This is waffling but I have just been to an Elevate event and I am feeling a bit philosophical. You know I love a window, right? So much so that I did a whole load of blog posts called Window Wednesday because I wanted to share my love of windows. How they frame a picture beyond. Allow you to be drawn to them whilst in the room. Or just blow you away with their own beauty.
Somewhere in the past year with all that has been going on at home I lost my blogging mojo, and with it my posting about windows and everything else that I used to write about. Which is why when I saw a one day workshop being launched on Instagram late last year my interest was piqued and I signed up to attend. The idea behind the day was to address what your brand is on line which might seem a bit odd for a blogger but we ARE all brands. What we are beyond that though is often the thing we struggle with and I was keen to try and find out just who I wanted to be online. Who I wanted other people to think I was and what I stood for. Who IS MummyBarrow and what the heck am I trying to achieve basically. Oh and how to be a person that brands want to work with.
I came away from that first workshop at the Thames Lido buzzing with ideas and acknowledging that the massive bubble of self-doubt I was living in had a name: Imposter Syndrome. It was holding me back from putting myself out there and Sarah, who ran the session, gave us all some great insight into the syndrome and how we could overcome it. It resonated with me so much that I wrote about it here: Rethinking Imposter Syndrome
Fast forward a couple of months and I saw that Helen and Antonia were running another day, this time at Stoke Park. Again addressing who we want to be online but with different speakers and slightly different topics that I was keen to learn all about. I couldn’t really afford to spend the money but felt that if I came away feeling half as positive as I did after the last one it would have been a sound investment. And boy was it.
The events are called Elevate Creative and are day long workshops focussing on helping those of us who live our lives on line, to learn and develop our brand (this was actually the third event but I was away for the second one). Exactly what I had been struggling to do for the past year and a half. The event at Stoke Park on Friday was kicked off by really looking into what a Brand is and how to make it one that is compelling and consistent. We explored beyond that, why credible is better than authentic, what our audience wants, how we can differentiate ourselves from others and how to make people trust us. It was fascinating.
It was also hands on and as we filled in the questionnaires Julie (Guppy, head of global marketing at WSP) had given bus all I found myself staring out of that window, thinking about all the questions Julie had posed. Mulling over statements like “don’t hang out with people the same as you. You won’t make money”. How many bloggers just hang out with other bloggers? When you think about it if we want to make money from our brands we need to hang out and get in the conversations of the people we are trying to attract.
I went on to chat to Julie over lunch and she was very open with her wisdom and planted a seed in my head that is really starting to grow.
If Instagram is where the best people are hanging out and the coolest of those are at the bar, don’t fight to be at the front of the bar if that isn’t who you really are. Maybe you need to be in the queue for the loos
That isn’t an absolute quote but the gist of what Julie said was so true. If you are struggling to keep up and to forge your way on Instagram by using apps, filters, battling the algorithm and trying to find your tribe amongst the big accounts you might not ever feel it is the right place for you. Take a step back, be you, get in the queue for the loo and you might find the conversation there is much more “you”.
The more I thought about this the more sense it makes. I have been spinning myself into knots trying to get to grips with video apps, templates, analysing analytics but it just isn’t me. I am much more about “just keeping it real”. I am not slick or polished in real life so why am I trying to be that person online? I don’t go to the coolest bars in town and hang out with famous people so why am I busting a gut to do it on Instagram?
Also thinking that Instagram was something I should focus on more than my blog, somehow seeing them as separate when in fact they should be linked.
Definitely something to consider if you are finding Instagram all a bit overwhelming and a bit “what the hell am I doing here?” at the moment.
Other sessions included Antonia telling us how to write a killer “About Me” page (hint, it isn’t about you, it’s about other people. You can read my revamped version here if you fancy a nosey: Who Is MummyBarrow)
Helen talked to us about branding our Instagram feed (if you don’t follow Helen over there you really should, not only is her feed beautiful but she is ON IT in terms of knowing what is happening with Instagram and freely shares her knowledge). Sophie Lindsay gave us a whole list of tips for being confident in front of the camera and how to take better portrait photos. Including standing facing a window and holding your phone between the window and your face to take a picture. The results were SO much better than when we stood sideways or with our backs to the window.
My gorgeous friend CJ Brough ended the day by talking about online influencers and how to pitch to brands (just do it!) whilst also introducing us all to Mirabeau Wine (hello. Rose that is fabulous all year round).
And we left with amazing goodie bags, with friendships made (I finally got to meet Lara who I have chatted to online for YEARS but had never met), notes written, heads full of ideas and our hearts bursting with a renewed love of our online spaces.
Do keep an eye out for other Elevate Workshops or any events run by Helen or Antonia.