Hello all you lovely people! I hope your week is going well, and if not, well the weekend is almost here! Today's post goes into one of my favorite things about blogging: connecting and collaborating with brands, specifically through your blog's media kit. 
What Is A Media Kit?
If this term is new to you, then I'm happy to be the one to introduce you to this aspect of blogging! A media kit is a marketing tool that is used to help pitch your blog to brands. Usually in the form of a pdf, a media kit has everything about who you are, what your blog/brand is about, statistics, and past partnerships. It's your blog's resume, and it's important for it to represent your brand in a professional and attractive way so that prospective partners will want to work with you in the future. Depending on the blogger, media kits can be one page or multiple pages. I personally have a four page media kit, as I prefer to separate each page into categories and create simple layout that doesn't seem too crowded. 

Why Is It Important To Have A Media Kit?
Whether you're reaching out on your own or are responding to pitches to you, having a media kit is a simple way to connect with a brand and let them know the basics about your blog. It's how you show your worth to a company, no matter the size of your blog, and why they should work with you. It's also a way to add more professionalism to your own brand. Just like having a resume to show your strengths, a media kit shows the strengths of your blog and why the client should work with you. Your value is in all the hard work you put into your blog, and a media kit is a great way to demonstrate that value into a condensed professional document.

How Do I Make A Media Kit?
This is what you came here for, right?! I made my media kit through PicMonkey, however Canva is also another popular choice. I'm not so skilled with Photoshop, however if that's your forte you may want to take that route! My instructions will mostly focus on PicMonkey, but a lot of it should cross over to Canva as well! (Photoshop people, I'm sorry, but you're on your own!) If you don't have a good eye for placement, I recommend Canva, as they have lines that will guide you to make sure text boxes, graphics, etc are centered where you want them! I have a really good eye for those kinds of things, so I don't mind that PicMonkey doesn't have that tool. I prefer PicMonkey because I can add my own font, but maybe Canva does that as well! (I stopped using Canva because I had issues uploading my own images, so I don't know my way around there anymore.)

The first thing you want to do is make sure you create an 8x10 graphic, so it's big and readable. For PicMonkey, go to design –> blank canvas –> choose 8x10. There's no right or wrong way to make a media kit, just as long as it matches your brand's color scheme and tone of voice. I've added my sample media kit below for example. I added some simple pink graphics, images, and writing. Nothing too complicated, you don't want to draw away from the information!

Looking at my sample media kit above, you can tell that I substituted some areas where my actual stats and information would be! I did that so you can basically see how I organized everything, but also because I don't want you all to get caught up on any stats you see here for some reason. You can see from my media kit (which was inspired by Rachel from Hello, Her's media kit) that it has a lot of colors from my color scheme: light pink, white, and black. I was going to add gold, but it didn't really fit. I also wanted to include some images from my blog/instagram to demonstrate what a potential collab may look like image-wise.

What Do I Need To Include In My Media Kit?
Short Blog Bio:
Shown in the example above, this is where you discuss what your blog is about, why it's unique, who your audience is, and how you connect to them.
Short Personal Bio:
If you want to be concise, you can combine this with your blog bio into one paragraph. I chose to have separate paragraphs in mine as I think it's important to introduce who I am outside my blog as well. I stress that this should only be max three sentences long. Talk about what makes you as a person standout, who you are, some likes, and what you are passionate about.
Always include your blog stats in your media kit, it's practically the most important part! You should at minimum include your monthly pageviews, social media followers (including individual account stats), unique monthly sessions. I also like to include stats about my audience, so brands can see if their audience matches up with mine. These stats include audience gender, age, location (by country), and bounce rate. Everything besides the social media stats can be found on Google Analytics!
Like I said above, I like to have multiple images throughout my media kit as examples of my work. Whether the images are of previous sponsored content, or just photos that I think represent my brand, I want it to almost seem like a portfolio and resume rolled into one. These images should be representative of your brand and showcase your best material.
Make sure brands know your face! If you decide to make a multi-page media kit like me, make sure you have a head shot (not a full body shot) on the first page. I also like to have it next to my personal bio, just because it makes the most sense!
If you have a logo, put it on there! It's another identifier of who you are and what your brand represents! I don't have a logo, so I just used my signature font!
Past Collaborations:
This is a great way to showcase past relevant work to new brands! You don't have to include any actual work, just a list of companies you have worked with in the past will do. Again, make sure these collaborations are relevant, as a fashion brand probably won't see your restaurant review as an accurate representation of the work you will give them!
For some reason this is a touchy subject in the blogging world, but bloggers get paid and it shouldn't be a huge secret! Blogging is a job, and you should be getting paid for all the effort you put into posts! I have a few different rates that I include in mine. I chose to not show these here, however if you have any questions about rates or how to add them correctly into your media kit you can email me! (theclassicbrunette@gmail.com) I include the different types of blog/social media packages I offer and then singular rates as well!
Contact Information:
Duh! How is a brand supposed to get ahold of you if they don't know any of your information!? Add in your website, your email, and all of your social channels. I like to add my social media handles right next to their own statistics.

I've Made My Media Kit, Now What?
You want to export that beauty into a PDF so it's ready to send out! I took my individual images (pages) and saved them to my desktop. Let's be honest, I'm not sure if there's a better way to do this, but this is what works for me! I highlight all of the images, double click them so they all open in preview(if you have a Mac!), organize them into the order you want and click print. Yes, print. In the bottom left corner there should be a little dropdown option labeled 'PDF.' Click that and click the option 'Save as PDF.' I have tried going straight from preview to 'Export as PDF,' but it didn't work properly, so this is how I do it!

Now you're ready to send it out to companies and get those partnerships going! Also, don't forget to update your media kit as you go along! I like to update mine every month to make sure the statistics are still correct, and add in new partnerships. Sometimes I update the social media stats weekly if they're changing fast enough!

If you have any questions about media kits (or anything else for that matter!) you can ask me in the comments or email me directly! I wish you all the best of luck!

New Orleans: Hotel Maison De Ville Review

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

You might already be aware of this, but New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. I absolutely love the history, the architecture, the people, and of course, the food. For my senior thesis, I'm writing about one of the things that makes NOLA famous, Voodoo. At Chapman, writing our paper involves us doing some form of primary research. So of course when I was given the chance to go back to do some of this research, I couldn't wait to start planning my trip!

The last time I was in New Orleans, I stayed at a place that was pretty, but also a bit terrifying at the same time. I wanted to choose a place this time around that had a history, but wasn't plagued with stories of hauntings. (Which I firmly decided weren't for me after a bed shaking incident in the previous hotel...) As I was doing my research, I knew I wanted to stay within the central area of the French Quarter, as that's where most of my research was going to be, and also the best activities and restaurants. 

The History
I came across the Hotel Maison De Ville due to the fact that it has one of the oldest existing buildings in the French Quarter, which for a history nerd like me was a huge bonus. The main house was constructed in 1783, and the hotel definitely reflects the old flair of New Orleans with a modern twist. The hotel has a rich history, being home to many essential New Orleans characters including Antoine Amede Peychaud, the creator of New Orlean's first signature cocktail the Sazerac, as well as serving as a working apothecary and the favorite writing place of playwright Tennessee Williams. It's also a favorite of many celebrities who visit the area including Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Redford, and Julia Roberts.(!!)Let me first start this by saying I was absolutely blown away with how much I loved my stay at the Maison De Ville. Working with Celina on my visit was easy and she was so delightful, making sure everything was planned accordingly. You could tell that she, and everyone else at the hotel cares immensely about the guest and giving them the best possible experience. 

Room Details
When you walk up to the hotel, it looks like a private residence, especially since you can't just walk in the door like any other hotel. To check in you have to ring the doorbell, and then they'll give you a key that works on your room as well as the front door. Like I said earlier, I wanted a hotel that was in the middle of all the action. Hotel Maison De Ville is literally steps from Bourbon street, so you can't get much better than that! But I really liked the fact that we got some extra security with the hotel key, because there are definitely a few crazies on Bourbon, haha! 
Even though we were so close to the rowdy crowds on Bourbon, it's like the hotel was a little soundproof oasis. We could barely hear noise from the street, even during the crazy hours of the night, or if we were standing out on the balcony outside our room. I think there's some kind of magic going on there.
Speaking of the balcony, I think that was my favorite part of the hotel. Each morning was great because we were greeted with live jazz music from the restaurant next door. If you follow me on Instagram you saw and heard a little sneak peak of this! I'm not typically a jazz person, but in New Orleans I definitely am. Maybe it's that you get caught up in the personalities of the performers, the fact that the music matches the area so well, or maybe it's just some more NOLA magic. (There's a lot of that here, btw) Whatever it is, I don't think I want to wake up any other way. 
The one thing I am truly upset about is myself, because my camera was malfunctioning almost any time we tried to take photos inside. No matter what we tried, the photos would be blurry or dark, so I'll have to figure out what's going on with it. I got a few photos that I'll show, but these definitely don't do the room justice!! So if you notice that most of these photos are of the outside, then you know why! When my sister and I first walked in the room we got a personalized message from the hotel with some information, and had a cute little Voodoo doll waiting on the bed (how perfect considering my reason for visiting!) They also had super comfy robes waiting for us in the room as well! And because I'm a snoop and am always into the hotel toiletries, that was what I went to check out next. Y'all. They had L'Occitane toiletries. WHAT. You bet your bottom dollar I took some of those when I left. (Don't worry, I only took the hand cream and some face wipes because #necessary) If you aren't aware, L'Occitane is an amazing brand, with high quality products that smell incredible. The majority of the products in the hotel were verveine scented, which fun fact, is what's historically supposed to ward off vampires! So definitely a dual use product. 😉
The room my sister and I stayed in was a Superior room, which gave us a queen bed and a balcony. We also had a standing shower, an AC unit (which surprisingly was very much necessary for us) and an adorable vintage desk. We ended up spending a good amount of time in the room, because our days were pretty full in the mornings and evenings, but afternoons were empty. We chose to take that time to rest in the hotel, since we are really efficient (probably too efficient) at seeing everything we wanted to see in the morning and at night. This worked out pretty well for us as I got to work on some blog stuff and used the WiFi to look up where to eat next and make plans for the next day. 

Hotel Details
Besides the actual room, we also spent some time in other areas of the hotel. Each morning there was complimentary breakfast (woohoo!!) that consisted of a variety of items. Most were some type of carb: muffins, bagels, cornbread, croissants, but they also had some yogurt that you could help yourself to in the fridge. For beverages they had your regular assortment of breakfast drinks including coffee, juice, and tea. However, they also provide beverages 24/7 in the breakfast area, which was great for our downtime! There was a mini fridge in our room as well, so if we wanted to bring drinks up or stash leftovers we could have done that as well. 

When we didn't take our breakfast to go, we made our way out to the beautiful 2000 sq ft courtyard and listened to the jazz from the restaurant next door. We were actually the only guests at the hotel for the first night, so it was almost like we were actually living in this place! The staff was also incredibly friendly, and greeted us every time we entered or left the building. They were also great for suggestions if we needed guidance on where to go or what to eat. I'm a little biased, but I think Trina was my favorite staff member.

As you can see from my photo, Trina is a snuggly cat! She was SO sweet, and would spend breakfast with us as well. We were calling her a little "ciabatta cat" because she was pudgy and looked like a loaf of bread when she sat down. Honestly the most adorable thing ever! I'm such a cat lady, so even though I was already in love with the hotel from the start, Trina made the experience so much better, and made me feel like I was actually staying in a home rather than a hotel.

Nearby Activities
This hotel is close to everything! As I said, it's only steps from Bourbon street, but in reality it's close to everything in the French Quarter. The Maison De Ville is a less than ten minute walk to Jackson Square, Cafe Du Monde, Canal Street, and other activities in the area! And if you want to walk down to the business district, you can easily do that from the hotel as well. There's also an incredible amount of restaurants near the hotel, but I think my favorite has to be The Gumbo Shop that's a few streets over! Honestly, this place is the best location for a hotel in the French Quarter, hands down.

Overall Experience
I think the best part about staying at the Hotel Maison De Ville was that I didn't feel like I was staying a hotel at all. I felt very at home during the four nights I was there, and didn't want to leave! I highly recommend this be your go-to spot if you're traveling to the Big Easy and want to stay in style and comfort. I have to agree with their own advertisements, "Guests are treated to true Southern hospitality with that special New Orleans flair." 

If you'd like to connect with the hotel further you can check out their social channels here: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

A huge thank you to the Maison De Ville for having me on a complimentary stay!

Puffer Vest And Tory Burch Riding Boots + A Giveaway

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

Turtleneck: Similar (under $15!) | Quilted Puffer Vest: J.Crew, Same Style | Riding Boots: Tory Burch | Leggings: Lou & Grey | Monogram Necklace: Brook & York (size large), Similar | Bracelets: Kendra Scott, Kinsley Armelle (use code SAMIMAST15 for discount) | Bag: Gatta Camera Bag, Similar | Lip Color: Winky Lux in Bunny

I keep forgetting it's January, this first week is already going by so quickly! Since I don't start school again until February, I've still got plenty of time to rejoice in the fact that I'm home and have very limited responsibilities. Some of you may be questioning how I got so lucky to have a month and a half off of school, but it's because I'm not doing my school's January term. Apparently this optional term thing is very uncommon, but that's how Chapman is! I've opted-in the last three years of college, but decided I was going to give myself a break during my senior year. Although, were my other January terms really all that bad if I got to go to New Orleans and London?

Although my break isn't all fun and games! I've got an upcoming trip planned that I'm so excited for, and I'll definitely be sharing more on that soon (hint: check my social media next week!) and I've been attempting to content plan for these next few weeks. 

This post was a fun one to shoot with my sister, who I don't say too much about on here, but she's a great sport for putting up with me and my photo shoots! She was only home for a few days for Christmas and I dragged her out to shoot a few outfits, including this one. 

When I come home for winter break, I'm constantly having to pull on my Tory Burch riding boots because of the cold weather. Of course we don't have snow or anything where I am in the Bay Area, but it still gets into the low 50's during the day and down into the 40's when I'm out at night. These are my warmest shoes that I own, well, besides my Uggs which don't see the light of day much anymore! I'm also getting a lot of use out of my favorite navy quilted puffer vest, which I'm constantly throwing on over a long sleeve, or a sweater like this turtleneck one here. 

Also, a few of you were asking where I got my bag since I posted a preview of this look on Instagram last week, and it's actually my camera bag! I got it over the summer and I've been using it so much lately. I had an old camera bag that I was using before, but let's just say, it was NOT cute. So I would normally just forego the bag and take my camera without having any sort of protective case for it which wasn't exactly ideal. But I've been loving this one, and sometimes I'll use it on a day where I'm not even using my camera, but just have a lot of stuff to carry around!

This outfit has essentially been my uniform, since I've been home, and I don't think I'll be changing it up much in the time I have left here! When do y'all go back to work or school, and how did you spend your break?

Before you leave this post though, I have a fun giveaway for all of you! My friend Susana of Susana Cresce Planners and I are giving away 5 of her 2016-2017 planners that are ideal for students who are ready to take on the spring semester. This is the exact planner I use, so I'm so excited to be able to offer a few of you one of your own. Just enter below and I'll be picking the winners on Monday 1/9!