Blogging Your Way Studio: Goody Bag Loot Roundup

Lots of you have been asking what exactly was inside of the goody bags that we stuffed for our students at and so I thought to do a round-up showing all of the loot from our wonderful sponsors. Please click on the links below to see the websites behind each company as they are all such interesting and fantastic spots to find beautiful things for the holidays and any time of the year, really. Ready to see what our students received?

in San Francisco gave us journals to write in - so pretty, thank you Chronicle!

As mentioned previously in this post, gave us all amazing totes and pouches.

gave everyone handmade animal brooches that we used to decorate the bags from Alphabet Bags. The ribbon on the bags was from our other sponsor, via their German agent, .

Then, Charlotte from sent us a box filled with animal pencils, but that's not all...

also donated journals with glittery covers - bling bling

And gave our students handmade bracelets and necklaces (necklaces not shown).

I reached into my own pocket and ordered 17 copies of from Amazon and signed each copy for my students, placing it in their bags. It made me happy to see how much they loved it!

sponsored notepads because every blogger needs a to do list!

(I love this online shop!) donated packs of straws since so many bloggers love using them in food photography and blue with pink neon bags ().

gave everyone tins of Love tea... And we were definitely feeling the love this weekend!

These adorable German tickets (for fun!) came from our sponsor, . These are cute for laying on a table during a party or pinning to mood boards.

sponsored us too - they gave everyone .

also provided napkins so we used their Mr. and Mrs. napkins () when we ate. So cute!

gave everyone a porcelain star, "You Are My Star", which is exactly how we felt about each student in our class. They were all total ROCK STARS. xo

Publisher gave everyone a copy of Nine Stories About Love written by with illustrations by blogger . I wanted to have a book that had its roots in blogging and I've known Ana for many years as a fellow blogger. I think it's encouraging for bloggers to see what potential there is to extend beyond our blogs to take part in exciting projects.

gave everyone Christmas-themed masking tape. Who doesn't love decorative tape? My favorite was the white tape with the black and neon pink stars. I saved a roll for my ever-growing collection of tapes!

Lisa Nieschlag from gave us pretty postcards for the goody bags, thank you Lisa! You are the best!

To decorate the studio rooms and the student bags, was so generous in giving us paper snowflakes, napkins and ribbons. We loved them! It was so fun to use them to decorate the windows in the studio and the tables and bags. I think the paper snowflakes brought the real deal though because it snowed this weekend and so the windows looked particularly divine with paper snowflakes inside and icy snow falling outdoors. Magical, especially with the candles flickering in the windows. It was such a cozy blogger retreat!

I am so pleased that our sponsors came through for us to make this weekend memorable and gorgeous for both Steffi and I and most importantly, our students. We really wanted to make our goody bags special - mission accomplished! If you missed the video from our class, click here to view it, it's so sweet because you can see in the beginning how everyone is so thrilled opening their bags to see all of the things that I've shown you in this post. You can clearly feel the love and positivity - the magic just radiated from our studio in Hannover all weekend -- I think hearts and rainbows were above and all around my home! It was incredible.

I love teaching and want to keep hosting workshops and encouraging and connecting people for years to come, and I have to thank my sponsors for making it easier for me to be generous through their gorgeous donations in the form of pretty products that bloggers love to use. So thank you all, dear sponsors, for your BIG giving hearts.

(images: holly becker for cattledogs)

Video: Blogging Your Way Studio

Hello friends! Want to watch a cute video from our this past weekend? Originally I thought to only share this with our students but then realized that so many of you may be super curious to see what we bloggers did in my studio here in Hannover so why not show the whole internet! :) Photobucket

TO VIEW THIS VIDEO

I want to thank our 17 beautiful, amazing and courageous students for being part of (#bywstudio) with us. We're already thinking about another class in my studio this Spring so stay tuned!

Psst: I've been pinning posts that they've written since our weekend together on over at Pinterest in case you'd like to follow along.

(Music: In Peace, The Love & Happiness Mix (ft. Snowflake) by and Video: .)

Alphabet Bags

I was so excited when in the UK agreed to be an official sponsor of the goody bags that we filled for the this past weekend. It was such a pleasure and honor to work with them and very, very easy! Most importantly, our students LOVED their loot!

Alphabet Bags donated 17 (either a gold or pink neon heart, 14,41€ ) and a (21,61€ ) for each student to go inside with a zipper in either the Diamond, Rules Are For Fools, Live Right Now and Ta-Da design.

Our students were so excited (you will see this later in a video I'm going to post from class) and I felt so happy to display them on the chairs so that when everyone walked in on Saturday morning, they had a beautiful bag to greet them.

If you are organizing an event and want to make an impact, Alphabet Bags would be perfect. In fact, they are perfect for any occasion and because they have so many styles and designs, you can pick and choose for the perfect look!

I embellished each bag with an animal brooch and ribbons by our other sponsors, and . I thought they looked so sweet on their own but since I like to personalize nearly everything that I buy to give it a Holly touch, I decided to have a little fun. If you have a tote and want to personalize it a bit, tie a scarf around the handle or add a brooch, or perhaps buttons or maybe even ribbons. It's always nice to add a little piece of you to the accessories that you wear.

I want to thank for being one of our biggest sponsors for this event, it meant so much for us to share your products with our students!

(images: Holly Becker for cattledogs, , , , Alphabet Bags)

Bloggers Get Paid For Your Work

This may be a controversial topic, but I'm going to go with it anyway because the one way to start a conversation is to speak up! This past weekend in our , we taught students how important it is to put a value on their work and to stand behind it and to not do stuff for free. After overhearing a conversation on this morning along the same topic, I knew it was time to write about it on my blog so here goes. Get paid for your work, bloggers!

It's one thing to post on a blog for free if your blogger friend is taking vacation and they need some help BUT it should be clear to both parties that it is an exchange of services - not a freebie. In other words, you will post on their blog IF they also bail you out when you are on vacation and they post on your  blog. I'm not really talking about that though. I'm talking about magazines, companies and others who cherry pick bloggers to work for them and then they surprise you with the, "Well, we don't have the budget to PAY you - but you will get a ton of clicks and press from this opportunity."

One thing that you have to remember bloggers is that these companies may be telling you the truth - perhaps their budget is in the hole at the moment - but that is not your fault and they will only use free work until they can afford to pay their professional freelancers again. In other words, you are just a "filler" until they can afford the professionals. Do you want to be a filler, a lesser-than, to fill a hole? Or do you want to be viewed as worthy and eventually, as a professional and be paid accordingly? Of course, if you are not a pro stylist or photographer or even the best writer - in other words you're not a professional, you still deserve to be fairly compensated for your work. Why not? We've all done it before and accepted free work in exchange for promotional opportunities but unless the opportunity is such a career changer for you, you most likely won't see much from the work that you can measure so it may be best to put your time and effort into paid gigs.

If you want to get paid for work that you do as a blogger - perhaps a magazine wants to use your photos for an issue or a company wants you to speak on a panel at their event or be a speaker, then it's very important that you make it clear that you don't work for free. It's your way of supporting the blog community as a whole because there are bloggers who work for free and they are definitely causing problems.

For instance, pretend you are being asked to speak at a blogger event. If the event only plans to give you a free ticket to attend, that's not the equivalent of getting paid. However, if they put your brand on all of their promotional materials, heavily push your lecture online through their social media channels, pay for your travel to and from the event (meals, train/flight, hotel) and give you a pass to the event then you need to weigh that to see if your time is worth it. If so, then do it but get everything in writing FIRST.  But never show up at a blogger event that is being sponsored by advertisers and companies (in other words, money is backing the event) and speak for free (unless the event is being hosted by good friends and you want to help them out because they're just getting started). But that's rarely the case.

I have seen TOO MANY bloggers work for free and I'm really tired of watching good people be taken advantage of. At the very least, you should have your travel expenses paid and make sure they will give you a ton of press from your participation but never speak or be on a panel for a free pass to their event and a mention on their website or something bogus like that - it's really ridiculous to hear these stories but I hear them constantly and enough is enough. I'd rather attend a blogger event with 5 speakers who are passionate, ridiculously great at what they are covering and how they present it, and who are worth sitting an hour listening to who are also getting paid than to go to a blogger event with 30 speakers and because they're all working for free, they are not as passionate in their delivery, may have never presented before a group in their life and who may not deliver the best presentation as a result.

There are tons of events out there that target bloggers as speakers and panelists because they know 1) You have an audience 2) You most likely are pretty eager to grow it 3) You will probably speak, teach or be on their panels for free and 4) You won't complain - in fact, you'll share their event with everyone online that you can because you are just so "honored" and "flattered" and "overjoyed" to have been asked in the first place. If they came to you then you obviously aren't half bad so have a little confidence, okay? GET PAID or SAY NO. If everyone of us starts to demand payment for services, these companies will be forced to support us or else they won't have much of a blogger event without bloggers speaking, will they?

You deserve some kickback for your time. That means money or the equivalent thereof - travel and expenses and lots of promotion for your business.

Plus, do you REALLY want to be an, "amateur solution"? You can do so much better than that. Try to work really hard to be the best you can in your field so that you CAN demand fair payment. Stand up for yourself. Stand behind your work. Don't work for free. It doesn't just hurt you in the long run (it's very hard to ask for money once you've earned the reputation of being desperate, sorry to be so blunt, but it's true) but it hurts the professionals who are no longer getting paid because people would rather use amateurs and up-and-comers for free - sure, they know the work isn't as good but it's FREE and free is a really tempting lure!

Today on Twitter, some of my blogger friends had this to say about getting paid (or not) for freelance work:

And this doesn't only have to do with blogging events. I'm also talking about magazines and others who expect bloggers to contribute articles for free, DIY stories, photography and more. It's unfair.

As my husband says, "Don't Fall For The Exposure Mantra!".

What do you think? Care to discuss this with me and others? Head to the comments section of this post... I'd love to hear your perspective!

(image: holly becker)

Etsy Take Five Tuesday

It's Etsy Take Five Tuesday time and you know what that means, right? You will be introduced to five shops that are currently on my radar that I think you should check out. Ready then? Good, let's get started!

Prints by who are running a sale right now, buy 2 prints and get one free!

Trays, cards, art prints, bags and more at in Paris.

Graphics to pretty up your blog or website from .

Gift giving goody heaven at . I recently bought a ton from them for future workshops to give to students and add to gifts.

Amazing lighting handmade in the USA from . Love them!

Do you have any Etsy favorite shops to add to my comments section? If so, I may blog them in upcoming weeks so leave your links! I'm always looking for reader's choices and to find the best of the best on Etsy. Thank you! xo

(images: linked to their sources above)

Blogging Workshop in Hannover HIghlights

Hello friends! I thought before posting Etsy Take Five Tuesday today that I'd introduce you to our students from our this weekend. Each of these wonderful ladies came to my home in Hannover, Germany to learn from and I about blogging and how to take a more creative, journalistic approach to your blog.

We had such a wonderful time, we shopped together, ate together, took photos, learned, enjoyed the Christmas market... It was so lovely that I want to host another in the Spring! Those are our 16 Blogging Your Way Studio students above and of course, you can see how seriously they took their studies!!!!

We had fun doing this shoot... I took out my collection of vintage hats passed down to me by my grandmother (she was a dancer in Chicago in the late 30s) and let the students play with them for a photo session, which wasn't my idea by the way. It was a rather thrown together photo shoot because we didn't plan to do one but Rincy, a darling student visiting from Ireland, really wanted to do one and so we did and ended up having a blast!

This is and her class partner, holding a bag from one of our sponsors, . This was not a class about blogging by the rules, it was a class about blogging from the heart!

This is getting a haircut by . These ladies were so sweet and I especially love how Nic always had the best advice when we were having our open conversion sessions in class.

This is and her class partner, . Inga has the cutest blog, you have to check it out - I love the clean layout. Holly is a columnist for and has her own blog that she's currently revamping for a big shiny new roll out.

This is and her "blog team" for the weekend, and . They raided my china cabinet for cups to pretend they are classy bloggers taking tea. I think though that they had vodka in their cups! :)

This is , who came all the way from Tel Aviv as a birthday present for herself and had on the best bright clothes each time I saw her - so cool! Her blog partner in crime was who was just the sweetest lady - she gave me a gorgeous bag when she left filled with American baking things which was extremely thoughtful. I loved how Dani added washi tape to her hat, cute, right?

This is with her blog partner . Rincy just sparkles and glows and transmits so much positive energy and light, as a pediatrician her "kids" must love her. Jana is a comedian - she's so full of life - these two were the perfect blog partners.

This is and her partner for the weekend, . They are pretending to be very dainty and quiet but both ladies have loads of ideas and opinions and are filled with fire when it comes to turning their blogs into pro blogs. Go, girls, go!

was so cute and her blog partner, from London, was equally darling. They grabbed the trees from my windows and decided to be a very wacky Dutch portrait. Geraldine is also a medical doctor - having two doctors in my blogging class made me feel very good all weekend in case anyone passed out from inspiration overload!

Please visit all of the blogs linked in this post to visit our students because these ladies were just fantastic. And you know what? There wasn't a single "drama queen" in the group - everyone got along so well and were just so thoughtful, generous and sweet. I find this in most blogger classes and meet ups though, bloggers are the best people in the world to gather together - at least the design, craft, wedding, lifestyle, food and mommy blogs - not sure what the dynamics are at blog events for other groups like gossip bloggers and fashion blogs, but I always love going to and hosting events for bloggers because I know that everyone will get along and bond.

Here we are as a group freezing outside in Hannover at the Christmas Market. :)

I will forever hold these ladies dear to my heart and look back at this weekend as one big beautiful highlight of my career. Thank you SO much to my dear partner-in-crime, , too. We had so much fun together and put a lot of thought and planning into this weekend so for us, we're just thrilled it all worked out so beautifully! Steffi, you're the best. xo

(photos: )