Okay guys so here is part-2 of my trip to Alt Summit Summer 2015 which was held in the beautiful Salt Lake City,Utah last week. As I mentioned in part-1 (in case you missed) there was so much I wanted to share about this super exciting conference that one post was not enough. So today in part-2, I’m talking about the classes/talks that I attended, sources, my learnings, experiences and takeaways from it. And just so that I don’t miss out on anything, I’m breaking it down by the days.
Just a heads up, this post has more content than my usual posts. But I wanted to share my detailed experience with you all. And also there are links to some amazing blogs and websites run by these super rock-star ladies who spoke at the summit and tips you might find useful for your blogs and businesses. So grab a snack if you like and enjoy!
Note: This information based on the sessions that I attended. There were couple of sessions happening in parallel too. Making a choice was pretty hard since all of them were so good. You can get all the info about the rest of the schedule on AltSummit website.
Day1 (Tues 9th June):
We just had a couple of early bird sessions on the first day since the conference started at 2 pm. I attended the one on ‘How to write a Brand Deck’ by Jacinda Boneau and Jamie Morrison from ‘Pretty Prudent’. These ladies definitely knew their game and gave an amazing insight on how you should be telling your story when pitching to brands. They also spoke about how important it is to identify and choose the right brands so that the work you are doing will be most beneficial to both parties.
Key Takeaways: There are so many more things you could add to your pitch other than the media-kit and statistics and your statistics. Things that will reflect your personality and tell your story.
The second one was on ‘Pick Yourself: Be first in Line Every Time’ by Jenean Morrison (Jenean Morrison Art) and Monica Lee (Smart Creative Women). These ladies shared their real life experiences and spoke about how we should get on to do the things we envision for ourselves. Waiting around will not help and how important it is to be proactive. Jenean shared her experience of putting her books on amazon opened so many opportunities for her including her collaboration Adobe. And Monica shared her story of how she started her pod-casts and is now venturing into her own accessories and clothing line. Listening to such real life stories is so inspiring you guys.
Key Takeaways: Don’t hold back and push things away. Choose yourself. Take a proactive step TODAY! (even if it is a small one) in the direction of what you want to achieve.
Day2 (Wed 10th June):
We had a talented animator (Rachel Ryle) amongst the keynote speakers and I loved her presentation the most. Her story was so inspiring and her work is so original and creative. I cannot stress enough, checkout her instagram or website and you’ll be hooked just as I was.
In the morning I switched between sessions. I just could not pick and decided to divide my time between both. One was ‘Community Building’ by Nichole Balch (Making it lovely), Laurie Smithwick (lauriesmithwick.com), Cass LaValle (Coco+Kelley) and Leanne Johnson (Polyvore)
Key Takeaways: It’s so important to interact with your community in order to grow. Take measures like participating in contests and join groups. Also utilize the hashtag community to be seen.
The other session was on ‘How to Successfully Pitch Content to Magazines and Television Shows’ by Lindsay White (Lot801), Amanda Kingloff (Project Kid), Kristen Guy (Dine X Design) and Olivia Omega (oliviaomega.com). This was like a power house of these confident lovely ladies. I learned so much about pitching your project to your clients, utilizing all your social media channels, knowing your audiences and crafting your content.
Key Takeaways: Pitch right products to right people, Follow up on your pitch, document your workflow, get to know your client and their audience, packaging is the key, decide on our deliverables while pitching and craft them accordingly.
Second half of the day was super fun too. You would think after so many sessions one would completely drain out however there were coffee breaks in between where you could relax and think on whatever you’ve learned or mingle with your friends and enjoy in the sponsor lounge with your coffee.
The next session was about ‘Instagram! Growing Your Following and Monetizing Options’ (my favorite topic of discussion) so choosing this was a no-brainer for me. The panelists were Trisha Hughes (Eat Your Beets), Jenny Komenda (Little Green Notebook), Kristen Grove (Simply Grove) and Jordan Ferney (Oh Happy Day). These ladies shared their experiences with how they grew their instagram followers. What worked for them and what didn’t. I feel I knew a lot of those tricks (don’t mean to brag) but I think I take pretty good if not great instagram pics. Well you guys can be the judge of that 🙂 However, I did not know so much of it, specially the monetizing part!
Here are is a list of filters & apps you could use: Afterlight, Cortex Camera, Pic Tap Go, Darkroom, Snapspeed, Square Ready, Instafit, Ditpic and Vsco (my personal favorite)
Key Takeaways: Track your statistics (Iconosquare), know when to post, nail the caption, use the rule of 1/3, use good lighting , participate genuinely by commenting on other posts that you like and be smart in knowing what works best for your audience.
Lastly there were Roundtables conducted with different topics of discussion. These were more one on one and intimate than the previous sessions. You could also switch from one to the other. again it was tough for me to choose but I went with the one conducted by the very talented Liz Stanley (Say Yes) on ‘ Landing and Nailing Brand Partnerships for Blogs of ANY SIZE’. Being new to the blogging world, I pretty much needed this information and Liz was so great at answering all my queries. Luckily there were people representing brands at our table too so we got a good understanding of they are looking for when they want to work with bloggers.This was one of my favorite ones cause Liz was so thorough with what she wanted to say.
Key Takeaways: Gosh so many! Professional media kits, creating proposals, recording metrics, brand awareness, fitting the product you would promote with a natural blog post instead of an ad, managing emails, quotes and contacting and working with Brand reps and Ad Networks.
Day3 (Thurs 10th June):
The same Roundtables from the previous evening were happening in the morning too so if you missed out on other topics, you could catch up today. However there were design camps/workshops happening in the parallel which I really wanted to attend. So I chose to go for the one taught by the so talented Candice Stringham (Handmade Mood) on ‘Photoshoot- From Concept to Styling to Editing to Posting’. Being a blogger who does a lot of DIY projects and recipes, I was drawn to this workshop to see how other bloggers do it. Staging, styling and taking pictures is like an everyday phenomena for me. But I needed to know if I was on the right track, was using my kitchen table to stage was good or a bad idea and how well did I know my camera settings. And boy oh boy! what an informative class it was. Got know so much more about camera settings, lighting, editorial pictures and it was good to know that I was not the only one using my kitchen as my photo studio. It’s all about the lighting you see. Anyway, Candice had made these Frieda inspired cookies and pom-pom headbands and showed us the entire process right from staging, taking pictures to editing and posting. We all got to wear the head band and take pictures too !! (Thank you so much Candice for that).
Key Takeaways: Adobe Lightroom is so awesome, Lighting is key, Use reflectors, Avoid sharp shadows, Staging properly, knowing your visual language, creating the right backdrops, using the appropriate props and so much more.
Next up was a session by Rachel Faucett (Handmade Charlotte) and Benish Shah (Refinery29) on ‘Going from a Blog to a Brand’. These ladies spoke about how you need to up your game to become a brand. How you would stand out from the rest and what it is that you are offering that makes you unique. They also spoke about how important it is to know your audience, develop your style and be consistent.
Key Takeaways: figure out what your ‘wink’ is, who is your audience, make a design strategy,use technology to up your game, know your blog stats, choose advertising wisely.
The second half of the day was exciting too. By this time you get the hang of how it all works. You can manage your time wisely, take it all in and not get overwhelmed by everything. Its easier said than done I guess but the second day was definitely much easier for me than the first. Also, by this time you start seeing familiar faces around so that helps too ( if you are attending for the first time). Trust me guys , this more fun than it sounds right now!! Plus this post excludes all the parties which I covered in the part-1 of the post ! So imagine that all happening too 🙂
So next was ‘Driving Traffic To Pinterest & Facebook’ by Alexandra Evjen (AVE Styles) and Peg Fitzpatrick (Art of Social Media). Omg! these ladies are the super ninjas of Pinterest and Facebook ! seriously Alexandra has close to a million Pinterest followers and is also one of the brand ambassadors and Peg has conquered the Facebook world. It was so much fun to get the back story of how they achieved this from them in person. Alexandra explained how one should create content for pinterest, how to engage in the community, what content is relevant to your audience, how seasonal content helps , know your audience by tracking statistics and so much more. And peg spoke about how to use the facebook page to its maximum capacity. There are a lot of things we would tend to overlook but they are so important.
Key Takeaways: build curiosity in pins to make them clickable, add the right caption, look into ‘rich pins’, popular boards on top, use facebook ads, pay to boost your ads, create custom audiences.
And now for the last session. This one was one of my favorite talks I ever attended not at Alt but like ever!! Speaker was Cyndie Spiegel (cyndiespiegel.com) and the topic was ‘Creative Collaboration (Versus Competition) is the Best Way to Grow a Small Business’. After reading the description I thought this is what I need right now , some great collaborations but little did I know she would make them happen right there ! literally. Her energy is contagious you guys.
Key Takeaways: Do not hold back , do not get intimidated by the size , there is room for everyone, be clear about your responsibilities in your collaborations, think about mutual benefits and support each other to grow.
This was like the perfect END of the conference for me.
Last by not least, the ending keynote was given by renowned author, speaker and social media strategist, Guy Kawasaki.
If you ask me , I would sum up my main takeaways from all the sessions I attended as
1) Know your strengths and build your Brand accordingly
2) Keep tracking all statistics (social media) and blog viewership to best know your audience. And use the Yoast SEO plugin. Highly recommend it!
3) Do not be afraid to ask/ approach / contact anyone for a collaboration
The pics in this post are taken by two talented photographers at Alt, Brook Dennis and Justin Hackworth who were covering the entire summit and you can check all pics at this Flickr account. Only the first pic is from my phone:). Seriously though check out the pictures to get a feel of the entire conference including all the parties.
I will definitely be going again! Let me know if you are new to Alt and want to know more about it! Would be happy to help!
Have a great weekend guys!