“Go Wild Tickets” Are How Much? Live Events Post Covid Restrictions

I started this blog as a planner blog and covered some experiences at different planner events over the years. I’ve stepped back from a lot of the planner content I used to create, but I was deep in the community for a while there. Planners Gone Wild and their GO WILD event were a huge part of that picture for me. I dipped out of the Facebook group a few years back since it wasn’t my thing anymore and, I’ll be honest, the GO WILD Vegas event had a weird vibe to it that I still can’t really explain. The point to all of this is, I still love the community and follow along mostly on lurk mode lately, have made some great friends along the way, and not every thing is for everybody.

GO WILD announced their 2023 event location and ticket price today. It’s finally an east coast-ish location in Washington DC, and I do love the play on WASHIngton. Tickets are $700. You could hear the collective gasp at the sticker shock echoing through the Facebook groups. It’s causing quite a stir, both for some good and some kinda silly reasons.

Of course, since Planner Drama gets me the most clicks on my blog, I have some thoughts. Grab your hydration vessels and let’s talk about some things.

This Hobby Is WILDly Expensive

I’m gonna be blunt; planners & planning are a “privileged” hobby and a big part of that privilege is having a high dollar amount in disposable income. There is no better example of that than planner events. It’s not just the cost of tickets, travel, and lodging that you end up budgeting for. There’s a huge culture of FOMO merchandise and extra costs that comes along with this (and many other planner-related) events. At the *minimum*, you’re probably going to buy a special sticker kit for the week, but most people get shirts, and more stickers, and a special planner insert, and special pens, and tablemate gifts, and swap sheets, and matching roommate stuff, and special outfits, and the list goes on. GO WILD in particular has a culture of *more* when it comes to all the extras. It’s not required but it does make things more fun, and I say that from experience.

GO WILD Is Trying To GO Premium

The similarities between how GO WILD and DisneyParks are structuring their experiences are really noticeable. Disney has been coming under some scrutiny lately for essentially pricing out or limiting the experience for the average family. Go Google it for the full in-depth business analysis, but the TL;DR is that the new pricing structures are focused less on the quantity of people coming through the gates and more on the quality of visitor experience (aka, people who are willing to spend more for extras that used to be free). I have no numbers on any of it, but I believe the assumption is that the ROI is going to be higher if you cater to the people with more money who want a more elite experience than the budget traveling family of 5 who is going to pack their own sandwiches into the park.

If you take that idea and move into a planner event, you have a situation where it might make sense to the organizers to charge a high dollar amount for a conference that features more fireworks at the cost of not being financially feasible for a majority of their members. And, like… this is a conference that is known to bring in C-list celebrities as keynote speakers and light-up stilt dancers for the cocktail party. It helps create the FOMO for next year.

And yeah, there is a snobbish gate-keeping aspect at play here too.

WILDly Unpredictable

Ok, Kiwi… you seem to be pretty understanding of a $700 price tag for an event that has gone up a quarter in price since you last went. What’s the catch?

I’m glad you asked! I actually don’t think the price increase is that unreasonable on the surface given the state of live events and the cost increases in everything over the past few years. My side-eyeing comes from having to commit hundreds of dollars before you even know what you’re getting out of the event and their handling of refunds (or lack thereof).

GO WILD tickets typically go on sale before they announce anything about the event other than location. You are putting down hundreds of dollars and you literally don’t know what you’re getting. Yeah, you can make some educated guesses based on the previous years’ line-ups since there are a lot of repeat presenters but there is no confirmation on who or what is going to happen at this event until after you’ve committed your $700. You might get to see someone who you’ve always wanted to see speak and be moved to tears by their presentation! Or you might have to sit through a noted anti-vaxxer vegan former celebrity talking about something completely unrelated and want to stick forks in your eyes. You don’t know. It’s like a blind bag of events, except the cost to play is a significant chunk of money, even for the higher-income attendees. It feels like a weird lottery that you don’t entirely agree to.

No GO, No Dough

Like everyone else in the world, when Covid came and ruined everyone’s 2020 (and counting), GO WILD had to cancel their event for the year. I don’t know if you know anything about canceling major events, but it is a major fucking pain. It sucked for everyone both planning and planning on attending.

They rescheduled for 2021. This involved a whole new lineup than the previously announced one. If you had a 2020 ticket and wanted to go to 2021’s event, you were golden. If you couldn’t attend the 2021 event for whatever reason, you were kinda screwed. There was a no-refund policy in place that prevented you from getting your money back from the organizers AND from personally reselling your ticket. There was an official resell list through the event, but most people on there did not have their tickets resold. There are conflicting reports on if a digital viewing option was available and/or working. The whole thing ended up being a bit of a poorly communicated cluster that left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

To be fair, the nonrefundable/nontransferable issue is not just a GO WILD thing. It’s a hotly debated subject involving Ticketmaster/Live Nation as well. The music industry side of me sees the pros. The consumer side of me agrees with the cons.

I just think events should be transparent about what your ticket is getting and not be shifty about whether or not they will actually resell your ticket, especially as everyone is trying to figure out how to do things in person in a “Post Pandemic” world. Obviously, I don’t know the financial margins on this event, but I do know that there is a longer ROI on finding a way to accommodate a frustrated fan to keep them engaged than there is burning that bridge with a hard no.

Final Wild Thoughts

Is $700 too much for a ticket to GO WILD? It’s more than I would spend, but if it sells out at this price point then obviously there is still a market. I think people who have been through a few rounds of WILD sales are rightly skeptical of the cost this year. Those people probably won’t GO. Life goes on and the world continues to turn, you know?

What I will say is that I do have some of the best memories from my two WILD experiences, and they were less about the event and more about being with my friends. I would absolutely spend $700 to spend a weekend with them, but I would rather take our ticket money and spend it on an Airbnb at the beach instead.

Team No Sleep will ride again

I Whiffed On My 3Q Goals (and I’m not sorry about it)

At the start of July, I posted this on Instagram:

At the time, I had visions of being lighter, smarter, richer, and with a few more items to add to my accomplishment belt.

Do you want to know how many of these I actually accomplished?

I’m not sorry about it either. The plannerverse is full of goal planning virtue posting that even I admit to partaking in from time to time. Goals are wonderful; they make you feel good when you accomplish them and help you be a better person. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-goal!

But… People change. Circumstances change. Interests change. It follows that your goals can change too, and I think we should celebrate that. Why spend all your effort sprinting towards a finish line in a direction that you might not even want to go in anymore?

I want to break down my 3Q goals and talk about why I let them go, how they no longer served my purpose, or maybe just why they weren’t very good goals in the first place. Bonus: I’ll also tell you how I “fixed” them

☐ Hit Target Weight

Right off the bat, I want to say that I think this was a bad goal focusing on the wrong thing. I’ve spoken about my body image issues before (multiple times!) on here, and this was rooted in insecurity more than anything else. I’ve got an extra organ shoved in my abdomen and I’m on Don’t Die meds that are known to be funky fresh with metabolic function. Plus, kidney issues and water weight wreck havoc on judging the numbers on the scale. This was not a good goal on my part.

The Fix:

My partner and I have done fairly ok at establishing a gym routine that gets us out of the house and active – which is really what matters. But, most importantly, I have found a “gym thing” I love – Kettlebells. It’s an activity that feels like cardio (which I love) but works like weights (which I hate). I even got one of my very own so I can play along at home. I also stopped getting on the scale every morning, which makes me an overall happier person.

☐ 500 on KiwiReadsBooks

A little while back I spun off a Bookstagram so I could keep my reading log seperate from my “personal” account. At the time, I had visions of having separate accounts for individual topics so I could curate my profiles and diversify my followers. It’s a legit digital strategy in many circumstances. But, my main account is simply a stronger account and by splitting focus, I was splitting my audience, which was not a vibe.

The Fix:

This one just kinda fell off and disappeared into the ether. I have played around with some different strategies overall for Instagram, but I’ve kinda just let things go as they will for a bit and it’s been nice. My growth has slowed, but my engagement is stronger. I like that direction, so I’m happy with it.

☐ Catch Up On GoodReads Goal

I have such a love/hate relationship with the Goodreads Yearly Reading Goal. I love a good challenge, but I hate how it becomes a status symbol in certain communities. I also dislike how it counts big long heavy War & Peace sized tomes the same as a novella. I love to read non-fiction, and let us be frank… those are not always “easy reading” options. Anyway, I crushed my goal last year and set a lofty reading goal this year. Last I looked, I was about 10 books behind schedule to finish on time. This isn’t a bad goal, I just didn’t put a plan in place on how to achieve it, and thus have gotten nowhere.

The Fix:

One solution is to accept that I’m not going to reach that initial goal and lower it to something more achievable. I might end up doing that. No shame in changing your goals to something more achievable. Another solution is to force myself to read outside my preferred genres and be more liberal with adding things to my Did Not Finish list and move on. The final solution is to block out time in my day to read. I will probably do a combination of all three and try this again for an end of the year push.

☐ FB Ads Certified

This one (and the next one) are good examples of how priorities change. When I sat down to write this initial list, I was plotting launching an awesome side hustle and a Facebook Ads certification under my belt would be like an extra ninja star I had to throw. Over the summer I decided I didn’t want to do that (more below) and although having this certification wouldn’t be a bad thing, it’s not something I need right now.

The Fix:

Draw a big fat black Sharpie line through this one. Maybe down the road, but right now I’d rather spend that time and money reading (and buying) books.

☐ Second Revenue Stream

When I wrote these goals, I was fresh in a new position at a new company after leaving my previous one with some major burnout. I was feeling like I had to scramble to rebuild my safety net ASAP in case the shit hit the fan again. Creating a second revenue stream was my plan to rebuild that net. When I planned this, I was still in a bit of a Chicken Little panic thinking that the sky might still be falling. Sitting here now, I can say the sky isn’t falling and this isn’t really the safety net I wanted or needed at that time.

The Fix:

Having multiple revenue streams is a good idea regardless, because it does help you weather a storm easier. I do still want to do this and I have been researching and refining ideas to make it something sustainable and fun. It’s taking longer than I anticipated because A. I want to do it well, and B. I’m focusing on some other opportunities right now that are more pressing.

☐ Solo Trip

I have never gone on a trip ALL BY MYSELF. Yes, I’ve traveled alone and stayed in hotels alone, but usually when I’m going to a place it’s to see people I know or to go to an event full of people I will soon know. I want to do it totally on my own. I had a couple different locations in mind that were in driving distance. I had money set aside and some mock intereraries. I had Pinterest boards set up with ideas. Why didn’t this happy?

Fucking Covid, partially, and a busy summer/fall season. I could have squeezed it in but it wouldn’t have been the full experience I wanted, so I decided to delay until I had the time. You know what they say about your best laid plans…

The Fix:

This will happen in 2022. Like I mentioned, I basically have it planned out… I just need to push the buttons.

☐ Savings Goal

Confession: Technically I did reach this goal. However, it wasn’t really the right goal for what I wanted to accomplish. What I really wanted to do was invest it.

The Fix:

I’m trying to learn more about investments (Thanks, Matt & The Financial Diet) to figure out what the right option is for me. This is a goal that can roll over once I figure out what I want to actually do with my money.

This Is Also Kinda A Lot…

My final thought on this is also an acknowledgement about “goal culture” and what is ultimately its fatal flaw. It’s easy on paper to look at a list of seven items and think “oh… I can do seven things in three months!”. The kicker is that each one of these items isn’t just a single task; they’re each a tree of subtasks and sidequests that you need to complete before even coming close to knocking out the main goal. That adds up to a lot of things you have to do in addition to living your day to day life. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to enjoy my day to day life sometimes.

The Fix:

Stop doing so damn much and relax. Your value isn’t measured in checkboxes.

Should Promo Teams Get Paid? – Drama Analysis

Today we’re going to tackle a growing question in the planner community. Should design teams/planner squads/street team esque groups and all other promotional teams recruited by planner shops and companies get paid?

Yes. Yes they should. Thank you for reading this week’s post.

Hold on, I’m getting a memo that perhaps it’s slightly more nuanced than that. Shit… let me get a cup of coffee and let’s see if we can unpick this knot a little more.

First, My Standard Disclaimer

When I’m not being snarky on the internet, I work in digital media and have for over a decade, primarily with varying degrees of entertainment based brands and companies. I have been on both sides of this issue, and have some insight on what is and isn’t professionally accepted. All thoughts contained on this blog are my own and not a reflection of my employers, past or current. These are my semi-professional opinions and should be regarded as such. I am not affiliated with any of the companies or brands involved unless otherwise stated. I am also available for actual professional consultations should you want specific insight to your own digital drama.

Basically, don’t sue me, k?

Should You Get Paid For Being On A Promo Team?

The answer is a resounding YES. If you are directly working with a company – no matter what the size is – you should be getting some form of compensation for the work you are doing. Creating good content is work that takes time, resources, and planning. Your time and resources are valuable and you should be judicious with how you allocate spending those.

However, the conversations that pop up around this topic tend to focus on the debate about what is adequate compensation. Is free stuff adequate? Should you be asking for money? If you are asking for money, how much should you be asking for? This is where we move into the weird murky area of shrug emojis and account comparisons, because not all teams, or team members, are created equal.

I really recommend reading Influencer by Brittany Hennessy – you can read my review of it here – if you’re wanting to build your digital platforms to do influencer marketing.

What Is “Adequate Compensation” For A Promo Team?

There are a couple factors to consider when discussing “adequate compensation” in the influencer marketing space (because that’s exactly what this is… influencer marketing):

  • Your Account Analytics
  • The Company You Are Working With
  • What Is Being Expected Of You
  • What You Want Out Of The Experience

Let’s go through these in some detail.

Your Account Analytics

If you are wanting to be a part of a promo team for anyone, the metrics that are really going to matter on whatever account you choose are going to be Followers, Reach, and Engagement Rate.

Followers is self explanatory – it’s the number of people who follow you… duh. This is your presumed captive audience. However, depending on platform it does not mean that every single one of your followers sees every single one of your posts.

Reach is how many people actually see your post. This includes people who see your post via hashtag or location, but doesn’t necessarily mean those people follow you or see every post you make.

Engagement Rate is the percentage of people who saw your post and interacted with it via likes, comments, shares, duets, etc. An average engagement rate depends on the platform you’re posting. Often the more followers you have the lower your engagement rate because of the magic of algorithms. It’s a whole thing that could be an entire semester long class.

In the interest of brevity, I’m not going to go into all the math but you want these to be balanced. Having a lot of followers but a low engagement rate is not as good as having less followers but a higher engagement rate, but you do still want to have more followers than less…. it’s like trying to pull a sticky piece out of Jenga.

I’m also just going to say this: a lot of times I read these threads discussing the frustration of promo teams and how they pick the same people over and over, and I get why people get frustrated. But also, this is a marketing expense for these companies and they want to make sure they’re getting a good return on their investment (ROI). That means, they want accounts with a certain analytic threshold to maximize eyeballs on their products. Unfortunately that means if you don’t have the numbers they want, you might have to get creative to show your worth to them another way.

A Brief Note About Content Creation

I am not going to dwell on this point long, but I gotta get something off my chest here.

If you’re wanting to get on promo teams and/or make this a successful side-hustle or full time income, don’t just take a quick photo with your phone and throw it up on your Instagram unedited. Watch some Youtube Videos on how to take good pictures. Look at the people who are constantly getting on these teams and at how they stage their shots. Learn how to edit your photos. Invest in some gear – it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Like I said at the start, creating good content is work that takes time, resources, and planning. Google and Youtube are your friends here. Eventually I have plans to create some guides on how to do these things. Drop a comment if there’s something in particular you want me to talk about. Or book a consultation with me and we’ll talk about it.

The Company You Are Working With

There are two points to consider when you’re looking at the company offering the promo team; who are they and how do you feel about them?

If this is a well known company with a large following, you can expect a couple things: in theory they probably have a budget for these marketing expenses and there will absolutely be someone willing to do this work for free. This is where your analytics come in. If you can show them steller numbers and well crafted content, then you have a better position to negotiate.

Careful at assumptions though because even though a shop or company might look “big”, their margins might still be razor thin. It’s brutal out there.

Which leads into, how do you feel about them? Is this someone you really want to work with regardless of what they’re offering? We all have those companies; I’d jump at the chance to create content for Starbucks just because I could then say I “worked with” Starbucks.

What Is Being Expected Of You

The devil is in the details, and THIS more than anything is what I would think hard about before agreeing to do anything. When you apply or are offered a promo team spot, or any sort of partnership, read through everything. Before any agreement, you should ask questions:

  • How long is this contract for?
  • Am I able to post other brands/businesses?
  • How often are you expected to post content?
  • Who owns the content?
  • How long does the content need to stay on my timeline for? Can I archive it once the contract is done?
  • Will this be used for additional advertising?
  • Will the items to be used be provided? Do I get to choose the items or will it be a set inventory?
  • What additional considerations are provided, if any?
  • What happens if I’m unable to fulfill what is expected of me?
  • Will this need to be claimed on my taxes? Will you send applicable tax forms if so? (Please consult a tax professional for more information on this)

This is not an exhaustive list. The point is to read the agreement, make notes, and ask questions on anything that is not clear.

Be realistic about how much time this takes too. Sure, it takes a moment to post a photo… but set up, staging, editing, tagging, hashtag research, crossposting, interactions with other team members all need to factor into your time commitment.

The more you’re expected to do or consent to, the more you should be getting in return for your work. If you are expected to give up ownership of your content or if it will be used in advertising for the company, I would encourage you to discuss with tax/legal professionals as the case may be.

What Do You Want Out Of This Experience

Are you exhausted thinking about all of this? Me too. Let’s focus on what is the easiest part of the whole thing. What do you want?

Money is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the only thing. There are sometimes additional opportunities hidden in these things that can open additional doors to a greater payoff. Is being a part of this team going to help you in some other way? Maybe it’s a great opportunity to grow your audience or will give you the experience you need on your resume. Maybe this is your golden unicorn company and you just really want to do this because it will make you happy.

For what it’s worth, my entire career in digital media started because I joined a team to do promo work for Nickelodeon kid stars as a teenager. That “unpaid” work allowed me to go to movie premieres, be featured in teen magazines, get a highly coveted internship, and ultimately make a living in an extremely competitive field. I’m not saying that joining a sticker squad alone is going to do all that, but it could give you some tagental experience that you can leverage into bigger and better opportunities.

OK, So What IS Adequate Compensation?

Whatever you deem to be adequate based on what you’re bringing to the table, what is expected of you, and how you feel about what is being offered. That could be money, products, exposure, magic internet points, whatever you place value on.

You should absolutely ask for the compensation, financial or otherwise, you feel is appropriate for the situation. You should be able to prove that value to the company if they ask why you think you deserve that. You should also be prepared to compete with people who have different ideas on what is adequate for the position at hand.

If you are a company, and I believe one or two of you do occasionally read my posts, offering a small monetary consideration as part of your teams would be a game changer. At the very least, being open to providing networking or other resources of value would be highly regarded. Not only would you probably get a higher quality of applicant, you would be setting a powerful precedent in a predominately female driven industry.

I am not an influencer, but you can follow me on Instagram @fabkiwi06 to see my occasional toe dips into that pool.

Drama Analysis: Scribbles that Matter and User Generated Content

It was a calm, quiet morning. The sun was finally out after a week of snow unlike never before seen in Music City. A calm and quiet Friday, or so I thought.

As soon as I sat down and pulled my Facebook tab open, I was greeted with a fresh batch of planner “drama”. Sometimes planner drama is nothing more than two people who don’t like each other because someone accidentally laugh reacted at their dog photo. But, sometimes it brings forward an important subject or issue that has been brewing under the surface of the community. Today is the latter.

The Drama:

Scribbles that Matter, a notebook company released a LENGTHY statement/apology in regards to using user generated content without permission (or compensation) in a Facebook ad. A few points to note.

  • Allegedly the ads have been running since September 2020.
  • This official statement comes from the company founder, but is only in one semi/private Facebook group. Not on any official Scribbles that Matter (STM moving forward) property as of writing this blog.

The Disclaimer

When I’m not being snarky on the internet, I work in digital media and have for over a decade, primarily with varying degrees of entertainment based brands and companies. I have been on both sides of this issue, and have some insight on what is and isn’t professionally accepted.

I don’t have any direct involvement with STM other than the one notebook I bought from them. These are my semi-professional opinions and should be regarded as such. But, I am available for actual professional consultations so you can avoid these #cam-pains.

The Statement

As I mentioned before as of me writing this, this statement/apology was NOT posted on any of STM official channels; it was posted in a Bullet Journaling Facebook group, that is public to join but not public to view. Since I’m not *in* the group that this apology was posted, I am having to go off of screenshots.

This brings up issue #1. If this is a situation that your brand feels strongly enough to write a multi-tiered statement addressing, why is it not on YOUR properties?

Thank you to a planner friend for allowing me to use these in this post.

Right. Let’s unpack.

Using User Generated Content As A Brand

From a brand perspective, User Generated Content is anything that someone else created on their own without being asked or compensated. A User generated it. Social Media people *love* UGC because it takes a weight off of us; we get an authentic look at how our product is being used by a real person, someone else has done the work of creating it, and often it’s done beautifully.

The two keys to this are PERMISSION and ATTRIBUTION.

In a perfect world, you should always ask whomever created the content you want to use if you can use it. This is not a perfect world, and sometimes brands will assume IMPLIED PERMISSION due to the fact they are tagged on a piece of public content. Often, when users do this, they’re doing so because they want to be seen by the brand. You see influencers doing this a lot. In this situation, it’s usually overlooked because A. you’re excited to be noticed by the brand, and B. they CREDIT back to your account, which is great for building your own branding.

Is it ethical or legal? Eh…. not really. But there is a certain level that is seen as acceptable, usually due to the goodwill between the brand and their community.

Giving the user something in return for use of their content is a really nice gesture, but is not typically a requirement. This is a “paid in exposure” situation. This is a big reason why you want to ask first; because if you don’t and someone with a large following sees this as a missed opportunity for revenue, you can get in some deep shit. #Foreshadowing

It is a gamble to assume implied permission. Clearly this gamble didn’t pay off for STM in this situation. This is a great case for having a PR Team (although I hate that name… that’s another blog for another day), Street Team, Design Team, or whatever you want to call a group of macro/micro influencers that you can rely on.

Hootsuite has a slightly older, but still relevant and much more in-depth guide to User Generated Content that I recommend reading for more info.

To cover your own ass, always ask permission and give credit. That’s not marketing advice, that’s life advice.

Advertising & Money

The real nut of the situation isn’t that STM used UGC, it’s that it was used in an advertising campaign without permission. That means there is now money involved, and when you fuck with people’s money things get ugly.

In this statement, STM seems to put the bulk of the blame on an “external marketing agency”. This could be on them due to the “implied consent” as discussed previously and them not knowing that the planner community has absolutely no chill when it comes to cannibalizing their own when they fuck up bad enough. Right, Erin Condren?

My thought is that the “external marketing agency” was either using a list of content provided by or, most likely, already shared by STM; assuming that all permissions had already been granted.

Regardless, in this situation there should have been another round of reaching out and confirming that users gave express permission for the use in a Facebook Ad. Honestly, if they had done that in the first place, it’s possible that users would have agreed to for free/not knowing they could ask for money, and we wouldn’t even need to be talking about the compensation side of things.

But here we are, and these users now have every right to demand compensation, and compensation based on the amount that STM made on that ad campaign. And STM needs to take down that campaign ASAP, which they claim to be doing.

Why Does This Feel Familiar?

This feels like a story you’ve read before, right? That’s because this happens all. the. time. Usually with less scrupulous Amazon sellers and well known YouTubers. As much as I would love to write another dissertation style blog on that, I still have one more big point to hit. But, I can recommend this Wired article discussing this further.

Apology?

Let’s talk about this apology real quick. Because I’m not sure it really is one.

STM does apologize using the words “we are deeply sorry that this happened” in the “What We Are Doing” section of the statement. Then there is bit of deflection and trying to spread the fault around, followed by a section called “Apologizing Clearly” which does not feature the words “sorry” or “apology” at all.

A company/brand apology needs to do a few things:

  • Identify what went wrong
  • Take responsibility for what went wrong
  • State what changes will be made so this doesn’t go wrong again
  • Show accountability

They have clearly identified what went wrong. Their ads used UGC without permission.

They don’t really take true responsibility for this. I mean, they totally try to pass the bulk of the blame on their “external marketing agency” even though STM uses a lot of credited UGC on their social pages anyway and I’m suspect if they’ve truly contacted every single one of those users. They also blame the pandemic for being hard, which like… yeah… we know. They do position themselves to look good for trying to make things right. But like… this is your company. You should be doing that. Don’t act like it’s a favor to the users.

According to this statement, they are reaching out to make it right financially per their legal team’s advice. On one hand, this is the technically correct way to do this. On the other, it concerns me because I don’t think most of the users involved in this are familiar with how FB ads work and the value that they’ve unknowingly provided STM. When a lawyer sends you a letter, it’s jarring even when you know you’re in the right. I *hope* that this legal team has more ethics than the “external marketing team” and isn’t going to offer a pittance in exchange to make this go away. Basically, if you’re impacted by this, don’t sign the first offer and seek your own legal advice; especially if you have a significant social media following of your own.

Nothing was really said about what will be done differently moving forward, which makes me think that there won’t be anything done differently moving forward. At the very least, STM needs to obtain permission before using UGC.

If they are smart, they will put together a macro/micro influencer team of their own to create this sort of content that they would have permission to use in exchange for goods/services and cross promotion. Did I mention I do digital consulting?

Given the fact that this statement was posted only in one Facebook Group, I don’t hold my breath on much accountability. This fact, and this fact alone makes the entire statement weak and worthless. Businesses fuck up, and that’s ok as long as you fix it and do better. By hiding this away in a small corner of the community, how do we know that you’re actually reaching out to everyone involved? If it happens again, how will people know this isn’t the first time it happened? There is zero accountability when you try to hide your mistakes.

The other issue with the low-key hard to find apology is that it doesn’t allow you, the brand, to control the narrative. You’re not talking about it, but you know who is? The people who are unhappy they got used in your ad. The snark groups on Facebook and Instagram. Local planner groups. Mediocre Bloggers who need to get out a blog post this month that isn’t just a list of what books she read.

Basically, I find this apology to be a fill in the blank form letter and halfassed. Put this statement on your Instagram Feed (not disappearing story) and change my mind.

What Happens Next?

Truthfully, this isn’t an insurmountable issue for STM unless they royally screw over the people they used content from. People who really like them will continue to like them and probably see nothing wrong with how this went down. But it didn’t win any goodwill from the non-fanatics. What has happened is that this has left a bad taste in the mouth of some planner-influential content creators.

Because, let’s be snarky planner people for a sec, STM product isn’t what it used to be and there are better bullet journals out there with better paper quality and better prices. They don’t have the marketshare they once did. And this whomp whomp of an “oops we got caught” apology isn’t really enough to keep their brand name in people’s mouths… especially since this all went on behind closed doors.

In conclusion, I leave you with the words of wisdom that can guide you no matter if you are a brand, “external marketing company”, or snarky internet commentator procrastinating on a Friday.

Fuck… now there’s a part 2.

Plan a Happy Life: Book Review

It’s no secret that I really like planners; it’s pretty much the cornerstone of my blog content. I also really like books. Thus, books about planners are my jam.

I started my planner journey in 2015 using a MAMBI Happy Planner to stay on top of being on dialysis and getting my transplant. Over the years, my planning style has moved on from that planner, but I still hold a soft spot in my heart for the company and the founder, Stephanie Fleming, because of the feeling of control I was able to have over a trying part of my life.

So, when I found Plan A Happy Life on the shelf during a rare shopping trip out, I was intrigued.

In all honesty, this book was somehow too much, too little, and too late.

There’s a lot packed in this book; company history, planning tips, positive psychology, creativity outlets, guided journal, lifestyle hacks, and goal coaching. All crammed into 200-odd pages with roughly a quarter being fill in the blank style. Whew.

And yet, somehow in spite of all that crammed in to those pages, very little is actually said. We never get any depth to anything. No personal details or anything that grabs you. It’s a bit like a packet you get at a conference, complete with the fill in the blanks.

This is extremely frustrating because having seen Stephanie speak at a planner conference about many of these things and she was so engaging about these things. She presented at the Go Wild: Vegas conference in 2019 and it was great. She covered pretty much every thing she talks about in this book, but “better”. She gave backstory, showed vulnerability, and gave insight to how she incorporated these ideas into her life.

RELATED: Make Anything Happen: Book Review

Ultimately, the biggest issue is that this book is about 2 years too late. We are inundated with books about time management, curating your lifestyle, pop-psychology, goal setting, and living your best life. The planning community is visibly moving on from the “big company” planner brands in favor of the smaller, indie, and diverse shops.

Would I recommend this book? Maybe. If you are putting together a gift box full of MAMBI products, this is a nice touch to add. But, for an actual read or activity book? It’s a pass.

2019 By The Numbers

A new year has come; everyone has moved from their Christmas festivites to their decluttering and fitness challenges. Meanwhile, I’m wrapping up a work trip, so it doesn’t really feel like 2019 has fully ended yet. While I get myself situated back home and ready for next week; enjoy some infographics I made while bored one night in my hotel room.

This seems like a weird thing to add up, but when you have a chronic condition, you (and your bank account) are acutely aware of how many times you go to the ER during the year. 2019 was good; only two visits and both were for very minor situations – heat related swelling and stitches.

Along with some preplanned traveling, I started a new job that requires me to travel more. I think this is the most airplanes I’ve been on in a year.

Likewise the most states I’ve hit up in one year.

In 2019, I defined my style philosophy as “Can I wear this with black leggings?”. The answer is yes… yes I can. I wore them out and had to replenish quite a few pairs. A moment of silence for my fallen comrades.

I actually managed to finish my GoodReads challenge this year. I got some reviews up in the Books section of this blog.

Two Ten Jack is my favorite place in Nashville. I’m actually surprised I haven’t gone more.

If you are ever wanting a kick in the butt to get some motivation to pay more attention to your spending, count up your Amazon orders. So much useless stuff…

This year was the year of Planner upheaval. My day to day live and organization needs changed drastically and it took me a while to figure out where to go to get things in a productive flow.

What are some of your 2019 “Numbers”?

Practical Advice for Planner Events

We are less than ONE month away from Go Wild, which is a gigantic planner conference that is being held in Fabulous Las Vegas. In the event group, there is a lot of excitement around the lead up to the event and a LOT more questions from first timers about all sorts of aspects of going to their first “planner event”. I’m certainly no expert in this but I did go to Go Wild last year in Austin, as well as 5 other planner events of varying scales. There are lots of people imparting advice on their spaces, and I am going to join the ever growing throng to give you another point of view. Whether you’re “Going” with us to Vegas, or heading to one of the other planner events that are happening this year, allow me to pass along some wisdom.

The Advice I Wish I Had Listened To Before Going To A Planner Conference

Wear Sensible Shoes – NOT FLIP FLOPS

Y’all, I love me some flip flops but let’s be 100% here, they are not useful shoes. You’re probably going to be doing a LOT of walking at these things. Walking all the way across the hotel to get to the conference. Walking all your swag back to your room during breaks. Walking around the city during your down time. And, you’ll be doing a lot of standing as well. Standing in line for snacks. Standing in line to get on the elevator. Standing in line to get a photo with that speaker you really like. You know what kind of shoes SUCK for that sort of stuff? Flip flops. Get yourself actual shoes. Sneakers. Maybe buy some insoles. Baby the fuck out of your feet. They will thank you for it.

Take The Damn Pictures

I know, it’s weird to go up to someone and go “Hohmigod can i get a picture with you?!” I struggle with it, especially after working with musical acts and remembering they are people who fall going up the stairs too. But you know, you’re gonna get home and be really sad that you didn’t do it. Get in line for those photos; that’s why they have those times set to take the photos. Take the selfies with your friends. Make a gookie if you’re afraid to look dumb… that way you know you’ll look dumb on purpose and it’ll be a cool homage to Wakko Warner/Harpo Marx.

Image Shown: Gookies. Wakko on first.

Nobody Cares What You Wear

There was one event I went to where someone had a light up dress on. The only reason I remember it is because I remember thinking, “Shit… how is she gonna get that dress and all her swag home?” Plus, remember all that walking and standing I mentioned before? You’re probably gonna have to be clothed while you’re doing those things. Pick comfortable stuff that you can hike back and forth in. My go to is black leggings, a t-shirt, and a flannel for if I get cold (actually… that’s my go to everyday. I have no sense of style). If you are flying somewhere and you know that you’re gonna be a tad spoiled by your sponsors, pack light – or make a plan to ship stuff home, and remember to leave some in your budget to do that.

Erin Condren was really excited to take a picture with me. Please note that dressy ballet flats are not much better than flip flops.

Find the Bathrooms BEFORE You Have To Pee.

Just… trust me on this. And when I say find the bathrooms, I mean… don’t just find the closest ones. Find ALL of them so that if one is full you can go down the line until you find something that is open.

Schedule Time To Do NOTHING

So, for a bigger event like Go Wild it’s really tempting to want to schedule in EVERY SINGLE THING. You’re on vacation, you’re in a city that you want to explore, and you need to eat ALL the things. But, give yourself time to just wander around the hotel and hang with people. Sometimes there are hidden goodies around the hotel block. Sometimes you meet your favorite shop owners and get exclusive samplers. Sometimes one of your roommate does a really bad Australian accent to one of the main people of a major planner company (who happens to be British) and you need to have a spare half hour to literally roll on the floor laughing at her. So yeah… make time for those random things to happen.

Everyone is Awkward AF And That’s The Magic Of It

Me and some fellow awkward people being awkward with confetti.

When you get right down to it, this is a weird hobby for a bunch of adults to have. We play with stickers and mostly know each other through the internet. Sounds super legit, right? But you know, we all have that experience of unsuccessfully trying to explain what this hobby is and why stickers are a vital importance to it. We all have that one horrible layout we will NEVER show anyone. Everyone is as awkward as you are and is hoping you don’t notice that their shirt is on inside out. Embrace it. You are among your peers who know that HP means Happy Planner and not Harry Potter, but we are probably obsessed with both.

Where ever your planner related adventures may take you, I hope you have fun, find a new shop to love, and that your pen doesn’t skip while you’re filling out your spread.

Plan With Me Video & My Current Planner Layout

I’m gonna be honest… I don’t understand the whole appeal of Plan With Me videos in their full 27 minute glory. Speed them up and set them to music, and I’m there! So, that’s what I did this week… Make the content you want to see, right?

There’s a lot talk about “planner peace” and, although as far as I’m concerned it’s a myth, I think I’ve gotten pretty close to that with my Happy Planner and the way I do my current layout.

It just works. I know where to look for what I’m trying to find. I can use the full deco boxes that spark joy when I have them. The simplicity works for my chaotic brain. It’s functional and pretty.

Sticker Kit is from the Birds Fly Monthly Nest Sub Box. No, I’m not PR or anything for her, I really do use her stuff a LOT. Date Dots are the Rose Gold ones from Erin Condren; I grabbed them from the store when I was in Austin last year. I have some foiled stickers from Azalea City Planning and The Cynical Planner in there too.

How To: Sticker Book

If you’re like me, you’re an adult woman who owns a LOT of stickers. And if you’re like me, you are in a constant churning process of getting rid of “trash”. The problem of these two simultaneous occurring things is that you possess a lot of mostly empty sticker sheets that should go in to the trash, except there is that ONE sticker on it that you want to keep. This is a problem – especially with my current sticker storage set up.

My solution is to get a sticker book. And you can find them on Amazon and that’s just dandy. Or, you can raid your craft supplies and DIY that mofo.

Basically, all you need is contact paper and some sort of blank book or construction paper you want to use for your sticker book. I am using those books you can find in the Target dollar spot. These also work really well. And scissors, unless you can Jedi mind cut your paper.

I filmed a tutorial to show you exactly how I do.

A few things to note:

  • You could use laminated pages, but the won’t bend as much and will make it harder to get the stickers off.
  • Both wet and dry erase markers work on contact paper, which makes it easier to label and relabel as your needs change.
  • Acrylic nails make any kind of fine motor work eleventy-billion times harder.

Give it a go and tag me with your results!