My Love of Alt Summit (and a contest!)

I'm thrilled that Hayneedle asked to sponsor this post! I adore them just as much as I adore Altitude Summit.

In January of 2012, I was online looking at the Flickr album of photos from Alt Summit, a blog conference held in Salt Lake City. It wasn't the first time I had ogled the beautiful backdrop of The Grand America, the well-orchestrated outfits, the cocktail parties. Not to mention the caliber of bloggers and businesses in attendance. It was organized by one of my blogging idols, Gabrielle Blair, and her sister, Sara Urquhart.

I turned to my husband and said, "I want to go there. I want my blog to be worth going there." He told me I should get to work. So I did. I started reviewing my haphazard blog, streamlining its purpose, cleaning up design, and ended up rebranding completely from stylemom.blogspot.com to Being Spiffy.

I attended my first Alt Summit in January of 2014. I was scared out of my gourd. Even though I'd worked hard on my brand, and knew other bloggers that would be in attendance, and had gone shopping for just the right ensembles, I still felt unprepared and uncool. What I soon learned is, I wasn't alone. So many where there for the first time. So many were just starting their blog (I had been blogging since 2005). Some people wore amazing day dresses and high heels. Others jeans and Converse. All the things I had worried about were inconsequential. We were all there to support each other, collaborate, and have a good time.

Some of the fab people I was able to meet…Girls with Glasses, Dooce, Christy Turlington Burns, and someone who became a dear friend, Troy Williams

I wasn't sure when I would be able to attend Alt again, but I was lucky enough to be donated a ticket to their first Summer Alt Summit in June 2014. I was definitely more open, since it wasn't my first rodeo. I chatted it up, hip hop danced in a park, sat 10 feet away from the hilarious Martha Stewart during her keynote, and met one of my scrapbooking mentors Ali Edwards.

Through a random set of circumstances, I was able to score a ticket at the last minute to Alt in January 2015. Since it was my third time, I knew I couldn't attend "just for the experience." So I went with a goal in mind — to discover the WHY behind my blog, discover my mission statement, and establish myself as a brand. And you know what? I did all that! (Plus I got to see my friend Brit and had some really rockin' headshots taken by my girl Bax Miller.)

Finally in June 2015, after applying multiple times, my dream was achieved. I taught at Alt Summit.

My roundtable was entitled "How to Create a Type-A Editorial Calendar with a Type-B Personality." We had just moved three days before and I felt overworked and underprepared. But I knew I would get the support I needed from the Alt community and they didn't disappoint. My 10 years of blogging had truly paid off and it's an experience I will always treasure.

My husband was super jealous that I met Guy Kawasaki but I was just jealous of Melissa Esplin's hand-lettered photo backdrop. Melissa also did the lettering on my sweet arm art from Fanciful Face Painting. Hayneedle threw a magical party to end an equally magical conference.

Now that I've convinced you that attending Alt Summit will change your life, the good news continues. Hayneedle.com is sending one lucky home design blogger to Alt in January 2016! Here's how…

Visit Hayneedle's website and click on the Alt Summit banner on their homepage. Nominate your blog to be eligible then get your community to vote for you! The blog with the most nominations wins an all-expense-paid trip, complete with conference ticket, airfare, and hotel. Guys, that's a $3000 value! Hurry, because the contest ends October 15, 2015.

I hope one of my freaking fabulous readers wins! And if you do…can I be your roommate? :D

How I Doubled my Pinterest Followers in a Month

I try not to compare myself to others, but as a blogger, numbers are important. When someone has similar page views as me, I can't help but look at their social media stats to see how I measure up. When I realized how much I was falling behind on Pinterest, I made it my mission to up my numbers…and quick! Here's how I doubled my Pinterest followers in just 4 weeks.

When I decided to up my Pinterest game, I had 1600 followers. Could have been worse, but there was definitely room for improvement. Here's how I began.

Clean Up Your Boards

I started by going through each pin one by one. If it had a dead link, poor photography, or didn't represent my blog's message, away it went. Another clincher? If it had zero likes or re-pins. If those fit all my other criteria, I re-pinned them to a secret board so I could re-pin in the future.

I also condensed my boards. If they didn't have many pins, I figured out what other board they could work on and placed them there. I cut my boards in half this way. Unfortunately, I cut my followers down this way too. Some of them were only following a board I cut, so my followers shrank to under 1400. Ouch! But I knew it had to get worse before it got better.

Rename Your Boards

When I first named my boards, I gave them clever names like Caveman Cookin' and Polish Pretties. Though I thought they were witty, it didn't give people the best indication of what the board was really about. I simplified the names to Paleo Recipes, Nails, etc. Now people know exactly what's on there.

Sort Your Boards

Having your boards in some semblance of order creates flow. It will be easier for your followers to see how your they relate to each other. If they follow one board, they may look to the next coordinating board and follow it too.

Pin…a lot

The most important part to upping your Pinterest followers? Pinning 50+ times a day. After I cleaned up my boards, I wanted to get them all above 50 pins. I took one board each day and re-pinned quality content to that board. Once I reached that goal, I decided to get them all above 100 pins. Next goal? 150 pins per board. (I skipped some seasonal and holiday boards since pinning to them wouldn't be timely and people aren't searching them heavily right now.)

The key is consistency. Pinning a lot at a time in one topic gets more of your pins seen in searches. Hence, more re-pins. But, again, make sure you're pinning quality content with attractive pictures, and working links. I can't guarantee that your followers will double, but you will see an increase.

When I decided to pin 50+ times a week, was at 1810 followers. Here's the breakdown week by week…

  1. 2085 followers (275 new) = 13% increase
  2. 2385 followers (300 new) = 24% increase
  3. 2797 followers (412 new) = 35% increase
  4. 3373 followers (576 new) = 46% increase

I had a total increase of 1563 followers in 4 weeks. From the time I started the process, I went from 1600 to 3373…an increase of 53%!

I'm still not where I want to be in my Pinterest following, but I know how to get there! How do you get more followers on Pinterest?

Organize Your Blog with an Editorial Calendar

I'm a self-proclaimed Type A/B personality. I have traits from both, which normally keeps me balanced…but not when it comes to blogging. I walk a fine line between over-organizing and flying by the seat of my pants. To accomplish anything, I needed to find middle ground. It wasn't until I created (and used) an editorial content calendar that my I found sanity and success in blogging.

Editorial Calendar title

There are a billion (possible exaggeration) editorial calendaring systems out there. After trial and error, I created one that, I feel, is a great starter calendar. One that isn't super overwhelming. You can get as crazy as you want with it AFTER you've mastered the basics of blog organization. So let's begin!

Monthly Themes

To get ahead of your posting schedule, you have to know what you're posting. The first step in blog organization is brainstorming what topics you'll be covering on your blog throughout the year. Since most of us work on a weekly posting schedule, there are four lines per month for you to fill out with ideas.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD MONTHLY THEMES

I start with timely themes like holidays and seasons. Things that people won't necessarily search for year-round on Google and Pinterest.

Then I fill in the blanks with evergreen content. These are post topics that readers will be looking for all the time. I try to keep my ratio of evergreen to timely at 60/40. It's just what works for me.

If I'm drawing a blank for themes, I visit Bre Pea's post with over 70 monthly post ideas or Days of the Year, where you can find national months and random holidays.

POST IDEAS

After you fill out your themes for the year, it's time to transfer each topic to the Post Ideas sheet.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD POST IDEAS

With your topic idea at the top, fill in three different categories you write about that your topic could fit in. This maximizes your posting options for not just that week, but for the future. It's not likely that you'll write theme weeks all year, so brainstorming post ideas in varying categories gives you content to use later. In subsequent posts, refer to your Post Ideas page to and link to the others that have already gone live. A little cross-promotion never hurt anyone!

When you're coming up with post ideas, ask yourself these questions…

  • Who am I creating content for? Does this post address the needs of my target audience?
  • What do I want to be known for? Does this post maximize that message?

If each post appropriately addresses these questions, you're good to go. If not, modify your post idea, or lose the post all together. Just because it's a fantastic idea, doesn't mean it's right for your audience and your blog.

Each post idea should bring in a source of income. Consider using affiliate links through companies like ShareASale or AvantLink, creating and selling an e-book, or partnering with a company for sponsorship. Not all posts will be able to be monetized, but if you have sidebar ads, you'll always have an income.

MONTHLY CALENDAR

When you've decided which post ideas will go live when, pull out your Monthly Calendar and plug in the titles.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD MONTHLY CALENDAR

Once the title is down, figure out what you need to do to prepare for and complete the post. Do you need to build or design something? Will you need to take photos or shoot video? Do you need to contact a company about sponsoring your post? Work backward from your post date and schedule out your preparation.

Here's an example I did of working backward from a post. A week before, I'll finalize and schedule the post. Once I decide when I'm going to write it, I know I'll need to edit pictures, stage the pics, and create the item, taking pics while doing so. All of this goes on the Monthly Calendar.

Following the same pattern, I write down the remainder of the post ideas for the month with their assigned tasks.

Spreading out these tasks will help keep you ahead of the game and schedule your posts in advance. This frees up your time to be creative. And isn't that the fun part of blogging?

So how do you organize your blog? Are you more Type A or Type B?