The Brand Market Workshop Recap

April 29, 2014·

This past Saturday I attended the Brand Market Workshop in Raleigh, NC. I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d share a little recap, but a lot of you asked me how it went AND since this is a TRAVELING workshop, some of you may want to attend it yourselves! The Brand Market Workshop is headed to New York City on May 31st and Los Angeles on June 14th! There are other cities in the works for the rest of the year… so keep an eye out! 🙂 

I’m not going to recap the whole thing because that would take forever and about 17 blog posts, BUT, I just thought I’d share a little bit of a breakdown of the day, a little bit of my thoughts on it, AND a little bit of who I think the workshop would be good for. 

I found out about The Brand Market through Anna at In Honor of Design. Anna is the founder of the workshop and I’d been a follower of her blog for a while and when I heard it was coming to Raleigh, I knew I wanted to attend. Anna is the “main” speaker at every workshop, but each location has “featured” speakers with people local to that area. Mike and Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange Blog and Wild Measure were the featured speakers on Saturday and they were amazing!

It was held at HQ Raleigh – a REALLY cool co-working space in downtown. Slingshot coffee fueled us in the morning and I, literally, had my first cup of coffee ever. I don’t think I’m going to become a coffee drinker, BUT, it was pretty good!

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The day was broken down into three main portions:

  • Branding
  • Photography
  • Marketing

I registered for the workshop totally on a leap of faith not knowing if it would really be a good investment for me, if I would know anyone there, or even if I’d get anything out of it! I was really excited to see Kristin from Bird + Beau and Kate from The Small Things Blog walk in shortly after I got there. I met Kate almost two years ago and I met Kristin a few months ago, so seeing familiar faces was nice!

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In the morning branding portion of the workshop, Anna, Mike, and Megan just really focused on the importance of a strong BRAND in any blog or business. I loved that everyone attending the workshop was coming from very different places. Some were small business owners, there were non-profit directors, bloggers, photographers, and hobbyists. Everyone just had a passion for creative entrepreneurship and it was awesome.

The big takeaways I took from the morning branding portion were:

  • Know your brand and what you want people to feel when they see / interact with your brand
  • Hire when it hurts
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses and… hire when it hurts!
  • Strong photography, strong branding, and a strong website design are KEY if you want to leave a strong first impression on potential new customers / readers, etc.

In between the first and second sessions we had a break for one-on-one sessions and lunch. Which, side note, I had the MOST DELICIOUS sandwich ever for lunch… it was a chicken salad sandwich with avocado and tomato that I’ve been dreaming of ever since and I WILL recreate. Oh man. So delish. But I digress.

While waiting for my one-on-one session with Anna, it was just a great time to meet and network with the people at my table around me. I had a great time catching up with Kate and we just shared some of our similar experiences with being new moms and blogging and all that whatnot.

My one-on-one session with Anna was great, I just wish it could have been longer! I filled out a long questionnaire before the workshop about my goals, my experiences, my vision etc. and she took a lot of what I said into account.

After one-on-ones was the photography portion of the workshop… it was broken down into styled shoots (styling for images), Instagram, outfit posts, and overall techniques for making your images stronger. I, naturally, loved this portion of the workshop! As y’all know I love photography and have been shooting part-time on the side for a few years now, so I’m always looking for ways to make my images better and for new ways to look at styling images.

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Mike and Megan (above) spent a good amount of time on really simple ways to take an image that would be “okay” and really make it stand out and strong. If you don’t follow their blog, you are missing out on some GORGEOUS photography. I am obsessed with their pictures!

Megan gave some simple tips on styling and she even emphasized how you do NOT have to have a DSLR camera to make your images really amazing:

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We then had some time to practice for ourselves…

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She even set up another area for us to practice shooting and told us to try to shoot with both our phones and our DSLR cameras…

This is the image shot with my phone here:

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And this is the same image shot with my DSLR camera here:The Brand Market Workshop Recap (9)

And I even attempted it for myself with the stuff in my swag bag when I got home (below is just shot with my iPhone):

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I realize I’m totally just skimming over this and over-simplifying it… but I just want to give you the bird’s eye view of the day. 

Other Brand Market attendees hard at work practicing taking photos for styled shoots:

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Then we went outside and Anna gave some really great pointers on ways to take style / outfit posts to the next level. This was also GREAT for businesses and shops that are trying to promote a product.

My only regret here is not bringing my notebook outside with me… I mentally wrote a bunch of stuff down and then totally forgot it when I went back inside… haha! But I learned a lot of great tips from this portion.

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Anna also emphasized the importance of Instagram in your business and in your blog. I realized that I really need to be more intentional with my Instagram use… I, admittedly, LOVE Instagram and can get kinda frivolous with posting… they all gave some GREAT tips on improving your photography and presence on it.

The last part of the day was on marketing and how to really take your business / blog / etc. to the next level and get your name out there. I took like four pages of notes during this session! No joke. A lot of it was things I already knew or things I’m already doing, but in a lot of ways, it was giving me the confidence to maybe try something new or look at something in a fresh way.

So often I feel like I get stuck in a rut of looking at the same thing every day or doing the same thing the same way because it’s “How it’s been done.” But what I REALLY realized I needed was a swift kick in the pants to step out of my comfort zone and stretch in this area.

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At the end of the day was a Q&A session which was also really helpful, but honestly, where I got the most value was at the dinner afterwards… even though it wasn’t officially part of the day, Anna, Mike, Megan, and a bunch of us all went out to dinner after the workshop and we just got to relax and talk and get to know each other.

I spent some time speaking with some of the amazing women who attended and getting to know their businesses, blogs, backgrounds, etc. I also talked a little more in depth with Anna and Megan about some things I’ve been thinking and feeling and some of the fears and apprehensions I have. They really took the time to listen to me and offer me advice and I walked away feeling way more confident about my goals and what I want to do and where I want to grow.

It was exactly what I needed.
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Overall, I loved the day. I walked away with things I didn’t expect to walk away with. I went into it expecting one thing but getting a whole other thing out of it… if that makes sense.

If you are a blogger looking to REALLY take it seriously and grow, learn and change your way of thinking when it comes to your blog, if you are a small business owner, a director of a non-profit, a creative entrepreneur, or if you just feel like you need a total mindset shift or you need someone to hit the RESET button on your work-life… then The Brand Market Workshop is for you.

I have a list like 12 miles long (exaggeration) of things that I want to do and try and areas I want to grow in and I just can’t WAIT to really sit down and make a plan of action and get it going.

So that’s a little recap of the day… I hope that this was helpful for any of you considering attending in a city near youWhat other questions do you have? Have you attended the Brand Market Workshop in another city? What are you learning lately?