building your blog media kit

2015-07-24 one down, one up

I apparently jumped the gun to early on using this picture for last weeks’ one down one up. Meet the PHLBloggers and Sabir Peele.

Last Thursday evening, PHLBloggers had an event called Creating a Flipping Awesome Media Kit. (I named it myself.) Mens’ Style Pro, Sabir Peele, came out to teach us about what a media kit is, what should be in it, and when to send it out.  I first heard Sabir speak at a Philly Tech Week event about blogging. At one point he said, “if you want help creating a media kit, let me know” – and my first thought was, hm, I know about 15 people who would like help creating a media kit.

So I emailed Sabir and he made it happen for us, which was awesome. He was super easy to talk to, a great presenter, and had a lot of information for us to ask question about. So, lets’ start at the beginning of what we learned.

So you’re a blogger who wants to work with brands, but you don’t know where to start. Create a media kit. That’s where you start. A media kit is a resume for your blog. It talks about why you’re awesome and why other people should want to work with you. So lets’ begin.

What to include in your media kit:

  • Who you are
    Include your name, your blog, and a little bit about yourself. Stay 1000 feet high. (Unfortunately,) Nobody cares about the details.
  • Your analytics
    Media kits are all about the stats. Get on Google Analytics and find some key stats like page views, unique visitors, location, demographics, and anything else that might be important to a brand working with you.
  • Your brand
    Speaking of brands, make sure you include enough information about your mission and online-personality to make your brand clear. You’ve worked hard to build a brand that’s all about you and presented it exactly how you want on your blog. This might be a good place to show off some of your best posts, weekly features, or a list of brands you’ve worked with in the past and features you’ve created for them.
  • Your services & rates
    Your media kit is a place to include services you offer and the rates those services cost. This is a great starting point for negotiating rates when working with brands, an sure-fire way to help you stick to your guns, and an easy way to show you’re legit.

What to remember when you’re building your media kit:

  • It’s a business document
    This document is your blog’s resume – and the best resumes have incredibly clean formats. Sabir’s media kit is made in Microsoft Word, and you know what – it said everything that it needed to say. Why are you stressing out about Photoshop and Infographics if you’re not a designer? Just do it. This was actually the biggest turning point for me. I honestly can’t wait to go back and create a very simple and elegant media kit in Microsoft Word – no frills. That’s how we do things around here. (If you are a designer, do your stuff girl. Or boy. Incredible props to you.)
  • Put dates on your analytics
    When you include your analytics, choose a four- or six-month timeframe to include statistics from. Include the dates you’ve selected on the media kit as well so the brand can see they’ve got the most up-to-date information. You also don’t want to average all your stats because in the beginning you probably weren’t getting as much traffic. The current numbers are the only ones that will matter to the brands right now anyway. Make sure to be honest though, don’t only include a small date range with a huge spike in it, otherwise a brand is going to constantly expect that type of engagement from your site. Instead, include that as a highlight of big things that have happned to your brand recently. (“Recently featured on…”)
  • Don’t forget to update your information
    Blog stats change every week, usually for the better, so don’t forget to update the numbers as you see increases. It’ll show that you’re on top of your game and feature your highest numbers.
  • Check for dead or broken links
    Don’t forget to go back through links you’ve included in your media kit to make sure that they’re all still active. Blogs are constantly changing – and sometimes we don’t realize a small change we make can have a large impact.

What to do when you send out your media kit:

  1. Write a proposal
    Write a proposal to the company you want to work with that promotes an idea you have for an awesome collaboration. Make sure to explain why this idea will benefit that specific company. Do a little research on the company and industry beforehand to see if they have recently started any initiatives that you can piggyback off of. Or maybe a bunch of other companies in the industry are participating a specific initiative, but the one you want to work with hasn’t done it yet – that could be your opportunity to help put them on the map.
  2. Find the PR Person
    Try to find the internal PR person at the company you want to work with. Some companies even have social media managers that specifically deal with social outreach. If you can’t find the internal PR person online, maybe they have an external PR company they are working with. And if neither of those things work, you’re just going to have to get creative.
  3. Attach your media kit
    Attach your media kit to the email that you send. It will add legitimacy and a starting point for price negotiation. (Stick to your guns as much as possible though unless it is a great opportunity or a brand you really believe in.)

How to get some bonus points:

  • Add a mini media kit on site’s about page
    Sure, you don’t want to give your media kit out to just anybody, especially because your rates are included (which might change based on timeframe or the company you’re working with); however, all of the social statistics are already available for the world to see, so why not include a mini media kit on your site with some stats to start getting brands interested?
  • Ask to be promoted on their media channels as well
    If you’re already working with a brand, ask if you can be promoted on their social media channels as well to expand your social reach. No harm in asking, right?
  • Give them your phone number
    So much communication happens electronically today, don’t be afraid to include your phone number. It’s a more direct line to you and feels more like a business deal, which is exactly what working with a brand is.

Now you might find yourself thinking, great, Chrystina, but what do I do if my numbers aren’t high enough to make a media kit?

Bologna.

If you’re starting at the beginning:

  • Remember that any viewership at all is worth something. Maybe you’re introducing an audience who has never heard of a certain brand to that brand. Even 50 followers would be 50 new followers for that brand. Or maybe you only have 50 readers a day, but your entire audience is located in the same city, which happens to be the same city as the brand you want to work with. Make sure you promote that fact when you promote your idea.
  • If you’ve done reviews of brands and products before, even if you haven’t worked with them directly, include those as samples of content you can produce. This will give the companies a great idea of what you can produce. And don’t forget that in the end it all comes down to content, so if you can prove that you are creating great content there might be a brand who wants to start working with you on the ground floor before you make it big. They may even be more inspired to work with you because they know it will cost less than working with some of the major bloggers.

Oh, and in terms of what to charge. We had a discussion revolving around the fact that for every 10,000 unique monthly visitors on site you get you can charge $100-$400 per edtiorial you write for a brand. The numbers kind of blew my mind a little bit, but dream big, and you never know what’s going to happen until you ask.

My personal next step? Figure out what brands I would be interested in working with. When I was purely blogging about greeting cards and party hosting it was a little bit more clear what types of brands I would want to work with, but now that Chrystina Noel is more of a personal blog that means I can work with anybody – which officially means I have no idea where to start. So my question to you is, if you’ve worked with brands before, how did you decide which brands you wanted to work with?

Happy media kitting!

one down, one up

2015-07-24 one down, one up

HAPPY FRIDAY! I still can’t decide if this week went by way faster than I thought it was going to or way slower. I think way faster? And I’ve got a feeling this weekend is going to be a whirlwind and it’s going to be Monday far sooner than I’m ready for.

This weekend Ben and I are driving up to Connecticut in order to go to a wedding in Massachusetts. And of course I’m going to make it the most efficient trip possible, so I’ve got plans to see people Friday night, Saturday morning for breakfast, Saturday for the wedding, Saturday night for dessert, and believe it or not I’m trying to figure out how to make a quick pitstop Sunday morning before heading back down to Philly for choir rehearsal. I’m pretty excited. Anyway, here’s how the past week went.

one up
Other than the fact that MY COMPUTER IS FIXED, I would tell you that the highlight of my week was when I realized how much I’m hanging out with the PHLBloggers outside of PHLBloggers events. Monday I got Oysters at Oyster House with Melissa & Sarah. Monday night Lorena (& her husband) helped me fix my computer. Tuesday morning I had breakfast with Kelley. I had “lunch” (aka cupcakes?) with Brigette on Tuesday afternoon. I worked with Jenn to write the Online Dating Profile post for Wednesday. And then I saw everyone at last night’s event (picture seen above), which was pretty awesome. Alright, end sappiness now.

one down
Just general exhaustion. The one thing I did realize that having a computer means is that I don’t exactly have an excuse to go to bed anymore. I was going to bed at 10/10:30 on the nights that I didn’t have a computer, and so far this week I don’t think I’ve gone to bed before 1:00am more than once. I’m really going to need to hunker down and try to get more sleep, because (as a bunch of people know) I get super cranky super quickly. That said, I now get to watch Parenthood again, so what is there to be cranky about?

How was your week? Jam-packed? Nice and relaxing? Are you enjoying the summer? Or maybe you live south of the equator and it’s winter. I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

my online dating profile

I was on an online dating site for one weekend. I made the profile on Friday and I deleted it by Sunday. I was so overwhelmed; I didn’t really understand what I was doing and I definitely didn’t understand how to be witty in my profile. Or at least I was pretty sure I had to be witty, that seemed to be what everyone else was trying to do.

That said, I really do think online dating is a great way to meet people. About half of the people that I hang out on a regular basis with these days are people that I met through the internet, I just didn’t understand how to handle online dating.

Now, yes, I do have a boyfriend now. And no, I didn’t meet him online. (I met him at a singles table at a wedding, apparently that’s a real thing.) But my friend Jenn is writing this really awesome ebook on online dating called Online Dating Done Right. If you sign up with your email address today she’ll send you the first chapter for free, which is all about how to create the best version of your online dating profile. So I decided to have some fun with what I read.

The hardest part for me was trying to figure out how to not sound overwhelming. I 100% admit that I am an overwhelming person in real life sometimes. Jenn made me realize I profile shouldn’t hide that from my profile because if you have any chance of getting along with me, you probably need to at least have a small chance of “hey, this girl can be a little intense sometimes”. Also, I started by talking a lot about my hobbies, but later realized I didn’t want to be defined by my hobbies, I wanted to be defined by the way I think, which is pretty unique – half left brain, half right brain. And I think I managed to do a decent job with working that in. And finally, I had originally started My Self Summary with this-is-who-I-am, this-is-what-I-do, this-is-how-I-feel-about-it, which was far too similar to the What I’m Doing With My Life section. So I took it 1000 feet higher and talked about who I am as a person, and it worked way better.

Writing this profile was a lot less stressful when I had a guide to follow, and the final result sounds like actual me as opposed to me trying to impress someone, which was cool. (Admittedly, though I still was a little stressed about it, the same way you would be a little bit stressed about writing a resume. Yes, I realize this is fake.) Here’s an example of her guidance for the “I’m Really Good At” section:

This is your time to humble-brag without anyone wrinkling their nose at you. It’s also the the perfect opportunity to introduce some humor Are you a great accountant? “I’m a Super Accountant, but not without my trusty sidekick Microsof Excel. I owe that program my firstborn.” Do you make furniture in your spare time? Just say that. That’s fucking cool. If you don’t think you’re good at anything: “I am prolifc as an adult human. I get myself to work every day and manage to make it to the bathroom almost every time.
-Jenn Coyle

So without further ado, for your reading pleasure, please enjoy my newly created online dating profile.

Photos

Chrystina Noel Online Dating Profile

My Self-Summary

I’m an engineer who’s never sure if her left or right brain is going to win. Ideally, I’d love a bunch of pretty things in a logical order.

What I’m Doing with My Life

Engineer by day, hostess by night. From “9-5” I play the role of construction consultant, which sometimes involves a heck of a lot of travel and by night I am blogging, running an online handmade greeting card shop, hosting parties, and hanging out with friends. I’m trying to get better at cooking (but I can bake up a storm), I’m working on my photography skills by taking photographs of events for free this summer, and I’m constantly trying to come up with a better idea for my meet-up group’s next event. But mostly I’m meeting really cool people around the country and loving every second of it.

I’m Really Good At

Microsoft Excel, it’s my favorite.

Favorites

  • Books: I’ve been covering the Lean In, 4 Hour Work Week, $100 Startup, Happiness Project circuit.
  • Movies: Looking to branch out from my usual romantic comedies.
  • Shows: Sitcoms. Especially the ones from the 90s/00s like Boy Meets World, Full House, and Saved By The Bell.
  • Music: Anything with a piano & a good harmony, currently enjoying A Great Big World.
  • Food: Appetizers and desserts are where it’s at.

The Six Things I Could Never Do Without

  • A great pair of headphones
  • My camera
  • Conditional formatting
  • My google calendar
  • A fine point sharpie marker
  • White gel pens

I Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About

How to make things more efficient, how to stay in touch with people, and what would make a great blog post.

On A Typical Friday Night I Am

Catching up on the week’s blog posts and sitcoms – and probably editing some photos.

You Should Message Me If

You think like an engineer, but appreciate a creative spirit. I’m looking for someone to brainstorm with, who thinks about their future, appreciates planning in advance, and enjoys meeting new people. Among other things.

The First Thing People Notice about Me

I talk with my hands.

The Most Private Thing I’m Willing to Admit

I don’t let onto it much these days, but I’m definitely a romantic at heart.

What do you think? Would you date me?

And guess what, it’s totally okay if you wouldn’t. The day that I realized that the point of dating is to find somebody who is compatible with you as opposed to trying to get everyone to like you was a turning point for me.

Interested in what you’ve read? Download your free copy of Jenn’s first chapter today. And if you’re a blogger (even if you’re in a relationship), think about writing a profile, it was pretty fun.

 

the story of my computer

2015-07-022 The Story of My Computer

I’ve been talking about this computer a lot recently. It’s been something that has pretty much been consuming my thoughts for the past month, taking up my entire weekends, and managed to cause a really ugly cry breakdown last Saturday night. BUT GUESS WHAT IT’S FINALLY FIXED. I’M TYPING TO YOU RIGHT NOW FROM IT. So I’m going to tell the story one more time, and then I’m going to tie this story up in a little bow and stop talking about it. This is definitely one of those “only Chrystina” stories.

Lets’ start at the beginning

Saturday, June 27 I was watching a webinar hosted by Sarah Morgan & Mariah Coz and all of a sudden the picture froze. I figured it was a problem on their end, but after about 10 minutes I took a look at what was happening and my computer had frozen. I hit the reset button and it turned off, but it definitely didn’t turn back on. In fact, it kept sounding like it was trying to turn on and clicking every two seconds like it was trying to reboot. Not good.

My dad and sister are both computer people. They know lots of stuff about them, they know how to fix them, and they build them for fun. That’s how I ended up with the computer I have now – my sister built it for me for my college graduation. So when something went wrong with my computer their first thought was “well lets’ just send Chrystina the parts to fix it”.

Look. I’m an engineer. I get it. You can explain to me how a computer works. I understand that it’s just a matter of putting pieces together like a piece of Ikea furniture. But things happen to me that don’t happen to other people. Hence why it took one month for me to fix this computer.

The First Attempt

So my dad, sister, and I talked about it and we decided that it was probably the power supply. So I bought a power supply. Now let me start off by saying that there are no stores to buy computer parts from in Philadelphia as far as I can tell, so every time I needed a new part I needed to buy it off Amazon. And I can’t get anything shipped to my house because they won’t deliver it (and if they do deliver it it might get stolen before my roommate and I get home) so I have to get it delivered to my office. And I was on a project in Jersey City, so I couldn’t exactly get to the office before the mailroom closed all that often. So every time I needed a new part it would take about a week to get to me.

So I ordered the new power supply on amazon. For those of you who don’t know (like I didn’t before starting this process) this is what a power supply looks like. It’s a large kind of heavy box with approximately a million unlabeled cables coming off of it that need to be connected to other things. So I got the power supply by the next weekend and I tried connecting it all with the help of Ben (so that I didn’t forget where anything went) and YouTube and tried to turn it on again. It kept clicking. Alright, it wasn’t the power supply.

That was Fourth of July weekend. (Do you know how much blogging I could have gotten done that weekend if I had had this computer?) Then my dad and sister decided that it must be the motherboard. Whoa. You want me to replace a motherboard? I don’t even understand what that means. It definitely doesn’t sound good. That looks like this in case you were wondering. And people just kept telling me not to electrocute myself while touching it. Not nerve-wracking at all…

So I waited another week until I could grab the motherboard from the office and took it home.

The Eleven-hour Day

So now it’s Saturday, July 11 in case anybody lost track and cares. I did a photoshoot of my friend Amina and her family that morning and I came back and was going to fix my computer so that I could edit the photos to send back to her. So I did the photoshoot in the morning and was back in my room by 11:00am.

I opened up the motherboard and really quickly I realized it wasn’t going to fit in the computer case that I had – at least not in the right orientation. Are you kidding me? Ugh.

So I called Best Buy. I asked them if they had any empty computer cases that you can put your own parts in and they said yes. So I used Lyft to get down to Columbus Boulevard to go get a new case. And then when I got there there was no case. (Of course.) So I called Target and I called Walmart and nobody had a case. So I called Lyft to come take me home. Then when I got in the car I decided I should go to get bubble tea instead. So I got bubble tea and walked home.

Julie (my sister) ordered me a new case on Amazon (she kept ordering for me because she has a Prime account) and decided that I should at least try building it to make sure that the new pieces I had worked. That was logical. So Julie and I spent the next 5 hours on Facetime as she told me what to disconnect and what to connect. We finally got everything hooked up, hit the power button, and it turned on!

So the next step was to reimage Windows on it (or something like that) – essentially I needed to tell my MotherBoard that it should run Windows 7, which was on the hard drive in the machine already, but because it just died out of the blue I had no way to tell it where to look or what to look for. So I needed a boot disc of the right version of Windows to make that happen. Well, my dad was the last one to install Windows on my computer, so I didn’t have a copy of the right version. So we did some finagling and got me the file I needed. All I needed to do was move it to a flash drive or a CD.

I didn’t have a flash drive, so I walked CVS and spent $30 on a new flash drive. At this point the only computer that I have is my work computer. It apparently doesn’t let you move files to flash drives that are not work-issued. Which I get. But seriously? Also, there was no CD drive because computers these days don’t have CD drives, so I couldn’t burn anything to CD.

I spent the rest of the night trying to get that to work somehow. And no surprise, it didn’t.

Another Week

The next week was a busy week at work. I tried to figure out how to get the file I needed on a flash drive, but I didn’t really see anybody who was able to help. So on Friday (July 17) I borrowed a drive from the office that I could burn a CD of what I needed on the weekend. Then on Saturday morning I used the rental car that I had to pick up the ridiculously large box from the office that had my new computer case in it. Saturday night I sat down with my drive and my computer and got to work. Well, the drive only burned CDs not DVDs (yet again somebody else had lied to me) – and on top of that my computer didn’t even recognize the drive (maybe there’s actually something wrong with this computer). So I was yet again defeated.

That was approximately the time that I broke down into really ugly tears. Not quite just-watched-Armageddon tears, but close. (Yes, that’s my movie of choice for this scenario, don’t judge.) I was so frustrated. There was nothing I could do about it until I got all the right parts. I couldn’t go pick up the parts anywhere. Julie had put the file I needed on a flash drive and mailed it to me earlier that week, but it still hadn’t gotten to me. My room was a disaster of boxes and computer parts so it hadn’t been clean in weeks. I had 400 photos on my camera that needed to be edited. I had an e-book sitting on my computer that I promised people would be available by now. I had just started a new blog and couldn’t do any design work on it. This might not sound like much, but to a computer-addicted blogger, this is kind of my world.

The Final Push

I got the flash drive on Monday, July 20. I went upstairs, plugged it into my computer (still in the old case because it just didn’t seem worth it to reconnect everything right now), called Julie, reset the boot order so my computer would read the flash drive first, and got all the way to a command prompt screen. This is when Julie said to me. Alright, Chrystina, just put the motherboard drivers from the link I sent you on your external hard drive and plug it into an extra USB so that we can get it up and running. JULIE. This was the entire problem. I can’t put anything on an external drive from my work computer.

(Please don’t get me wrong, I was very grateful she had spent the majority of her weekends on Facetime with me trying to fix this computer, but neither one of us could believe this was taking as long as it did.)

So I needed to find somebody else with a PC computer within walking distance so that they could put the files I needed on my external hard drive. Lucky for me, Lorena, one of the bloggers I met through PHLBloggers was close and had a husband with a PC. So I walked the 10 blocks to her house and her husband put all of the possible drivers I could ever need on my external drive (which was good, because Julie had only told me I needed one of them – when I really needed at least that one plus the one for the internet). Then she bought me water ice, which was pretty awesome of her. Then I walked home.

At this point it was 10:00pm. Julie and I finished installing those drivers around 11:30pm. It worked!! So what exactly did I have at this point? I had a computer case, filled with parts that weren’t really attached to it, with a motherboard resting on a bunch of little pegs that if it fell off of there the whole computer was going to crash – which I had done at least once during this reboot driver installation process. I decided I needed to finish this that night. It had been far too long. Julie was heading to eat dinner with her boyfriend (yes, at 10:30pm CST) so it was just me.

I opened the new case, opened up YouTube, opened a bag of M&Ms, and got to work. I had all of the new pieces in the new computer together and working by 2:45am. MY COMPUTER WAS FIXED!! Not too bad for a girl who didn’t know what she was doing, right? I treated myself to uploading all of the photos on my camera and marking the ones for editing because at that point there was no difference between 4.5 hours of sleep and 4 hours of sleep. And goodness gracious, I slept well that night.

And that’s it. That’s the story of what happened to my computer. I’m very very glad to have her back. I knew it was really really bothering me that I didn’t have a computer, but I still couldn’t believe exactly how big a sigh of relief I breathed at 2:45am. Everything in the world felt right again.