I just returned from Miami for Hispanicize 2014! Wow, all I can say is that the experience is still settling in. At the time I was so nervous because I was to speak on three panels. I worried about how I looked, my hair, snoring in front of my roomies, I was kind of a hot mess. But you know what? As soon as the event kicked off, I let out a deep breath and savored every moment the best I could. It can be hard being away from home for a whole week, and this event always has so many events each day (7 am-11pm!), I ALWAYS run out of clothes and even energy! But the bottom line is that I received what I needed and so much more.
Even though I’ve been blogging for years, I always learn so much from this single conference! (Here are my tips from last year! ) Yikes! “It is not a conference – it’s an EVENT!” says organizer, Manny Ruiz. That is what is so right about this gathering of creative minds. Manny Ruiz instills new language and terms for us to embrace.
We are not ‘bloggers’, we are media entrepreneurs.
There are not ‘exhibitors’ at this event, but there are sponsors.
We don’t set ‘deadlines’, we time-box our action plans.
There are no “sad stories” being told, but instead people sharing experiences and tips of how they overcame obstacles, both in careers and in personal life. We learned to not spend a lot of time talking about ourselves and our achievements, but instead asking others about theirs. Listening, respecting, learning, sharing! The best part? You could feel that vibe from everyone. This event only lasted five days, but the connections and knowledge will last so much longer. Even though this was a Latino-themed event, the lessons are universal. Instead of sharing all the details of how they spoiled us (and oh they sure did!) and how beautiful Miami is (longful sigh), I’m going to share some of the things I learned so it can help you in your business or blogging life! And yes, I’ll have a separate post on my favorite Miami spots!
1. Building partnerships with brands. Ford, Tide, Coffee-Mate, Target, Cover Girl, etc – these companies seems huge and out of reach, but you know what? They want to partner with people like you and me. If you have a blog and dream of working with a certain company or brand – go for it. You can do it! But be specific with what you want from them, and what you can offer in return. Make sure your blog is polished and professional. Do your homework and see where the brand is at, what their latest campaigns are and thinks of ways you can fit in. Hashtag your photos or posts if you use their products, add links, post on their FB page, share what you do so they can find you.
2. Making direct contact with brands. Our first thought is to go to the source of the company. Did you know most large brands use different PR firms for various markets? Your best bet is to find the PR firm (Google it!), and pitch to them. Large brands use these firms to filter out the cream of the crop to work with. And the PR firms are the ones on the lookout for all the hashtags being used. Once I heard this, it made sense. Of all the brands I’ve worked with, 8 out of 10 times it’s been a PR firm. I recently scored an awesome gig with a large lifestyle brand because a PR executive in the beauty industry had seen my posts and referred me. I had no idea!
3. Be timely with your posts. If you attended an event or received product to review, don’t wait months before you cover it on your blog. Think like a newspaper or magazine and give yourself deadlines. not a time box, but a DEADLINE – that word will not change for editorial coverage! Plus, if you are able to review a product/movie/book, etc during the release campaign, you have a bigger chance to stand out and get quoted, as opposed to waiting until the hype has long died out. Case in point: Last week I overheard a very influential PR exec talking to a blogger. He said, “I love working with you because you turn your posts around very fast. I know I can always count on you.” Whoa. I so needed to hear that. Sometimes we are all guilty of letting the time slide, you know?
4. Know your worth, be picky. If you do choose to work with brands or companies big or small, make sure to factor in the time it will take to brainstorm the post, take photos, write and edit the post. If you have to travel, factor in gas, food, all of that. Unless you really love the company and want to prove yourself early in the game, it is perfectly OK to pass on the opportunity or better yet, try to negotiate. And payment doesn’t always have to be in cash. I’ve negotiated tweets, Instagram posts as part of payment too!
5. Be passionate. In order to be successful at blogging, you have to passionate about your topic. so passionate that you are willing to work long hours wearing different hats (editor, reporter, photographer, graphic artist, publicist). If you love it, so will your readers. If you try to fake it just to score cash or fame, it won’t last. The most important aspect, I feel, about a good blog is offering something to the reader. Something to make them say, “Wow!” or “I learned something!” or “I can relate!” Offer something for them to takeaway and think about.
6. Be focused. It’s your blog, you can post about whatever the heck you want. But if you want to grow it into a business or personality brand, get focused. Sit down and write out what your blog is about, come up with a sentence that explains it. Look at what is your signature style and message. Short, simple – and specific. How would you sum it up in a sentence? If you post about a gazillion topics that have no connection to each other, you’ll confuse your reader. It’s ok to have different categories, just make sure you present them in a unified theme/style.
7. Look beyond the obvious. My main gig is crafts, but there is more to me than that! So I’m upping my game and adding a crafty angle to lifestyle topics. Last week I had major hair issues with the Miami weather. Can you say frizz? As a result, I learned from other bloggers about curly hair care, dry shampoo, and other tips and tricks. Now I plan to do a dry shampoo review here because I’m so intrigued! I also met fashion and beauty bloggers too, we all exchanged tips to help each other! so don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new!
8.Show gratitude, say thank you, give support, share! Make sure to shine the light on others, not even as payback, but just because. Check out your followers and give them a random shout out. Leave a comment on their blog. If another blogger helps you, help them back. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with it all, but a little bit makes a big difference. Remember, it’s not all about you, it’s also about sharing thins and people that/who inspire you – and in turn inspire others.
9. It’s not all about numbers. Do not get discouraged if your stats are not where you want them to be. Post quality content on a regular basis and the following will come. I heard from brand people who said they would rather work with a sincere passionate blogger with lower numbers than a power blogger. It’s all about the quality!
10. Up your photo game. The bar has been raised. Even if you only have a smartphone, check out articles like this to improve your skills. You don’t have to have a fancy DSLR, but you can at least use what you have to the best of its ability! Make sure every post has a photo at the top of the post!
11. Develop relationships of trust. Whether it is your readers, an editor, a blogger or a company, live up to your end of the deal and follow through. Meet your deadlines, give it your best effort. That’s what will keep you in the game.
12. Have fun, look for inspiration in all you do, enjoy your experience!