Bloggers

Power, Pride and Inclusivity at BlogHer 2012 by Leslie

My favorite event at the 8th annual BlogHer conference was the Fashion Show. I had never been to a BlogHer event before, and I had a fairly limited experience with the community website, so I had no real expectations and I wanted to just see what would unfold. I knew it was large event, this year there were over five thousand people at the Hilton in NYC, but what I didn't realize was that the huge scope means that this is an incredibly INCLUSIVE community. I don't think there is a cap on how many tickets are sold and the organizers intentionally ensure that speakers are new each year. I heard that if you speak at BlogHer, you cannot speak again for three years. That may seem like a strange rule, but what it does is keep the content and speakers fresh and allow more opportunities for a variety of bloggers to present their knowledge. I really appreciate the inclusiveness, it was refreshing and comforting and some of the strange anxiety I get from exclusive groups and communities was not there at all.

The diversity and inclusiveness was on full display on Saturday night at the fashion show. And what a *show* it was. The runway was taken over by an incredible group of women who embraced and showed off their power and pride in themselves and in their bodies. These ladies owned their beauty and it was exhilarating to watch.

A typical fashion show can be a very homogenous, stylized look at what being a women means, but the BlogHer fashion show was the exact opposite. In appropriating this often exclusive and unrealistic platform, these women took over, showing us what it REALLY means to be beautiful. We are all different and unique, we all deserve to be seen and to show ourselves and when we give ourselves the chance to strut our stuff, we can rise to the occasion and be totally awesome doing it. These women exuded confidence and more than body type, color of skin or style of clothes, CONFIDENCE is what it takes to feel beautiful and BE beautiful. Love yourself and your body, and others will too.


So, what do you think of the ladies of the BlogHer Fashion show? Pretty magnificent, don't you think? Please leave a comment telling me when YOU have felt your most confident and beautiful. To see the full set of pictures from the show and a few other events that I attended, check out my Flickr set! You can read more about a few of the bloggers in the fashion show on Elle.com and also check out Christine Koh's conversation with her daughter on Boston Mamas after being in the fashion show and Erin Kotecki Vest's challenge with embracing her new body.

Photography Blogs for Inspiration by Leslie

Yesterday Rachael left me a comment and asked which photography blogs I read for inspiration. There were enough that I decided to make my own blog post out of it. You will find these photography blogs in my Reader and Twitter feeds. Note that these are all BLOGS. If I began listing all the photography portfolios and talented photographers that I love, the list would never end. These sites don't just show you amazing pictures, but they talk about how to take your own pictures, they offer classes or they show everyday, personal images that inspire me in my own life. In some cases I have linked to the photo category on their blog to keep it relevant to photography, but please explore! These are all fantastic, generous and insightful women (and one man!) If you have any that I have missed and that you think I should read, please leave them in the comments.

Chookooloonks

Superhero Journal

Shutter Sisters

Life Refocused

The Mod Chik

MeRa Koh

Darrah Parker

Orange Girl Photographs

Elizabeth Halford

Enjoying The Small Things

The Amber Show

Katie Jane Photography

Pacing the Panic Room

Hei Astrid

That Cup of Tea

Meredith Winn

Audrey Hepburn Complex

The photograph above is of a a Polaroid Land Camera given to me by my father-in-law. I'd love to get it working again. I shot it on a vintage Samsonite suitcase I picked up at a barn sale recently. Light was direct sunlight from my skylights and I used a large piece of black velvet as a backdrop. Settings were 1/40 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100. I used a tripod and my 50mm Compact Macro lens.

ALT Talks: Collaborations by Leslie

Today I am featuring my illustration of the Collaborations session from ALT Summit, I also illustrated the Growing Your Readership session. I find these drawings to be such a great way for me to process all the information, really aborb it and understand it and also a great way to share it. You can click on the image above to link to a larger version that you can print out if you like!

Collaborations was hosted by:

Each of them covered an aspect of Collaborating:

1. GETTING STARTED - Danielle Krysa

  • Just ASK: Reach out to those people that you admire and just ask them for what you would like to do. If you outline how it is beneficial to both of you, very often they will say YES!
  • Create Guidelines and Rules: The less work that you make people do, and the less that you make them think, the easier it will be for people to say YES. Constraints can yield good material.
  • Keep Trying: There will be mistakes made, and you have to learn from them, revise and try again. When mistakes are made, not all is lost, much of the work can still be used, you might just need to apply it differently.
  • Bonus: "Drive It Like You Stole It"

2. FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE - Bri Emory

  • Similar Aesthetic: There is an easy back and forth when styles align and compliment each other. Complimentary styles can bring a fresh look to what you are doing.
  • Trade Skills: Designers and photographers work great together because they have skills that work well together. Find people who have skills that you don't, but make sure to establish the boundaries up front.
  • Have a Connection: It is more efficient and fun to work with people that you vibe with.
  • Bonus: "Don't be an internet DJ"

3. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT - Joslyn Taylor

  • Agree on Goals: Decide at the beginning what the plan is. What are the goals of the partnership? Is it fun? Is it business? How committed is everyone? Are you making money? Driving Traffic? Building communities? The answers to these questions will  inform all your decisions.
  • Always Meet as a Group: If there are more than 2 people, never pair off. Do not gossip. Keep it professional, even if you are friends. 
  • Weighted Voting: If one person feels strongly about an issue one way or another, they should have the right to veto or push through something. If it's that important to them, let them have it.
  • Sometimes you have to Walk Away: If it stops being healthy, if it veers to far from the original goals when you started or if you are no longer pulling your own weight, it's time to step away.

 4. TAKING IT OFFLINE - Victoria Smith

  • Face to Face: Your local area and blogging conferences can be the best places to meet people and build communities
  • Independent Print Magazines: There are many opportunities with small non-traditional media. Look for places with smaller budgets and freelancers. Uppercase, Rue, Kinfolk and Matchbook magazines.
  • Conversations can lead to other opportunities. Be open to talking with people, sharing what you are good at, and listening to what they need.
  • Bonus: "Enhance Creative Lives"

Hope that helps you with your plans for collaborating! It seems that collaborating is a great way to grow. It lightens the load, and makes our creative endeavors more fun and rewarding.

If you are looking for more ALT inspiration, be sure to check out the ALT channel for ongoing online classes that cover many of the topics presented at ALT Summit, including "Creative Collaborations" by Laura Mayes that offers more tips and tools for collaborating.

Check out my other Alt Summit posts:

ALT Talks: Growing Your Readership by Leslie

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Today I am featuring and illustrating the Growing Your Readership session from ALT Summit, in the same way that I did the talks from Camp Mighty. I found it to be such a great way for me to process all the information and also a great way to share it. You can click on the image above to link to a larger version that you can print out. (Edit: I also illustrated the Collaborations session!)

Growing Your Readership was hosted by:

They had three main points about how to grow your readership:

1. ORIGINAL CONTENT

  • Create a personal narrative from your own experiences. Examples included Jordan's move to Paris and Nicole's home renovation. Use these narratives to share tips and resources.
  • Use your expertise for DIYs and tutorials. Showing people how you do what you do is a great way to gain readers. It's the old give a man a fish/ teach a man to fish parable.
  • Do your own research and make something new. Don't just link to what other people have said or made, have a look at everything being done in a certain category or on a certain trend and do a comprehensive post that shows a complete picture and showcases your own insights.
  • Make custom layouts, curate and remix. Creating your own content is key, but if you are using other people's content, be sure to ask first, credit sources and then present it in a way that is new. Add graphics, pair things up, put your own personal stamp on it.  

2. CONSISTENT SCHEDULE

  • Have an editorial calendar. Plan ahead and try to post on the same days every week. If people know what to expect, they will look forward to your posts.
  • High quality posts are better than high frequency posts. Rather than post one item every day for a week in a series, consider posting all five at once on one day. Make it easy for your readers, don't space out content to have a post up every single day. Quality over quantity.
  • Find the right amount of content for your audience. Kelly found that when she was posting three times a day, less people were reading, it was too much. When she scaled back she found more people engaged.
  • Best times to post are 7am (EST), noon, 4pm and midnight. Know who your audience is and when they are more likely to be reading. Sometimes off times can benefit as well. Midnight is a good time for overseas audiences. Or you can just post it when it's done!

3. PROFESSIONAL LOOK

  • Invest $ in your blog. Spend money on design if you are not a designer, quality giveaways for things people want, hire assistants and pay contributors, and make sure you have childcare so you can dedicate time to your blog.
  • Masthead and URL should match. This means investing in a dedicated domain name and designing your header to be the same. Make sure you have a domain name secured before naming your blog.
  • Good design is a prerequisite. Good design used to set blogs apart, but now it is common place. You must have a good design that is easy to read and navigate to be successful.

Additional tips:

  • Put stuff out when you are excited about it and tweek it later. Execute the bare minimum of what you need to do to get it out into the world and then update it later.
  • Join Communities, build communities, comment on other blogs (but make sure they are quality comments, not just "cool post"), post on Facebook (have a page for your site) and contribute to other sites that have a similar aesthetic, style and audience with your writing or artwork.
  • Capture search traffic with unique seasonal and event based content. Check out what the trending topics are for the day. You can post about current events and holidays, but make sure it is not something that other people are doing. Make it special.
  • Learn how to do SEO and tags. Check out Google tutorials.

If you are interested in learning more about Alt Summit's Growing Your Readership session, check out Nicole's twitter recap on Storify.

You can also check out the Alt Summit channel for fantastic online classes that cover many of the topics that were discussed at the conference, including Growing Your Readership.

Check out my other Alt Summit posts:

Photographed at ALT Summit & Roundup of Links by Leslie

Jill and I at the "Dinner en Blanc" party. It was magical to see a sea of light colors floating around the room. © Moss & Isaac

My trip to Salt Lake City to attend ALT Summit was amazing and overwhelming. There were lots of wonderful people, lots of fantastic information and I'll be posting over the next few weeks about what I learned, what I saw and most importantly what I experienced as a first time attendee. If you are a creative person, you HAVE to come with me next year. I am certainly going back. The conference is not just for bloggers, although that is the primary focus, anyone who is involved in a creative field can find something to learn.

Very briefly, one of my top moments was being photographed by Karen of Chookooloonks. I have more to say about it, but it really was a magical moment for me. I also loved the photo walk that I took with Tracey Clark from Shutter Sisters, I met some wonderful people and really enjoyed hearing about Tracey's approach to shooting and teaching photography. More about that too, including the pictures that I shot on the walk. It's no surprise that the photography moments resonated with me the most and I had my eye on the event photographers the entire time. I enjoyed meeting William and Susan Brinson and I scored a beta test invitation for Squarespace 6. Sweet! I also collected 80 business cards and I can't wait to show you the trends that I saw. Almost every card at ALT is amazing.

My top priority over the last few days has been my family, who missed me very much, especially my three year old. It's been three days of emotional turmoil from him and I hope tomorrow will bring calmer seas and more time for me to write and process photographs. In the meantime, these are the event photographs that I appeared in and down at the bottom of the post you will find links to a few recaps that have already been posted. Stayed tuned for more!

Dinner at J. Wongs with Juli Alderson (Inspiration Bug), me, Jill Vaughn (Terra Savvy), Jordan Ferney (Oh Happy Day), Alix Bannon (Cute and Delicious), Lisa Congdon (Lisa Congdon Art & Illustration), Dottie van Every and Alix Tyler (Modern Kiddo). © Brooke Ashley Dennis

Jenny Mitchell (Frecklewonder), Danielle Krysa (The Jealous Curator), Tracy Benjamin (Shutterbean), Dottie and Alix (Modern Kiddo), Victoria Smith (SF Girl by Bay), Rena Tom (Rena Tom), Kelly Beall (DesignCrush). Juli and I are peeking out from behind Jenny on the left. © Brooke Ashley Dennis

The keynote talk from Ben Silbermann, the creator of Pinterest was inspiring, moving and excellent. Game changing inventions are still happening on the internet. Success and innovation are possible. He got a standing ovation from a room full of people who adore him and what he stands for. (I'm sitting directly to the left of him.) © Justin Hackworth
Sitting in on Melisa Russo's (Lil Bee) roundtable discussion about how to "Bridge the Design/Lifestyle/Mommy Blogger Gap." © Justin Hackworth

Cutting paper in Allison Chapman's class about bookbinding. She's a fabulous teacher and runs Igloo Press in Ohio. © Brooke Ashley Dennis

Jill and I posing for photographer Justin Hackworth at the Ru La La Friday night Mini party. © Justin Hackworth

At the Ru La La photo booth with Melanie Biehle (Inward Facing Girl), Jill Vaughn (Terra Savvy), Megan Reardon (Not Martha) and Brianne (The Ravenna Girls).

Photographers: Moss & Isaac, Justin Hackworth Photography and B.A.D. Photography.

Sarah Bryden Brown at BlogStar: 38 Things I learnt at ALT Summit 2012

Amy Ferguson at Old Sweet Song: Eight (More) Steps to Get Over Post-Alt Summit Depression

The Secret Society of Enterprise: Top Tips from Alt Summit

A Blog About Love: Highlights of Alt Summit

Growing a Readership panel, Storified by Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely.

From Blog to Book, Storified by Kate Woodrow of Chronicle Books

Illustrator Tammie Bennett: Alt Summit and Me

Laurie Smithwick at Kirtsy: The Business Cards of ALT

Chrysula Winegar: Finding Work Life Balance When the Muse Calls

Melanie of Inward Facing Girl is rounding up her favs on Pinterest.

Victoria at SF Girl by Bay: So... What's ALT Summit Really Like?

Danielle from The Jealous Curator: Alt Summit 2012

Anne Sage at The City Sage: The Rundown: Alt Summit 2012

Bri at Design Love Fest: Alt Summit Highlights

Alix and Dottie at Modern Kiddo: Alt Summit // You Should Read These Blogs

Rena Tom: Weeknotes 2012/4

Susan at The Working Closet: It Must Be the Altitude

Additional links can be found on the Alt Summit Blog: Recaps Galore, More Alt Love

And ALL the photos can be found on the ALT Summit Flickr stream.

(I'll be adding to list as I find more posts!)