So You Want to Scale Your Blog…Alt Summit Panel Recap

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On January 25, I participated in the Advanced Blogging panel at Alt Summit during which we discussed effective editorial calendars, advisory boards, working smarter, and the how-tos of getting an agent.  Below you'll see the slide deck (thanks to fellow panelist Helen Jane Hearn for the design) and bullet points from our respective presentations.

Helen Jane Hearn, Director of Content at Federated Media, @helenjane

Helen Jane Hearn at Alt Design Summit
Image by Brooke Dennis

Alt Summit Panel: How to Build an Effective Editorial Calendar
Your editorial calendar is your chance to move your content forward
Don't start writing your posts after you've done your daily tour of the web — it can paralyze your content. Plan in advance to stay true to you. Doesn't matter if it's weekly, quarterly or yearly — or the mix of spontaneous/reactionary and planned content, all that you need to do is plan your content in your voice. An editorial calendar is your chance to articulate your vision — in your words.

Work back from tentpole events

Whether it's a family vacation, holidays or conferences, work backwards from the dates that you know your content will shine. This will help your seasonal content be delivered at the right time.

Plan sponsors, amplification and content at the same time.
Part and parcel of content is the amplification — this can be made up of tweets, SEO descriptions, FB updates or Pinterest. Write all the little tidbits of amplifying content at the same time as you plan the majority of your content to save time and get ahead.

Helen Jane's dream has to do with “publishing her own project(s)”. It's time”, she writes on her blog.

Whitney Johnson
, Author of Dare, Dream, Do:  Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, @johnsonwhitney

l. to r. Amy Anderson, Susan Petersen, Whitney Johnson, Helen Jane Hearn
Image by Brooke Dennis

Alt Summit Panel:  Assembling an Advisory Board
Identify what expertise you need that you don't have.
This may be difficult because you don't know what you don't know.  Are you looking to raise visibility, scale, lower costs, ink strategic partnerships?  You probably need help when you find yourself saying, “I know that's important, but I'll deal with it later.”

Find people who can do those jobs
Once you articulate in 30 seconds or less what you need, so that your need can go viral and get to 2nd and 3rd degree connections, and you have candidates, you'll want to screen for people you can trust.  Your advisory board members will have core competencies that are complementary to yours, knowing things you don't, which means you may feel vulnerable.  You need safe, so you can ask stupid.

Give your advisory board members their due

When you invite someone to be on your advisory board you are making an ask, one that includes specific deliverables.  Start-ups typically allocate 25-50bps (25%-50% of 1%) of equity in exchange for these tasks; occasionally, there is a cash component. Alternatively, you can follow the Kickstarter model and offer rewards.   As a creative, when you are bartering with non-creatives, you've got lots of options.

My dream is to ‘scale' — my thinking, writing, speaking.

Susan Petersen, Founder of Freshly-Picked, @freshlypicked

l. to r. Amy Anderson and Susan Petersen
Image by Brooke Dennis

Alt Summit Panel:  How to Work Smarter, Not Harder
(excerpted from Alison Faulkner @thealisonshow on Babble)
You don’t need to have all of your ducks in a row, you just need a duck
You’ve got a great idea, but you hold back on pushing it live because you don’t have everything sorted. I say, push it out! User experience and trusted friends will help you get it right.

Create Systems

Everything in your business should have a system from the way you take photographs to the way you publish a blog post, work on systems. Once you can easily teach someone the way that you do something, then you have a system. And THEN you can start to generate passive income.

One of Susan's dreams is to make moccasins for the rich and famous.

Amy Parker Anderson
, Customer Experience at Warby Parker, @parkeretc

Amy Parker Anderson
Image by Brooke Dennis


Alt Summit Panel:  Defining different roles of representation
Manager :: Handle the day to day nitty gritty / finances / counsel on opportunities that affect long term career. If you feel good about your publicity and traffic, but get buried by emails and requests, a manager could be the right fit to help with your business.

PR/Publicist :: Pitch to magazines, sets up tv interviews and helps to create your overall visual exposure. If you stay on top of emails and content, but can't seem to get the attention you want, consider a PR agent.

Agent :: Helps broker deals, uses connections to make partnerships and expand your brand. When you're consistently getting sponsors, traffic is high and inquiries and larger pitches (tv, books) are being knocking on your door….. it might be the time to sign on an agent.

Art of the Pitch
Know What You Want :: small partnerships with brands, on-air personality, deals with Wal-Mart? Whatever your decision, all are ok. But at the end of the day, you are your brand's best representative. A big misconception is the agents do all the legwork for you. False. You and your agent work to gather opportunities through both of your networks and then the agent acts as final negotiator.

Networking :: This is really where it still all comes down too. No unsolicited requests for representation. New client ideas through trusted resources like friend circles, fellow clients, industry folk. Managers  and PR reps slightly more accessible. A well formulated email pitches usually gets you a meeting.

Homework :: Research before reaching out. Know who've they've worked with, why you'd be a great fit alongside their other clients, areas you could benefit their roster and potential partnership ideas. Not only is it common courtesy, but it adds a level of professionalism and you can bet no rep walks into even casual meetings without doing their background check on you.

Amy's dream is to learn how to be a mother; she's expecting her first child.

Finally, here's a great recap from DIY crafter Amber (@damasklove), as well as a post from graphic designer Lisa Butler (@elembee):

Image by Lisa Butler
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