Delaying this week’s outfit post for a special reason: A recap of the incredible Create + Cultivate conference! I was lucky enough to be able to attend Create + Cultivate’s first-ever NYC together this past weekend, and it was a really amazing experience. If you ever have the chance to attend a C+C event, do it! They put together an incredible line-up of speakers, plus the space (the Knockdown Center in Queens) was completely transformed into an Instagram-worthy paradise.
During the 12-hour long day, there were two “tracks” featuring different sets of panels. I was on track one, which was more geared towards content creators and bloggers. (Track two was more focused on fashion and entrepreneurship.) Honestly, I would have been fine with either — both lineups of speakers looked incredible! — and track one was a great experience. I also met some awesome ladies during the day: Monica (in real life, after being internet friends for months!), Katie, and Val, to name a few!
Outside of the panels and talks themselves, the space was absolutely gorgeous. Flowers everywhere, cute pop-up shop after cute pop-up shop, and lots of fun bites, too.
Throughout the day, there were five panels, two mentor sessions and three keynote talks. I learned a lot (and took a ton of notes!) but here are some of the highlights.
The proper tools are essential.
This one was from Helena Glazer, or on the internet, you may know her as Brooklyn Blonde. If you were starting a blog back in 2008 (or 2011, when I started my first blog!) you didn’t need a fancy camera or a sleek site design to be successful. But nowadays, the market is very saturated with people who do have all those tools — it will be hard to stand out without them. This also reminded me of what Jess and Blair always say on their site, Blogging For Keeps: If you don’t invest in yourself, why would anyone invest in you? I don’t have the $2500 camera a lot of bloggers do, but even just a starter SLR is a great step.
It’s not just about starting your own project.
Overwhelmed with the thought of starting out yourself? The ladies from United State of Women talked about political organizing (a bit different than blogging!) and how valuable your skills can be to any sort of project. If you’re not sure how to make a difference, ask someone who already is doing so how you can contribute.
Engagement is key.
This was consistent throughout the day. It’s not the number of followers you have, it’s whether or not they’re engaging with your content. An Instagram account with 1000 followers with 30% of them engaging in your content is better than an account with 10,000 followers and 5% of them are engaging. Engagement is what drives clicks, views and of course, sales. So if you have high engagement, don’t underestimate yourself — this is what a lot of brands care about!
Find your niche.
As you’ve probably heard, the blogging market is “oversaturated,” basically a fancy word for crowded. And while it definitely is crowded, the easiest way to make yourself stand out is by finding your niche. We’ve all heard the “be authentic” mantra 1000 times, but the easiest way to do that is by establishing your own corner of the blogging world. Like if you’re an expert on ballet flats, write about ballet flats. Eventually, you can work your way beyond your niche into other topics. (This is something I need to work on. What’s my niche? Being a royalty-obsessed shopaholic? Haha!)
Don’t worry about the market being too crowded.
To that point, During the Content Meets Commerce panel, one of the speakers (I believe it was Mary Orton!) made the great point there’s no such thing as too many blogs or influencers. Think about how many restaurants there are in the world. And when a new one opens, that doesn’t mean it’s destined for failure, or that consumers aren’t excited. I thought this was such a great analogy: As long as you’re providing interesting, unique content, you can succeed.
People want to know about your life.
I knew this already, just from being a blog reader for years. I always enjoy personal posts the most. And from looking at my own analytics, the posts where I’m open and honest about my own life tend to do the best. Eva Amurri Martino of Happily Eva After said at first she didn’t think people were interestedThey may just be the hardest to write, but that’s what will really grow your following.
Become a pro negotiator.
One of my favorite bloggers, Carly Heitlinger of the College Prepster, made a great point that I’ve seen before: Never be the first one to name a price. You could end up low-balling yourself, or pricing yourself out of a campaign you want to work on. Instead, ask the brand what their budget is, and put it in their court. If they can’t pay you, you can negotiate other forms of “payment” — a press trip, social promotion, et cetera.
Connections matter more than competition.
Right when you walked into the Knockdown Center, that big neon sign reading “collaboration over competition” greeted you. It’s a mantra that was felt throughout the day. Meeting people and making real friendships is so much more important and productive than questioning every little thing — ‘does she have more followers?’ or ‘does she get more likes?’ It does nothing except make you feel bad and insecure. And you could be missing out on a real friendship!
Overall, it was an incredible day full of listening inspiring women (Gloria Steinem, the ultimate inspiring woman, was the keynote!) + meeting them, too! If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Create + Cultivate conference, I highly recommend it. And stay tuned to their website: The C+C team is announcing their next city soon!