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Meanwhile…

Whilst I was in SLC hustling and networking, Biscuit Beauties (doesn’t that sound straight up raunchy!?) were in New York checking out the NYIGF.

I have trouble even looking at these pictures.

jrpoiphoto

I am so jealous I couldn’t be there with them. I miss my Stina and Isabel so.

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But I hear they found lots of good junk for Biscuit.

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I went from SLC to Austin for THE loveliest wedding of our dear friends.greenpastures

Have any of you ever been here, in Austin? It is incredible.

peacock!

Wild peacocks, beautiful old house. Green Pastures, y’all. tess-green-pastures-austinIt’s a restaurant the rest of the time. I am so sad I never knew of it when we were in Austin. Check it.

Then I got to arrive home to this:GrayDiptic

Thanks PapaDan for watching our girl!

And then I promptly exhibited symptoms of a powerful plague. I have fallen quite ill. My body has finally said enough. Luckily I have Maddie and two new ladies to help hold down the store and I am going to convalesce and try to enjoy it at least a little. Which would be easier if my throat wasn’t completely raw from coughing all night and day, but, is again easier because of medicated cough sizzerp.

Is this what the flu is this year? I keep hearing it is never ending, please tell me that is not so!?

Alt Summit 2014 Review: Netwerking.

Ahh Networking. Is there a cheesier word? It just sounds so disingenuous to me, but I guess at its best it should be a way to make mutually beneficial, nurturing connections. One would hope. I think the reality is usually at least 50/50 cheesy/genuine.

So I did meet a lot of fantastic people and had a great time with the ones I already knew.

But I also experienced a lot of ridiculous behavior I have to talk about really quickly. I am sure I am not going to blow anyone’s mind here by admitting there was some extreme fakery, anyone who reads/has a blog must sense it…but again, why does no one acknowledge this exists? I’m gonna. Because I think it is insane and this is why:

**Just to clarify, we aren’t talking about controversial bloggers, we are talking about my peers, the ones who seem to be quite into loveliness & pleasantry.**

Blogging is supposedly this powerful axis point between social media and personal branding. What that presumably means is that you are trying to make yourself seem appealing on your blog so that people will like you or whatever aspect of “you” that you are presenting (your recipes, DIYs, writing etc.). The social media aspect is that you grow your appealing personal brand by finding other people who you relate to, admire, and you make nice virtually. You introduce yourself, compliment each other, follow each other, send traffic back and forth, contribute. And this is a huge part of how blogs grow.

And I am sure this is like le duh for all of you, and how a lot of other business works, but in the Alt world of blogging I at least think your success is essentially linked to your like-ability.

Also…because blogs are online people can collect a lot of blogging capital/success without the usual limitations one might experience in real live life. So you would think again that people would be pretty open because you don’t REALLY know who is behind that site. Unassuming looking/seeming people could be the sneaky/unrecognized force behind the biggest blog there is.

So you would THINK Alt would be like a total openminded lovefest, right?? Am I the only looloo who would think that?

I am sure you all going to be shocked to hear this: It was not. And I don’t mean to focus on the bad, there was more good than bad, and I am about to talk about the good, but NO ONE is real about this and I think that is at least part of why it continues, but I was shocked to see how many of the “bigger” bloggers were either completely cold & aloof, or downright dismissive of people.

And don’t even try with the, ‘maybe they were overwhelmed’ or ‘it’s hard to be on all the time!’. We are BLOGGERZZZ. This is the only place in the world where more than 5 people in a day are going to recognize you. It is time to bring the sparkle. And…

If you don’t want to play nice with the nerds, then DON’T GO TO COMICON!

So one comment yesterday asked if I felt like Alt was friendly to beginners:

I would say if you do it right, yes. Absolutely.

The fakery was not a rule, it was a very pronounced behavior I saw by a select few of the “big” guys. There were another 10 equally as popular and successful bloggers that were warm and open and funny and helpful. If I were going as a new blogger, this is what I would do:

1. Reach out in meaningful ways to the bloggers who I know/admire who are going. Send a specific, personal email introducing yourself, who you are and what you do on your blog. And why you connect with/relate to what they do on their blog. Definitely bring the flattery, but don’t make yourself seem like some spazz (I tend to do this). You want to communicate that you look up to them- but also that they might enjoy knowing you too, not just as a fan. Make connections and plans to get a drink, sit together at lunch etc.

2. Stay with someone. It can be someone as brand new as you are, but I think having some sort of partner makes easing yourself into the flow a lot easier.

3. Go as yourself- not a blogger. Try to make genuine connections more so than blogging connections. Be open and warm and outgoing. My guess from talking to the group of bloggers I was with which ranged from the big to the new, all of us felt a little like freaks and/or geeks at various points and would have been more than open to someone plopping down next to us and chatting us up.

But. Like I said, the majority of my time was spent around a cheese bonfire with some women I am thrilled to now know in real life. I got to reconnect with Mackenzie and Jess who I have known and been fond of in real life for awhile. I finally met Jenny in person. Hers was probably the third blog I ever read, and I liked her even bigger in person. She is a real wo-man. I learned a lot from her and felt like I could have learned more and more. I met Chassity, who is REALLY a quality lady. There were many more but as I sit here in my Nyquil/painkiller haze I am having trouble recalling names. I met some readers, which I always love, and spent truly quality time with these three:

Sally, Molly, & Jamie.
Dipticw

And Jessica Alba, obviously.

In the end Alt was just the kick I needed to get myself in gear. I think for a long time I have been unwittingly doing some of those behaviors that hinder women in business that we talked about awhile ago. I tend to self-deprecate to the point of devaluing my contributions/abilities. I haven’t wanted to own up to my ambitions, and I think in the back of my mind have always felt dorky admitting to taking blogging seriously. But I have been doing this for five years now, and have built up this readership and community I feel so lucky to have, and I think it is high time I show some respect and DTR.

Oh! And of course…the famous Alt business cards. I didn’t get a lot of crazy ones, but I did see some floating about. By FAR my favorite I received was from Beth of Salvage Life. She spoke on the blog to shop panel…caards

She has a beautiful online vintage clothing store and blog, and her cards were these handy little sewing kits.

And then I realized, I don’t think I ever showed you our cards:biscyitcard

Fancy.

They were done by Houston Invitation Service, Kelly did an amazing job.

So final thoughts on Alt. I had a great time. I got my mind going in a way I have felt unable to do since starting Biscuit, and came back feeling both generally inspired and with some great specific ideas. I think being around all of these really successful women in blogging made me realize how lucky I am to have a place in this world, and that I should work a little bit harder to maintain that. My hope for Alt would be that they re-visit the way the panels are done. Whether they vet the panelists, topics or consider more compensation, I think there is a definite room for improvement in an otherwise impressively run conference. There was some highly silly behavior on the part of a few that stood out, but overall, I enjoyed everyone I spent time with, and I came away having learned a lot.

So thoughts on any of this?

My Alt Summit SLC 2013 Review: The Panels

Last week I attended Alt Summit, “the premier business conference for pioneering bloggers and rookie bloggers alike”.

For any bloggers reading this: I am going to give you a real honest rundown of what it was, what I learned, and some things you might want to consider if you plan to attend one in the future.

For any non-bloggers reading this: I’m sorry.

So what is Alt? Essentially three days of panels led by the biggest and best in the industry, and networking. Because Alt caters to bloggers in creative industries there was a lot of pretty, party, and entertaining fluff surrounding the panels that were meant to provide real, useful information on how to elevate and improve ones blog.

The panels this year included a Track A for beginning bloggers, Track B for advanced bloggers and Track C for everyone.

I attended panels in all three tracks and picked up a few tips and insights that I think will help improve things around this little internet space Peppermint Bliss occupies. Here are a few such items:

1. The importance of a Media Kit: Whether you are trying to take on advertising, get a book deal, use your blog as an item on your resume, or parlay your blog into your own business- whatever your end game is- you need to be able to make a case for whatever it is you are accomplishing on your blog. That case should be made in the form of statistics on your traffic and reader engagement. Traffic statistics should reflect how many people are reading your blog daily/monthly, as well as information on who those readers are and where they are coming from that might be important to the individual or company reading it. These statistics can be collected through Alexa, installed sitemeters, surveys and Google analytics, and should be presented in a way that highlights your achievements. Reader engagement can compensate for less impressive traffic stats by showing the power behind those numbers. You can have 10,000 readers a day, but if those readers aren’t commenting, following the links you present, or otherwise supportive and invested in your blog- that doesn’t mean much. However if you have 100 readers that comment passionately, read the things you write and buy the things you buy- that has a significant value. Any information you can get to demonstrate reader engagement- click through stats on your links, survey results showing their interest in your opinion, comment community- gives a context that should prove your blog value.

2. Keeping an editorial calendar. This was a particularly helpful concept for me. When I first started blogging I did a pretty good job of this. I would think of what I wanted to post at least a few days in advance, and tried to have a schedule where I posted on different subjects on different days. As things got going I felt too constrained by that format and found it more productive to write as the spirit moved me. Now, however, I find I am frequently scrambling at the last moment to get something up. Sometimes that means posting something inadequate, and sometimes that means posting about something good inadequately. Overall it means that there isn’t any organization to the content I am trying to bring, which I am sure as a reader is a bit unsatisfying with some weeks being all meaty design posts, others total Biscuit-blitz, and others just a bunch of random junk. While you don’t have to be as rigid as “Moodboard Monday, Tastey Tuesday, Wedding Wednesday etc.” it can be helpful to identify themes in your posts and make sure you address each topic evenly throughout the month. It is no longer enough for blogs to just repost and regurgitate. We are expected to and should be creating original content- whether that is a well-written critique or a craft DIY- you need to give yourself the time to develop your work.

3. How to earn money from your blog. Jenny Komenda was refreshingly frank in talking the real talk about how to make money from your blog. She talked about how banner ads are out and the new ways of integrated creative content and sponsored posts. She gave actual numbers to start from when negotiating CPC vs. CPM rates with advertisers. We got advice on how to begin incorporating advertising into your blog without selling out and losing your audience. It was extremely candid, straightforward and helpful and made me rethink my stance on earning money from Peppermint Bliss- which I will discuss more tomorrow.

4. In a blog shop panel I learned some stuff I probably should have already known about when in the week and month to market, tips on promoting your store through social media etc.

Other than that…Everything I gained from the conference either came from having the freedom to chill and let my mind wander and think seriously about Peppermint Bliss and Biscuit- and from conversations I had with the other ladies in attendance.  Which I know only happened because of the conference- but I have to say I was a little disappointed in the panels.

I didn’t attend every panel, but I felt like a lot of the ones I did attend were at best frustratingly vague and at worst solely self-serving.

And I get it.

It is a tricky thing to ask anyone who has worked hard to gain expertise or advantage to just give it away for free. There is a responsibility people have to protect their trade secrets and their business and to not hand out information they have struggled for years to gain.

BUT- They weren’t giving it away for free. They were being provided a platform to promote their business, to be verified as a success story. Speakers were exposed to a new audience, given a free ticket to attend, and a sort of VIP status at the conference- after every panel there was a line of people waiting to talk to the panelists and give them their business cards. And the exchange is that the rest of us who paid to attend and hear them speak needed to learn something. And not something about how fun it was to work with Anthropologie- but something we can actually use.

If the incentives provided by Alt itself were not enough to make it worth it for panelists to give up more useful information- then that is something that needs to be addressed between the Alt organization and the talent they are trying to attract. But I paid for my ticket to learn some stuff, and that didn’t realllllyyyy happen as much as I thought it should.

Also, there is a difference between giving it away so a less motivated, less creative people can copy you, and nurturing the talent that could contribute something that will elevate the whole industry.

And I know that is a tall order. Overall I am really pleased I went. The keynotes were fantastic. The meals and parties and facilities were great. Everything ran incredibly smoothly & efficiently. The framework and organization were really impressive. It seems like Alt has nailed the framework, now it might be time to refocus on the content. The medium is great- we need more message.

So that was my review of the panels- tomorrow I will share some thoughts on the networking, the famous Alt business card exchange, and pictures from the trip.

Right now I am going to hide in the back room at Biscuit because I am sosososo sick. Have any of you been to Salt Lake City? Do any of you live there?? What is UP with the air quality? I think I have the black lung. What a crazy bummer for such a beautiful place.

Did any of you reading attend Alt? Or have you in years past? What did you feel about the panels?

Greetings.

From Salt Lake City.

I am here with Jamie for alt summit to learn how to be a real blogger. My anxiety level is pretty much at an 8. I give good dinner sparkle, but cocktail party is tough for me. I should have come with more table topics prepared.

Before I left Maddie and I worked real hard trying to make Biscuit a real online store.

vdayatbiscuit copy

We have added lots of items, and redid our categories, and I think it would be super romantic of all of you to check it out.

I need to go get some rest now. Jamie is leading us on an eggs benedict tour of Salt Lake City tomorrow.

This makes everything ok.

This weekend was stressful. I don’t want to get into it because Monday is worstly enough and I am sure y’all don’t want to hear my bummer tales- but trust. In life sometimes you’re a Beyonce, and sometimes you are a Britney. And this weekend was full on 2007 Britney.

(britney-pleasepleasepleasestaystronggirl,youdontdosowellwithbreakupsandimworriedaboutyou)

And now I have to work a Monday-Holiday.

Ain’t no rest for the wicked. Ev’ry day I’m hustlin’.

I hope you are all having a restful day off celebrating the legacy of The Good Doctor. But if any of you are also having a manic Monday- I hope this helps.photo

OMG babbiessss and puppieessss.

(squeal).