Are you sick of my talking about Alt Summit yet? Well, hang in there for a few more posts and then I promise on to new things. If you were following along with the conference at all you know that the business cards were a BIG deal. You wanted to meet people just to see what their cards looked like.
I brought TONS of cards home with me and it took me until yesterday to feel ready to go through them. It was super fun to remember where you met the person or why you clicked with them. There are a bunch of sites that I can’t wait to dive in to based only off the business card. And lots of follow-up that needs to happen. I’m slowly getting to that.
We all know that Jenny from Hank and Hunt is rad.i.cle but how freaking adorable is this! She paired a simple white letterpress card with her contact info with gold animal candle holders. Surely I would lose a finger if I tried to do something like this. And she made a ton of them. I am really starting to wonder if this girl sleeps.
Some were simple, some had awesome graphic design. Some came with swag (that pen right there is my FAVE! Thanks Love Creative!) Some were done by hand and some were gorgeously printed.
How adorable are these cards?! I was so happy to finally meet these ladies. Andrea lives about 20 minutes from me but took going to Salt Lake City to finally get together. And Laura is in LA which seems like world’s away sometimes. Both of these ladies and cards are totally my style and I hope I get to know them better!
You are my Fave brought it with her slide out card. Not sure if you can read that tiny writing but it says “Hi. I’m Melanie. I quote Liz Lemon at…” She’s hilarious.
And then there was this card that made me the happiest. I love aromatherapy and at times throughout the conference I would get the most amazing waft of lavender smell. But I could never tell where it was coming from. Then during one session, I look over and Lauren had this “card” sachet in front of her. I snatched it away and didn’t give it back. Turns out her blog is awesome too, check it out!
I had seen these marshmallow cards on instagram a few days before leaving for Alt and I loved the idea. But I don’t know The Faux Martha or what she looks like. I had been keeping my eyes out for another gal I wanted to say hello to and approached Melissa and asked if she was so and so. She wasn’t. Awkward. But when I asked what her blog was and she said The Faux Martha I became visibly excited. She handed over this pillowy cloud of a marshmallow and it made my day. I may have traumatized her but I think this is such a cute idea for a card! Nice meeting you Melissa!
And here are the cards I decided to take with me to Alt. I had two ideas I was working with (well and Lauren too since she does most of my graphic design) but at the end, this is what I chose. Although after being at Alt, the other idea would have been better. But you live and you learn right! And I’m still super happy with how these came out. I ended up doing these myself and was pretty dang impressed with myself since my illustrator skills are remedial at best.
I wanted it to be a visual elevator pitch of my blog. And I wanted it to have a photo of me so that people would remember who the heck I was when they got home. But I’m also kind of a nerd and I don’t love things that aren’t standard business card size so I included that too.
And in case the card became separated from the outer card my contact info was on there too. So really you can keep one for yourself and give one to a friend. My pal Ryan printed these for me and was so great to work with as usual. And a big thank you to my mom who put these together for me the night before I left so I didn’t have to stay up all night doing it. You are the best!
There were so many other great cards to share but I think I will cap it off right here. And I think I was the first person to get one of Lauren’s cards and somehow it is nowhere to be found! It was a little party kit and it was super cute! I don’t want to wait another year until Alt!
If you saw my post from yesterday you know that Alt Summit did BIG things for me. The outcome was totally different from I thought it would be during my conference planning but I love the way it turned out. But the other part of Alt that is SO necessary is the social aspect and the pure awesomeness that is everywhere. Alt Summit is ridiculously awesome. I think Alt was such a great experience for me because the majority of the people there are all design oriented in some way. We are like-minded, creative and driven. That isn’t to say a “mom blogger” wouldn’t get anything out of it, but it really is geared more toward creative bloggers. Not much traditional business or the back-end of blogging is discussed but mostly how to collaborate or get guest post spots for diys, etc. The content was perfect for me at the stage that I am at. Next year, I might get something totally different out of it. Yes, I’m already planning on going next year.
The people who I met really made this trip extra special for me. Some of them I knew online, some I had never heard of before. Forming relationships in real life is so important for your support system as these are the gals that you can confide in, ask advice from and just laugh about blogging stuff with. I shared a room with 4 other girls. Yes, 5 women in one room. I had a fair amount of anxiety about it before hand. I’m super high maintenance so the idea that I would have to get up at 4 am everyday just to get a shower made me sweat. But it turned out to be awesome. I finally got to meet my online BFF Jenny (top photo). I think angels sang. She is just as lovely in person as she is online. Lauren (bottom left photo) was who I get along really well with who was also an Alt first timer. I got to meet Cyd (bottom right photo standing right next to me) who I instantly bonded with and wish I could make move to California if for no other reason than to listen to rap with. And I met Jenn (bottom right photo standing next to Cyd and she is wearing a cape! LOVE her) who is insanely talented with such a fresh outlook and is passionate about life. There were so many great conversations in that room. I learned a ton from them and I feel honored to be able to call them friends.
Cyd and Jenny were speakers on panels at Alt. My roommates were pretty much rock stars. Not sure how I ended up with that group but so glad I did. Jenny was also responsible for decorating 2(!) of the Wednesday night brand dinners (the Windows party on the left and Bing party on the right). We ran around town helping her set them up. I loved seeing her creativity in person and it was also really cool to check out a few restaurants around Salt Lake City since we didn’t have much time to actually see the city during our trip.
Then Lauren and I headed off to dinner hosted by WhimseyBox. It was a really fun experience hanging with the WhimseyBox gals and hearing the story of the company. We met some great new friends like Laura and Maggie. These dinners are a great way to ease in to not only talking to brands, but also meeting new people in a much less overwhelming way than the actual conference.
It was a great night until we learned that because the entire town was crazy busy with conferences the taxis were next to impossible to come by. The restaurant suggested we walk across the street to the mall valet where we might have better luck. So we did. And just about froze to death. I’m not sure I have ever been that cold. We didn’t think we were ever going to get home. We huddled up in the Cheesecake Factory and remembered that the hotel had a car service. They came and got us and we were finally able to thaw out. Have you heard? I’m from California. I don’t really own socks and the cold pretty much just laughed at my jacket. Side note, how cute is Lauren’s phone case?
Day one of the panels was amazing. Jenny spoke about shooting great DIYs along with Chelsea Costa (who is just darling!!) There are tons of Alt recaps floating around with actual tips taken from the panels so look around for those if you are looking for content from the speakers. I just want to share the overall experience (again with the iphone photos you must be thinking. But I seriously can’t take pictures indoors. I need a class on that!). The panels were made up of a great mix of bloggers or brand reps and covered all sides of a topic. They opened the floor up for Q&A and I never once got bored (and I have a very short attention span).
Melanie also spoke. This panel talked about blog collaborations and how to get those contributor spots. SO good! The panels were pretty much back to back and I am so bummed that I didn’t make time to get to all the brand lounges. I totally spaced and figured they would all be there the next day too but they weren’t! I’m making a note of that for next year.
This is what lunch time looks like at a table of bloggers. I promise they were not rude and we actually did have a great time.
And then it was time to party. Night one is one big hosted party. This year Joss and Main teamed with La Crema and Dash and Albert to put on a Clue themed party. Everyone dressed up in a color theme that represented the names of the characters. The furniture from Joss and Main and the rugs from Dash and Albert totally transformed the ballroom. It was amazing. I got to hang out with another fabulous lady, Lexy. If there was a prom queen crowned for the conference I’m pretty sure she would be it. I wish we would have gotten more time to spend together. We got to hang out with Kelly and Alexandra too. Excited to be spending time at the Crafting with Bloggers event with Kelly next weekend. She’s local so I think I’ll be seeing more of her. And I wanted to bring Alexandra home with me so we could hang out all the time. I love her! As usual, Lauren and I hung out and sampled the wines. The team from La Crema was super fun and I’m glad I got to meet them during the party, they even used a photo of mine on their Facebook page (do you “like” them?)
I had such an awesome time with Lauren at the conference. We have grown close over the last year or so and she and I travel really well together. She also does my hair. Which is cool. And she is always willing to take silly pictures with me. I heart you Lauren.
Day 2 I made sure to visit all the lounges. I had seen some Pin boards by Land of Nod prior to the conference for a Marie Antoinette style tea party and was excited by what I saw. They BROUGHT it! The room was decked out in a gorgeous and fun way! Why yes that is a boat shaped like a swan. Which now I have to have. Consider it on every one of my wish lists for the rest of my life.
Night 2 brought a bunch of mini parties. This is such a fun idea and I kind of want to do this for my next kid’s party. Each room is so different and it is another chance to hang out with all your new friends and the brands who are hosting.
The Girls with Glasses and Method put on the most amazing dance party. We spent a LOT of time in here. Go Mighty teamed up with Red Envelope to put on an awesome party where you could make someone you admire a valentine. And then I hung out with HGTV celebs Orlando (Or-lawn-do) Soria and Emily Henderson. For real, they were SO gracious and willing to take pictures with everyone. It must have been super overwhelming for them. Emily is to bloggers as moths are to flame (boom SAT worthy right there). I probably wouldn’t have asked them for a picture because they had just walked in and I didn’t want to spook them but one of my friends was dying to meet Emily and we knew this was her chance. I was instructed to not let them go anywhere (in a non-threatening way) so that someone could go grab my friend. So we took a picture. Orlando is super cool and has his own blog. And you can read his Alt recap right here.
Danae, Jenn, Me, Cyd and Lauren. Danae is a new friend who recently moved to LA. She came to our Kismet PR class and I’m so glad she was at Alt. I would have loved more time with her but I loved seeing her around!
But if I had gotten nothing else out of Alt, finally meeting my boo, Jenny in person would have been enough. She is a constant source of advice, support, laughs, and immense inspiration for me. Alt was a total blast and I can’t wait for next year!
Oh yeah! Here is one big thing I took away from my travels to Alt. It is cheaper to take two bags rather than one extra large, heavy bag. At least on Delta anyway. I had to pay $115. EACH WAY! Yikes.
For sure go back and look at my instagram at more fun pictures from the conference. And you can search instagram and twitter for #altsummit to see what everyone else is posting. If you are looking for hard facts and tips from the sessions, go to the Alt blog for round up links.
Tomorrow I will be sharing my full Alt Summit experience but today I wanted to share an epiphany I had that will change the way I blog forever. It was like a 3 step “A-ha” moment that came full circle during the conference. Going in to Alt Summit I was super excited but also really apprehensive about approaching brands. I had no idea what I brought to the table, why they would want to work with me and no ideas of which brands were the right fit for me. I don’t mean any of this in a woe-is-me type of way. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years so how can it be that I don’t know who I am or why my readers read what I write? But it did come to me and my direction is finally clear. Kind of smack on the forehead, how did I not think of this years ago clear. But what may start out one way sometimes has to take a journey to find out where it was meant to be. I will be working toward a redesign and a bigger game plan (not quite world domination but pretty close, wink). I will start creating the new content now, though, because who knows how long I will need to save up for a new site. I’m super excited about it and I can’t wait to share it with you.
I know many of you have also been blogging for a long time and may not be where you thought you would be. Don’t fret! I want to share my experience with you to encourage you to continue on your journey. Your blog is YOU so make it what you love. And what you love may change over time. Your readers like YOU so let the blog follow where your life takes it. Here is how Stella (my blog) got her groove back:
First: Becoming You with The Wardrobe Code. I mentioned this in an Alt prep post, but I recently got the chance to participate in this 4 week online class where you learn what your personal style profile is. To say that it is life changing does not even come close. I’ll have a full post on this next week but what I learned about my style in clothing really translated to every area of my life. I came to understand that while I had never felt like the look of my blog reflected me, I couldn’t have told you why or articulated how I thought it should look. Now I have the tools to define and share what my personal style is. Similarly, my house does not reflect the lifestyle of my family. But now I have a vision of what I want it to look like. Not only has my style improved (I don’t think I have ever felt more confident in what I put on) but I have clarity in my online look as well. HUGE! This presented itself during a round table discussion on PR on the second day of Alt. I’m not even sure what I heard that made me make the connection but I instantly knew I now had the tools to create a site that looks like me (not my face, you know what I mean. Duh).
Then: The night before I left for Alt, I had a dream with special guest star, Bri of Design Love Fest (image above by Kimberly Genevieve). I do not know Bri. Never met her. So I’m not sure where the dream came from but obviously I was in a state of unrest about my blogging “brand.” In my dream there was a large group of bloggers. For some reason we were supposed to be grouped in some way. Dreamland Bri didn’t want to be in any of the groups because the bloggers weren’t being “real.” In her dream opinion, none of us were blogging to our full potential and she didn’t want to be grouped with people who didn’t have their acts together in a visually pleasing way. You might be reading this like, um okay dream Bri, cut them some slack but in the dream she wasn’t rude, she was matter of fact. And when I woke up I had this sense of needing to discover what I was all about in blogging world. So I struggled with this during my travel to and through the beginning of Alt. But during a session on the second day, after thinking about why people come to my blog, I got it. Bri would be SO proud! (Again, I am certain real life Bri is lovely and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression from dreamland Bri – I don’t know her but I do credit dreamland Bri with guiding me to the answers I had been looking for – and for real, you need to check out her advice section on her blog, tons of great info and I feel like she did a post on being yourself but I couldn’t find it.)
Finally we get to Alt. 600 people there to learn, mingle, do business and just have fun. It was exhausting. It was useful. It was worth the money. And it was the final piece that helped me figure out the future of the blog. There was so much inspiration and so many great panels. There were late night talks with the world’s best roommates and interacting with brands in lounges. Being that close to the brands without knowing what you should pitch to them was almost paralyzing at times. I didn’t want to chat with someone and be super to generic and then want to work with them in the future and them to have the wrong impression of me and what I do. Yeah. I over think everything. But I also only want to work with brands that fit my new, tighter focus. And Alt made it perfectly clear that it is up to me to make things happen.
What is that focus you say? Well, I don’t know how to word it yet. I will be setting up brainstorming sessions with peers (free and a great resource – don’t forget to do this when you are struggling with something). I will be gathering inspiration for my site redesign. I will be searching for affordable web designers, because let’s face it, I don’t make THAT much money from blogging and my family still has to eat. And I will be publishing the content that I think you want to see. If you see something new that you like, please let me know! One thing that Alt did, for sure, what make me feel even more part of a community. And we gain strength by that support. Do you feel like you know your blogging brand or are you feeling up in the air? I’d love to hear your experience!
Dudes, I’m pumped.
Last week I traveled to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit. It was a life changing trip for so many reasons and I can’t wait to share all of those things with you. I had planned on getting home and implementing all kinds of changes and making all kinds of magic happen. But I walked in to a filthy house with a husband who has the flu and two of the cutest little boys who just want to snuggle their mama. While it might not sound like a great ending to a marvelous trip, it was perfect. It reminded me that no matter how I want to grow my brand or blog, I’ve got three of the most important priorities right here. I’m no less excited to make my blog what I had always hoped it would be but I just need to do it on my family’s terms.
Aside from learning a ton, I fell in love with the city, met loads of the best gals in person and met some truly remarkable brands who are doing big things. I’ve got a bazillion photos to get through and you know I like to share…I should have some posts ready to go next week!