The day after tomorrow (love saying that) sister Sally and I will be Salt Lake City bound for Alt Summit. For anyone unfamiliar, Alt (Altitude Design Summit) is a blogger conference that was started in 2010 – bloggers come from all over to connect face-to-face and spend four days together listening to a variety of panelists and inspiring keynote speakers, joining in roundtable discussions, connecting with sponsors, and learning tips and tricks from experts. On top of all the learning that takes place, the networking and comradery is the biggest draw. I attended the conference last year and this year Sally and I will be going together. Cue the excited voices we talk in when we are amped because we couldn’t be more pumped to be our double trouble selves for Alt’s fourth year.
Victoria was one of my roommmates at Alt last year and I’m sad that she’s wont be going again (mama doesn’t want to leave her baby puppy – I get it). We became fast friends last January and neither of us can believe how much our blogs and our outlook on blogging has changed just in the past year… Alt is like boot camp. You go in with paper and a pen and leave with millions of notes, a to-do list a mile long, and feelings of exhaustion and excitement. V is one of the most un-daunted bloggers I know – nothing scares her and she’s a genius when it comes to eating an elephant one bite at a time and tackling foreign tasks. Blogging is still such a new industry and one with no standards, it can be scary to navigate a path that’s best for you and your blog.
Which brings me to this: you don’t know what you don’t know. There were times when I would be sitting in a panel at Alt last year thinking, “How have I not done this already? How did I not think about xyz? How the heck do I go from a to b?” A general “What the eff have I been doing?” was the theme song in my head. It can be frustrating to be a newbie blogger and realize that yes, you really don’t know a thing in the big bad world of blogging. But that’s okay! You don’t know what those “things” are because there’s no one stop shop that offers a road map with boxes for you to check off. I had to tell myself to enjoy the four days and not worry so much about rushing the process of “growing a blog” – to take things one step at a time and try to let things happen as organically as possible. And I am so glad I did…
We get a lot of emails and many, many, many of them ask for advice on gaining a readership, making moves when you are starting a new blog, and becoming a success story. It makes me laugh because I read them and see myself as the girl sitting in those panels a year ago. Our blog has transformed (in sublte ways) over the past year, but I still think we have a ways to go… In truth, I don’t think any blogger can really say that they know exactly what they are doing. It’s a “learn as you go” industry right now and you have to test things and course correct a lot to see what works best for you as a blogger and what the best direction is for your blog.
So if you’re going to Alt this year and you don’t know what to expect, I urge you to keep an open mind and fight the urge to get discouraged and overwhelmed. Enjoy the experience and meet as many new friends as you can! I never thought I would meet women that would become some of my closest friends and I definitely didn’t think I would leave the weekend with a new outlook on running our blog. If you aren’t going to Alt – do not feel like you are doomed for all eternity. Seriously, the conference is great but there are wonderful resources out there that you can get your hands on right now. For one, Alt realized that they could serve all the bloggers that don’t make it to Salt Lake City (and New York City) with the Alt Summit Channel – online courses and content that cover the same topics as what’s at the conferences. Blogger Oh Joy! wrote a blogger handbook of sorts called Blog, Inc.; Design*Sponge has it’s Biz Ladies column with SO much valuable information on blogging and things everyone should know; IFB has tons of advice, tips and tricks; Victoria frequently posts a “Blog Tip of the Day;” Lisa’s series on blogkeeping is amazing; and Grace’s first and second posts about blogging are so candid and smart. Those are just are just a few places to check out that are on the top of my head – there are really so many more, just take the time to poke around!
So, are there any of you making the trip to Salt Lake City this year? For anyone new to the conference, I loved Ez’s Alt Summit Survival Guide – helpful suggestions on what to pack, good things to know, and general advice on how to not be awkward in a group of 600+ women you don’t know! My advice, aside from taking it all in and not beating yourself up in every panel – don’t stress so much over what to wear. Just be yourself and dress in layers I’ll probably be wearing my new favorite base ball cap if that’s any indication to my style…
(Image via The Northern Light)