After attending a Latinx marketing event and being impressed with the caliber of information and expertise, I applied for the organizer’s Arizona Latino Bloggers workshop and was selected. I expected to see improvements in my blog but I wasn’t expecting to reconnect with my culture and purpose.
Pura Vida Sometimes was the result of a perfect storm in my life. I needed to connect to my own voice as a writer, have something all my own as a mother, share interesting life experiences with others, research new media as a marketer, and I had the dream of leaving a legacy for my daughter… with the possibility for financial gains eventually.
Up until this point, however, I was blogging in a bubble. I was researching and going through the steps of creating and promoting a blog, in all it’s technical fervor, which you can read about in The Truth About Blogging (& Blogging Tips for Beginners). I was doing well on the science of blogging, with a few missteps but always correcting course quickly, and it was a very personal and anti-social exercise. It was going well.
But at the end of May, I was selected to be a part of the Arizona Latino Bloggers 2017 cohort, a workshop expertly created to elevate Phoenix in the blogging world and highlight some of the community’s Latinx creators. The workshop was made possible by Eric Diaz of Collectivo, media and real estate mogul Nely Galan (former president of Telemundo) with The Adelante Movement, and Kathy Murillo of Crafty Chica, my blogger fairy godmother. Kathy is the mera mera of Latino DIY, she has her own line with major craft stores, has authored novels and instructional books, and is the champion of all things glitter. She is a beacon of sparkling positivity and a tireless source of good ideas.
Influential Latinos in Media
We spent five Saturdays together in June and July, learning about branding, purpose and vision, content creation, presentation and business plans, photography and video, SEO, social media, publicity, and making money. We also had two very special guests: George “Urban Jíbaro” Torres of Sofrito for Your Soul and Maya in the Moment, Maya Murillo of BuzzFeed.
George and Kathy both began early in the digital space and spent their careers fighting for Latino representation in the media. In a few hours, George wove us a soulful golden web about his own journey with successes and failures. He told us to do what we love and be poetic about it, be authentic, be vulnerable and if you’re doing you and someone doesn’t like it, “Don’t give a shit.” He also encouraged us to support and elevate each other – share tools, resources, and information.
“How creative are you that you’re going to take it to the next level? I’ll teach you so that I can then learn from you.” – George “Urban Jíbaro” Torres
Maya, a YouTube star and producer at Buzzfeed, gave us video and content creation tips, spoke about how she achieved a series of viral successes and told us about how growing up in a creative, media-focused family shaped her own career path.
Creativity fuels creativity, and this cohort was comprised of an amazing group of writers, photographers, videographers, and personalities. We bonded over our blogs, shared culture, life goals, and the mission of properly representing and growing the Phoenix blog community. We shared stories far beyond the trials and tribulations of blogging, and formed a supportive network, a community, a family.
Arizona Latino Bloggers workshop takeaways
Not to dismiss any of the hard science of blog construction, brand work, photo editing tips, and social media hacks we gleaned over the last couple months – I’d love to tell you more later – but there were a few philosophical shifts in my approach to blogging I took away from the course.
- Doing things right is more important than doing them quickly: it’s the reason to move from Blogger to WordPress and the reason to build a media kit rather than launching head first with your top-of-mind schtick. Do the groundwork and look like the money you want to earn, but that said…
- Trial and error above perfection: blogs live and breathe. It’s easy to take forever and over-think your posts, but rather than waiting for perfection, launch your best, and if something needs to change later, as the editor and publisher, you have the ability to edit, update, or delete.
- Meet the reader where they’re at: if your readers love something you’ve done, even if it’s not your favorite post, you may have found the topic where there’s a need – explore giving them more. To some extent, your niche finds you.
- Just don’t give a shit: be authentic, be you, build your own brand, celebrate who you are, and add your own flavor to everything – your Sofrito, if you will. Haters gonna hate. Not everyone needs to like you, not everyone will. Stop giving a shit.
- Have a business plan: look at the big picture and plan for a bright future. Don’t short-change yourself on the front end.
- We write our own story: editor, publisher, unique human. No one else can dictate what role you play in a city, in an industry, in a creative space. We have an outlet. We give ourselves a voice.
Immediate improvements on Pura Vida Sometimes
Early on, Kathy confirmed my suspicions that I needed to move to WordPress, so during the course of the workshop, I migrated over, fixed everything that broke, fixed everything that I didn’t even know was wrong on my last site, and did all the SEO (if you missed me in the last month or so, that’s why). I’m back and I think my site is better than ever – it finally does what I want it to, so please let me know what you think. If there’s something you’d like to see more of, now I can give it to you! I opened a PVS Facebook page and I’m swimming in insights. And as much as I love clean beauty (there are so many stellar blogs in that space), probably less of that – with a renewed sense of purpose, I hope to do more of where I think I can make a difference…stay tuned.
A professional revelation for me, though I have an MBA in global brand management, was how much room for improvement there was in my blog’s branding, specifically when it comes to targeting, pitching, and presentation. In blogging, you really need to know how to talk about yourself in a way that people will listen. You have to do it with finesse, without ever bending in who you are. I’ve worked a lot in old school marketing, but lately, my skills in webdev, SEO, social, and digital everything have grown exponentially.
Hands-down, my greatest personal takeaway from AZ Latino Bloggers
In our first class, Kathy taught us (which is also emphasized in Nely Galan’s extremely empowering Self Made) that when you have a side hustle, such as blogging, maybe there are personal reasons for doing it, but you’re building your legacy, your own personal empire on whatever level that resonates with you. Maybe you’re doing it to make a name for yourself or maybe you’re diversifying your income to help support your family, but it deserves to be treated as a legitimate business. You need to dedicate the resources required to build a better tomorrow for you and yours.
I started Pura Vida Sometimes when my family was going through difficult times financially, so aside from wanting to give my daughter something to be proud of and wanting to use my own voice and write about things I cared about, I’m going to be honest, I wanted to make money and go to cool events for free. Since then, there have been moments of extreme guilt, because sometimes writing takes time away from playing ponies, coloring, or doing puzzles with my beautiful girl. Whenever I’m with her, I make sure I’m mindful and present, but the workshop reinforced for me that I’m not robbing her by spending time on building my brand because the intention is that it will lead to better things and more freedom for the whole family.
Kathy set an example for her kids. She built her enterprise from the ground up – tireless hours spent crafting, writing, pitching, and hustlin’. She involved her kids early on and when they were ready, she gave them the tools to pursue their own dreams in the digital space and make a name for themselves. Maya, who aside from being an internet starlet is also Kathy’s daughter, said that early on she noticed that Crafty Chica took her mom’s attention sometimes, but that as she got older she developed a real appreciation for what her mom had created. I flashed-forward 20 years to a conversation with my own daughter, hoping she’ll feel the same and be equipped to find her own greatness as Maya has.
This is just the beginning
Arizona Latino Bloggers hoped to establish Phoenix as a critical market for Latino influencers and content creation, which it is actively doing, but it also helped us creators set the bar higher for ourselves, and more importantly, it has set the foundation for an organic, supportive familia of creatives, communicators, Latinos with common goals and shared cultures.
All I have to say is that Arizona Latino Bloggers are putting our pinche pin in the map! ¡Adelante!