I can’t believe that the first city of my trip is already wrapped up. On Wednesday we headed from Madrid to Barcelona! I’ll be sharing Madrid photos soon but couldn’t wait to post these from a charming chocolate and churros place called Chocolatería San Ginés that was near our apartment. I’m trying to really embrace my time in Europe and not be on social media too much but you can follow along with my photos on Instagram under #cierasadventures or the group tag we are using is #sprancing!
When I was at Alt last January I remember saying that I would NEVER be able to speak in public, and definitely not at a conference like Alt, with so many other bloggers and creatives that I look up to. I’m much more comfortable talking to people one-on-one and I get incredibly anxious in large groups of people, especially when I’m front and center. I’m an introvert so attending events like Alt are already out of my comfort zone, let alone speaking at one.
When Mariah suggested that we pitch a panel idea together with Melissa, PJ and Tan, for some reason I said yes, secretly hoping we didn’t get picked, but to my surprise, they loved our topic idea and here we are, a year and a half after saying “I would NEVER”, I did it, I spoke on a panel at Alt Summit!
It was the scariest thing I have ever done, but because of that, one of the most rewarding. I believe that if you are not pushing yourself or doing scary things then you are not going to grow as a person or grow professionally. One of my favorite quotes from Alt this year was from Emily McDowell “fear is an asshole and a liar” and I’m so glad I didn’t give in to my fear! I mean, I got to speak at the same conference as Martha Stewart!
Our room was packed and it was awesome to see everyone so engaged and to hear how much people appreciated the content and hard work we put into making our panel special.
I am so thankful for the opportunity. If you missed it, you can see the recap of what I spoke about, Growing Your Blog by Positioning Yourself as an Expert.
Photos by Justin Hackworth or Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.
Since July is National Ice Cream Month, I’m pulling out my favorite recipes that include ice cream from The Font Feast archives, Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Sparkling Citrus Floats and Easy Lemon Ice Cream. All super easy and super delicious, pick one and make it, you won’t regret it!
During the summer it’s easy to get distracted with fun in the sun but sometimes that’s okay! Just a little time in your own backyard can be so refreshing. This is a photo that I took in my parents’ yard last summer, it’s seriously an oasis back there, my dad has such a green thumb, unlike me. I hope y’all enjoy this new design and some time away from the screen.
This design is now available for free as a desktop, ipad and iphone wallpaper over on the Whimseybox blog! Hope you enjoy and if you use any of my desktop designs, I’d love to see photos, just tag me on Instagram or send me an email!
If you came to our panel at Alt Summit, here is our slide show as promised! And if you were not there, or need a refresher, here is an overview on what I spoke about, growing a small blog by positioning yourself as an expert! You can download the worksheet we handed out, and then work while you read this post.
I’m sure y’all have all heard the advice to blog about what you know and love – it’s usually the first piece of advice you’ll get for blogging and I don’t think anyone will deny that as a great starting point. But I want to take it a little further by talking about positioning yourself as an expert. One of the main ways I’ve grown my blog is by sharing tips from my experiences in graphic design, social media and running my own small business.
I use the term “expert” loosely, because obviously I don’t know everything about these topics, but I am passionate about them and I do have a degree in graphic design and have been working in the industry for eight years. So I probably know more than the person opening Photoshop for the first time or who just signed up for Twitter last week.
So basically, you don’t have to wait for somebody to call you an expert in order to give expert advice.
I’m always getting questions through email, on social media, and even from friends and family, whenever there is something design related they know they can come to me. And I’m sure the same happens to y’all from time to time. Maybe people are always asking you about how you put your outfit together or asking for your recipe when you cook for them. That’s people showing that they value what you know and trust your opinions.
So if you find that people are consistently asking you a about the same topics, it’s likely they would become a reader of your blog if that’s what you focused on. As your name starts to get associated with a specific field, then your network will start to grow.
Ok, let’s move onto a strategy for coming up with content:
First you have to figure out the types of problems that your readers are having in your field. So, using the worksheet in the download, jot down a few things that you enjoy doing and that people always ask you about. What do you know that can benefit other people?
So for example, I’d be writing down that people ask me about the fonts I use and other design related questions and how I made the switch from working at an agency to full-time freelance. Remember – no problem is too big or small to write down.
Then, once you know the challenges your readers are having, you can come up with a plan to turn those problems around into solutions.
Here is an example of how I determined my readers problems and then solved them by writing an additional post that I didn’t originally intend to:
When the Facebook layout was updated two years ago to the timeline it was a pretty major change. It was much more design oriented with the large cover photo and app tabs. If you remember, they even allowed users to preview their changes before they had to commit for good so that everyone could ease into the new design. I decided to jump right and update the few different pages that I manage. As I was designing the cover images and doing the updates, I anticipated that my readers may want to hear some ideas on how to keep their pages consistent with their blog or business branding, so I wrote a blog post Design Tips for your Facebook page.
I ended up getting tons of questions beyond the design aspect of people wanting to know how to actually install the apps I was using. So every time I got a question, I was stopping in my tracks and individually responding to them all with detailed instructions in an email.
As much as I’d love to be able to answer every question one-on-one like this I realized it just wasn’t realistic or a productive way to work. So I decided to write another post with step-by-step instructions for installing the apps which has ended up being one of my most popular posts. Turning reader questions into blog posts is now one of the ways I build my editorial calendar.
If you find people still have questions after you write about it, you can take it further and create a blog post series or even teach a course or write an e-book focused on digging deeper into certain topics. That’s actually something I recently did, I wrote a guide on planning a local event series because I needed to go more in-depth than a blog post would allow. And this helps even more to position yourself in your field.
Now I know some people are new to their field, so if you are just getting started, you can write about things that you are interested in learning more about, classes you are taking or things you are teaching yourself along the way. You can have this learning experience with your readers.
But you never want to risk losing credibility. So if you’re not quite certain of something, just let it be know that you are experimenting and figuring it out as you go, because you don’t ever want to put incorrect information out there – you don’t ever want to lose your readers trust.
Now I’m going to give you guys a few formats and examples that I find work well for showcasing your expertise:
- featuring others
this is a great way to show support and recognize others doing a good job in your field
When you’re able to solve a problem for someone, they feel like you’ve given them insider tips & tricks and in turn form a stronger bond which makes them more likely to come back for more because people appreciate free advice.
But don’t feel the need to do it all or try to imitate somebody else. Don’t post what you think people want to hear if it’s not something you truly enjoy writing about.
I don’t really know anything about fashion but do share style posts from time-to-time, because it’s fun for me, but that is not how I have grown trust from readers and my readership over the past four years. It’s been by positioning myself as an expert. It’s not easy and it won’t be an overnight success but as Stan Smith Says, people need experts.
People need experts. They have value because they have done the research, legwork, and training that we can’t do on our own. Not only that, we rely on experts to see further down the road than we can. We cherish their insight and lean on their wisdom. Having an expert means that you can shortcut the process and achieve your goals quicker.” – Stan Smith
So now, looking back at what you wrote earlier, write down a few topics that you could write about that will help to position yourself as an expert.
Because before you look to other blogs for things like guest posts, advertising or giveaways you need to get your own blog in a good place. Consider what you do really well and what you love and start sharing that compelling, informative and unique content.
Download the full slide show here and then head over to Mariah, PJ, Melissa and Tan’s blogs to read all about their parts of the panel!
Do you have questions or tips of your own? I’ll answer them in the comments!
first photo was taken by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit • slides by me
Summer time in New Orleans also means snowball season, woo hoo! As soon as the heat hits, so do the cravings! Snow cones got nothin’ on a snowball y’all! Unlike sno cones, the ice making up a snowball is shaved very finely resulting in an incredibly soft ice. My favorite snowball spot is Plum Street, it’s a small shed-type store that’s right in my neighborhood. They serve their snowballs in Chinese take-out boxes with a plastic bag on the bottom to catch any syrup or melted overflow. I usually keep it simple with cherry but when I mix it up I like dreamsicle or add condensed milk!
photos of me by Hannah Colclazier from last summer / photos of Plum Street by Jasmine Holzenthal / ring c/o Dixi
June has been full of emotions for me, I’ve been excited, exhausted, nervous, ecstatic, sad, relieved, lonely and surprised, in no particular order.
Speaking at Alt Summit was very nerve-wracking for me, I promise, I’ll expand on my experience in a post soon. And then maybe the biggest news since I started this blog, I got engaged to my boyfriend of eight years! He had to leave the day after to travel for work for 5 months, so that’s a bummer but I’m super excited and of course, started a Pinterest board immediately (well, a few, I can’t lie to y’all)!
And remember my Vacation Dreaming post? Well, my dreams are coming true! While I didn’t win a vacation, my travel plans did work out, so next week I’ll be heading to Spain then France (whoa, mini freak out) to work from abroad for three weeks! I’m so thankful that I can pack up my computer and work from anywhere. It’s going to be challenging but I can’t wait for the adventure!
Plus lot’s of great stuff happened on the blog and around the web:
- Hosted two Made In Mind events, an Etsy craft party and a Letterpress Workshop
– Opened pre-sales for The Meetup Guide – only a few days left of pre-sale pricing!
– I guest posted on Design Sponge on How To Hold a Networking Event
– The lovely Kory wrote a review on The Meetup Guide, you can read it here.
– Backyard Tin Can Fence Garden
- Summertime Freebies
- DIY Gold Toy Animal Globes
- The Business Cards of Alt Summit 2014
– Remember Greco Design Company from May? Well Lori has been up to a lot this month too! Her blog is full of awesome backyard DIYs so go check it out!
All photos from the Alt Garden party by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit.
Hi y’all, I’m back from Alt Summit! I know I said I was going to take a blog break while I take in all the information but I couldn’t wait to share some of my favorite business cards from the awesome bloggers and brands I met while in Salt Lake City. I have linked to all of their sites at the bottom so click around for some awesome new people to follow, I still have some exploring to do myself! I’ll also pop back in soon to tell you all about the panel I spoke on, Growing A Small Blog!
Everyday Reading / Paper Bandit Press / A Girl Named PJ / Demi + Olive / Christina Williams / Love Grows Design / Simply Sadie Jane / Peter Loves Jane / Fresh & Happy / Carlsbad Cravings / Oh, What Love / See Jane Blog / And We Play / The Collaboreat / Hudson and Emily / Candice Stringham / AVE Styles / Spitfiregirl / The Nectar Collective / Lynn Byrne / Celine Navarro / Annie Reeves / Squirrelly Minds / Delineate Your Dwelling / A Thousand Threads / Courtney Khail / Janna Wilson / Capella Kincheloe / Design Improvised / Red Poppy Photo / The Glamorous Housewife / Hollyhocks & Honeybees / Wendy Walker Cushing / Collectively / Fry Sauce & Grits / Marigold Haske / A Ruffled Life / Antisparkle / if we met and I missed you here, please let me know!
P.S. If you went to Alt and are missing out on all the fun, like I am, why not start a smaller scale gathering in your city! I’ve compiled all the lessons I learned when starting The Made In Mind Social into a new e-book — The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan and Host A Local Event Series. It’s now on pre-sale with a super discount! If you want to start your own local event, this e-book will guide you through the whole process, start to finish.
So I’m off to Salt Lake City for my second Alt Summit today! And incase you missed the memo, this year I’m speaking on a panel! You can check out all of my posts from when I went in 2013 here and keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter! If you’ll be there, keep an eye out for me and please do say hi. This photo is from the plane when I went last January.
Once I’m back, I’ll be on a bit of a blogging break while I let information overload settle in and catch up on work, but I’m sure I won’t be able to stay away long!
P.S. I launched pre-sales on my new ebook: The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan, and Host Your Own Local Event Series. Grab it now while it’s over 50% off!
P.P.S I got engaged to my boyfriend of eight years on Saturday!
Ever wish you could get together with inspiring, like-minded people right in your city? Maybe you’re looking to network, collaborate, or simply make some new friends. If that perfect local event doesn’t already exist, how about starting your own?
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, there’s no need to start from scratch.
I’m sure y’all have heard me talk about The Made In Mind Social here on the blog before. If not, it’s a local event series that my sister and I created last year. Every other month, we gather creatives from around the area to meet and mingle, celebrate and connect.
Prior to founding Made In Mind, I didn’t have any experience with event planning. I had to ask a lot of questions, do tons of research, and learn through my own experiences. I really wished I had some kind of how-to guide to lead me through each step of the planning process.
So after a year of hosting events, I created an e-book to do just that! The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan, and Host Your Own Local Event Series, walks you through the who, what, when, where, why, and how of starting your own local meetup.
The book launches in July but pre-sales are open now at a super discounted price! It’s over 50 pages packed with actionable information, valuable insights, tried-and-true tips and worksheets to help you get organized and make things happen! It even includes tips and interviews with other creatives who have started events like Chelsea Foy of Lovely Indeed and Shauna Haider of The Blogcademy!
Simply put, if you’re looking for a resource to guide you through the process, this is it! Ready to plan your own local event?
Don’t want to deal with naming and branding your event? Starting a Made In Mind chapter in your city may be a great option for you!