As I stepped off the escalator and headed toward the stairs leading down to the subway, I could see the uptown train waiting. I started sprinting, as every good New Yorker does, but as I reached the platform, I could see the train doors were closed. Damn, I thought, just missed it.
I stood there, expecting the train to depart any second, but it didn’t. It sat, doors closed, for another couple minutes before it finally took off. I sighed and rolled my eyes in frustration, and I noticed another woman on the platform who had experienced the same misfortune. We both glanced around the station and quickly caught each other’s gaze. It’s the worst when that happens, I said, and we struck up a conversation.
At first, we commiserated over the occasional annoyances, like this one, that come with relying on public transportation. Another train arrived, and we sat, continuing to chat about the usual things. As the conversation inevitably shifted to work, we began to click. Before we parted ways at the station where we both needed to transfer, we exchanged business cards. This woman is now one of my clients.
Why should you always dress to impress? Because you never know who you’re going to meet. As artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and the like, we often live in our loungewear and activewear. Full disclosure: there are days when I work in my pajamas and only throw a coat on to run to the bodega up the block. Living in New York City (where the streets are filled with people bringing their fashion a-game) has inspired me to put a little more effort into my appearance before I leave the apartment. Fortunately, on the day of my subway debacle, I happened to have done my hair, thrown on some makeup, and put on “real clothes.”
When you work from your home office a majority of the time, it makes sense to only dress for video calls or in-person meetings. Most of the time, the first contact we have with our potential clients is on the web. They see the styled and polished images depicted in our bios and on our contact pages, not the girl in the yoga pants and oversized sweater on the other side of the screen. In our self-employed lives, we can’t forget to maintain a certain level of professionalism outside of our online presence. You never know if your next client may be behind you in line at Starbucks.
What you wear says something about you and your brand. Not the designers or trends you sport but how you present yourself. Just like the story you use to introduce yourself, clothing is a medium you can use to portray something about your business. Is your brand bold and colorful or sleek and minimal? Look at your company’s aesthetic, imagine how it could be translated into an outfit, and take it into consideration next time you’re running errands around town or walking your dog in the park. If you need a little guidance translating your brand’s image into your personal style, connect with me. In addition to writing, I happen to do a bit of styling on the side!
Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, entrepreneur, or small business owner, you’ve probably attended or considered attending a conference in your field. What you’ve most likely discovered in researching or going to one is that they’re a major investment of your time and money. Unfortunately, finding the right conference can be a bit like finding the right hair stylist – you don’t know if it’s going to be amazing or disappointing until you’ve paid up and sat in the chair. So before you budget, save, and book your next conference, be sure you choose the best one for you and your business. Ask yourself these five important questions, and check out these great, comprehensive resources to help you research and register for your next conference.
What’s resources do you have?
Before you start looking for a conference you should determine the resources you have to invest – ask yourself, what’s my budget and how much time do I have? Some conferences are only half a day and may cost around $100, while others can span over the course of several days and cost close to $1000 or more. It’s important to be clear on your resources before you go searching so you don’t over extend yourself. You can expense a conference to your business, but you still need to be certain your finances are intact before committing. It’s also essential that it works into your personal and professional calendar. Even if the conference is booked out further than your work schedule, you’ll be able to notify your clients accordingly.
Where do you want to go?
Now that you’ve got an idea of the time and money you can invest in a conference, you can determine where you want to go: somewhere local, somewhere out of state, or somewhere international. This decision may be dictated by the resources you have, but there are other factors to take into account when choosing a location. Do you want to connect more deeply with your regional network? Do you want to gain more national exposure? Do you want to experience your industry from the perspective of another culture? While contemplating these questions, you should keep your target audience and client base in mind in addition to the personal growth you hope to achieve.
How do you learn best?
Once you’ve covered the logistics of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, you can focus on what you want to gain from the conference. In my experience, taking into account your personal learning style is one of the most important steps you can take in choosing the best one for you. Think back to academia – did you thrive in a larger or smaller class size? Consider lectures or workshops you’ve attended in your professional life – do you enjoy engaging with the speaker and other attendees or do you prefer to soak it all in with your eyes, ears, and notepad? Being clear on the type of environment in which you’re going to learn most effectively is essential to having the best possible conference experience.
Why do you want to attend?
Knowing the purpose or intention behind why you want to attend a conference is also key. It’s pretty easy for a conference to catch your eye just because the price is right, the location is convenient, or the lineup of speakers is amazing. However, if you don’t know what knowledge, skill, or connection you want to walk away with at the end, you could be left with a great experience and nothing to show for it. Are you hoping to build and expand your network or are you looking to learn a new skill or more about a particular subject matter? Maybe you’re at a transitional moment in your career or planning to expand your business in a big way, and you need more insight before you get started. Determining why you want to attend will help you to have the best conference experience.
Who do you want to connect with?
Whether your primary goal is to network or not, you will have the opportunity to connect with others no matter what conference you attend. Considering who you want to connect with is one more factor to take into account as you hone in on your decision. Do you want to connect with peers in your field, industry veterans, or potential clients? Peers are pretty easy to engage with at any conference, but if you want to be able to interact directly with the speakers or presenters, you should consider one with a more intimate atmosphere. Conferences are also a place to connect with potential clients – just look for a one that’s hosting companies, brands, or sponsors on site.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what you’re looking for in a conference, it’s time to start searching! Check out these three awesome and comprehensive resources to get started:
When I went to college, my mom gave me an adult coloring book and a box crayons. At first, I chalked this up to a final attempt to salvage my childhood as I was heading out of the house and toward young adulthood. I tucked the book and crayons on a shelf between textbooks and framed photos and didn’t give them much thought. When people came to my room, they would notice the big yellow Crayola box, then look beside it. And they started to ask if they could color.
I ended up toting around that coloring book and box of crayons for the next four years of college. Pages got ripped out when people wanted to keep their work and others enjoyed making a contribution to the book. When I couldn’t pour any more words into my journal or my creative writing classes, I would turn to the coloring book. It evolved into this amazing tool and creative outlet for me and my friends whether we needed a mindless escape or to express ourselves.
I still have this book today, and surprisingly there are still a few blank pages left to be explored. Now, it mostly serves as a colorful walk down memory lane. But most importantly, my mom’s simple gift taught me the power of color (a verb).
So, for November’s creative habit, I challenge you to channel your inner child and color. If you want some guidance, purchase a coloring book (here’s the one I have), or simply get some crayons, markers, colored pens or pencils, highlighters, sharpies, pastels, and some plan paper. Just start coloring! It’s not just for kids anymore.
If you’re just joining the creative habit series, be sure to look back at the challenges for the past two months for more creative inspiration and learn about the book that sparked the series, Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Finally, don’t forget to share your experience making a habit of coloring using the hashtag #AOCBlogCreativeHabit.
Atlanta Apparel Show (click)
Market Events (click)
An Inside Look at Blogging with Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita, 11:30am, Floor 13, NW Quadrant, Veteran Atlanta-based blogger Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita gives an inside look into blogging and how it can benefit your business.
“MSV got started when I wanted to pursue a new career in writing and fashion. My previous job in a very conservative corporate America atmosphere had me itching for something that I was passionate about…”
I was sold. I’d considered starting my own blog for a long time and for the same reasons as Jessica. I attended her seminar, exchanged contact info, and met her for coffee a few months later.
“You have to sit down and just do it,” she said.
Jessica’s words were just the push I needed. I’m a creative soul, but I’m also a compulsive planner and perfectionist, the latter being why I’d put off starting a blog for so long. What I’d mulled over for years went into a short month of preparation. Using a branding questionnaire from Angie, a friend/graphic designer, and a focus group of my nearest and dearest, I decided on the name ARTicles of Clothing Blog and compiled a loose vision for from pages of notebooks, scribbles in margins, feedback from the focus group, and my own mind.
Without “sitting down and just doing it,” I may have never started a blog. However, after blogging for over a year, AOC Blog never evolved into what I hoped it would be. It became an eclectic mix of those initial intentions and whatever struck my fancy with a heavy influence from the blogging community and what my blog stats told me worked best. AOC Blog had become a mere fraction of me, half me and half something else. If I wanted to keep my passion for blogging, I had to get AOC Blog back on track, my track.
I needed to take a step back, quiet the extraneous outside influences, be true to myself, and cultivate my own method. For guidance, I looked to a book that had been on my shelf for years: Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, A Practical Guide. First and foremost, this book helped me acknowledge and accept my identity: a creative. Under that creative umbrella, every aspect of my life falls into its own creative space: my compulsion to write, my fascination with fashion, my passion for dance, my love of cooking, my collection of journals, books, and magazines, and my blog. Next, I had to learn that being a creative is a way of life. It’s not just writing, fashion, dance, cooking, journaling, blogging, it’s everything from what you do while you drink your morning coffee to what you do before hitting the pillow at night. By approaching everything – no matter how mundane or exciting – with a creative mindset, I slowly began to tap back into my creative voice and my creative process. I began to establish my own creative habit.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you also started a blog for a similar reason – an interest in writing or fashion, to do something passionately, for a creative outlet, to express yourself. Maybe the typical editorial calendars, blog stats, outfit-of-the-day-posts, and affiliate links just aren’t working for you. Over the past month, I’ve developed a new approach to blogging, and in the coming months, I’ll share the steps I took to create my method. While, I urge you to carve your own way and form your own creative habit, maybe you can learn something from my process.
Happy New Year! As if you needed another reason to be pumped this January, I’ve got 5 of them: 5 things to look forward to in 2015! Cheers!
1. Erica Bryan’s NEW Video + First Show of the Year
Yesterday my girl Erica Bryan released a brand NEW music video, a cover of Bad Suns’ Cardiac Arrest like you’ve never heard it before. Start the New Year with NEW music! Watch the latest video from Erica Bryan on her YouTube channel now! AND catch Erica in Atlanta later this month for her first show of 2015. She’ll be opening for Old Dominion at Smith’s Olde Bar on January 21, plus she’s got something special in store for the first ten to arrive – FREE beer anyone?
2. Laurel Hill Hair Accessories
I’m absolutely obsessed with the jewelry of Athens-born, California-based designer Laurel Hill. I cannot wait til she releases her 2015 collection, which includes a NEW line of hair accessories! Stay tuned to her website and Facebook page this month for more details!
3. GIRLS, HBO
It goes without saying I marked my calendar months ago when they set the official premiere date of HBO’s GIRLS Season 4. I cannot wait to see what my fellow writer Lena Dunham has worked up for this season’s script!
4. Blog Conferences
This one is for all my bloggers out there. Fellow blogger Hillary Dixon of Style in a Small Town was awesome enough to share this comprehensive blog conference directory for 2015. I’m paying it forward and passing it along to all of you! No matter where you live… whether you’re a veteran blogger or just entertaining the idea of starting a blog in the New Year… this list is worth checking out!
5. NYFW F/W 2015
Last but certainly not least, NYFW F/W 2015. I’m always in eager anticipation of fashion week and the amazing energy it brings to the fashion community. However, this year I can’t even put into words how ecstatic I am to have the thrill of experiencing fashion week while living in New York City. I have no idea what type of opportunities I may or may not have to get involved come February, but the simple notion of being in the city and buzzing off the NYFW energy will be enough for me!