Whew! What a whirlwind of a week since we last caught up here. As I mentioned then, Monica and I headed up to New York City last Thursday night to attend the Create + Cultivate Conference in NYC. I’ll share a little bit more about how we spent our very rainy Cinco de Mayo soon, but today I wanted to recap the C+C Conference and share my amazing experience there last Friday night and Saturday.
It’s been a personal goal of mine since last August to start attending more conferences that support my side hustles and creativity, and so I am proud to see that dream come to fruition and hope I can find a few more to fill this side of my soul.
Before we dive in to the good stuff, I wanted to answer the FAQs I’ve been getting about the conference:
- ANYONE can attend! You don’t have to be a blogger, entrepreneur, small business owner, designer, what have you. Anyone can sign up—and I think anyone would get a lot out of it!
- The Conference isn’t always held in NYC. In 2016, they popped up in LA, Atlanta, and Dallas, and in 2015, it was held in Chicago. They announcing their next city and 2017 date soon. Secretly—or not so—I’m hoping for DC. You can sign up to be notified when the next city and date are announced on C+C website.
- The conference lasts one day. It’s a long day—12 hours—but so worth it. There was a kickoff happy hour the Friday night before, and I’d say about a third of attendees were there.
- Each conference has two tracks and panels and mentor sessions for each track run simultaneously. At the NYC Conference, Track One—my track—was geared towards influencers and content creators and Track Two was geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners.
- General Admission tickets are $350, which is what Monica and I opted for. For about $700, you can become a VIP and select your own track, have access to VIP-only areas and food, and receive an upgraded gift bag. If you opt for General Admission they assign you a track based on a short profile you fill out. Candidly, I don’t think it’s worth the money to opt for VIP since it’s pretty easy to bounce between tracks if you want to—and the perks didn’t seem worth double the money.
Now that we’re got the housekeeping and basic details out of the way, I wanted to take you inside my day at C+C!
THE BEST THINGS I LEARNED /
Y’all, I think one of the best things about this conference was how much I was able to learn! I have so many ideas for the blog coming out of this conference. When I got home on Sunday afternoon, I was actually really stressed because I wanted to implement them all at once. I had to remind myself, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
I don’t have attributions for all these tidbits and tricks, but I will say, my favorite speakers of the day were Andi Dorfman, Jean Wang of Extra Petite, Wendy Nguyen of Wendy’s Lookbook, Carly of the College Prepster, Mary Orton of Memorandum, and Courtney of Color Me Courtney. Here’s some of the best blogging/content-creation advice they offered:
on making the best decisions for your blog /
- Remember that people started following you for a reason. You are your competitive edge, so keep your blinders on as much as possible.
- When you’re creating content you’re engaged with, it’s likely you’ll get the most engagement, so when creating content, think about what you want to see.
- If you want to collaborate with other creatives or bloggers, look for individuals with similar values who don’t have the same audience, so you reap the benefits of sharing followers without compromising your brand.
- Figure out what your mission is and then put every opportunity through that box. If the opportunity doesn’t align with your mission, it’s not the right fit for you.
- Instead of being reactive to what people do—i.e. not posting pictures of your face on Instagram because people unfollow you—be pro-active in building the audience you want to be engaged with your content—i.e. finding people that want to see your face on Instagram. It might take longer, but will be much more rewarding.
on monetizing your blog /
- If you’re using affiliate links, be sure to think about your content first and then work affiliate links into that stellar content—not the other way around.
- Know you’re audience—if they typically purchase at a lower price point, but you’re showcasing something more expensive, find something similar that’s less expensive.
- Don’t be afraid to use your data to show brands what you can do for them. Calculating an engagement rate and conversion rate and including that in your media kit can be helpful. Engagement rates can help brands determine how much brand awareness they might be able to receive from you. Top converters are over 2% and most brands want to see at least a 1% conversion rate.
- Use your affiliate link analytics to see which products your blog sells the most of so that you can strategically link to items and create content moving forward.
- Don’t be afraid of sponsored posts. The best Rembrandt’s in the world were commissioned by institutions or individuals. But, make sure you are being genuine in your acceptance of sponsorships. Ask yourself, “would I spend my own money on this?’
- Readers come to your blog for free content—like anything, you need to be compensated for your work in some way. But, to make things as authentic as possible, try to partner with brands over longer periods of time for longer projects as opposed to one-off posts.
on growing your blog /
- Don’t be discouraged by a saturated market. You’re never upset when a new restaurant comes to the block!
- People really crave the behind-the-scenes content and want to see behind the facade of a perfectly staged life. Find ways to show people your day-to-day.
- Be smart about where your content lives—make sure you have a diversified strategy, but remember that the only thing you own is your website.
- Try content hacking. Let’s say you have a new coffee recipe—post a pretty picture of it on Instagram with a note that you can see how to make it on Snapchat. On Snapchat, then lead people to Twitter where they can get the written recipe. On Twitter, tell people they can go to the blog to learn where to buy everything. Basically, you’re trying to find ways to drive people between all your platforms to create interest and growth.
I will also caveat this entire section by saying that Gloria Steinem was the keynote speaker and she was in a league of her own. Truly a living legend and I am honored to have had the opportunity to see her speak.
MY FAVORITE BRAND BOOTHS /
So many of my favorite brands were at Create + Cultivate and I had such a good time meeting with their brand reps, that I thought I’d round up some of my favorites. Added bonus—each of the booth had some sort of swag item or product sample for us to take home and provided something for the gift bag.
My favorite booth was probably the La Croix booth as they were handing out free sparkling water all day, and had the best swag—a fun La Croix tote bag, La Croix magnets and stickers, and La Croix drink mixer kits.
For beauty, Laura Mercier was on-hand to do our makeup. They were taking appointments throughout the day to manage the crowd flow, and I opted to get a consultation on foundation. Be Glammed was doing hair and I had them curl my hair—so much fun! Kopari hired a fresh coconut stand for refreshments. And Birchbox was hosting a booth where you could select five samples and make your own box. #thisiswhatdreamsaremadeof
Chase was on-hand with Swell water bottles and leather wallets, Instagram had a fun boomerang booth, May Designs was on-hand with some of their gorgeous notebooks, Mark & Graham was monogramming discounted items on-site, Framebridge set up such a fun gallery wall, Noosa offered a yogurt bar, and Crown Royal was on-hand for happy hour cocktails.
The swag and pop-up booths were on-point and really added to the experience—it was so neat to see what each of the brands did with their space.
TIPS FOR ATTENDING C+C /
Create + Cultivate is a long day! The entire thing lasts about 12 hours. So, to make sure you can maximize your conference experience, here are some tips:
- At least at our conference, still water was hard to come by. La Croix was handing out their wonderful sparkling water all day, but sometimes, you just want the original, real deal—so bring a water bottle.
- While there is food available throughout the day, if you’re a big snacker, I’d pack a few protein bars. For breakfast, we were treated to acai bowls and chia seed pudding by Jamba Juice, lunch was salads by sweet green, and happy hour was breads with spreads from Cava. There was a solid four to five hours between each time we ate. In between, there was a Noosa yogurt bar and lots of sweets, but nothing that’d really fill you up in a healthy way if that’s what you were craving.
- Bring business cards! This was a great way for me to keep track of everyone I’d met with and made it so much easier to connect online and follow up when I returned home.
- Event organizers could tell what track you were on by the color of your lanyard. That being said, I don’t think mine was checked once before attending a panel or breakout session so if there’s one or two speakers you want to see on the other track, as long as you act confident, it would be doable. I’m still kicking myself a bit for not seeing Kendra Scott and Rebecca Minkoff on Track Two!
- The conference is very over stimulating. Everywhere you look, there’s something fun to eat, an Instagrammable opportunity, or another girl boss to chat with. My advice is to take breaks and walk around by yourself when you need to, and just know that you will have enough time throughout the day to do everything you want to do. Monica and I arrived right on time in the morning, and I was worried we weren’t going to be able to hit every booth. Between breaks and hour-long meal times, there’s more than enough time to do everything you want to do!
- Bring your DSLR! If you’re into shooting on your nice camera, it’s definitely worth hauling around for the day. Everything is so photogenic and I really enjoyed finding the best angle to capture it all.
Whew! If you’re still reading—I commend you! As you can see, it was a pretty busy weekend and it took me a few days to recover, but I hope this recap was helpful for you if you’re interested in attending future conferences.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have about C+C, so feel free to drop me a comment or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.