Building Bridges to Build Your Brand

HOW TO UTILIZE NON-MUSICAL OPPORTUNITIES TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND

I have been a lifestyle writer for a few years now and while I love writing about fitness, humor, and the best-kept secrets in Seattle for local publications, I sometimes struggle with how to tie everything back to what I care about the most, my music! Between Youtube, blogs, Facebook, etc. it can feel like the content ends up splitting the audience as opposed to driving them back to a main site. However, through partnerships and diversifying what I do, that ultimately helps drive awareness to my brand, even when it may seem unrelated.

I recently agreed to write an article about holiday shoes for a local publication, Bellevue Lifestyle and Neiman Marcus provided the shoes and clothes for the shoot. I had the BEST time trying on uber fancy outfits and feeling super fly in some of the best designers around. However, I feel it imperative to state that I am not a model by any means and decided to get out of my comfort zone for the experience. You know that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie agrees to model for Dolce and Gabbana? That felt all too familiar when I was telling the Neiman Marcus rep that I would need “normal people sizes” and felt it necessary to reiterate that I am not, nor am I trying to be a model. :) The increased sizes aside, I am so glad I did it because I had an amazing time, got some great content out of it, and will be tagging Bellevue Lifestyle and Neiman Marcus in all my posts about it, which just builds credibility and shows other brands what I can offer.

The point is, do it! Seek out and don’t shy away from these opportunities because they can only help you. Here are some tips that have allowed me get out my comfort zone and get to out-of-the-box thinking…

1) Always say Yes to a meeting:

Even when I’m not sure if I want to participate in something, more times than not when I sit down or have a call with the person pitching the opportunity, I find that there are more overlaps and angles for a partnership than I originally thought. And if not, it doesn’t hurt to come up with creative solutions yourself and then pitch those as a secondary option. Even if you ultimately decide to decline, you never know when making that connection can turn into something down the road.

2) Know your brand:

Only you know if something is a good fit for you and your brand. If you’re a punk rocker, it probably wouldn’t make sense to partner with an Americana Hat company. There have been times earlier in my career when I said yes to something, got the product, and realized the quality wasn’t something that I could promote. That makes things a lot more awkward than just declining the first time around. If there’s a product or brand you already love and use for live shows or practice, reach out to them to see if they need reps to use a new product at your next show.

3) Cross-promotion is key:

The whole point of partnerships is to expand your audience! Both for you and the brand or company you’re partnering with. That’s what make collaborations so powerful these days is the fact that musicians already have a following so if you do a duet with someone in your same genre or record a song with someone in a totally different one, you can double or triple the exposure by tagging each other when you promote the final product.

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4) Get out of your comfort zone

Like I mentioned above, I am not a natural model nor (like most women) am I completely happy with my body - we ALL have insecurities and a lot of times the ones we obsess the most about are the ones that other people don’t even notice. But if you don’t ever push what you’re comfortable with, you’ll stay in the same spot. Obviously it’s OK if something just isn’t a good fit for you, but if the only thing that’s holding you back is YOU, don’t let those thoughts win. You’ll be surprised where those experiences will take you and what you’ll learn.

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So basically, the key is to not only always be open to new opportunities, but be on the lookout for angles, campaigns and partnerships that would benefit both you and who you’re working with. We live in a world where social media has no limits so take advantage of the fact that there’s a whole audience at your fingertips! Also, look out for the December issue of Bellevue Lifestyle to see all the amazing winter shoe looks from Neiman Marcus!

Much love,

-SG

Story Behind the Song: No Limits

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I haven’t been this excited about a song in a long time. I feel like most of the time when I release new tunes, but this song in particular will be the biggest departure from anything I’ve done before. I tend to only write ballads (which is pretty easy to do when piano is your main instrument) but a huge part of me loves cheesy pop music that forces you to dance or at least bob your head to the beat. With this track, we tried to combine my love of 90’s Pop and R&B with a contemporary alternative hip-hop vibe and I can’t wait for people to hear it!

For those who don’t know about the process of releasing a song or album, there is a pretty standard method involved that requires the following: mixing and mastering, album art, distribution, release timeline, and promotion. Usually, at least in my case, I start with what I want the end result to be and work backwards. However, being a big picture dreamer, my desired end result and reality often have to fight against one another before they reach an acceptable landing spot together.

For example, in my head, I had a vision of the cover art consisting of some version of me standing on a glass floor high above the city with amazing views and neon lights everywhere. Given I had about a week to pull it off, I settled for using the amazing lookout points around Seattle to get the same feeling of being high above the city lights. My husband Jake and I headed downtown one random weeknight and decided to do some test shots to see which area/setting we liked the best. I hadn’t intended on any of these shots being very useable but that’s the beauty of art and creativity - you never know when a little magic and destiny will take over and put your original vision to shame.

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The street we were on has always been a favorite of mine.

I used to run it all the time. A string of Parisian looking streetlights border this one descending street that overlooks the water and comes to an end at one of Seattle’s most famous views, Kerry Park. The sun was setting, the street lamps automatically came on, and the combination made for some pretty cool looking shots.

It wasn’t until we were editing the pictures that Jake realized the very streetlight I had chosen to lean against was one he had not only seen before but had significant sentimental value. He lost a good friend in high school to cancer and the number 12, (his friend’s sports number) has served as a reminder to those who loved Jeff and a way to honor him and his memory. Years earlier, the bold ’12’ that marked that street lamp caught Jake’s eye. He snapped a picture and sent it to Chris, Jeff’s brother and Jake’s best friend for decades.

We had already liked the direction the editing was going with this specific picture and once we realized the significance of where we randomly decided to shoot, it seemed like more than a coincidence. I knew at that moment I had to use that image as the cover art. Especially since the song was inspired by how Jake and I dream together, it made us feel like Jeff was there with us rooting us along our journey.

They say that art imitates life and it’s moments like this where that couldn’t be more true.

That’s what I love about creating…

Have a vision and a plan, yes, but when you don’t fight where you’re being lead, there are these beautiful moments along the way that could be missed otherwise. This life is short. Dream big and let the journey lead you to wherever you’re meant to be!

To see daily updates, follow me on instagram! I'd love to hear your story and what you're creating - reach out to me on socials or email info@susangblog.com.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

-SG

How to Utilize Brand Partnerships for Shows

 Outfit Sponsored by Peridot Boutique, Seattle.

Outfit Sponsored by Peridot Boutique, Seattle.

When I was younger dreaming about my music career and getting a degree in creative writing, I really had no concrete idea of what my actual job would be one day. I'd watch VH1's "Behind the Music" and envision my friends talking about our adventures as clips of me singing on stage in front of thousands of people came in and out of their interviews...you know, staying very grounded in reality. :) But now with blogging and music taking up most of my time every day, I feel incredibly fortunate and finally have an answer for everyone that asked "So...do you want to be a teacher?" when I told them I was an English major. Among the many perks of being a content creator, one of my favorite things about being a blogger/musician is by far, brand partnerships! This is a fairly new endeavor for me but is quickly becoming something that excites me almost as much as my music and cross-promotion with people and products I believe in, makes it a win for everybody. I recently played at the West Seattle Beer and Music Festival and the experience was a perfect example of all of that.

Peridot Boutique in Queen Anne, Seattle has been my favorite for years! They dressed me from head to toe (with the guidance of my amazing stylist extraordinaire, Quinn Barker) and had a blast on stage in their clothes!

Not only do they have amazing looks, accessories, and seasonal trends, they also have the best candle in the world.

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Volcano Candle from Capri-Blue

that I will never not be obsessed with.

However, candles aside, I was THRILLED to partner with Peridot for the festival!

I had a blast on stage in their clothes! It's hard to find styles that look great when I'm performing but that are comfortable to stand and dance in - especially since I much prefer a sneaker to a stiletto. I all but drooled over these Dolce Vita Snakeskin Boots and they gave me a lift while still being comfortable for my entire hour set and beyond!

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Dolce Vita Boots

The full look consisted of:

Dolce Vita Boots: (@dolcevita)

Blazer: Kensie Clothing (@kensie_clothing),

Top: Lira Womens (@lirawomens),

Shorts: Volcom Womens (@volcomwomens),

Hat: Wyeth (@wyeth_usa)

Style: Quinn Barker

HMUA: Seattle Beauty Boss (@seattlebeautyboss)

Full Look Courtesy of Peridot Boutique Seattle

I loved getting to work with one of my favorite boutiques in the city and can't wait to share with you all my favorite looks, products, and brands in the future!

For brand partnerships inquiries, email info@susangblog.com

Much Love,

-SG

The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media

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I realize that generally speaking, this article is not needed for most people under the age of 19, however, even as an avid social media user, it’s so easy to just post away (or not post at all) without even thinking. I used to be one of these people and in the past few months have been determined to utilize social media, not only build brand awareness, but to grow an engaged community. In reading multiple books and articles on this subject, I think I have the general formula down - at least for now! Whether you are starting a business, want to grow your online presence, or have never posted a picture in your life, here are some go-to tips to help you be successful!


Do Use Stories:

You may feel like you’re coming across conceited and think “who cares what kind of smoothie I drink in the morning?” Honestly, a lot of people. How many times have you gone down an Instagram or snapchat hole watching people doing the most mindless things and are totally engaged? I’ve watched Retta (follow her, she’s hilarious) make coffee almost every morning for a year and it still doesn’t get old! Stories are where you want to put the day to day haps of your life while showing authenticity and a less edited version of yourself.

Don’t Post Pics that aren’t Quality and/or Edited:

Especially if you have a business account, you need to treat your Instagram page like it’s your portfolio. If you’re a photographer, model, or business owner, this is extremely crucial to people taking you seriously. Whoever is looking at your profile should know within 7 seconds who you are, what you look like, and what you do. If you’re posting just for fun, know that a quality image goes a lot farther than a blurry picture of your dog’s tail as it runs away.


Do Tag friends and brands:

Tagging can help multiply your viewers extremely fast, as well as help out those your tagging. By tagging your friends, they may share it, which gets their followers eyes on your post as well. By tagging the Nike shoes you’re sporting, your post could likely come up in a search for sneakers that leads to a follow of your page instead. And if you’re looking to get into the influencer market, tagging can help let brands know of you and may even lead to a campaign or two.

Do Use Hashtags:

Remember - hashtags are your friend! They are a great way to organize your posts for an event or bring a lot more visibility to your content. If you’re a make-up artist, use hashtags like #makeup #glowingskin #weddingdaymakeup so people who search that tag will hopefully stumble upon your post. If you’re hosting an event or launching a product, having a hashtag is an imperative way to get people involved and get a collection of pictures/videos that you can use for promo down the road.

Don’t Drink and Post:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled across someone’s story that I respected professionally, but after viewing their crazy night out, had second thoughts about working with them. I know it can be as enticing as ordering multiple Amazon packages after a few cocktails, but it’s never a good look. Especially if you’re a professional or use social media for your business. If you must record, just save the videos to your phone and look it over in the morning after a strong cup of coffee.

Do use multiple platforms:

I hear people say “I don’t need ANOTHER profile” a lot, but in reality each platform has it’s own unique purpose. While there are new apps and social media platforms coming out daily, I’ll break down the most obvious ones:

Instagram: Here you want to upload quality and thoughtful images that express who you are and what you’re up to on your profile, while using your stories for more BTS, candid moments. Especially if you’re launching a new product, releasing a new song or video, or promoting something, you want the post to be polished and the stories that day to be engaging. Example: I played at the West Seattle Beer & Music Festival last weekend and partnered with Peridot, a local boutique for my look. I posted a quality and engaging image of the entire outfit while tagging them as well as the brands I was wearing. Then, I posted on my Instagram story while the festival was going on, including me having fun in the outfit, at the event in real time.

  Outfit Sponsored by Peridot Boutique, Seattle.

Outfit Sponsored by Peridot Boutique, Seattle.

Snapchat: Snapchat is awesome because what you post is pretty non-consequential. Here you can be picky of what you snap, who you send it to, and which people see what. I love using this platform to send funny videos of my stepson to my friends. I tend to use it for more personal reasons, as opposed to posting a lot about my private life on other platforms. There are some people that don’t mind posting lots of pictures with their kids and some that are very hesitant to do so. This is a great way if you are more of a private person, to control your content and who sees it. And it’s a good way to send videos and let people know what you’re up to without being an annoying over-poster.

Facebook: The younger generation say it’s dead, the older generation is ALL ABOUT IT. Facebook has become somewhat of a catch-all for baby announcements, political rants, and everything in between. I personally use Facebook mostly to share my content I make elsewhere to people that normally wouldn’t see it otherwise. It’s definitely still necessary, especially for businesses, and can be great for posting live videos of musical sets, special moments, and connecting with an audience that isn’t able to be there in person.

Twitter: This platform is great for politicians, comedians, and anyone that likes to share their thoughts one at a time. “Live tweeting” is extremely popular where people can broadcast their thoughts during a television show or event in real time. It’s a little harder for content creators because of the limitations with video and word count, but still an amazing way to connect to people from around the globe and stay current on what’s going on.

Whether you don’t understand social media at all or are pumped to start to use it more efficiently to market your brand or business, I hope these tips are helpful and get you on your way to more followers and an online presence you can be proud of! Also, feel free to follow me on instagram, facebook, and youtube, to join me in my social media journey!

Much love,

-SG