Because if you don’t bet on yourself…

You asked for it, so here it is! A snapshot from my whirlwind few days at the Altitude Design Summit.

It’s honestly kind of hard to describe the experience. Maybe it’s better to describe what it’s like after the conference. I’ve been dubbing it my “Alt hangover.” Symptoms include fatigue, feelings of excitement, a to-do list that’s a mile long, pining for blogging friends, wishing I still had room service and a steam shower, and more than anything, being unable to sleep because I have so many ideas floating around in my head. Fellow Alt-goers: sound familiar?

Beyond all the learning, my favorite part was getting to spend time with ladies that I’d previously only known online. My roommates Molly and Chelsea? Insta-connection. These girls were so fun, so sweet, and the best roommates I could’ve ever asked for. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without them! Chelsea even bought me a bridal magazine when she got to the airport, before flying in to Salt Lake. I mean, how cute is that? We had a blast getting ready for all the events and staying up late gabbing about our lives. Hello, multi-day sleepover.

Melissa | Megan | Jeanne | Erin | Visual Supply Co.

The sessions I attended included The Business of Blogging, Building Relationships With Ad Networks and Sponsors, From Blog to Book, Growing a Readership, and How to Make Yourself Press Worthy (you can see what all the sessions were here). Also of note was Ben Silberman’s keynote talk. Who’s Ben Silberman? Oh, you know. Just the co-founder of this little thing called Pinterest. Here are some notes I took that I thought you mind find useful (after the jump).

THE BUSINESS OF BLOGGING

+First rule of blogging: YOUR BLOG IS A BUSINESS. The minute you put up an affiliate link or an ad, you are a business entity. If you haven’t started a blog yet and are thinking of a name, choose one that is not protected by a live trademark, and register it! Register the .com, .net, and any spelling variants. Build a brand that is yours and that you can protect.

+ Be sure to develop a Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, copyright footer, and comment policy. My own suggestion: you can find good language for this online, but if you can, find a lawyer who can help you make it airtight.

+ Claim your blog with Google webmaster tools, and feedburner.

+ Organize your content: make sure it’s regularly-scheduled, original content. Be on top of what you’re going to post, and when you’re going to post it. Consistency of content always trumps frequency of content.

+ Brick and mortar’s have business hours. Your blog should too. Be “open†during the day. Schedule your posts and publish ahead of time. Keep in mind that if you’re on the west coast, east coast readers are three hours ahead. Investigate: do you have a lot of international readers? Time your posts to go up when you’ll get the most visibility. Check out Buffer App — it can give you stats on when your Twitter followers are online and also send tweets out for you. As a general rule, know that most people are online in the morning, at lunch, and later in the afternoon. At Curbly, they publish so that the homepage looks different 3 times a day. If you train people to learn that they don’t need to check your site as much, they won’t.

+ Develop a monthly and yearly editorial calendar. It only needs to be 20-25% of the posts that you decide on theme/content wise. This will help you to fill in the blanks with other content you’ll need to generate.

+ Writer’s Guidelines. Develop a document as if you’re giving it to a contributor who has never been on your blog, so that you can have continuity in your blog (and brand) aesthetic. Give it to guest posters, especially if you want your posts to look a certain way.

+ Never, ever, talk about a brand that you don’t really like just for money. Be sure to tweet brands when you’re discussing them in a post or using their products.

+ If you’re going to begin running ads, check out this website: http://www.iab.net/guidelines/. It provides info on standard sizes for web ads and best practices too! Leaderboards and medium rectangles are the biggest money makers, but must be above the fold (i.e., the break off point on a page, before you have to start scrolling down to see content).

Molly | Chelsea | Erin Loechner

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH AD NETWORKS AND SPONSORS

+ Stop showing desperation in posts to make minimal amounts of money. Consider how much you’re actually making from a post with affiliate links before you spend hours on it. Is it worth it? People will come to you with absurd offers. Develop something that is organic to your site. Be picky. Build something that makes sense for your site. If you need to do so when you’re first starting out, give away ads to brands you really love. Guesstimate your rates. You’re going to get them wrong. Redo them! Provide a service to your community. Everyone is a consumer.

+ Know your brand and your value. Build your community first, make sure it’s passion driven, THEN you can collaborate with brands. Having something that you think is super valuable puts you in a position of power.

+ If you want to take someone’s money, make sure it’s going to be a good partnership. Be invested in your sponsors.

+ If you want to dive into the sea of sponsorship, you have to test the waters. Your moral compass WILL come into play. You’ll find a good fit eventually. If they don’t come to you, then you go to them!

+ Pitch it! Always always ask for what you want. Be very proactive. The more outlandish the better. Brands want to remember you. BE MEMORABLE.

+ If you get a crazy pitch, don’t say no. Say, “no, but.†See if you can re-pitch them an idea that might stick, and will work for YOU.

+ Consider your complete online presence. Don’t forget your Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook followers. Think about other bloggers that you know that you could collectively get together and exponentially grow your readership with just a single pitch.

+ Be upfront about what makes your blog special.

+ Big: Consider legal obligations. It’s so important to be upfront and professional. If you’re bartering for product or if you get gifted a product that is $600 or more, a W-9 is going to have to take place. It’s the law.

+Follow up with a sponsor. What worked, what didn’t? Should you discuss a future campaign? If you have time, put together a follow up infographic that explains what you did for them. Send a thank you note.

+ Solve problems. Find out what a brands’ business goals are and what they want to accomplish. Then, when you pitch them, you can show them how you can partner with them to get them where they want to be. Turn it into something that helps them versus something that just helps you.

+ Don’t be that person who will do anything and write about anything and promote anything just to make money. Your readers will know it, and other brands will too. Perception matters!

+ Be aware of when non-compete clauses will come into play. If you work with one particular brand, will it mean you can’t work with others you might REALLY want to work with?

+ These days, CPM (cost per thousand pageviews) range anywhere from $.25 to $10, depending on the thousands of  impressions you get. Be sure you differentiate whether you’re being paid on a CPM basis or a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis.

+ And the best thing I heard: Women are constantly undervaluing themselves. When you ask someone for money, it should make your stomach hurt a little bit. If it doesn’t, ask for more. You’re a business. It’s expected that you’ll negotiate!

Get more downloadable blog resources at The B Bar >> 

QUOTES FROM PINTEREST CO-FOUNDER BEN SILBERMAN

+ Make one thing perfectly.

+ Discovering things about the world helps you discover things about who you are.

+ A lot of blogs talk about startups as if they were fated to be that way. But a lot of people are successful because they don’t stop.

+ There are so many things that are just good enough. Why not pick the one that’s most beautiful?

+ My favorite and something that has been resonating with me ever since: If you don’t bet on yourself, nobody else will.

One session I didn’t mention above was a round table called Legal Concerns and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines for bloggers. This was probably the most informative session I attended during the entire conference. Much of this information can now be purchased at The B Bar!

Later today I’ll be back with a roundup of some very talented folks whose work I was lucky enough to come across at Alt. Get your wallets ready! There’s some goodness you’re definitely going to want for yourself.

{Image Credits: Alt Summit Flickr Feed}

74 comments

  1. HRCK the Herald said: replied:

    Yet another thing I’m bookmarking from you. Seriously, I think that this is the best thing that came out of the entire ALT event!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  2. Jess said: replied:

    Ahhh Love this! So much great information. Wish I could have gone!!!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  3. Jackie {York Avenue} said: replied:

    I’d love to get that email from you! This is all so helpful- I can see why you have a million ideas bouncing around in your head. There’s SO much to blogging and this summit really covered it all. I wish I could’ve gone but I probably would have been so overwhelmed. Thanks for boiling it all down for us!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  4. It sounds like you had so much fun! Thanks for writing these alt posts so that the rest of us can join in a little bit too :)

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  5. christin said: replied:

    Ok, I just wanted to comment before I got too engrossed in reading all this deliciousness about altsummit. Thank you. Honestly. Your posts lately have been amazing and so helpful.

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  6. houseofearnest said: replied:

    haha, love that the snow picture was the one that made it!

    SUCH a great recap – i can’t write or think fast enough to get it all down!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  7. Mal @ The Chic Geek said: replied:

    I love seeing all the alt redux posts, it makes me really want to go next year!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  8. aliciasegal said: replied:

    I’m just starting to THINK about diving into the blogging world. Great information and I would love to get the additional legal email you spoke of.

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  9. Nikki Rappaport said: replied:

    Your posts continue to be so informative, helpful and most of all, so warm and welcoming. Thank you again for sharing and wanting to help other bloggers. It really says a lot about who you are V. Have a great one! xo

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  10. Karen Albert said: replied:

    Really excellent and I am so glad you attended. I would love to receive a copy of the Legal concerns Session. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  11. meggabytes said: replied:

    I would love to get the Legal Concerns & FTC email! This was fab!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  12. Mills said: replied:

    Hello! The mini-alt week posts were great. So many wondeful tips. I would love to read the notes you put together from the FTC session, too. Thanks!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  13. Becca said: replied:

    Thank you so much for your notes. I’m just starting out and find all of this super informative, and at the same time a bit overwhelming! I’d love to get your notes on legal concerns.

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  14. The Zhush said: replied:

    Could I also trouble you for your legal notes? Your obviously an amazing note taker vis a vis this informative post! I’m a former attorney, I think I have most of this stuff down..BUT, I practiced Real Estate law in NYC, I might be in over my head here! Thanks so much for all this great info…this would have taken me over a week to post, and yet you just got back…wow
    Sue
    Thezhush@gmail.com

    thx!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  15. Angelica Yarde said: replied:

    This is probably the best ALT Summit roundup post I’ve read. Thank you so much for all of your information! I would also love to get your notes on the legal concerns. I’m looking to expand my blog and I want to make sure I obey all of the rules. You now have a new blog follower for sure :)

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  16. Jacquelyn said: replied:

    amazing! Thank you so so much for sharing your tips lady. I owe you an email with thank yous from the legal info. You’re the greatest

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  17. whitney said: replied:

    This is such a great breakdown of things to consider. i don’t put as much time as i should into my blog. even though i am passionate about it.

    i would love to get copied on your legal roundtable notes.

    thanks for the pointers!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  18. Julia said: replied:

    This is amazing advice. You have nailed everything. I need to bookmark this now and start doing my homework!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  19. The Design Daredevil said: replied:

    Hope I get to go one day!!!!!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  20. Rachel Hooper said: replied:

    Thanks for the informative posts! I would love the email!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  21. Brittany said: replied:

    Thankyou so much for sharing this!! Maybe I’ll be able to attend next year, but until then, your post provided some fabulous information! I would love to receive the email too :) xo

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  22. Katie said: replied:

    thanks so much for sharing!

     Katie Carlin-Daily Crush

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  23. Lonely Wife Project said: replied:

    You’re pretty amazing Victoria you know that?! Your email was superb. Thanks for sending!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  24. The New Diplomats Wife said: replied:

    Great recap ! Would love to receive the legal email if you woudln’t mind –
    ania – thenewdiplomatswife@gmail.com

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  25. Thank you for putting this together. So helpful. I would love to get the email to!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  26. Lisa said: replied:

    Hi! I’m a huge fan of your blog! its a must read daily for me!
    I really enjoyed reading your note from the ALT summit and would love to receive that in depth email you spoke about.

    Here is my contact
    Lisa
    lisa@thesvilla.com

    I invite you to come by and visit my blog…
    Style Villa
    thestylevilla.com
    xoxo

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  27. Lisi said: replied:

    This is amazing and I am SO glad I found your blog. Your posts have been by FAR the most informative. Almost as good as being there! Kidding, I wish I could have been there! But also, I’d love to get your email with all the legal info!

    thebeautyfile@gmail.com

    Thanks!!!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  28. [...] and fun. There are already many excellent recaps of the event out there (like here, here, and here) but I wanted to share some of the concrete tips and inspirational quotes that I took away from the [...]

    24 Jan 2012 |
  29. Kristin said: replied:

    What an incredible resource…Thanks for the fabulous tip roundup!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  30. Sara @ Gameday Stylist said: replied:

    Such a wonderful resource – thank you for sharing :)

    - Sara @ Gameday Stylist

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  31. Nancy@marcusdesign said: replied:

    I’d love to receive that email Victoria! Thank you for all of this valuable information, you are awesome! nancy@marcusdesigninc.com

    Nancy xo

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  32. Gaby [The Vault Files] said: replied:

    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing recap with all of us, especially in such a short time from getting back, is very kind of you!
    I would love to receive that e-mail, so if you can send it to me I would really appreciate it ;)

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  33. Anonymous said: replied:

    Thank you so much for the informative recap! I would appreciate receiving the Legal Concerns and FTC email you mentioned above!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  34. [...] Because if you don’t bet on yourself… fromVictoria @ vmac & cheese [...]

    24 Jan 2012 |
  35. Ahh such a brilliant wrap up Victoria, thank you – I just wish I could have gone! Would love to receive the legal concerns you mentioned :) xx

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  36. Natalie said: replied:

    Fantastic recap. Thank you SO much for sharing all your notes with us! So generous of you.

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  37. Alexa said: replied:

    Victoria, I’d love to get that email from you. Alt looks like it was an enormous success, thanks again for posting about it!

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  38. Melissa said: replied:

    You’ve really mastered the art of note taking! Thanks so much for sharing! I would love to be included on the copyright/legal email.

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  39. LOLBeauty said: replied:

    This is so helpful!!! Would love to read more about FTC regulations in more plain terms.

    24 Jan 2012 | Reply
  40. Taylor said: replied:

    I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while now so this post was SUPER helpful. It’d be awesome if you’d share your legal notes! SN: How do you take such detailed notes?

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
    1. vmacandcheese said: replied:

      I am blessed with extremely fast typing skills! Thank you 7th grade typing class. :)

      25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  41. So incredibly helpful and considerate of you to put this together!

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  42. Shannon Darrough said: replied:

    Ah, memories. I love this! Until next year right dear?

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
    1. vmacandcheese said: replied:

      You know it!!! PS, are you thinking about going to BlogFest in NYC?

      25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  43. Wow, there is so much in here! I have a feeling I’m going to be rereading this post again and again! Thanks for sharing :)

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  44. Cyndi said: replied:

    Victoria, I’d definitely bet on YOU!! And I would love to receive your Legal Concerns and FTC Guidelines email please…and Thank You!

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  45. sweetnothings04@gmail.com said: replied:

    oh I need to go next year!!

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  46. Erin said: replied:

    Loved reading about this. Thanks for sharing! Would love the legal concerns and FTC email when you have a chance. Thanks so much!
    Erin
    erin {at} expressyourselfbasalt {dot} com

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  47. Mercedes said: replied:

    I would be very intersted in that email you put together regarding the legal side of the biz. That’s very thoughtful for you to put together and offer up to your readers. Thank you so much!

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  48. Erika [small shop] said: replied:

    Thank you for the email Victoria! I admit I’m kinda feeling like pulling back from it all because of the possible legal issues. It’s scary and honestly I don’t have time for it with my family and business, you know?

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
    1. vmacandcheese said: replied:

      Oh I know. Totally hear you. The easiest way to minimize exposure is definitely to stop doing the things that are risky! It’s tough.

      For me, I plan on just covering myself better with more legalese here on the blog, and with brands. It can actually really help!

      25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  49. KRISTINA said: replied:

    WOW WOW WOW! Victoria, I think you have outdone yourself with the past few weeks of posts. The tutorials, how-tos, and now the review of alt summit are all superb! I would absolutely LOVE an email regarding the legality of blogging… protecting yourself is one of the most important foundations of any business :) Can not wait to see what new ideas come out of your late night dreams…. XOXO Kristina Kristinambickford@gmail.com

    25 Jan 2012 | Reply
  50. dude. you are nails at notetaking! love hearing about the panels/round tables i couldn’t be in!

    26 Jan 2012 | Reply
  51. Anonymous said: replied:

    Would love to read your email on the legal issues…Thanks…my email is kelly.lindsey@gmail.com

    26 Jan 2012 | Reply
  52. Such a great post, Victoria! And you went to a lot of the panels that I missed, so perfect for me to see your notes here.

    26 Jan 2012 | Reply
  53. Heidi said: replied:

    Victoria,

    Thanks so much for sharing all this juicy info! So sad I missed ALT but will make it a priority to attend next year.

    I would love to receive the email regarding Legal Issues and blogging. Not my favorite subject but something I definitely need to learn more about.

    Live Inspired,
    Heidi

    26 Jan 2012 | Reply
  54. Briony said: replied:

    Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for your super informative post. I’d love to receive the email detailing the legal issues discussed at the roundtable.

    26 Jan 2012 | Reply
  55. [...] heard so many incredible things about the Alt Summit. Here’s my favorite recap. I wanna know //What’s rocking your corner of the interwebs? Got any links to share? [...]

    27 Jan 2012 |
  56. Mackenzie Faye said: replied:

    Really appreciate all the great info! I would love to know more about what you learned in the session on Legal Concerns and FTC Guidelines for bloggers.

    27 Jan 2012 | Reply
  57. Emily said: replied:

    I would so appreciate the Legal Concerns and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines for bloggers Email. Thank you so much! You are a star!

    truthandreverie@gmail.com

    29 Jan 2012 | Reply
  58. Renee said: replied:

    Hey V! Would you mind sending me the email about the legality info! Thanks so much for sharing all this! eenerac@yahoo.com

    29 Jan 2012 | Reply
  59. shopsweetthings said: replied:

    So funny, you found my picture at the white party, haha! You’re so on top of your recap, I love it!

    29 Jan 2012 | Reply
  60. Emily | Recently said: replied:

    There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing your alt info has been! Thank you so much for putting the work into it! I would love to have an email with all the legal concerns, etc. You’re awesome!

    29 Jan 2012 | Reply
  61. mynameisashley said: replied:

    I would love to get that HUGE email. I’m just starting out in blogging.

    30 Jan 2012 | Reply
  62. Goodbye January said: replied:

    [...] Mini Alt week and notes from Alt Summit had my mind spinning with ideas. So much good [...]

    31 Jan 2012 |
  63. Nicole Warren said: replied:

    What a huge help to we bloggers who couldn’t make it! If you could please email through those guidelines to me, I would be over the moon. Thanks so much!

    1 Feb 2012 | Reply
  64. mynameisashley said: replied:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!
    I have absolutely loved and devoured this whole series and keep coming back to it!
    I just started blogging last month and all this tips and tricks have really helped, along with all the great links to other posts!
    Thank you!

    1 Feb 2012 | Reply
  65. So many comments on this post! Amazing! Can I please receive that email…
    This post is really great – thank you for sharing your knowledge and what you learnt. X

    7 Feb 2012 | Reply
  66. Christina Heppard said: replied:

    Extremely informative! Thank you for posting in so much detail! I’m a BFA student about to graduate and thinking about entering the expansive world of blogs. I would love to see your notes on Legal Concerns and FTC.

    Thanks again for posting this!

    10 Feb 2012 | Reply
  67. Jen said: replied:

    I would love to receive that email from you! I’m in the process of creating a blog and have found your Mini-Alt Week posts to be unbelievably informative! Thanks!

    12 Feb 2012 | Reply
  68. Tracy Davis said: replied:

    I would love to see your notes on Legal Concerns and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines! I’m working on my research to begin monetizing my blog and I feel that would be very helpful. Also, love the above tips, it sounds like this is a great conference! Is it open to anyone to attend?

    13 Feb 2012 | Reply
  69. Martha Susan said: replied:

    Just finding your blogger tips…yes on a Saturday night, and they are amazing. Do you still have this email handy?

    29 Dec 2012 | Reply
  70. lexi said: replied:

    Loved this post, Victoria! And I can’t wait to go to my first ever Alt in a week (eek!)

    16 Jan 2013 | Reply

Leave a Comment

Current ye@r *