Alt for Everyone Recap

Walking with Cake: Fall Fruit

(Using a different background, just for fun.)

I finished my classes with Alt for Everyone on Saturday, and came away with some inspiration and a lot to think about, too.  For the admission price, I signed up for five classes, one keynote address, and a meet-up, all held over the course of three days.  It was a really great value, and since I found my first Alt Summit completely overwhelming, I thought I would enjoy this virtual conference much more. Plus, the classes were spread throughout the weekend, so I was still able to hang out with Ryan and the boys.  I opted to skip the morning meet-up Saturday, choosing brunch with my guys instead, but I attended all of my other classes and took a ton of notes.

Thursday afternoon, my first class was “Working with Brands,” sponsored by Bing, and taught by a Bing employee.  That should have been a huge red flag, but for some reason, I didn’t think about it until I was already in the class.  I don’t use Bing as a search engine, so I don’t really know much about it, and my blog is way too small for a sponsor that large to even look at me. Those were my two takeaways from the class, and I left feeling a little annoyed and deflated.   But there will always be hits and misses at a large conference, so it’s no big deal.

Thursday evening, I took “Setting Up Shop” with Melanie Burk of Caravan Shoppe and that class was interesting and enjoyable. I don’t have plans to open a shop online, but since I do offer editing and writing services, I thought I might benefit from her talk.  Her thoughts on perfection (or lack of it) and charging the right price were very helpful.

Friday morning, Laurie Smithwick of Leap Design gave the keynote address and she was really amazing and inspiring.  Laurie is a successful graphic designer, wife, and mom to twins, and she had a lot of great advice for balancing family and life while trying to find personal fulfillment, too. Her passion these days is a project called “Step Away from the Screen,” and she believes that boredom contributes to our best ideas.  I felt a real kinship with Laurie and signed up to learn more about her new project, which encourages creativity in real life, away from your computer and phone.

Next, I listened to “Pinterest Strategies,” presented by Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte.  She is serious about her business and uses Pinterest to enhance her interactions with her readers and customers.  I realized that I don’t use Pinterest the way a lot of other bloggers do, and while some things rubbed me the wrong way (the idea of following people with a certain amount of pins and following everyone who follows you), I did come away with a few new ideas to try.  Laurie encourages all bloggers to switch to a Pinterest business account to see your analytics, and to use rich pins, which I need to investigate more.  I found the class insightful and I might just implement a few of Laurie’s suggestions.

Friday afternoon, Amy Christie of This Heart of Mine spoke about “Being a Contributor.”  Her talk was incredibly relevant to me and I took a ton of notes that I need to review soon. Amy works as a freelancer and contributor and shared her experiences and some practical tips, too.

Saturday afternoon, Kelly Beall of Design Crush shared her thoughts on “Growing Your Blog,” and I really appreciated her honesty.  She presented her own blogging experience as a case study and highlighted the things she has learned throughout the process.  When asked if she thought blogs are dying, she said she thinks they are evolving, so bloggers have to be ready to roll with the punches. too.  When Pinterest launched in 2012, her blog took a major hit, and she adapted to gain back her readership.  I came away from Kelly’s talk with a lot of things to think about.

And finally, Susan Brinson of House of Brinson taught “Photo Styling 101” for my last class of the weekend. She and her husband run a very successful photography and styling blog and business, and I admire their work very much.  She gave a lot of great tips and showed concrete examples of her work.  She encourages bloggers to study stylists like artists we admire, and to create a style statement and guide to define a blog’s overall aesthetics.  I really enjoyed her talk and it was a great way to end the conference.

I was really pleased with my Alt for Everyone experience and I feel excited to try the things I learned.  It’s such a great value for the price, and I can definitely recommend it!

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