If you've been following along then you know I attended Create & Cultivate in Chicago this past weekend. This was such an amazing opportunity and was an incredible experience from start to finish. It was pretty overwhelming being surrounded by so many like-minded girl bosses and just all around inspiring women. It was honestly unlike anything I had ever experienced and made me so proud to be raised in a generation where women truly run the show. To say I left this conference empowered and at a loss for words would be an understatement- All I can say is WOW. This was definitely one of the longest, most mentally exhausting days I've had in a while, but I walked away from this conference with a whole lot more than aching feet and a 15 lb. swag bag. I left with an entire notebook full of valuable information and ideas that I can't wait to apply to both my full time job as a Marketing Manager, as well as my side-hustle.
If you're not familiar with C&C or simply want to hear my key takeaways from the weekend, then this post is for you! I'm sharing insightful information and notable lessons for bloggers, entrepreneurs, marketers and agencies. Keep reading to learn more about this invaluable experience.
What is Create & Cultivate?
C&C is an incredible platform, both on and offline, for women looking to create & cultivate the career of their dreams. They strive to be the go-to resource for the modern women in the working world. They are all about connecting successful like-minded women which is why their motto is 'Collaboration Over Competition'.
At their conferences they bring together both the best in the business and the next generation of creatives and spark conversation around topics that they are passionate about. Gathered in one central location, attendees get access to panels, keynote speakers, mentor sessions, Q&A's, brand activations and more! At the House of Vans in Chicago, over a thousand marketers, entrepreneurs and influencers came together to enhance their career and grow their network. As if the learning sessions weren't great enough, the entire venue was like a Pinterest board had come to life. From the food to the decor, everything was perfectly curated and oh-so dreamy.
exploring the city:
I went on the trip to Chicago with my friend Madison and we had an absolute blast together. We didn't have that much time to explore the city but we jam packed everything we possibly could into the weekend. Some of my favorite spots were the Bean, the Navy Pier, the Skydeck Chicago and the LondonHouse rooftop. We stayed at Virgin Hotels and I have to say, they had excellent customer service and a really unique atmosphere. I would definitely recommend staying here if you ever find yourself traveling to the city. Here are a few of my favorite photos taken around Chicago... (PS- I'm sharing all outfit details after these first few photos!)
SHOP MY CHICAGO LOOKS!
Now for the good stuff! I'm going to share some of my personal favorite key takeaways from the Conference. I have sorted through all my notes and I'm talking pages of knowledge given from speakers including Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer Hudson, Shay Mitchell, Ali Webb, Whitney Port, Olivia Rink + more! Whether you're a creative doing marketing, an influencer, or looking to start your own business, I assure you this is information that so many of you will find useful! Let's dive in:
reminders for everyone:
- Be passionate and resilient // Ultimately, do what you love! Success is what you individually value and something that we get to determine for ourselves. Being passionate about and loving what you do keeps you going when times get tough. If you don't like something, CHANGE IT, because we have the power to do it! If you're resilient and keep at it, the wall has no choice but to eventually give in.
- Customers are your biggest asset // OBSESS over your customers!! The best ideas come from the people actually using your product. Recognize what your customers needs and wants are. Make sure your product or business is inclusive for everyone and solves a problem for a real person. Customer data is one of your biggest tools and tells a story- USE IT!
- Embrace challenges in your life // Challenges are meant to make us beautiful, stronger and empowered. We have to be willing to live our truths in order to inspire others and be healed. When you're in a bad place, just remember that you may be struggling right now, but one day you can use it to help others.
- Invest in yourself // One of my favorite quotes from the conference was, "People need to learn how to rest, rather than how to quit." Self care is so important, always make time to personally unplug. Find what makes you happy!
- Beware of the comparison game // You can never be anyone but yourself. Don't follow people on social media who make you feed bad about yourself, only follow those who inspire you. Don't compare yourself to the person you were yesterday, but the person you want to be tomorrow. Self worth is not found in how you look, but how you feel. Always stay true to yourself and what you believe in. Always surround yourself with people who challenge you, are smarter than you and make you a better person.
- Start small // Push the big picture things aside and dive into the details. Ask yourself, "what's the absolute smallest thing I can focus on?" The smallest things are what build the path. Take that small step and then build the path as you're walking.
for bloggers and influencers:
- BE AUTHENTIC // If there was one thing I heard countless times at this conference, it was to be authentic. The more authentic your brand is, the better. Make an effort to show those 'behind-the-scenes' moments and be transparent with your audience. Be interactive, be real, be in the moment. Some great ways to build authenticity in your brand are by utilizing Facebook live, Instagram stories and IGTV. People want to see that you're a real person that doesn't live an unrealistic and unattainable life. Instagram can be such a highlight reel and seeing those real life moments is what will really make you stand out among the competition.
- Utilize your audience // Use polls and question boxes to get a better idea of what your followers want to see from you. This is also a great way to see what people like and would likely purchase. Use your analytics, recognize what people respond to best and run with it!
- Instagram stories > Instagram feed // It's OK not to post everyday on your feed. Don't just post to post, be strategic about it. Use those Instagram photos to direct people to your website and be more of an informative piece of information. You can also create shoppable moments with your Instagram photos and make commission through affiliate marketing. On the flip side, post on Instagram stories every day and allow them to be more of a window into your authentic life.
- Brand partnerships should be organic // Don't just work with the first brand that comes your way to make a buck. Hold out for the bigger brands or brands that you use in your daily life and trust your gut when accepting campaigns. Think about 3 things when considering a brand partnership: passion, prestige and profitability. Make sure the brand you're working with offers you at least one of these three things. Your audience will appreciate this and it will help build a pillar of trust. Plan your content and pitch to brands early on. In order to build a mutually beneficial partnership, know your brand and know your message. Communicate that message authentically to your followers.
- Monatizing content and getting paid // Diversify your portfolio and spread your wealth. Invest in not only traditional advertising but also affiliate marketing and revenue streams. Build your blog on rock, not stand. A solid foundation will keep you from 'sinking'. Have an even mix of sponsored and organic content.
- Embrace your uniqueness // Find what makes you unique and let that be your brand. You should be your own biggest competition. If you try to be someone else, you'll end up empty and exhausted. People are following you for YOU. If they wanted to see someone else, they would go follow them.
for marketers and other creatives:
- Grow your email list // Email marketing and newsletters are so important. Your email list is the only thing you actually own and is one of your biggest assets. Think about it- What if Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. completely shut down one day and you lost every single one of your followers along with the platform for communicating with them? The only thing you'd be left with is your email list.
- Collaboration over competition // Broaden your views and you will amplify your brand. It is important to look at your brand through different lenses. Collaborating with others will give you an edge and help grow your brand.
- Teamwork makes the dream work // Success is putting together a great team that share values and offers different skill sets. Invest a lot into in your team and the people around you, they are so important! Hire people before you actually need them. Setting goals and objectives helps your team understand what exactly you're doing and will help everyone be on the same page. Clearly communicate your corporate objective.
- Pinterest marketing // Pinterest was the number one source of traffic to every single speaker and panelists website, blog or product. It's a major lead and revenue generator. It's where users get inspiration to buy things and where even the smallest businesses can get discovered. People aren't searching for specific things when they come to Pinterest but rather for general inspiration. Vertical imagery and thoughtful captions stand out on Pinterest. Make sure you use beautiful photography, it's important not only to focus on the product or service but also the visual appeal. Use your business analytics and utilize ads, they are available for a reason.
- Branding and being cohesive // It's important that your brand is cohesive across multiple channels. Build a brand that is recognizable and find your voice.