Alt Chat Wednesday: Jumpstarting Collaborations

It’s often said two heads are better than one. When you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business that second head takes the form of collaboration. But how do you incorporate collaboration into your process? Where do you find potential partners? And when you find them, how do you approach them?

Join the Alt community and our co-host La Crema, a long-time collaborator with Alt, on Twitter Wednesday morning (tomorrow) at 9 AM PT/12 PM ET for an hour-long chat about collaboration. 

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Collaboration Requires an Open Mind from Brands and Bloggers

Successful collaborations -- those that meet the needs of all involved, brands, social media influencers, and audience -- require two things. Flexibility and open mindedness. Both of which are only possible when both parties listen, listen, and listen.

Learn how collaboration begins with the pitch and get tips for finessing it to be a win-win for all involved.

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Alt Chat Wednesday: Setting Up Successful Partnerships and the Next Instagram Challenge

The right partnerships start with you. Knowing your strengths and core competencies and then partnering with others who compliment those strengths and competencies.

Join the Alt community on Twitter Wednesday morning (tomorrow) at 9 AM PST/12 PM EST for an hour-long chat about partnerships. We will be talking about how you identify your strengths, showcase your strengths for potential partners, and more. There will also be a chance to win tickets to Alt Summer for you and a friend!

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When Collaborating Up, Make Your Offer Attractive

Collaborating “up” or collaborating with a much larger brand or more influential social media influencer than your brand, is attractive for obvious reasons. Their larger audience offers you great exposure and their partnership also lends credibility to your brand.

But if you’re hoping to work with someone with a wider reach than your own, you have to bring a lot to the table, including your most creative thinking. A couple of tips for making your offer attractive to a prospective collaborator.

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Alt Chat Wednesday: Turning Dreams into Reality

As solopreneurs, we often do not have all of the resources we need to bring an idea into reality. In anticipation of next week’s conference and Dream Big theme, let us talk about how to harness the power of dreams to create tangible results.

Join us on Twitter Wednesday January 14th at 9AM PT/12PM ET for our weekly #AltChat. We will be chatting with one of our Winter sponsors, Microsoft, about how you can make your dreams a reality for 2015.

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Follow Up 101: Finding the Right Collaborators, Part 2

By: Eden Hensley Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Last week we talked about collaborations from the perspective of a brand. Now we will approach collaborations from the blogger's perspective. The right collaborations can establish you as an expert, increase the size of your audience, result in income, reduce your workload, and more. However, rarely do collaborations come to you; you need to go in search of them.

Before you begin reaching out to other bloggers or brands, think about the type of collaboration you want. If you do not know what you want, you will have a hard time finding it and may also have difficulty allocating the time to work on a collaboration that turns out to be a poor fit.

Consider the why behind a particular collaboration from your perspective and from the perspective of the other bloggers and brands. The why is the value you and your partners want out of the collaboration. How effectively you identify and communicate their why will determine whether or not they say yes. The value you see from a collaboration does not have to be the same as the value your partners see. Each party should see benefits.

Be honest with yourself about whether you have the time with your current commitments to tackle a collaboration. While collaborations can reduce your workload once they have started, there is a lot of legwork and communication that needs to happen before you land them.

Finally, collaborations do not always start when it is convenient for you. They take time to set up and nurture. You may find yourself with more collaborations than you can handle. Avoid overcommitting. Rather than let yourself get overwhelmed if the timing is bad, propose an alternative schedule if possible or politely say no. 

Want more tips on ensuring your collaborations will be successful? Here are a few more:

Follow Up 101: Finding the Right Collaborators, Part 1

By: Eden Hensley Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Wanting to grow your business? One way to do that is through collaborations, specifically the right collaborations with bloggers. Before jumping into a collaboration, there are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. First, are your brands aligned? If yes, is there a natural fit with an existing series or project the blogger promotes?
  2. Second, is the relationship mutually beneficial? What is in it for you? What is in it for the blogger?
  3. Third, how are you going to measure success? And, can both the blogger and you dedicate the time necessary to complete the project successfully?

Here are some previous posts to help you get started finding the right collaborators, grabbing their attention, and ensuring you have found the right match:

Next week we will tackle collaborations from the blogger's perspective. Got any tips for how to successfully chose a business or fellow blogger with which to work? Or, alternatively any advice on how to avoid imperfect matches? Tag @AltSummit and we may feature them in a round up of best practices.

The Best 3 Ways to Get a Brand’s Business

By Shelby HIll for Wayfair  Photos by: Brooke Dennis

At Wayfair.com we work with lots of bloggers (more than 250 last year!) and along the way we’ve had some individuals who stand out from the pack. These bloggers are the whole package, and we love to work with them again and again. We’re spilling the beans on what makes these bloggers so great (sorry guys!) to help you build your business and grab a brand’s attention.  Here are three simple, yet highly effective tips that will help you get an inbox full of partnership requests:

1.       We’re Business People and You Are Too, Right?

Show a brand partner you take these opportunities seriously.  Make sure to be professional in all communication, whether you’re meeting a brand team in person or corresponding over email. When you’re working on a project for a company, no matter how big or small, respond to emails in a timely manner (within 48 hours) and always deliver edited and complete work on-time or ahead of deadline.

Brands expect content that’s ready to go. Make sure there are no spelling errors, the deliverable is in the correct format (for a guest post, PDF or Word Document is preferable), and your images are high-quality, especially if you’re working with brands in a visual field, like ecommerce.

Finally, a professional headshot says a lot about you. It’s how you present yourself and your brand to the world. Since we don’t always get to meet you in person before working together, consider this your all-important first impression. It’s not as difficult as it used to be to get a great headshot. Grab a friend, a digital camera, head outside for some beautiful natural light, and snap some high-resolution photos.

2.       Ask the Right Questions to Ensure Success

Coming to the table with thoughtful questions will signal to the brand that you’re knowledgeable and ready to work. When partnering with brands, ask about best practices for communication, preferred asset delivery methods, and, of course, make sure you understand the goals of the campaign. All brand teams are more than happy to answer your questions to ensure quality content.

Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What is on your editorial calendar? Knowing what type of content a brand is planning to produce will help you respond with a strong guest post/project pitch they’ll be excited about.
  • Who is your target customer/audience? Knowing the answer to this question ensures you’ll create content that will resonate with the brand’s audience. The first question many brands ask themselves when assessing a partnership is whether or not it’s a good fit for their target audience. 
  • Are there any holes in your content offering you’re looking to fill? Often bloggers are better positioned to cover certain topics than the brands themselves. By asking this question, you could create content the brand has a need for, possibly leading to regular partnership opportunities.

3.       Think of a Brand Partner as a Customer

It may sound strange to think about a partnership this way, but it makes sense. A positive experience on both sides is what keeps brands coming back to work with a blogger again and again. After your post or campaign has gone live, proactively reach out to the brand. Ask about performance and what could be improved upon for next time. If you agree the partnership is in line with both brands, stay in the loop by finding out what your brand partner is working on next. Interest in the performance and the status of your collaboration speaks volumes about how seriously you take your business and partnership opportunities.

Thought your last collaboration was successful? Don’t be afraid to pitch a brand another idea! Present a well-thought-out proposal citing key learnings from your prior collaboration, and you’ll blow them away.

It takes practice, but by focusing efforts in these three areas, you will boost your appeal to brands looking for blogger partnerships and grow your business.

This post was sponsored by Wayfair

Alt Connections: Caravan Shoppe

By: Amy Hackworth Image by: Caravan Shoppe

We all agree that the best thing about Alt is the incredible network, so we’re excited about a new series featuring the people, connections and stories that make this such an inspiring and vibrant community.

Graphic designers Alma Loveland and Melanie Burk first met at Alt in 2011, when Alma was on Melanie’s list of people she had to meet at Alt. When Melanie saw Alma in the hall she rushed toward her, calling Alma’s name. While they laugh now about Melanie’s enthusiastic approach, the two have been, in their own words, “joined at the hip ever since.” 

They each work independently as designers—Melanie at Fifth & Hazel and Alma at Ollibird (with her husband, Mike Loveland)—but joined forces to launch a new business in 2012. Their collaboration, Caravan Shoppe, is a brilliant collection of digital downloads for décor, toys, prints, cards, calendars and more.

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