Category Archives: Business

My top 5 takeaways from Alt

top 5 takeaways from alt // a thousand threads
I may have missed a few panels, but I still managed to walk away with some serious knowledge and inspiration that I can’t wait to put to good use. Here are my top 5 takeaways from Alt Summer 2014…

1 // Follow up. This internal case study from Megan Gilger was a real eye-opener for me. There are so many more things I could be doing to follow up after a campaign, both internally and with the brand.

2 // Get clear about the life you want, and run like hell at it. We were reminded over and over (and this is maybe one of the most awesome things about Alt) that we are so not alone. Success is about hard work and no sleep, you have to be relentless.

3 // Post to social media at 10, 12, and 4 every day. That’s when the most folks are available on both coasts. (Full disclosure: This advice came from Susan Peterson, who I think we can all agree knows exactly what she’s talking about, but I’m not sure which time zone she’s referring to. I do, however, find that 10-4 east coast time is my most active on Twitter.)

4 // Take advantage of “monetizable moments.” This is another one from the Alt panel on working with brands. Sure having a baby and getting married are moments to seize (I’m reminded of Joy the Baker’s tongue in cheek food blogger tip #3) but what about travel, shopping for a new home, and other big events? Not that it’s a requirement, but I haven’t always used these to the best of their ability.

5 // Set aside one day a month to dream big. I’m always dreaming, but I love the idea of setting some dedicated time aside.

P.S. See my top 6 takeaways from January’s Alt Summit here.

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Alt Summit Summer // Initial thoughts

alt summer 2014 // a thousand threads
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that January’s Alt Summit left me feeling a little discouraged. There were so many amazing folks doing so many amazing things, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever measure up. But I resolved to stop whining and work harder, knowing that the work would eventually pay off.

Last week I returned to Alt as a speaker, wondering if I’d have a completely different experience or if I might just leave with that same scary pit in my stomach as before.

Well I’m happy to report that I did have a completely different experience, but it wasn’t because I was speaking.

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Insta-game changers from Otherwise Hope

insta-game changers // otherwise hope for a thousand threads
Hey there! While Laicie’s rocking it out at Alt and celebrating the first anniversary of her 29th birthday, she (very kindly!) invited me to share a few photography tips. Photography is a long-held love. It’s one of the few things I can truly lose myself in. While I’ve always been an observer, it’s through photography that I’ve learned to examine, visually compose, and process my surroundings in a far more active manner. Since wrapping my fingers around an iPhone a few years ago, hardly a day a passes without capturing (at the least) a few images. What I’m sharing here is twofold: things to consider when shooting and a few inexpensive, but wildly indisposable tools to help improve your photos.

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The best Alt Summit reading & resources

the best alt summit resources // a thousand threads
Whether it’s your first or your fifth, if you’re headed to Alt next week I’d be willing to bet that right now there’s not much else on your mind.

It’s okay, I know how you feel, so today I thought I’d share a few of my very favorite resources I’ve come across — or what I like to think of as the no bs, down to business advice you really need.

// First and foremost, what not to stress about.

// You especially shouldn’t stress about what to wear.

// But just in case you can’t stop stressing, here’s ALT’s Flickr so you can see what folks tend to wear for yourself. (And then you can stop stressing and just be yourself.)

// What to do now to get your blog ready for Alt.

// A checklist of items to carry in your purse. (Another tip: I love to keep my business cards in a few small baggies and replace them with the cards I gather each day.)

// 21 really fabulous tips. (Like drink water and take chapstick — more important than you know.)

// And most importantly — more than anything else — if you see Mark and I there please come over and say hello! (Given the usual ratio, I think he might be easy to spot.)

Okay all, now speak up. Are you headed to ALT next week? What other resources or tips have you found that you love? If it’s your first time, are there any other questions I can answer before you go?

Folks staying home, any particular notes I can bring you back? (You can see the schedule here.)

Photo by Yvonne Rock.

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How to work with brands

how to work with brands // a thousand threads
Last week I posted a link to an article by Casey Neistat that I thought hit the “sponsorship” nail on the head. In it, he talks with some disdain about the folks who’ve reached out to ask him how they might talk a big brand into paying for their vacation. His answer boils down to this:

I have made 86 videos for my YouTube channel in the last couple of years. 8 of them were for clients, 78 of them were for me. My focus is and always has been on making the work I care about. It is an honor to have found a way to get paid to create work like this, something I value greatly. There are no shortcuts. No one is going to pay for your vacation, no one cares, no one gives a shit and they never will. If you want something, anything, do the work and earn it.

It’s harsh, but true, and I can identify with what he means. There are no easy breaks here… and the goal isn’t the perk. The perk is just a nice bonus. The goal is the dream.

On the other hand, I know where those folks are coming from. The ones who contact Neistat about sponsorship unicorns. And it’s not always, as Casey understandably assumes, that they’re really just looking for someone to finance their vacation. Rather, I’d be willing to bet that most of those folks are looking for some way, any way, to follow their dream. Because whether that dream is to write or take pictures or make films or art or anything else, we all know it won’t come cheap. So in today’s world of underfunded art programs and shrinking newspaper staff, makers and doers are turning inward, looking for a way to reach their goals on their own… and the path that many, including both Casey and those who’ve reached out to him for advice, are turning up is that sponsorship is key.

But how do you make it happen? How do you catch the eye of one of those brands that really “gets it” and is willing to invest in the power of a dream you both share. Well in addition to reiterating the advice quoted above, because it will be hard work, I thought I’d pass along a few real-world tips I’ve picked up along the way.

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Small business diaries // Starting a cottage home food business

// starting a cottage home food business
First, I just have to say thank you all again for your support. This is such an amazing/exciting/terrifying time in our lives and it really does mean so much to have you all cheering us on. It gives us the strength we need on those nights when we’re still baking at four in the morning and those mornings when we just don’t want to get out of bed, and it’s huge. So thank you so, so much. You might not know it, but you really are an incredibly important part of our little lives.

But before I get too mushy (more than I already have) let’s get down to business. Since I haven’t been able to share our journey with you over these past two years, we have a whole lot of catching up to do! Starting with this very important piece. Dough Uprising started with a dream (literally, but that’s a story for another day) but I’m not sure if that dream would have become a reality without the cottage home food industry. It certainly wouldn’t have helped our cause.

In the beginning, we had a name and an idea, but no clue how to put it all into action. We didn’t have much money, so we knew that we needed to start small. We thought of selling at farmer’s markets, and thought that maybe we could license our own kitchen with a few adjustments, but not so much.

In Maryland it’s very tough to have a home kitchen licensed, since it has to be removed from the rest of the house. Basements and guest houses are awesome, but for those of us who live in basement-less townhomes the options are few. Thank goodness for this one little exception.

In ours and in many other states across the country, cottage food laws exist that allow small food businesses to work out of their home kitchen under strict regulations. Prior to getting started with Dough Uprising, we’d never heard of these laws, but learning about them changed our lives.

Different states have different rules and unfortunately, at this time, some places still don’t have these laws at all (you can look up your state’s specifics here), but if you’re thinking about starting your own cottage home food business, these are a few of the more general restrictions you’ll find…

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Introducing // Dough Uprising

introducing: dough uprising // a thousand threads
I’ve been waiting for this moment for a very long time, you guys, but now that it’s here I can barely find the words… I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to our little labor of love.

Dough Uprising isn’t a bakery: it’s a revolution. And we’re ready to take over the world — or at least our little corner of it.

Our official launch is this Sunday at the Urbana Library Farmer’s Market here in Frederick, and I hope if you’re in the area you’ll come by!

Our ingredients are sourced locally and all of our products are made entirely by hand. We’ll have whole pies, hand pies, and baguettes to start the weekend, and it won’t be long before we add pasticiotti and cold brew to the mix.

Even if you can’t come visit us (and I so wish you all could!) I hope you’ll come join us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

We’ll be updating regularly, but we promise to keep the propaganda to a minimum. And keep an eye out for the official launch of our website coming any day!

We can’t even begin to contain our excitement at finally getting this business plan — that began (literally) with a dream more than two years ago — off the ground. I’m so thankful for all of the support we’ve had along the way, from friends who are surely tired of tasting pie to family who’ve believed so generously in our dreams to all of you who’ve waited so patiently as I’ve hinted at this plan relentlessly for who knows how long.

It’s just the beginning of this little project of ours, but just getting here feels like such a success. I can’t imagine feeling happier or more hopeful than I do right now.

Click through to see a few more shots of our process and pies (we had so much fun with this shoot!) …

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The two minute rule

the two minute rule to get shit done // a thousand threads
It’s no secret around here that I’m a list maker… an organizer with a penchant for itineraries and planners and 40 different apps to schedule my day. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

But this one little rule might be so brilliant as to shatter just the tiniest bit of a corner of my list-loving regime.

I’ve heard the tip before, but applied to email, and for some silly reason I never thought to apply it to everything else. Essentially, the rule is that if you think of something you need to do that would take two minutes or less, do it right then. Don’t wait, because all of that planning and organizing and putting it on your list will take longer than the task itself. Not only will you save time, but you’ll get the productivity ball rolling in the right direction.

What do you think? Is this something you already do? Or, if you’re a list-maker like me, would you consider making an exception for the two minute rule?

Photo by Sharon Radisch.

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Small business diaries // Bree of Capitol Romance

an interview with bree of capitol romance // a thousand threads
For some time now, I’ve wanted to start talking to all of you about the process of starting a small business, partly because this little blog has become a small business of its own, but also because soon I’ll have another slightly bigger business to talk to you all about.

In this new series, titled “Small business diaries,” I’ll interview some of my favorite small businesses, share tips, and throw some of my very own diary entries into the mix… because a lot of the process is fun and games, but a whole lot is also not (Mark and I are trudging through some seriously un-fun stuff right now). And whether you have your own small business dreams, or you just enjoy hearing about the day to day, I want to give you the real stuff… the whole story.

The story that sometimes means working 3-4 jobs like this lovely lady here… who runs one of the coolest businesses (the coolest business?) in DC. But also the story that brings a sense of community and satisfaction like no other around… and the story we wouldn’t give up for the world.

I can’t wait for you to get to know Bree and her story below — and when you’re done, be sure to check out her amazing new workshops. I so needed one of these when I was planning my wedding — frankly I’m jealous of you brides out there who get to go.

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Setting a workday schedule (so you can relax)

breathe // a thousand threads
I’ll admit, lately I’ve been repeating that phrase a lot, trying to remind myself to take a break. When you’ve got a lot going on, it can be easy to fall into the busy trap and never stop to come up for air. And I’m always looking for a way to squeeze just that much more in — which can be terrible if you fill the available time with more work, but amazing if you use that free time to take a breath and enjoy a few moments of silence. So, in honor of silence, here’s one new way I’ve managed to squeak out a little extra time, and leave work at work.

By setting a schedule and sticking to it, I’m able to cut down on a lot of the distractions I’d normally get lost in — Pinterest, I’m looking at you. And once I’ve ticked everything off the list, that’s it. I can stop and relax, knowing that everything is done.

Of course each day varies with its own more specific tasks, but with my work flow all laid out I’m able to concentrate on my to do list and actually get something done, instead of falling into the black hole of social media that can suck me in for hours.

MY WORKDAY SCHEDULE

Morning //
// Finish anything urgent or on a tight deadline.
// Read the news, catch up, and schedule tweets for the day. (30 minutes)
// Post blog post to Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest. (5 minutes)

Daytime //
// DO NOT continue to stare at social media. It’s hands off for now.
// Respond to ALL email. (30 minutes)
// Get shit done. (Exactly how it’s worded in my schedule.)

Evening //
// Read blogs, say hi to friends. (30 minutes)
// Play on Pinterest. (30 minutes)

For me, this schedule runs from train time in the morning to train time at night (the biggest part of my commute). Once I’m home, I usually circle back to work on the blog — such is the life — but if I’ve stuck to my schedule I can do it without any worries hanging over my head from the day. I know I have my emails out of the way, my social media under control, and I’ve made a big dent in the rest of my work. If there’s something left over, it can wait until the next day when I’ll do it all again.

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