehouse in the lounge area!). Our speaker happy hour and dinner were held here. I had such a wonderful time hanging out with fellow speakers and getting to know the people on my "You Do You: Creating a brand that thrives outside the box and cuts through the noise" panel (Jen Gotch of Shop Ban.do, Sugar & Cloth, Studio DIY, and the Beckerman Twins, all moderated by Maxie McCoy).
The next day, it was time for the craziness of Create & Cultivate.
I couldn't believe how big the space was, and how many people there were! It was the biggest convention Create & Cultivate had thrown yet. I hung out alone for the most part, but I had so much to occupy myself with--there were brand booths, a nail bar, a hair bar, a massage table center, photobooths, prize giveaways, an open bar, and more.
Then came the best part, speaking at the convention. I was a little nervous but super excited. Create & Cultivate should be posting their highlight video, but in case full panels aren't in it, here are my 5 top tips from my panel:
1. Don't fall into the cookie cutter. There seems to be a method for blogging that "works": it's safe, it's easily digestible, and it's ordinary. But do you really want to be ordinary? When you limit yourself in your branding from the get go, you rob yourself of experiences that merge your two passions: financial success and intrinsic motivation. An example I provided was that if I had not been so vocal about things like sex positivity, I would have never scored the biggest job of my life to date with Tenga, a sex toy company. I got so much happiness out of being able to talk with leading sex educators that I look up to. The goal shouldn't be just to get hella followers. The overall goal should be to make a living doing what you truly love to do, be it traveling, speaking out about important issues, etc.
2. Going along with that, there's also the flip side of it. I know everyone's like, "Don't do any sponsored post that's not on brand for you", yadda yadda yadda. But the fact of the matter is, when the money is good enough (or when fiscal crises are dire enough), sometimes those values can be sacrificed. And I'm here to tell you that that's completely okay. I want all of us to be getting that guap (something I said, like, 4 times on stage). There have definitely been times in years past when I posted detox teas, so no judgement from my end. I would recommend packaging it in a way that doesn't mislead your followers. For instance, with a detox tea, say that it "helps get rid of bloat" or "it helps give you energy" instead of "it makes you lose weight". For hair vitamins, actually use them if you're posting about it. There has not been a single product I didn't actually use on the regular that I was sponsored for--even the detox teas, the teeth whitening, and the crazy/weird Ugg/Teva hybrid sandals (which I love). But all this being said, there was one thing I basically shouted on stage: No amount of money could get me to shut up about what I believe in. So know what you stand for, where your values are, where you draw the line with money, and stick to your guns.
3. Have backup content. Doing content creation full-time sounds fun and easy on the surface, but it's hard and time-consuming, especially for introverts/homebodies like me! And nobody has "on" days every day--sometimes you're sad, or you don't want to get ready to go out, or you just want to Netflix all day. Shoot a lot of content when you're already out, even if it's just multiple angles of the places you go/the things you eat/your outfit shot on your phone. I've taken to the habit of bringing around my little point-and-shoot for my #veryrare outings.
4. Getting a little bit more technical, Eva Chen (aka HBIC at Instagram) says it's ideal to post about 5 times a day. I know that's an insane amount, and heaven knows I fall short of that. But it helps boost your algorithm to where your posts aren't buried in people's feeds. Lots of backup content would definitely help in this department.
5. Something Sugar & Cloth originally said that I want to expand upon is to not worry about poised, refined photos. People want to see the real you, don't be afraid to show them! She talked about how she candidly spoke in a caption about how her dress looked like a nurse's dress and that it took way too long to try and take a good photo. I support this so hard. Sometimes I'll have posted 3 photos of my face in a row, so it's time for a filler photo. When I post a filler photo (of, say, my desk), I'll break down that fourth wall and say something like this. Don't be afraid to be a silly and be yourself--people are as interested in following the person behind the blog as following the blog's content.
I'm obviously on a roll with speaking at conventions, because I'll be speaking at Con Con ("Content Convention", lol) in San Francisco on November 4. Roll call! Who's going to be there?