What a great weekend of learning, networking and inspiration I just experienced at the Alt for Everyone conference! If you’ve never been, Alt (short for Altitude Summit) is a design, social media and blogging conference held every year in Salt Lake City….and again online for those of us who can’t travel cross-country in person because of work, kids or whatever. This was my first year “attending,” and I picked up loads of great information for this blog, for my full-time job, and for work-life balance in general. As bloggers, writers and artists, it’s important to recharge with other like-minded creatives from time to time; you get to hit the refresh button while picking up loads of great business and lifestyle tips, from rethinking your branding and styling to making sure you avoid burnout and screen-time overload.
So what really rang true for me over three days of Alt for Everyone?
IT’S TIME TO QUIT FACEBOOK
Not because it’s bad for my blog–because it’s bad for my life. Letting go of the addiction (if it has become that for you, like it has for me) frees up all kinds of space to dislodge writer’s block, embrace creative hobbies, allow for “boredom brainstorms,” and enjoy your family again, instead of constantly plotting how something will look to the social media universe. Is it more important to help my baby learn to walk confidently, or capture her first steps on video so my Facebook followers share in it? I don’t want to be that person who is so busy cultivating an online persona that I’m missing out on my actual life, and nearing max capacity as I try to juggle my job, husband, daughter, house work, volunteering, hobbies, and exercise alongside blogging. I’ve been saying I’m going to cut back on Facebook for months. It’s time to actually do it.
YOUR BLOG IS A BUSINESS — TREAT IT THAT WAY!
REPEAT AFTER ME: PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE
According to Jaime Derringer of Design Milk, it can take 6 months (at least) to show a return on your investment in a particular advertising partner. Most brands are willing to wait for you to show them what your blog can do for them, and amplification of your blog posts featuring their brand — on Instagram, Pinterest, etc. — can be just as important to them as actual conversion rates. There are lots of different ad-selling arrangements out there, and it will likely take time to evaluate each one properly and find the most lucrative space and method on your blog for each.
YOU NEED TO BE USING RICH PINS
This I already knew, but had been avoiding. Rich pins are especially critical for food bloggers, because they allow recipe embedding right in your pin, meaning nobody can override you as the original source. I had been thinking about rich pins as something that would take me more time, not necessarily prevent other pinners from stealing my content without attribution. Now I’m definitely adding this to my to-do list. Read more about how to do rich pinning here!
NURTURE YOUR CREATIVITY & REAP THE BENEFITSIdeas I loved:
- Mood boards are my friend. Am I drawn to black and white? Bright colors? Rustic? Masculine? Modern? Lived-in? Feminine? Joy Cho posted a great example this week of how to do this in writing about developing her latest collaboration with Target.
- Create a secret Pinterest board with examples of blog templates, photo styling, and color palettes that you love.
- Imitate with abandon to get the ideas flowing…but throw the imitation away before you publish a ripoff. Redraft, and watch something even better emerge.
- Analyze those you idolize (as a musician, I know this intrinsically). Look for patterns you love — just like in music — and replicate the sensibility.
We’ve all heard it before: authentic content is king. Turns out, that’s because it’s true. Brands are looking for good engagement from your readers and lots of genuine content…not necessarily high page views or tons of previous sponsored posts (that can actually be a red flag, because you may appear un-discerning). For someone like me, that read as a challenge, because my page views have been skyrocketing lately but my ad revenue and my engagement have flat-lined. So now I have a very real charge for the months ahead (in addition to the redesign I was already planning!) Hand-in-hand with authenticity is the notion of consistency. Don’t leave your readers wondering when you’ll post, or why your photos and overall post format vary so widely in design. Be organized and predictable!
THERE WERE ALSO SOME VERY QUOTABLE MOMENTS.
A few of my favorites, from the webinars I took:
“Be a visual DJ”
“Boredom gives you the best ideas”
“When you don’t have butterflies, it means you are doing the same thing over and over.”
“Study your heroes” and “follow your competitors!”
“think like a marketer”
“fake it ’til you make it”
“start thinking like a window dresser” and “create an environment that people want to visit often.”
That’s it! I learned so much more, applicable to this blog, my day job and my creative life, and I am definitely feeling motivated, empowered and excited to take things to the next level in all these areas.
Special thanks to instructors Laurie Smithwick of Leap Design, Raphael Aquino-Jose of Bing, Jenner Brown of Lumineux Films, Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society, Whitney English of Whitney English, Melanie Burk of Caravan, Chris Gardner of Curbly, Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte, Amy Christie of This Heart of Mine, Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show, Monique Malcolm of Antisparkle, Kelly Beall of Design Crush and Susan Brinson of House of Brinson.
Did you go? What did you learn? And if you are from Boston and you participated in #AltforEveryone, do you want to meet up for coffee and debrief/network/commiserate over our long task list?!?!