Growing Your Blog Through Facebook

By guest contributor Ciera Holzenthal. Photography by Stitch/Craft Create.

Starting a Facebook page for your blog opens you up to one of the largest audiences on the internet. Sharing content on Facebook is so easy and convenient, especially since your readers most likely already use Facebook regularly. With this in mind, here are a few useful tips for using Facebook to grow your blog:

Post Pictures

Facebook is very visual. Often times, text posts or links can be easily overlooked. Each time you share a new blog post on your Facebook page you should do the following: upload a photo, write a short description of your post in the photo caption, and then add a link to the actual post.

Create photo albums for the different sections of your blog (recipes, style, round-ups). This is a great way to show potential readers what to expect from your blog.

How to Make Friends at Alt

By guest contributor Erin Loechner.

I’ve been to millions of conferences (exaggeration), and Alt is, hands down, the conference that draws in the friendliest folk (not an exaggeration). Looking for a mentor who shares the same affinity for stripes as you do? She’s at Alt. Craving someone to copy edit your new portfolio when you head home? He’s in the ballroom (without the revolver, lucky for you). Alt is filled to the brim with creative, kind, and super friendly faces. Chances are, you’ll want to connect with a few of them. Here’s how:

1) Get pre-social
Before you head to Salt Lake City, send out a Tweet or update your Facebook status announcing that you’ll be attending Alt. Ask your followers/friends if they know of anyone else planning to attend the conference. You’ll most likely find someone else as nervous as you are to attend. That’s the first thing you’ve got in common. Build on that and make plans to meet each other on day one.

2) Have an eagle-eye
Look around the room–do you spot someone with the same neon day planner you have in your bag? See a stylish gal that’s rocking your favorite patterned pants? Introduce yourself! If you have the same taste in footwear, why shouldn’t you share other similarities?

3) Fake it
Sure, you might be so nervous that you’ve pitted out 4 shirts – and it’s only 10am. Put on that dashing smile and pretend you’re the most confident girl in the room. Because everyone else; they’ve likely pitted out 5 shirts.

Tax Consequences of Blog Giveaways

By guest contributor Helena Swyter. Photography by Travelfoodartanddesgin.

Hosting a giveaway on your blog is a popular way to gain followers and build relationships with sponsors. However, there are tax consequences. There are always tax consequences!

Tax Requirements
Your requirements as the host vary depending on the value of the prize. If the giveaway prize is valued at $600 or more – or if one person wins multiple giveaways, and the total prizes awarded in the year exceed $600 – you are required to send the winner a Form 1099-MISC.

Check with your sponsor, as they may take care of this for you. If not, the ball’s in your court.

What is a Form 1099-MISC?
This form is purely informational. You submit it to both the winner and the IRS. It lists the cash value of the prize so the IRS can expect to see that amount on the winner’s income tax return for that year.

To complete this form, you need the winner’s name, address, and social security number. You are required to send them the Form 1099-MISC by January 31 of the following year (e.g., prizes won in 2012 will be reported on Forms 1099-MISC, due January 31, 2013). The IRS provides Forms 1099-MISC for free on their website, but be sure to order early to avoid delays. The IRS expects to receive their copy of the Form 1099-MISC by February 28.

Illustrator 102

By guest contributor Melissa Coleman.

Now that we have the basics down, let’s play with the Illustrator tools. There are a lot of different tools in Illustrator, but today we’re going to focus on the ones you’ll use the most. Next to each of the tool labels you’ll see a letter or a character. That’s the keystroke you can use to toggle between tools. You can click the tool itself, but as you become more familiar with Illustrator, you’ll want to use the key strokes. The highlighted tools are the ones I find myself using most. Add these keystrokes to your brain first.

You can probably guess what most of these tools do from using the standard Windows Paint program, so I won’t bore you with long descriptions. Below are a couple things that you may not know:

Win a Ticket or Airfare to Alt

By Melanie Blodgett. Photography by Ban.do. If you weren’t one of the two winners in the Wilsonart countertop contest, you’re in luck because we’re giving away another Alt Summit ticket! Just post a photo on Instagram or Pinterest of the holiday goodies you’re baking up in your kitchen, use the hashtag #wilsonart and #altsummit, and […]

Branding: Why Sharing Your Dream Matters

By guest contributor Mariah Danielsen. Photography by Hello Naomi.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it” – Simon Sinek

Essentially we’re all out there doing the same thing: we’re writing blog posts, trying to sell our services, and trying to be different than every other brand. You’re most likely not the only person who makes or does what you do. So what sets you apart? It’s your dreams and the passion behind why you started your business.

Sharing the reason why you started your business or blog with your readers will help them form a connection with you. The people that connect most with your story will be the people who have the same types of dreams and goals that you do.

Instead of telling your readers what you do, and showing them a bunch of shots of your products, share with them why your business exists. Do you exist to change the way people think about party planning? Do you exist to help small businesses grow through beautifully designed logos and websites? Make sure you are sharing your reason!

Working With Sponsors: Managing Expectations

By Sara Urquhart. Photography by Maggie VH.

 In any sponsor relationship, you need to manage expectations. This is true for the very first boutique ad you set up, or the first Esty shop that gives you product in exchange for a post, or for a big name sponsor that is giving you a lot of money. The amount involved doesn’t matter—you always have to manage expectations.

Sponsors aren’t expecting you to be a Fortune 500 company. They’re looking for real people and real conversations about their brand; so, consider your social media outlets as real strengths. Do you have a newsletter where you can feature them? A strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram?

A good relationship begins with a good conversation. Ask a lot of questions. Here are the questions I always begin with:

  • Tell me about your brand?
  • What are your goals for the year?
  • How do you measure success?
  • How involved would you like to be with the project?

Tailor your pitch around what you can do best and what your sponsor needs. Are they looking for Facebook likes? Brand recognition? Sponsored posts? Twitter followers? You have to know!