Just a couple days after the Create + Cultivate conference in Dallas, it’s pretty obvious that the Earn Spend Live team is suffering from what we call “The Letdown.” This ailment strikes after a fantastic weekend comes to an end and you have to face your responsibilities again.
The entire weekend was so full of inspiration, connection, and motivation. Frankly, it was pure magic and girl power. So we’re feeling this strange tug-of-war between The Letdown and major enthusiasm to apply all of our newfound knowledge to the site. The best way I know to combat The Letdown is to focus on all of the amazing experiences from the weekend, which is why I want to share some of the most breathtaking pieces of advice we learned at Create & Cultivate.
1. Quality > Quantity
Matt Crump, creator of #candyminimal, Sophia Macks, founder of Beyond the Mag, and Ashley Rose, founder of Sugar and Cloth, hammered home the importance of engagement, especially on social media platforms like Instagram. Instead of simply focusing on a massive follower count, they advise paying attention the people who are liking and commenting on your content and engaging with them.
Respond to comments, follow back, and double-tap their posts. Show your loyal followers that you know they exist and appreciate their dedication. If their combined success is any type of indicator (and it is), your engagement level speaks volumes more than your massive number (or lack thereof) of followers.
2. Stay True to Your Brand
We heard this over and over again from pretty much each speaker. These amazing women and men were adamant you shouldn’t write, photograph, post, or agree to anything that isn’t true to your brand. If you want to create a consistent brand that readers can rely on to be genuine and non-spammy, then you can’t agree to do something that doesn’t fit in with your mission.
After you identify your brand and mission, you have to know who your audience is. You can’t simply produce content and throw it out on the web in the hopes that some shadowy figure will like it. Understanding your demographic (meaning who you want to reach with your content) will make your work clearer and increase the overall quality of what you put out. It’ll serve you to know your niche and who you want to reach.
4. Passion > Skill
When you pitch to a potential client, it seems like the best thing to sell is your technical skills, but Tina Craig (aka The Bag Snob) insisted your passion and beliefs are what you should be trying to sell. It’s this fire for your brand and ambition to be successful that truly persuades people to jump on board with your ideas. While it’s important to have the skill to execute the idea, spend more of your pitch time making it clear that you believe in your idea 100%.
It’s critical that you understand your own brand and goals, but when you’re collaborating with other brands, it’s equally as critical to understand them. Do the research required to understand the brands you work with, what they stand for, and what their goals and needs are. This allows you to have a better working relationship and also have an idea of whether or not they align with your own brand and goals. It’s hard to make something work for you if you don’t truly understand it, so make sure you know exactly who you’re working with.
6. Always, Always Follow Up
If you’ve worked with another brand or reached out to a brand about a collaboration, you need to follow up. These are your clients or potential clients; you need to be professional and reliable, and a huge part of that is following up. Let them know when the project is live. Let them know how it’s doing in terms of engagement and conversion rates. If you reached out and haven’t heard back, follow up again. (BUT don’t stalk them; there’s a difference between radio silence and a strong “no.” No means no.)
7. First (and Last) Impressions are Everything
It’s more important to be respectful, professional, and competent than it is to win the pitch. If they say no, accept the answer graciously. You can ask why, as long as you do so in a polite manner, because that gives you insight into how you can win the next pitch. Just always remember to leave a potential client with a positive impression of you. The last thing you need to do in this business is burn bridges.
If you want to be creative and feel inspired all the time, then you have to actually live your life. You need to get out into the world and away from your desk in order to feel the magic of inspiration and break out of creative ruts. Travel. Visit museums and plays. Spend time on your hobbies. Read. Talk to people. Basically, live your life, and don’t chain yourself to a desk trying to crank out brilliant idea after brilliant idea. The muses will be too afraid to visit you.
9. You Only Need One Skill to Succeed
Julie Rice of SoulCycle believes the only real skill you need to succeed is to make shit happen. While it’s important to have knowledge of certain tools and be talented in your field, all of that means nothing if you lack the ability to buckle down and simply do the work. If you can’t make your dream happen, then all of that other stuff is for naught. No one is going to be impressed with the things you say you can do. They’ll only be impressed with the actual actions.
This might seem out of place, but Elizabeth Cutler of SoulCycle made this a resolution for all of their employees, and we totally agree. A bad relationship can suck the joy and inspiration out of your life. Deadbeat boyfriends ruin your chances of finding your groove and being successful. It’s best to ditch those boys, and hold out for a man who can keep up with your bad self.
11. Passive Aggressiveness Will Get You Nowhere
Instead of trying to skirt around an issue by dropping hints or slyly getting payback, be direct. Talk to the person you have an issue with. Say what you need to say. You don’t need to be straight-up aggressive, but you do need to assertive and clear about what the problem is so it can be resolved. Passive aggressive behavior wastes time and energy better served working on your brand.
12. Don’t Get a Big Head
It’s a wonderful feeling when you start to find success. It’s a terrible thing when that success inflates your ego and, as we say down south, you get too big for your britches. Success can disappear at any moment. Don’t become full of yourself or think you’re too good for the less successful brands. It’s easy to trip when you have your nose up in the air.
Perfectionism can be a great virtue, but it can also be a mortal flaw. Work to create a balance to your need for perfection and just getting the work done already. It can be frightening to just say it’s done and step away, but it’s also a necessary evil if you ever hope to have your project out in the world. Do your best to make the work as flawless as possible, but don’t agonize over each detail for hours on end. Sometimes you have no choice but to accept less than perfection, and that’s okay.