Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Alt for Everyone 2013 Recap



Sitting down to write this, I thought quite a bit about what I wanted to say about my experience with the online blogging conference, Alt. For Everyone. For the uninitiated in the blogging world, Alt Design is a- blog, brand, whatever you want to call it- about design and blogging. They host three conferences about blogging for the design and style world (including fashion) yearly, and now have started an  online conference too, called "Alt for Everyone." So what to talk about from Alt?  Did I want to share the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts of what I'd learned, or what about the big take-away ideas or even just what it was like going to a conference and learning online? As it turns out- D) All of the above.


Alt for Everyone as an Online Conference

Clearly having classes online is no where near the same as attending a conference. Many things can- and were- done to approximate the energy and excitement of a life conference, but something you can attend in your pajamas is just not going to have the same effect as packing into a room with other people to hear someone speak. And that's okay. Here's the big differences:
No "swag bags" or vendor tables;  instead Alt mails you a box of sponsor goodies
No small talk in hallways or auditoriums; instead you have chatboxes. You aren't having face to face interaction, which is a drawback. But because you could listen to a speaker and type at the same time, people were able to continue to network even during the lectures.  
No live networking events; instead you signed up for "meet-ups," which were chatrooms. For the meet-up I attended, at least (the "Pajama Party") a moderator asked that we all have questions ready and we took turns sharing questions about blogging and helping one another with answers. This was both fun and instructive. As an introvert having a purpose to the "chatting" helped me be more active too.

No lecture halls; instead you have a live feed video of the speakers from their own homes. You were able to chat with them in real time as well to ask questions. Interestingly, this lent a much less formal quality to the classes, as the teacher couldn't see any students and was also in their own home. Not really bad or good in any way, but different. Pretty sure the quality of the classes did not differ in any way though. 
No trading business cards; instead you were encouraged to share your contact information on blogrolls at each class. Those blogrolls then could be copied and pasted for bloggers to use to connect with one another. A bonus of this method is you got everyone's information, and usually three or four ways to connect with each classmate. On the other hand, the numbers could get overwhelming. I'm still slowly making my way through blogroll lists over a week later.  
Overall, it was different than a live conference (which this made me excited to try out!), but I still loved Alt for Everyone. It was perfect both in the sense that it was designed for those who are unable to travel to their other conferences, and in the sense that Alt for Everyone seemed designed for bloggers who already have a start in their blogging but were looking to take things to the next level, especially if they were looking at blogging as a business.


Big Take-Aways
Know who you are, as a blog and as a brand. What is your core message, and how are you communicating that message? Just as importantly- know you who you aren't.  
Experiment. Try things. Because the internet is a fast changing place, and that is the only way you will jump the curve when those changes happen. Failure is part of this. Be okay
with admitting something isn't working and move on. 
Know your worth- in terms of numbers, and in terms of what you have to offer.It is not about being "big enough;" it is about selling what you have. Make a media kit to reflect these things.  
Communicate with the people you work with, work for, and collaborate with- especially sponsors. You need to know what is expected from you. Also- know to under-promise but over-deliver. Go the extra for those who are working with you.  
Design is a matter of both form and function. Look at how your platform works for you and your goals (change your platform if is doesn't work for you); label things clearly; make your blog easy to navigate; and make it easy to read (Most often this means left aligned text at 16 pt. font in basic typeface. Both centered text and decorative fonts strain the eyes if you have to read them for more than headlines).  
There are tools out there to help you- apps for managing money; for managing time; for making editorial calendars; for helping you organize your ads, your photos, or your posts. Find them. Use them.  
Yes, you can make your blog work as a business. And there are ways to do this beyond just advertising (though that can be fine too). Think how your skills can help others. Offer that help. Let people know you want to work with them.  Diversify your revenue streams. 
When working with others, focus on what you bring them, not what they bring to you. 



Nuts and Bolts of Blogging


As mentioned above, I took seven classes + a Keynote + one meet-up (Hi to any other Alt attendees who were at the Pajama Party!). These are not necessarily in the order I took them, but here are those classes:

Making Money on Your Blog Beyond Advertising with Melanie Bloggett of You are My Fav 
Working with Sponsors with Sara Urhart of Alt Summit 
Growing your Blog: Case Study Action Items with Kelly Beall of Design Crush 
Graphic Design: Color and Typography with Laurie Smithwick of Leap Design 
Tips on Being an Organized Blogger with Liz Stanley of Say Yes To Hoboken 
Coding for Bloggers with Melanie Burke of Fifth and Hazel 
How to Start Selling Ads on Your Blog with Jaime Derringer of Design Milk 
Keynote Session: Using Brand Straegy to Grow Readership with Kate Arends of Wit & Delight
 Now, with all these sessions, you can bet what I learned won't fit into a tidy bullet point sheet. And there was a lot to learn. So, I'm not gonna try. It wouldn't really be fair to these lovely teachers who worked hard on their presentations anyway. What I WILL do however is- One, let you know that Alt also provides monthly classes that are run in the same format on their Alt Channel. Sponsored classes are free and all the rest are only fifteen dollars! I miiiight already be signed up for an upcoming one. Two- If you do have any questions about blogging, that you think notes from these classes might answer, well, ask! I'll do my best to help you out. Leave a question in the comments or feel free to email me or reach me on social media sites.

As for myself- this just makes me more excited about blogging, about upcoming changes and learning more. What about you? Do you think you might attend Alt or another conference- either on or offline?

9 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really awesome conference despite a few of the drawbacks from being online. Saw your Instagram from yesterday evening and loved the notes you took down! Thanks for sharing them! :)

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  2. I had no idea Alt offered online conferences. They have a big conference here in Utah every year but it's a little too out of my price range sadly. I might have to look into the monthly classes! Thanks for sharing some great tips you took from the conference!
    Jessi
    http://haircutandgeneralattitude.blogspot.com

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    1. It is sadly out of my price range too, which is too bad since I could get to Salt Lake much easier than anywhere else these confrences are held at. I enjoyed the classes; you should check out their monthly ones!

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  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this.

    It is always a good sign when you are signing up for more classes with the same organization.

    This is definately something to consider, and easier to do than going in real life to the conference.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  4. im SO glad you posted this, it was so inspiring to read! and they give free classes?! where they as informative as the ones you took (because your classes sound really interesting and would offer a lot of helpful info). It's awesome you introduced this to us :)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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    1. I have never taken any of the Alt Channel classes, besides the 8 listed above for the confrence. I know they DO occasionally have free classes (generally a sponsor is putting the class on). I imagine they would be as informative since many are taught by the same people, though it will probably vary from class to class. Each class is 15, which on a tight budget might seem like a lot, but especially their blog-as- business classes seemed very helpful to me.

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  5. Rad! This is more detailed than I was expecting. I appreciate this in-depth analysis! Very helpful!

    - Anna

    www.melodicthriftychic.com

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  6. Thank you for sharing all of this great info! I may have to sign up for one/some of these classes!

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