Somebody pinch me, because I still don’t believe it’s true. Not only will I be attending my very first BlogHer conference this week, but I will also be speaking on a panel. I’ll be talking about how to price and value your services with my friend Cecily Kellogg, Ana Lydia Monaco, and moderator Monica Barnett.
Allow me to make a bold guarantee. If you come to our session, you will leave smarter, more confident and better prepared to deal with brands, sponsors and advertisers. Your hair will be shinier and your teeth will be whiter. When you return home, you will have lost ten pounds, and your children will no longer sass you. This is the truth. *
But we can only work our magic if you come prepared. What do I mean by this? I need you to come with your head in the right place. Here’s the deal: When I usually speak at conferences, I talk about branding. I teach about deciding what image you want to project, claiming your online identity and staying true to the brand and image you have worked to cultivate. Why is this so important? Because your brand is the basis for everything you do. It is the foundation on which you build your site, your audience, your reputation and your business.
Put simply, if you don’t know who you are, you can’t know where you’re going. If you don’t know anything about your product (you), then you can’t price it, let alone sell it.
Can you imagine having this conversation with a salesperson?
Customer: Tell me about this shirt.
Salesperson: Oh, it’s very nice! You should buy it! It would look good on you!
Customer: What’s the material?
Salesperson: I’m not sure. It feels like polyester. But it looks like cotton. Does it matter?
Customer: Well, what size is it?
Salesperson: Oh, any size you want it to be. I’m sure it can stretch to fit.
Customer: What would you call this color?
Salesperson: Definitely blue. But it certain lighting, it looks gray. Isn’t it cute?
Customer: What will it go with?
Salesperson: Jeans. And slacks. Maybe a skirt. Or how about over leggings? Wear it like a dress. It can be whatever you want it to be, right?
Customer: Gee, OK. How much is it?
Salesperson: I don’t know, why do you ask me these things, how can I be expected to know everything, JUST BUY IT ALREADY!
Uncomfortable, no? Even if the customer buys the shirt, she will probably always feel uneasy about the purchase, because the transaction was confusing and unprofessional.
Even if you do know what price you should charge for your ad space/consultation services/ambassadorship, if you don’t know the product you’re selling, you may come across like that salesperson.
Why do I bring this up? Well, frankly, I’m a little worried. In preparation for BlogHer, I’ve been following the Twitter stream, and I’ve joined a couple of Facebook groups for attendees. While I have gleaned some good info for newbie attendees here and there, I have seen way too much unhelpful stuff — mainly a lot of freaking out. I’ve seen people begging for invites for parties. I’ve seen people worried that they’ll get attacked at the conference, mugged at the hotel, or ripped off if they take a taxi. I’ve seen people depressed at the thought of possibly missing out on junky swag. And I’ve seen people having panic attacks over shoes.**
Put simply, people who know themselves don’t do this. People who are confident and secure and professional don’t freak out over traveling to a new place. They don’t stress about what they might wear. They don’t get bogged down in hurt feelings if they’re not invited to a party. And they don’t find their worth in coupons or memory sticks. They simply step out with their best foot forward, regardless of what everyone else is doing, because they know that no conference or outfit or event or person can change who they are at their core. Their confidence is strong, their identity unwavering.
So before you come to BlogHer, especially if you attend our panel, do a little homework. Sit down and think about who you are, online and offline. Think about your goals, both personal and business ones. Think about where your skills lie, and what you want to offer to the world. Think about your story, and what you want the future chapters to hold. Once you have confidence in those answers, you will be well-positioned to explain your value to others. And if you can’t figure those things out, don’t worry. Just promise yourself you’ll spend more time in the sessions, learning and discussing and soaking up some serious knowledge, than in the Expo Hall trying to get people to notice you. Because in most cases, it’s better to be a day late than a dollar short. In other words, it’s OK to step back, reevaluate, polish your presence and wait for the right clients and opportunities to come along.
If it seems like I’m coming across a little preachy, it’s because I am. Bossiness is one of my worst personality defects, and heaven knows I have more than a few. But I say this mainly because I’ve suffered and learned the lessons and I don’t want you to go through what I did if you don’t have to. Also, allow me to quote your mother when I say “I tell you this because I love you and just want what’s best for you.” Because that’s true. Every day, I am in awe of what you achieve in this space. I am blown away by how you use your voice. I am thrilled at the ways you use the internet to make money and be able to spend more time with your family. I am honored and humbled to share a tiny piece of the web with you amazing people. I just want you to be as awesome as you possibly can be. Because I know you rock, and I want everyone else to know it, too.
And people who rock don’t think twice if they accidentally leave their Spanx at home.* Not all results guaranteed for all attendees. Outcomes may vary. ** Confession: Do you know what I’ve been stressing about in the run up to BlogHer? My nose hairs. I have been so worried I would forget to tweeze my nose hairs before I go that I finally set an alert on my phone to remind me to do it. For the record, it’s done now, I’m all good. But if you’re having a hard time at BlogHer, if you’re doubting yourself in any way, you just look for me across the room, stare disdainfully at my nose, and remind yourself that even on your worst shoe day, at least you are better than the woman who publicly writes about her nose hair. You’re welcome. P.S. One more thing: As preachy as I may sound, I really am a nice person. I would absolutely LOVE to meet you this week. Yes, YOU. Please find me. Introduce yourself. I probably read your blog. Hug me. I love hugs. Tell me I’m annoying. I love conversation starters. No matter what, if you see me, please holler at me. Nothing thrills me more than meeting new people.