One of the biggest surprises from attending my very first ALT Summit was finding how collaborative the attendees and speakers really are. People are genuinely trying to help each other and get the real answers to all the social media, traffic and blogging-related questions we all have. The vibe is waaaay less competitive then some of the blogger conferences I have been to in the past.
Also – peeps go ALL OUT on their business cards. We’re talking creative bags containing a DIY contraption. Mine were not all that exciting all of a sudden. But I did appreciate how much effort people put into differentiating themselves and there are some beautiful creative souls out there.
I am not lying when I say this is the BEST blogger conference I have ever attended with top tier speakers and attendees. ALT-goers are serious about their work, but a fun and creative bunch to be around. I wouldn’t say it’s for newbie bloggers who are just starting out. All the seminars were more intermediate and high level and I felt that the conference price tag of $600 for two days attracted people who are serious and professional about their work.
Since there are only 700 attendees, I was able to meet people and bump into them over and over again. I didn’t feel lost or intimidated at all. I think the conference was actually quite intimate and didn’t have that cheesy trade show feel you can sometimes get at conferences in general.
Each night was anchored with some sort of party or social get together and everything was very well-organized. Most people flew in on Wednesday night for a few early bird sessions and a series of welcome dinners hosted all over Salt Lake City by the ALT sponsors. I was able to get to know a group of 20 fun women who were a mix of bloggers, photographers, designers and creatives.
Check out the party I attended on Wednesday night – a cooking class and dinner with Food Network’s Kelsey Nixon.
On Thursday night Cricut hosted a green-themed party with food stations, green attire, photo booths and craft stations. On Friday night, the closing party was a series of 11 mini-parties on the third floor of the conference hotel – The Grand America. We wandered from room-to-room checking out all the sponsor and blogger set-ups, while networking and meeting other bloggers over a glass of La Crema Wine.
So what were my biggest take aways from ALT Summit 2014 in Salt Lake City?
1) Updating Once Daily is OK. I used to go crazy trying to update 2-3 times a day, but seriously – once a day should do it. It will not change your number of unique visitors in a significant way and you will likely burnout if it’s just you working behind-the-scenes. Plus all your hard work ends up getting buried.
2) Quality Always. I heard a blogger say she would rather not post anything at all then just posting something crap for the sake of posting. YES! There are so many people who will just copy and paste a press release and it’s SO noticeable. Stop doing it. Try adding your thoughts and comments around the release facts instead. Be original.
3) Newsletters FTW! Newsletters are the new traffic-builders. Build an email list and utilize it with articles your readers will find useful. If you’re not on my email list you’re missing out on the fun! Get on it now. Many bloggers are not using newsletters, so this is a great tool to differentiate yourself. SimpleGreenSmoothies.com built a substantial mailing list in eight months and sold $86,000 worth of smoothie recipes and cleanses in just 12 days! Now that’s inspiring.
4) Pinterest Darling. Everyone was generally down about Facebook being a major source of traffic any more now that the algorithm has changed. Pinterest is the new darling and the #1 source of traffic for the majority of bloggers attending ALT Summit. So if you’re not pinning your own stuff – get pinning. If you don’t have a PIN IT button installed on your blog, you’re losing out on traffic. Noted. Here’s my Pinterest page if you’re not following it already 🙂
5) Making Money. The top tier bloggers who spoke on panels and have been blogging for 3-5 years made their money in various ways. Usually a large chunk of it came from ad networks and affiliate links. Many of them also made money from consulting, freelance writing and brand ambassadorships + collaborations. Diversity here is key. I personally use Reward Style and Amazon Associates and they are working for me so far. Once I get a bit bigger I may consider joining an ad network.
6) Just Start. Done is better than perfect – according to Sheryl Sandberg. As much I sometimes stall because I want everything to be perfect before I start – I decided that I need to dive right in and apply as many things as I learned as quickly as possible. I can always go back and correct course as I go along. My about page has been a mess since the beginning and I’m finally motivated to go back and update it. Thanks to Grace from A Storied Style for the tips!
I had a TON of fun at ALT Summit and met a lot of great bloggers who were in the same boat as me. I am definitely going to attend again next year. If you missed the big signature conference in Salt Lake City, smaller one day conferences are happening in San Francisco + New York City later this year.
What are your blogging goals? Why do you blog? How do you grow traffic on your site?