Create & Cultivate Chicago Conference Recap

Can I just say one thing? WOW. Yesterday was one of the more physically and mentally exhausting days I’ve had in a while, but it was also one of the most awe-inspiring and nurturing. I left Create & Cultivate’s Chicago conference with more than just sore feet and a gift bag. I left with a notebook full of ideas, inspiration for the future both in terms of my day job and side hustles, as well as admiration for the women around me.

If you’re not familiar with Create & Cultivate or simply want to hear my takeaways from the all-day conference, this post is for you. I’m sharing what C&C is, in addition to a few notable lessons for both bloggers/influencers AND marketers/agencies. Keep reading below to hear all about the day!

What is Create & Cultivate?

Create & Cultivate is an incredible resource, online and offline, for women who want to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. Whether it’s their nine-to-five or simply a side hustle (or two), the online website founded by Jaclyn Johnson in 2012 has blown up. It’s all about being a modern woman in the working world! One of their mottos? Collaboration over competition.

The conferences specifically bring women from all over the country, including the best in the business, to one central location for a day of panels, keynotes, mentor sessions, happy hours, Q&As, brand activations and more. Of course, there are plenty of Instagrammable moments, too! As far as attendees go, I thought there would be more bloggers, but it was pretty evenly split between influencers, marketers, and entrepreneurs. The common thread? All of us attended to learn more and become empowered.

Image via Team HSC

Reminders for Everyone

  • Toot your own your horn // You are SO incredibly worth celebrating! Toot your own horn, even if it’s just while looking at yourself in the mirror, and not in front of a crowd. You deserve to celebrate yourself and if you’re not quite comfortable doing that yet? Cheer on other people who are
  • Use the launch and learn approach // For the most part, nothing lasts forever in digital. Take chances to launch and learn. If something doesn’t work, it’s okay! At least try it and take note of what ends up sticking with your audience.
  • Stay on the same page with your team // Set clear goals and expectations with each other. Express respect and ask for it in return.
  • Know the role you play // Have the expertise and passion for your role. Try your best to deeply understand the job you need to get done. For some personalities, being ritual is about what you need to get done when can be helpful!
  • Consumers can ALWAYS spot authenticity or lack thereof // This is IMPORTANT and simply speaks for its self. Avoid that inauthenticity, girl!
  • Enjoy the journey and don’t be afraid to ask for help // You have to get comfortable with failure and embrace the messiness. Give yourself permission to figure it all out.

Image via Create & Cultivate

Key Takeaways for Bloggers and Influencers

  • Be yourself and share more day-to-day moments // In this day and age, people want connection. They like to relate to influencers and celebrities. Share more of your everyday life, engage with your audience, even if you don’t think it’s “Instagram-worthy.”
  • Work with brands that you already use every day (or have been wanting to try) // This way, it’s SUPER simple to keep things authentic!
  • Stay consistent in what you’re posting // Whether it’s the type of content itself or a specific filter, consistency is key. Your audience should expect a certain something from you. That’s why they’re following you after all!
  • Don’t underestimate the value of data // Analyze it and translate it into an idea. For example, like Alaina Kaczmarski of The Everygirl shared, if your link to fall booties performed well, write a whole post about fall booties! Look at your data once a week and let it guide you.
  • Spread your wealth // Jennifer Lake of Style Charade and SVP at my company, Zapwater Communications, shared that you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. You can monetize several ways, including paid campaigns, events, affiliate marketing and so on.
  • Don’t say yes to everything // Would you work with them if money wasn’t an issue? Jenn also shared that you should trust your gut when it comes to saying yes or no to a brand or campaign. She remembers three Ps (passion, prestige and profitability). If a brand can’t offer you money, what else could they offer you in terms of value? Think about it, then discuss it with them!

Image via Smith House Photo

Lessons for Marketers and Agencies

  • Not everything has to be polished // Audiences often appreciate unpolished, behind-the-scenes moments more than we would likely anticipate. Incorporate more of these onto certain platforms, especially short form ones like Instagram Stories.
  • Show the consumer two things // What is it going to do for them and what problem of theirs is it going to solve? This is especially big in beauty and other product-based markets like haircare and makeup. Document the transformation and journey. Long-term influencer partnerships help a lot with this! People can speak to its longevity.
  • Video content is only going to get bigger // Hello, IGTV! Like Olivia Rink said, it’s convenient that Instagram now has such a large video aspect because her loyal followers are already on the platform, as opposed to starting a YouTube channel and having to build a whole new following. One caveat? Don’t start using it just because it exists. Think about what stories to tell on which platform.

Have you been to a Create & Cultivate conference before or at least checked out their website? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading, everyone!

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