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The Pink Samurai: TxSC 2013 - What I Did, What I Learned & How I Busted Out of My Comfort Zone

The Pink Samurai

Friday, August 09, 2013

TxSC 2013 - What I Did, What I Learned & How I Busted Out of My Comfort Zone

Last weekend I attended my first blogger conference, the Texas Style Council!  I remember seeing Amy's posts about it last year...or the year before?...when I was still in the DC area.  It looked so fun and I wanted to be a part of it.  Fast-forward to a few months ago when we found out we'd be moving back Texas.  I looked up the conference and was so excited to see that it was happening after the move!  I was already going to sign up and then I saw Elsie and Emma would be speaking and that just sealed the deal.  I signed up for both TxSC and Blogcademy (omg just a week away!).  So August is the month of blogging for me!

I've been writing on and off since 2006 (7 years this month!!!) and I wanted to dive into the blogging world and see what I could really do with my little space on the internet.  I hope it's a fun place where people can learn to make and do fun new things...and appreciate cat photos.  But I digress!  TxSC!  There were 3 days of events and 2 days of workshops and it was a whirlwind of cute dresses, new friends and inspiration!

Ok...there's a bajillion links in this post and I think you should click all of them.  Ok! Go!

FRIDAY!

SWAP
Each attendee dropped off two pieces of clothing and a book in the afternoon and Lulu's sponsored the event in the evening.  They even seeded the selection with some of their own inventory.  When I popped by to drop off my dresses and book, it was fun to check out all the pieces that were already hanging up.  I ended up being fashionably late and might have checked the hashtag on instagram to see what everyone was wearing before I got dressed :P  I ended up wearing my striped maxi from Red Velvet and it was perfect.



That night I met Mallory, Ashe and Carlie...who are pretty much the best.  They road-tripped all the way from New Orleans that day.  I've followed Mallory's blog, Miss Malaprop for yeeeears.  She wrote about a cross stitch piece I made years ago and I've been following along since!  I ended up with the dress pictured above and it was one she brought for the swap.  I also had a fun chat with Elizabeth and gabbed with Nicole for a long time!



I was a total awkward turtle at the beginning...just kind of wandering around by myself.  But I crawled out of my shell a little bit and started talking to folks and had a blast!  This was the perfect kind of event to get people together (I mean rreeeeally close together...it was packed and crazy hot in that little shop!) and get them talking.  I ended up hanging out the NOLA crew a lot during the weekend (thanks for letting me crash your party, ladies!) and made so many other new friends!  Here's me and Nicole in the photobooth ^_^
photo by Peter Tung

SATURDAY!
 LIFE BLOGGING 101 
led by Jenni of Story of My Life, presented by Ruche

Since most of the attendees at the conference were lifestyle and fashion bloggers, there were a lot of classes focused around those subjects.  I wasn't sure what I was going to get out of this first session, but it was really helpful.  Here's some of my notes...
  • If you want to make a living doing this, you're not just blogging for yourself, you're blogging for your readers.  What will your readers find interesting in the content you're creating?
  • Something of Value - Is it humor? Inspiration? DIYs? Create content that gets people engaged and wanting to come back for more.
  • Great Writing - Proofread!  When brands are looking for someone to represent them, it's the details that count.
  • Attractive Aesthetics - Make it pretty!  I'm a perpetual blog redesigner, so I'm alll about this.
  • A Unique Voice - Be yourself.  Don't afraid that you'll turn people off to your blog by your subjects or how you write.  Jenni's found that for every person to stop reading she's gotten even more that really appreciate who she is and what she does.  That one is big one for me...I love talking about nerdy stuff and super cute things, and while that might not appeal to the masses, it appeals to awesome people like me :P
  • Time - Network with other bloggers...read and comment with sincerity and make friends!  Those connections will help grow your blog and your community.
One thing she mentioned, which I loved, was that she's not interesting so she has a blog...she's interesting because she has a blog haha!  The need for unique content to share has made her get out and experience new things.  I thought that was really fun ^_^


 MONETIZATION 101 
led by Bethany of The Glamorous Housewife

The main takeaway I got from this session was to really diversify your offerings when it comes to monetization.  Sponsorships, integrated content, e-courses, e-books, there's just so many ways to be creative about the way you work with brands and market yourself.

Also, take the time to evaluate what you're doing.  I think this is a lesson in life, too, honestly.  Look at those things that are making you money...or making you happy...and do more of that.  Concentrate your time on that small percentage of good and let the bad go.

 SELF PHOTOGRAPHY 101 
led by Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky, presented by Lulu's

Elizabeth was super cute and I love that she let her personality really come through during this session.  She's super funny and went through her main tips for taking super sweet selfies.  She also posted this on her blog shortly after, which says more than I ever could about the subject.

 ASK ME ANYTHING: I'M A LAWYER 
led by Lisa of Too Hoyt 2 Handle

I learned about how to set up an LLC in Texas!  I have an AA in business, that concentrated on entrepreneurial studies in Maryland...but I didn't know anything about setting up a business in Texas.  And now I do!  So many fun plans are circling in my head.  So. Legit.

 ASK ME ANYTHING: ACCOUNTING / I OWN A PR FIRM 
led by Shellie of Saving with Shelling and Kristen, owner of Patterns of Movement, PR

A lot of the questions in the law session were actually a little more appropriate for this accounting session, so we learned a bit about what happens come tax time.  I'm actually planning on reaching out to Shellie and seeing if she can recommend a local CPA.  I'm in a very different place this year than I was last year!  Hooray self-employment!

The PR portion of this session (I'm so tired of saying the word session right now...it's like...lost it's meaning to me now...sesssssionnn) was good, too.  We got a little insight into creating a media kit!
  • Bio - who you are and why you're awesome
  • Visuals - make it pretty
  • Achievements - stats, awards, recognitions


It was an amazingly full day and I was completely worn out by the end.  I got some free stuff, too...a scarf by Cents of Style and the little ring from Ruche in Jenni's talk!  I think you're supposed to wear the ring on your knuckle...but I have really long, thin fingers and it just looks weird.  So pinky ring it is!

So Saturday night was Prom!

Andy and I clean up nice!  It was such a fun night.  There were booths set up with vendors, photobooths set up for all the photos you could possibly take, and dance floor to boogie down.  We did not boogie, but Andy bought me a cute new bracelet from Son of a Sailor, and I made a fun bracelet with Kollabora.  It was so nice to finally meet Lindsey after talking on the internet for so long ^_^  Check out my sweet skills...


 The highlight of the night, though, was meeting Elsie of A Beautiful Mess.  You know I've linked to fun projects here before and I think they're just so fun and inspiring.  She was the sweetest person you could ever imagine!  I'm so glad I didn't chicken out.  Also, pics or it didn't happen!  The awkward turtle in me came back out for a minute, but this chick doesn't take a bad a picture!

photo by Peter Tung

Such a fun night!! I was definitely even more exhausted by the end of it.  And there were still one day to go!

Ok...I'm just gonna power through this massive post...

SUNDAY!
 KEYNOTE 
by Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess

They had handouts on the chairs with room for notes and went through a presentation on what they've learned from blogging.  It was a thoughtful, well put together and beautifully designed presentation.  As to be expected.  I think they left us all super inspired!

 PITCHING AND WORKING WITH BLOGGERS 
led by Alison, co-founder of Yoked

This session was geared towards brands who want to work with bloggers.  With my scarves, I'm both a blogger and a brand, so I was really interested in hearing the best way to pitch my products to folks to hopefully get more exposure.  Alison had great tips, a whole worksheet and tons of advice that I've already used.  Crossing my fingers my pitches worked!

She had some basics to consider before you pitch:
  • What specific projects/products are you pitching?
  • What is your target market? Be specific! Is it health-conscious moms, or DIY inspired 20-somethings?
  • Pick specific bloggers that reach that audience.
  • Generate your own content ideas.  Present them with ideas that fit their style and branding.  Leaving it open-ended so you can work together to create the best feature.
She she gave us a basic template for a pitch.  Note: when I say paragraph, it's really just a couple of sentences.
  • Subject line - Reference a timeline (like a launch or season).  Take a look at magazine covers for inspiration!  I thought that was brilliant source of inspiration.
  • Greeting - to a specific person...be careful with those mass emails :P
  • Paragraph 1 - Purpose for contacting.  Reason the purpose the time-sensitive.
  • Paragraph 2 - What makes you a great person/business to work with.
  • Paragraph 3 - End with a call to action.  Like, "let me know" or "I'd love to set up a call".
  • The follow up later!
This was such a valuable session to attend!  I'm going to be referencing her materials for a looong time.

 CREATIVE BRAND COLLABORATIONS 
led by Camille of Camille Styles

First off.  Oh my gracious it's Camille!  Like Elsie, I've been following Camille's gorgeous blog for years.  She's a true super star in my little blog world and it was so cool to get to hear her speak.  Kicking myself now for not saying hi and getting pic :P  But she's in Austin...so there's still time!  Wow...I sound like a creep.  Oh well...I bet no one made it this far in this giant post anyway...so it's ok!

Camille talked about the other side of the collaboration coin, and spoke as a blogger looking for brands to collaborate with.  Here are some of her main points:
  • Look for a good fit.  Things that you would want to feature anyway.
    • Example, she hosted a craft event at Anthropologie and then shared the DIYs from the event on her blog.
  • Creating valuable content.  A common theme for the weekend, for sure.
    • Example, the content she created for a Kate Spade partnership was actually used across multiple channels of theirs.
  • Make it easy for everyone.  Be clear about deliverables, timelines and pricing upfront.  Track your campaign as it goes to make sure it's on track to accomplishing your original goals.
One more fun thing from her talk was a quote from her husband around pricing.  It can be a touchy subject and I think we can have a tendency to undervalue ourselves.  But Camille's husband said, "If you don't cringe a little when quoting prices, you're not asking enough." YES!  I love that so much.

 PINTEREST POWER 
led by Moorea of mooreaseal.com

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this session, but I ended up learning a lot about pinterest in general and ways to gain more of a following there as another outlet for my brand.  Some cool points that I took away were:
  • Keeping a board just for your store.  This helps people know where to go when they're looking for your stuff specifically and it's a lot easier to keep track of than splitting your content among other boards
  • Keep a separate board for your recurring blog features.  Moorea's example was her 52 lists project.  Another way for folks to know exactly where to go to look your stuff up.
  • Split the types of pins you...pin.  Her example was a pyramid, with the top, and smallest portion being your original content (like my scarves), then original content you seek out (like those hours I spend pinning from the Modcloth app), and then the largest portion being repins from pinterest.  That way you've got a diverse board with unique content and supportive content from other pinners.
  • There were a lot of other business-y pinterest tricks she shared, too.  I've already started overhauling my boards!
  • The last thing, that really ran through her whole presentation, was being consistent and staying on brand in your pins.  If you're going to be using it as a tool to promote yourself, branding is so important.

 BUILDING A BUSINESS IN THE MOBILE AGE 
led by Ian of Rocket Mobile

This was the last individual session of the whole weekend and one of the most important, in my opinion.  Technology is changing and as business owners, we need to understand that change and adapt quickly.  Staying ahead of the curve is hard, but I think finding ways to take advantage of mobile is essential to anyone who makes a living on the internet.

I've got a lot of experience with developing strategies, wireframing, and creating actionable items and timelines (whoa...I just dropped some bidness on you!), so a lot of this session was listening to others thoughts and contributing my own as well.  It was a nice low-key way to end the sessions.

 CLOSING CONVOCATION 
The end of the day, all of the speakers got up on stage to do an open question and answer.  Of course I thought of all my witty and intelligent questions after the everything had ended.  I was a little disappointed by all the people just asking about the speakers' sponsor rates and very specific money questions.  Yeah, we all would love to make a living doing this, but everyone is so different, there's no industry standard.  Which is fine.  I think we all need to really value ourselves as individuals.

IN CLOSING
I went into this weekend by myself, hoping to learn a little bit more about this industry I've been dipping my toes into for years.  I came out of this weekend with new friends, having met my blogging heroes and am feeling more inspired than ever to build this little piece of the internet I've carved out here at The Pink Samurai.  If you made this far, holy crap I love you!  And you're the reason I want to keep doing this.  I want this to be a place of fun and inspiration!  I hope this post has given you some good info and a little confidence to go out and do your own thing, too!

As I get ready for a deeper dive into blog-self-realization next weekend, I'm going to fill as many binders as I can with fun project ideas, scour the internet for fun things to share and maybe take an outfit photo or two.  You can't hang out with fashion bloggers for a whole weekend and not want to take selfies.


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3 Comments:

At 4:13 PM , Anonymous Ashe said...

I'm so glad we met and that I had a friendly face to say hi to & touch in with over the weekend. I'm pretty sure the whole NOLA contingent left with a mega-crush on you ;)

(And you managed to hit a lot of the ones I wanted to attend, but couldn't, so these recaps are AWESOME.)

 
At 11:51 PM , Blogger Becky Pool said...

Ashe! You guys were just the best ^_^ It really was nice to see a friendly face and have a seat saved in the session with you guys! I seriously want to come visit.

And I'm so glad the recaps were helpful! I felt like I was droning on a bit...but it's good info!

 
At 4:38 PM , Anonymous Mallory said...

Uh... yeah, Ashe is right, MEGA CRUSH ON BECKYYYYYYYYYYY.

Seriously, I <3 you and I'm so glad we got to hang out! Definitely let us know any time you want to come visit NOLA!

 

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