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01.30.14 / My Thoughts on Alt

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Last week I attended Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It’s something I have always wanted to experience first hand and this year I finally made it happen. I was nervous and overwhelmed and scared. I felt as if Alt was totally out of my league. It’s where you will find some of the blogging world’s finest and most well-known. I didn’t really feel like I belonged. I basically forced myself to swallow the fear and step outside of my comfort zone.

So, how did it go? Well, I survived and I’ve been mulling it over in my head for several days to avoid any rash conclusions. But, in general (and I realize I may be tarnishing any future Alt-attending reputation I might have but it’s more important for me to be honest), I left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Womp-womp. I know. I went into it feeling completely OVERwhelmed and returned home slightly UNDERwhelmed. It doesn’t even make sense to me. Maybe it’s because I had built it up so big in my mind? Maybe I had too high expectations? I don’t know. I’m not saying it was a bad experience by any means. It’s hard to explain but I’m going to try.

I went to Alt ready to fill a journal full of notes, advice and concrete info. I was ready to learn and was looking forward to coming home with a clearer plan for blogging. That didn’t happen. Personally, I felt the content was lacking. Maybe I didn’t sit in on the right discussions? Maybe it was an “off” year? Maybe it was because my point of view is one where my blog – not pinterest, a separate business or a product – is my priority. I don’t consider myself a pro but I have taken a few online blogging and photography courses and I have been doing this for 4+ years. Much of the info presented, I had already been exposed to in previous e-courses or online OR it just didn’t pertain to me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything. I just felt that for the money and time spent, I expected to learn more.

HOWEVER, Alt was a wonderful place to meet other bloggers and network. I am not a people-person, per say, so I was quite surprised by how much fun I had talking with other attendees. I’ll admit that the first few conversations were awkward (on my part) but by the end I was initiating conversations with confidence. So maybe I did take away something after all?

alt summit 2014

The best part was meeting a few of my favorite bloggers in person. Lauren was my roomie. We have emailed back and forth a few times over the years about home remodeling projects but had never met in person before Alt. We hit it off right away and it was so easy to be around her. Each night was a late one because we discovered we had a lot in common and couldn’t. stop. talking. Don’t you love friends like that? That pretty much made the week for me.

I also met Nicole, Bonnie, Kristen, Michael and had a brief but inspiring moment with Jenny. I’m happy to report that each of them are in real life as they appear on their blogs. Nicole is lovely and smiley. Bonnie is caring and thoughtful. Kristen is ridiculously funny and smart – a winning combination if you ask me. Michael is completely charming and genuine. Gabrielle complimented me on my mustard-colored cords the first day and I said “thank you” with poise but inside I was all “OMG. DesignMom likes my pants! I can die happy now.”

I have to say the hotel, food and Friday mini parties were excellent. (Um, cheesecake bar…that’s all you need to know.) The scenery was beautiful. Those things along with being kid-free did feel somewhat like a vacation so it was a nice getaway.

All in all, Alt wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. If anything, it taught me that doing scary things can result in a huge confidence boost. And that’s priceless.

images: 1.) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2.) Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit 2014

45 Comments

30.January.2014

Thanks for sharing your perspective! I’ve always wanted to go, so I’ve been trying to read as many recaps as I can to make an informed decision for next year. The comments seem to be pretty consistent across the board but at the same time, I’m a new-ish blogger that might benefit from information that comes naturally to the more experienced group (like you!) I’ll just have to weigh it out in my mind and see where I end up. Thanks for sharing and for your honesty!

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30.January.2014

Hey there, Dana! I love this feedback, because this is how I feel about a lot of blogging conferences. If you’ve been in the business for awhile (and you certainly have), you should probably be up there TEACHING, not attending, because honestly, many of these conferences are beginner 101. Last year I went to BlogHer ’13 and Haven. BlogHer was horrible for conference sessions (again, 101….), and Haven was amazing for some content and inspiration, and most importantly, the networking. But I wanted a conference that is going to focus on the BUSINESS of blogging, the real nuts and bolts to how to make this stuff work like a profitable business. Back in November I went to Blogging Concentrated. My friend knew the guy who runs it, and honestly, hands-down, the best conference. He said up front– “I want you all to put your blogs aside for today and think of yourself as business owners.” Whoa….I learned more practical stuff in that conference (which is geared towards more experienced bloggers who want to go the next step) than I had in any conference. Plus, the guy who runs it (Dan Morris) has a facebook page (called Free Weekly Mastermind) where he does conference calls monthly. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for more business-savvy tips and not so much “This is what a blog is” type of tips. Hope that helps! :)

Serena @ Thrift Diving

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replied on January 30th, 2014

Thanks for the recommendation Serena! I really appreciate ti.

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replied on January 31st, 2014

Oh, I’m glad you shared your reviews. I’ve contemplated going to BlogHer but thought I should wait until I was more committed to my blog. If it’s 101, I’m definitely past that.

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30.January.2014

Oh, I just wanted to add, I am in no way affiliated with Blogging Concentrated! :) Just passing the knowledge on from one blogger to another!

Take care!

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30.January.2014

Your dress is FANTASTIC. OMG LOVE!

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replied on January 30th, 2014

Sequins & pockets! That’s my jam.

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replied on January 30th, 2014

how can i get the sequins and pockets look? it’s perfect!

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replied on January 30th, 2014

Asos!

replied on January 31st, 2014

How do you find Asos sizing? Any tips?

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30.January.2014

Hi! I just wanted to say that I am a long time reader of yours and I always appreciate and respect your honesty. I found you because my family is hoping to make the jump into downsizing our home and belongings this year in order to chase a few dreams…thank you for always offering such beautiful inspiration!
cheers,
kristen

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30.January.2014

Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate your humility and candor in this post and on your blog in general. I am a blogger wannabe and was sooo jealous when you posted that you were going to Alt, so you made me feel better about that today. I think you may have also inspired me to just start my darn blog already. :-)

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30.January.2014

Along with your style I really like your blog because of your honesty. Thank you!

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30.January.2014

Could you share which online blogging courses you’ve taken which you found helpful, I’m a newby and need some direction! -Caitlin

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replied on January 30th, 2014

I would like to answer that question in the form of a post. Is that okay?

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replied on January 30th, 2014

I was going to ask the same question! I would love a whole post on it!

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replied on January 30th, 2014

I would love to see that post as well!

replied on January 31st, 2014

I’ll be watching for it.

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replied on February 1st, 2014

Looking forward to that post as well!

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30.January.2014

Thanks for the feedback…I’m surprised that you felt insecure about going…you’re kind of a big deal. Haha!

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30.January.2014

I had a very similar experience last year. A year later, and I still can’t quite but my finger on what was amiss. If anything, I left with more questions about my life as a blogger than answers. I even pulled back from blogging for a bit. I’m back in the game, but only because I love it personally. I’m approaching it as the hobby that it started out as for me. I enjoy it again. PS—I love your blog. I started coming by after seeing you on YHL and have continued to come back ever since.

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Absolutely loved this post Dana. I really really appreciated your honesty and forthrightness. I was just having a conversation with a few other bloggers about attending Alt and other conferences. I’m coming from the same perspective that you are in terms of being more interested in the blog itself as opposed to Pinterest, and/or products. You’ve really given me a lot to thing about. I’m happy to hear you stepped outside of your comfort zone. Here’s to no fears!

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30.January.2014

Thanks for the honest, candid post! Maybe Alt is just about the outfits . . .Cheers – CT

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30.January.2014

LOVE reading an honest recap of such an event!!! I’ll admit, seeing all the pics on social media had me regretting that I wasn’t there. But I’ve discovered after years of blogging, that the best thing about those types of events is simply meeting the people I’ve befriended on line, and broadening my online community. Because really, no one in my ‘real life’ knows/cares about blogging like I do! :) Maybe someday our paths will cross, too! xo

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replied on January 30th, 2014

Yes! It was great to be surrounded by other bloggers. My family has no idea what I do ;)

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30.January.2014

Thanks for being so honest- I was totally bummed that I couldn’t make it work and go to ALT this year- I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of years now but have always been on the fence. Is it worth the money, time, etc? I feel like it would definitely be something to experience at least once (especially for networking purposes) but most of all, like you said, getting out of your comfort zone. I feel just by going I am showing that I am ready to take the next step for my blog- to myself, that is. An affirmation to “just do this”. Again, thanks for sharing and love your dress btw!

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I have heard the same review from a few other bloggers. Thanks for your honesty.

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30.January.2014

You know, 2013 was my 2nd year at Alt, and I had a hard time finding many good takeaways, too. I had a blast meeting and hanging out with people, but I took 2014 off to try and nurture those relationships I had made. Seeing the panel topics this year I felt like they were just regurgitating the last 2 years again, which surprised me, but perhaps they were just expecting new attendees. I dunno. I’m shifting the focus of my blog (or starting a new one, haven’t decided yet) back to architecture and home renovation next year so I’m hoping to spend my time connecting better with fab gals like you and Lauren (I’m in Seattle too so if you ever come up to visit her we should have a home blog meetup :)

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30.January.2014

love your honesty … and your dress!!
i’ve been thinking about attending the haven conference in july in atlanta (my home town). if you want to go with, you are welcome to stay at our house. we are downsizing (closing feb. 21) and because of YOU i feel totally excited about it!! i can’t wait to tackle our new 36-year-old dated little house!!

thanks for being such an inspiration!

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30.January.2014

Thanks for such an honest recap of the event. I have never been (and am not a blogger) but I know that Bailey McCarthy of Peppermint expressed similar sentiments.

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I’m sorry you had a disappointing time at Alt but I’m glad you went, if that makes any sense. The problem with blogger conferences (and I include BlogPodium, the conference I run, in this) is that they need to cater to the newer bloggers. Most blogs don’t live beyond two or three years so to continue to grow, a conference needs to continually attract that larger newbie group. This skews the content and the needs of more experienced bloggers aren’t addressed.

I think too that it is difficult to make a living on JUST blogging. Most supplement the blog with other things: ebooks, brand ambassadorships, products, design businesses. DesignSponge’s recent State of the Union post gives a great perspective on why blogging as a career will continue to be even more difficult. So it makes me think that very few hold answers you’re looking for.

However, like you said, the connections you make and even having that time to just focus on your blog is invaluable. I’m glad you took the leap. I hope it brings you more benefits you just can’t see yet, in the months to come.

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31.January.2014

I’m so glad you wrote this – I have been invited to a gazillion blogger things over here and I never go. I just can’t handle the whole me-me-me-ness that blogging and social media has sometimes and I just know what it’d be like over here…. The only one I thought would be any good was Alt because the past couple of years I’d got a fair bit of good info by following some of the tweeters who’d shoot off nuggets while in the conferences. But I don’t read Twitter anymore and when I did a little search on Instagram every now and then I was surprised there wasn’t the big hoopla that there usually is and that it was pretty much over days before I was expecting it to be! And no info! No nuggets of blogging wisdom… Which is a shame because I could do with some serious inspiration at the moment – it’s tough to keep going in the virtual world with so much going on in my real life. Maybe the organisers and presenters are feeling it too? it’s exhausting to be expected to be so involved in so many social media mediums as though that is the only path to blogging success. And I occasionally wonder where blogging is headed – it’s slower, harder and people are so busy it takes a lot to draw them in. I know I only read a very, very small handful of blogs these days and it takes some serious effort to get myself at the computer to whip something up! there is a topic for the conferences! good on you for getting out of your comfort zone! xx

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Thanks for the post-conference feedback. I’m going to make an effort to pick a conference to attend next year and I’m leaning more towards the business-blog end of the spectrum lately. New Media Expo (NMX) seems like a good place to start. It’s not just geared to DIY/Home Deisgn folks, it’s everyone. A lot of these folks have turned their blogs into businesses, which is where I’d like to be. Food for thought.

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31.January.2014

Yes, I think we can all agree that your candor is one of the things we love most about you, so this honesty comes as no surprise. :) Thank you!

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I love your honesty! To me, it often comes across like big bloggers are paid to “talk up” Alt, so it’s hard to get a true read. Thanks for sharing an honest opinion.

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31.January.2014

I’m SO GLAD you shared this, Dana. I always thought about wanting to go to Alt but have always been terrified that I’m not going to know anyone, I’m going to be in so over my head with all these big shot bloggers, everyone’s going to think I’m just this lame-o from Cleveland… So I love to hear that I’m not the only one who has these fears (even you who I respect so much!) and that maybe it isn’t so overwhelming after all. In some ways, this just makes me want to go more next year because now I feel a little less intimidated and more like this could just be an opportunity to have fun and meet new people… And buy lots of sequins!

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03.February.2014

Great post, Dana! I had a lot of mixed emotions about Alt too (it was my first year too) so it’s great to hear your honest point of view. Thanks so much for sharing and it was so nice to meet you at the Green party :)

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replied on February 3rd, 2014

It was so nice meeting you! I have your lovely business card up on my inspiration board at my desk.

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04.February.2014

Thanks so much for your honesty! I’m fairly new to blogging and recently decided that I want to take it more seriously. I’ve always wondered how beneficial these types of conferences can be (beyond all the glitz & glamour). I’m sure for a newby, like myself, there’s much to glean from these events in terms of networking & such, but what else is there?. Your post & the comments posted by others has definitely shed light for me & given me so much more to think about.

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replied on February 4th, 2014

For someone just starting out in the blog world, you would probably learn more than I did. (I hope that comes across right.)

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replied on February 5th, 2014

I totally get it!

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04.February.2014

Dana – You’re at the expert tipping point, which means you’re ready to share YOUR expertise. Submit for next year! Make it a how-to (5 Essential Steps to Earning a Living From Your Blog, How to Know When to Quit Your Job and Blog) or something else that you can speak with authority on. (5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Blogging).

PS. I work in corporate comms so I submit people to speak at conferences on behalf of my company all the time. :)

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11.February.2014

I could not leave this post without commenting…but that picture with Nicole at the bottom is awesome! She looks so much more ‘real’ than she likes to portray herself on her own blog. Hunched neck, pouchy belly, an actual behind, she is one of us and not a thin little model type like she likes to make herself look over at Making it Lovely.

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19.February.2014

What a great re-cap from a more experienced blogger perspective. I greatly appreciated you candor and I can see your points. Did you happen to connect with any brands? I went as a newbie and came away great information and more importantly great connections with other bloggers. For the more experienced blogger, I would think – Alt is great way to connect with brands and collaborate with peers. It is expensive though. Thanks for the honest re-cap.

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26.February.2014

Hi Dana! I have been meaning to reach out to you, I met you at the green theme dinner and sat at the table for a bit and I believe we discussed this briefly when I was sitting there. I felt the same about my whole experience with alt. thank you for writing this as you put it better and respectfully then I ever could. Hope to talk to you soon!

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