Alt Summit 2012: The Recap

So many wonderful things can spring from gathering in one place with a lovely group of likeminded creative’s; add some snow, great wine, a little food and you may get something as awe-inspiring as Alt Summit. We had a hunch when we dreamed up Blog Brunch that bloggers like us craved the ability to share their talent and experience with each other, Alt is the proof that bloggers thrive in collaborative environments. 

After choosing to go to Alt this year, the Blog Brunch Staff decided to share some of the wonderful things we learned during the conference with our fellow Brunchers!

*As a simple disclaimer, we took notes furiously and tried to quote accurately. Some of the things said are opinion and open to interpretation.  

First things first, here are some of the highlights from the classes we attended. 

image via: Justin Hackworth

Successful Collaborations

Design Love FestThe Jealous Curator, Simple Lovely, SFGirlbytheBay

  • Common rules of collaboration: 
    • Ask yourself what you hope to get out of the collaboration.
    • If there are several of you in the group do no pair off to gossip or side against each other. 
    • Stand up for what you’re passionate about. 
    • It’s okay to walk away. 
    • Make sure you pull your own weight.
    • Take care of each other… you are in it together.
  • Step outside the blogging world, be untraditional and pitch ideas for content to the print and alternative media; i.e. online magazines, they are looking for bloggers who have strong ideas that are good and will build their brand
  • Don’t host too many giveaways, they can make your blog seem like a game show
  • Stay organic with your content and giveaways; strive to incorporate collaborators you can stand behind.
  • Tools for collaborations: asana, wunderlist

image via: Justin Hackworth

Building Relationships With Ad Networks and Sponsors:

Design for MankindSway Group, A Practical Wedding, Say Media

  • Provide a service to your community
    • Give them what they are looking for in terms of products when thinking of your advertisers
  • Know your brand and your value 
  • Have enthusiasm for your sponsors, if you don’t like them, neither will your readers. 
  • Don’t take an advertiser that doesn’t fit you and your readership.
  • Partner with your advertisers and make relationships that are lasting you are team members
  • When inquiring for sponsors, talk about why you love their brand and why they are the perfect fit for you and your readers
    • Don’t forget your followers 
  • Picture in your head where you want to be 2 years from now.
  • Brands don’t care about you, find out what their business goals and explain how you will help them get there through your dedicated readers. 
  • Avoid broadcasting your pay.
  • Build relationships with the bloggers that are already doing what you are doing and learn from their progress.
  • Find ads that compliment your design
  • Be aware of what your content says about you.
  • Create authenticate and engaging conversation that interact with your readers
  • $25 is a good place to start per month for an ad rate.
  • Your stomach should hurt when you ask for money

image via: b.a.d. photography

Work Life Balance

Inchmark, Chrysula WinegarSnippet & Ink, Sarah Jane Studios 

  • “Balance is an uncluttered life” – Snippet and Ink
  • Knowing when you are reacting (to emails, tweets and comments) vs. being proactive with the content and work you are creating.
    • When you are in state of reacting to other people’s inquires and activity you are not able to achieve the items on your to-do list. 
  • Break the addiction to the “gogogo” and know when you close your 20 tabs open, the noise from your emails and your twitter feed in order to devote the necessary time to your craft/work. 
  • Give yourself permission to stop, to step away and accept that your blog may not be the biggest and the best- blogging isn’t your only measure of success.  
  • Give yourself a break by “unplugging” yourself from technology in order to feed a different side of your creativity. 
    • Allow yourself “little luxuries” i.e. read a book, take a walk, eat lunch away from the computer. 
  • Value your time, and never do what you do for free!
    • Know how much time you can commit to projects.

image via: Justin Hackworth

The Relationship Between New and Traditional Media

Pilar Guzman, Deborah Needleman, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, DesignMom

  • Nurturing your community by answering questions and interacting with comments. 
    • Be a host and not a teacher.
  • Take the value of print and marry to new media. 
    • Give it substance.
    • Make your content modern and recognize what content will thrive in a new media environment. i.e. with video, tutorials, creative ads.
  • So you don’t fit the mold, maybe that’s a good thing? ;)
  • Make the printed word worthy of the printed page.
  • Print and New Media are not mutually exclusive… you can appreciate print but still make your content/site modern. 
  • Whether in print or online, know the value of the story you are telling and always ask yourself, how can you make it better. 
    • Find the real story for your readers. Taylor it for them.
  • Everyone wants legitimacy and page views

image via: b.a.d. photography

What Small Sites Can Learn from Big Online Communities

Dooce, BurdaStyle, HGTV, Blogstars

  • Listen to your site and think ahead of what your community wants.
  • Give your readers a peek into “whose posting”… pictures aren’t enough.
  • Don’t feel scared to share our life with your readers- people care. 
    • Let your personality shine through.
  • Use your voice honestly as tastemakers. 
  • Create a platform for others to succeed and feel like their opinion matters.
    • Let those who rise to the top in your community become leaders and moderators.
  • Create rules or parameters i.e. terms of service for commenting.
    • Don’t be afraid to put your foot down within the community.
  • Know the demographics of your reader (focus on one): give this person a name, age, job. 

image via: Justin Hackworth

Kick Starting Your Next Project:

The City Sage, Lisa Congdon, Say Yes to Hoboken, Rena Tom

  • Traditional guidelines for jumping into a new daily project:
    • Pick something separate from your day-2-day life.
    • Have passion for your project.
    • Give your project rules or constraints to keep your project consistent.
    • Make sure it is challenging. 
  • Creative projects create discipline, bring in a new audience, and invigorate a shift to your routine. 
  • Let your project introduce a new side of your personality/life to your readers.
  • Let your projects lead into other goals.
  • Some of the things that come from projects:
    • Broaden your visibility
    • Raise your credibility
    • Generate new skills
  • Make sure you are crazy about your project.
  • Stick with it and have an end result in mind.
  • Set goals, and write them down.
  • Offer surveys to get an idea of what people want and/or think.
  • Find comfort in chaos.

image via: Justin Hackworth

Growing a Readership:

Oh Happy Day, Design Crush, Making it Lovely, Mighty Girl

  • Most importantly- create original content!
  • Maintain constancy with posting content.
  • Have a professional design (dress for the job)
  • Have confidence in your content.
  • Be able to determine if the frequency of your posts affects the quality of your posts.
  • If you have a great idea, don’t wait to introduce it to your readers.
  • Handpick several links at the end of your posts that are relevant, “If you liked this post, check out ______”
  • Post your content on social media sites that compliment your blog.
  • Contribute to other sites and offer new contributors to your readers for different points of views. 
  • Invest in your blog
    • Offer giveaways.

From Blog to Book:

Amy Butler, Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, Julia Rothman, Kate Woodrow of Chronicle Books, Lia Ronnen of Artisan Books

  • Know every book in your category and read their reviews.
    • Examine who is publishing these books 
  • Ask yourself what value you can offer to the book industry.
  • You never get a second chance to make an impression
  • Questions to ask:
    • Is there an audience for your book?
    • Why are you unique?
    • Who are the people reading your blog and would they want to read your book?
    • Who understands your voice the most?
  • Bring your personality and creativity into the proposal.
  • You can use a lawyer instead of an agent if you are not interested in an agent
  • Advances are paid in thirds and that money is yours 100% this is paid against royalties. So you have to sell enough books to make that before you receive anything beyond that.
  • If you don’t ask for something you will not get it and remember your time invaluable
  • You are responsible for making your book sell.
    • Book Tours 
    • Brainstorm sponsors.

image via: b.a.d. photography

From Blog to Shop:

Little Alouette, One Sydney RoadFreshly Picked

  • The life you want shapes your vision
  • Be active in other people’s communities, meet people and talk with them honestly
    • Find your tribe: figure out what you can offer and get your readers involved in what you are doing, that way they feel part of it all. 
  • Write posts about what is happening your shop. 
    • Nurture your buyers and your readership. 
  • Focus on quality not competition
  • Find what you are passionate about and run like hell at it.
  • Think of a way to make your shop real and emotional for your readers and buyers
  • Find places to advertise that are “your people”. 
  • Make a list of goals at the beginning of each quarter.
  • Connect with each person who gives you a business card
  • Ask individuals for feedback that will be honest.
  • When something is not working let it go. 
  • Find ways to show people a little inch of your life. 

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