How to host a conference for writers

Hahaha! Just kidding. I have no idea. I mean, I did it recently, but that doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing :)

On March 30 and 31, the company I work for hosted a conference for indie authors. And I basically ran the whole thing.

I’m working on journaling ALL OF THE DETAILS for myself (thinking about printing out all the pages and tucking it in my Project Life album). The document has barely scratched the surface and it’s already like 4000 words. … and I keep being reminded of more. But in the meantime, here’s a tiny bit of an overview.

Last summer, the guys asked me to plan a conference for our audience. Now, keep in mind I have never in my life even been to an event of this size let alone plan one. But. You know. They trust me. And I can figure it out. Probably.

Fortunately, my mom HAS planned events like this so she helped me figure out all the things I needed to remember and think about and answer questions about. So I wasn’t totally flying blind. I spent months and months and months trying to plan this all in between all my other work (and still part-time). We didn’t make any money. We MIGHT have broke even. I’m sure I made mistakes …

Putting together the Smarter Artist Summit was … HARD. It was chaotic. Especially having to try to fit it around all my other work. The last month leading up to the event was SO full and stressful and my face totally broke out and I just know I have so many more gray hairs and all of it.

I basically did everything except invite the speakers and write the email blasts to promote. But everything to do with putting the actual physical experience together was on me (and, fortunately, the dozens of volunteers).

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But in spite of all that stress, it GENUINELY still exceeded all my expectations. The speakers were so smart, and I think everyone learned something no matter how far they were in their career.

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But my personal favorite part was the attendees. Everyone was so generous and kind and I could not have done this without them. I had more volunteers than I could use. And then in addition to that I had people going out of their way to buy me gifts, or lunch or physically take things out of my arms to help me.

I got to see friends from previous events and spend time with them which I LOVED. But I also got to meet so many new people. Not everyone that was there (disappointing), but I have all kinds of phone numbers and contact info for new friends that I am hoping to be able to connect with over the next year.

The attendees were all amazing.

More photos here and here.

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I tried to articulate it a bit in the caption of this photo.

I wish that I had had more time to hang out with everyone in between the actual event itself. I think several people are planning to come into town for a whole week next time. And we’re going to adjust the order of the events so post-Summit is more relaxed and more able to be social.

I am so very much looking forward to it!


Thursday night, after the Summit, about 40 of us all went out to karaoke and then out to a bar after that. I know one person specifically just stayed up all night before catching his flight at 6am. I love these people and I could not be more excited about next year.

In fact … we have already started selling tickets for next year’s event — even though we don’t have dates, a location or any speakers at all. And as of right now we’ve sold almost 10 already. Not too shabby.

Sterling & Stone isn’t my company, but I’m proud to be on the team. If you want to be in the loop for next year’s event or anything else the guys are working on you can sign up for the email list here:

I was *exhausted* and stayed in bed for several days afterward but it was totally worth it.

RECOMMENDED: I actually was *just* on a podcast episode last week talking about the event, if you want to hear some of the specific stories …. The guys recorded a couple podcast episodes about it too here more professionally mostly about the community and here totally NSFW but I join the show halfway through.

**SIDENOTE** Should I start focusing more on writing and being an indie author? Are you at all interested in that kind of content? It’s a big part of my life, but I’m not sure it belongs on this site. It’s ok to tell me to leave it out :)


Peek at Consulting: Elise Gets Crafty podcast

Elise Gets Craft podcastIf you hadn’t heard, I was a guest on the Elise Gets Crafty podcast a couple weeks ago! Elise had made a remark in a blog post about how she wasn’t sure it was worth keeping her email list (of 3500+ subscribers!), and I left a comment that more or less said, “Girl. Let me help you.”

I am evangelical about email newsletters.

Everyone should have one.

I even tell my husband’s poor clients (bands and musicians) who barely even have a website and are trying to finish making their first record so they can get some live gigs.

“Yea, but do you have an email list?”

If you missed it, last year around this time I posted a short series of video chats with some coaching clients — You can watch them all here.

This podcast episode was almost the same kind of thing. Elise and I chatted about her specific audience, her specific business and I gave her specific ideas for how she could leverage her email marketing.

Listen to it here!


Reader Magnets: Build Your Audience Platform and Sell More Books on Kindle by Nick Stephenson — Geared toward fiction writers, but free to download and should give you great ideas about getting people on your newsletter and how to treat them once they are there.

People Want to Hear From You — How to get started with email marketing.

Email marketing resources — A big round-up from a couple years ago, but still so much good stuff.

P.S. Tons more email list resources in the BUILD ecourse!


Marketing 101: Marketing changes the world

Continuing our Marketing 101 series:

We’ve talked about the very basics of marketing, how to identify what you are offering, know how it helps people, and who those people are, how to make sure they know about it and knowing what to tell them and how to ask for it.

Marketing can be boiled down to this:
Know what you’re offering, how it helps people and make sure they know about it.

Here is what I believe:


Marketing, to me, is just better-focused customer service. You know someone has a problem, and you are offering them options to solve that problem. Therefore, if you can help someone solve a problem, you can change their life. If you can reach enough people and help them change their life, you are changing the world.

From one of my favorites, Seth Godin:

More than ever, though, folks grow up saying, “I want to change the world.” More than ever, that means telling stories, changing minds and building a tribe.

You know, marketing.

At least if you want it to be.

So true. 100%.

How does your product or service have the potential to change the world?

P.S. I am planning a free email marketing webinar for sometime in the next month or so, so make sure you’re on the email list for news of it.


Giveaway: BUILD ecourse

What do YOU want from life?400x400_buildpaced_neutral

Maybe you want to be a thought-leader and become a regular guest on daytime talk shows. Maybe you want to be a reality TV star. Maybe you want to launch a business selling handmade children’s aprons. Maybe you just want a second income to be able to quit your day job soon.

Either way, you need to build a community, build a business and build your blog.

I built a blog that has helped me quit my day job – with fewer than 1000 readers and ZERO advertisers.

Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess built a blog that can employ a whole team, get them a book deal and change their whole career trajectory.

My personal goals have been somewhat smaller, but my blog still has been the driving force behind reaching those goals and quitting my day job.

And I want to teach you to do the same.

The BUILD ecourse is for

  • stay at home moms who want to build a side income
  • small business owners who want more sales
  • aspiring thought-leaders who want speaking gigs or book deals
  • anyone creative who wants to accomplish something

Whatever your long-term goals are – if you want to do anything even remotely interesting or skill-based – a blog can help you reach them.

I’ve put months into crafting the BUILD self-paced blogging ecourse – complete with actionable steps, downloadable worksheets, hundreds of external resources and special BONUS video interviews.

It’s time to invest in that vision and really learn how to BUILD a blog that will be your platform for your future.

Enter below to win your spot in the BUILD ecourse!

Or, of course, you could just REGISTER NOW to get the big ol’ discount that is only good today!

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As Lara Casey says, there’s nothing magical about January 1. That said, today is just as good a day as any to start that one thing you’ve been thinking about for awhile.


How many different excuses have you come up with to keep yourself from starting? Are you afraid of failure or or afraid of success? Are you having to overcome the negativity of other people, or the negativity from yourself?

You keep telling yourself you are going to start someday — why not start today?

The most difficult part of most projects is the starting … and the finishing. So, get half of that over with now by beginning.

Start. NOW.

(leave your accountability requests in the comments)

P.S. I (hopefully) started 2 daily habits today.


Resources for setting and reaching goals

It’s that day! The first of January. Fresh start, new beginnings, and goal setting! I love using January first as an excuse to reset and visualize how the coming 12 months will play out …. Here are some great resources I’ve found for setting and reaching your goals:


‘Follow your passion’ is usually nonsense

Quick: What is your favorite thing to do ever ever ever and always?

Mine is reading. I’ve been a reader since I could pick up a book. My grandmother used to work at a bookstore and bring my bags and bags of paperbacks with the covers ripped off (it’s a weird publishing industry thing). I would read 2 or 3 books a day during my summer breaks. Those silly Pizza Hut reading challenges were a joke to me because I read that much and more all the time. I read basically any genre and I will gladly recommend you a book in any genre and my to read list on Goodreads is completely out of control.

I love reading with all my heart. It is essentially my only hobby.

But, did you catch that? It’s a HOBBY. Not a job.

Go read this post — How to choose a business — and learn all about why Naomi decided not to become a prostitute. It’s brilliant and funny and lays out 7 very smart reasons why turning what your friends say you are good at into business is not always wise.

I especially like #2 and #5. Both reasons why I am not a full-time developmental editor and don’t really want to be.

Following your passion, while it sounds like a good idea, and you certainly don’t want to pursue anything you’re not interested in, is not as cut and dry as you might like.

I didn’t really pursue marketing because I’m passionate about it….. although I do find it fascinating. If I was being honest, I am PASSIONATE about learning. Reading every book I can get my hands on. The non-teaching part of academia. But I can’t make a living going to school and haunting the library.

I can, however, make a living learning about things and translating them into useful products and services for other people.

I can offer myself as a developmental editor and make an income reading novels. But even then, not 40 hours a week.

Just because you love it with all your heart, does not mean it would make a good vocation.

Of course, there are exceptions. And of course if your passion really is small business accounting or teaching 2nd graders, then godspeed. But I know for most of L&R readers that is not the case.

P.S. For a probably better-said clarification, check out this post on why passion shouldn’t drive you.


What I’m working on this week

Working for myself means I get to decide what project I want to work on when — AND IT IS THE BEST. Just the other day, I tweeted about how reading Harry Potter totally counts as work for me this month.* Depending on what kind of blog content I have planned, I may need to be reading a non-fiction book for a review or working on a memory keeping project. I can be watching a video series on how to build my email list or reading a novel to provide edits to the author or journaling about when we bought our home for an example for a new product.

It’s the best.

This month is a combination of finishing projects started earlier this year and getting ready to start 2015 with a bang. Here’s what I’m working on this week, a look into what my to do list looks like ….

Editing my novel, working title Academy of Secrets

novel writing and editing

This will be my first completed and published novel (!). I would like to send it to my first round of beta readers this week (or, really, last week), so this is going to be the biggest chunk of my week. Throughout 2014 I dedicated A LOT of time to writing fiction, spent a lot of money on it and didn’t earn a penny. 2015 is going to be the opposite, hopefully, but the first thing to do is finish this novel. Tentative release the beginning of March. Sign-up here for first news!

Week in the Life album


This is the first memory keeping project I actually have attempted in 2014 and I really want to finish putting it together before the end of the year (especially considering the last time I did this project was 2011, and all those photos and journaling are still sitting on my harddrive). I have everything I need to finish, I just need to sit down and do it.

December Daily album


I love the holiday season and I love the idea of doing a December album, but if I don’t keep up with it semi-regularly I will never do it. So this week I am editing photos from last week and getting them printed. I’ll fill in some journaling and embellishments as I go. Little by little.

30 Days of Lists

To be honest, most of the WORK work is done for #30Lists. Which means I get to just spend some time in the Facebook group with the participants and keep 1 eye on email just in case. SUCH a fun project!

Blog party posts

January 1 will see 24 blog posts in 24 hours. That’s many weeks’ of content for Lemon and Raspberry, so I need to get started early. I begin with revisiting what I have done in the past (some post topics are great to use year after year), and then also brainstorm a bunch of more topics I could write about. I usually have about 30-40 post ideas ready and narrow them down to 24 by December 30 or 31.

Previous years I have spent most of the day December 31 (and even the morning of January 1) writing blog posts and I definitely don’t want to do that again! The earlier I start the better!

(I’m also accepting guest posts if you think you’d be a good fit!)

What are you working on this week?

*If you’re wondering how I am justifying that, remember that I am helping lead the Harry Potter book club, remember that I am launching a fiction-writing career. And every person in the Harry Potter book club is a super-passionate reader. What better way to find potential readers for my own books than get in front of and make friends with these readers? Therefore reading Harry Potter = marketing!

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5 resources to become an awesome small business owner

The question came up last week in Kara’s Babes Making Things Facebook Group, about if someone should go to school or if there was something she absolutely needed to do in order to be a designer and small business owner. I jumped on RIGHT AWAY to spew my self-taught-evangelism. I 100% believe that you can do it yourself.

be awesome resourcesMy husband went to trade school for 9 months and now is the very top of his industry through hard work and teaching himself. I have a blog that makes enough money to let me quit my job, and my 7 years in college were all about novels and critical analysis of text and not in the tiniest bit about marketing.

YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS ON YOUR OWN. Here are my favorite resources to take control of your small business and learn how to become an awesome small business owner:

Blogs: There are some *amazing* smart people out there writing every day or every week and just offering their knowledge for free on their blogs. I recommend Problogger, Jon Morrow, Seth Godin for sure.

Podcasts: If you have a long commute, or a lot of piecework or time that you watch TV or listening to music, I suggest trying podcasts instead. Briefly, a podcast is kind of like a radio show, except on demand. I am subscribed to more podcasts than I could ever possibly listen to, but they are in a variety of topics and I can learn all kinds of things just by listening to these free audio shows! (my favorites are here)

Email lists: Not unlike reading blogs, so many brilliant business people will send tips directly to you via email. And a lot of them offer exclusive content via email. I love Tara Gentile, Braid Creative and ittybiz among others.

CreativeLive: This began a few years ago as free live-streamed courses for photographers, but it is so much more than that! Design, business, life, money, etc. If you have the time to watch the courses live (usually 2 or 3 days from about 9am to 5pm) they are an amazing free resource. If you don’t have time, you can purchase the courses for a really low price and watch the hours of video whenever convenient. Here’s a glimpse at some classes coming up.

BUILD ecourse: I mean obviously, self-promo. But my goal with this ecourse is to be a one-stop-course to help you establish your foundation AND have the steps to build your business even further. I am super proud of the ecourse as-it-is and even more excited about what I have planned to add to it!

What are your favorite small business resources?


Pillar Content Webinar now available!

If you missed it earlier this year, I’ve just packaged up my webinar — Pillar Content: The Backbone of your Blog — for you!

This is the perfect resource to get you in the right headspace for the coming year. Very soon you will be setting your goals and resolutions for 2015 — know how your blog’s content is going to to fit in next year.

pillar content webinarIf you have a blog, your content is the heart of your online presence. The work you put out there on a daily or weekly basis is what you become known for to online readers all over the world.

Don’t you want to leverage that content to work for you again and again and again?

Grab this 1 hour, 7 minute recorded webinar that gives you all the examples and steps you need to create fantastic blog content that will bring you traffic (and income) for the long-haul.

Topics included:

  • What is Pillar Content?
  • Why you need Pillar Content
  • Examples of Pillar Content
  • How to structure and publish Pillar Content
  • How to promote Pillar Content
  • so many examples
  • action steps to take right away
  • … and so much more!

Bonus! The video includes a little bit before and after the webinar showing you how I broadcast it live.


WAIT! This video and SO MUCH MORE is in the BUILD ecourse. Upgrade to that full ecourse and learn how pillar content fits into your full online platform strategy.


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