ALT Summit 2016 – This is what I learned

WOW!!! ALT Summit 2016, my first ever blog conference, was AMAZING! And it was so much more than that: incredibly good and professional speakers, a schedule packed with tons of information, all sorts of goodies from sponsors open for collaborations, cool fun parties every day (all day), and the most inspiring, creative and stylish (!) crowd I’ve ever been a part of. My head is still spinning, my office is still a mess, and I still have the biggest smile on my face.

Want to know more about ALT? I thought I’d walk you briefly through the conference day by day, since I know that a lot of you have no idea how a blog conference (in the United States) looks like. Guess what? Neither did I! I’m also going to share my biggest takeaways from the sessions I attended. Let’s go!

Alt Summit 2016

ALT Summit 2016 – Day 1

I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah, on a Wednesday, checked into my hotel and walked two blocks to the conference venue: The Grand America Hotel – one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever seen (I’ll write a separate post about it later). Bright yellow ALT signs led the way to the registration desk where I got my name tag and swag bag (= a goodie bag).

Alt Summit 2016 sign

The Early Bird Sessions had already started, so I dived (dove for Non-Southeners ;-) right in:

The topic? Designing a Life you Love
The speaker? Samantha Ettus
My takeaway? Share your personal story and explain what holds you back. A solution might come from the person sitting next to you.

Samantha asked for volunteers in the audience who would be willing to share their stories. Looking back now I’m really surprised that throughout the conference I connected with almost all of these women who volunteered beyond a simple business card exchange. Must have been so much easier for me to approach them since they had already given me a glimpse into their personal life.

After that I attended a delicious dinner sponsored by Minted and took my first ever (!) Uber ride back to my hotel.

ALT Summit 2016 – Day 2

The next day started with four keynote talks in the Grand Ballroom. My favorite keynote was given by Mariam Nacify, the CEO of Minted – she talked about the history and the future of shopping and how we as bloggers are going to be the content curators for the masses. Loved it!

Alt Summit 2016 Mariam Nacify MintedPhoto taken by Justin Hackworth or Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

And sorry that I have to name drop here, but Sarah Michelle Gellar was also one of the keynote speakers, presenting her company Foodstirs.

My day continued with these breakout sessions:

The topic? How To Find Your Way To Your Dream Job
The speakers? Jodi Levine, Amanda Kingloff, Rachel Hoffstetter
My takeaway? Do everything that you do well. You never know who is watching. / Just ask. If they say no, ask again. Eventually someone will say yes. / Allow yourself time to step away and play.

The topic? The First Steps to Making Money With Your Blog
The speakers? Miranda Anderson, Eva Jorgensen, Reichel Broussard, and the one and only Alison Faulkner
My takeaway? Brand don’t only need numbers – they need your creativity. / Keep a spreadsheet of all the companies you would like to work with. / Sign up for an affiliate program; embed the code directly to your blog and not to every single post. / With online courses you can connect to your audience on a completely new level. / Become a problem-solver for your audience.

Alt Summit breakout sessions

The topic? Podcasting 101
The speakers? Taylor Bradford, Bryn Huntpalmer
My takeaway? How to start a podcast, get noticed on iTunes, which equipment I would need and that I could either edit the podcast myself (in Garageband) or hire a freelance editor. Oh, and also that nobody likes to hear their own voice in the beginning, but everybody gets used to it eventually!

The day ended with a party. The theme: Starry Starry Night!

ALT Summit 2016 – Day 3

On my third day I headed straight to the help desk where you could talk to various experts and ask for advice. I talked to Liz Stanley, a blogging coach, and asked her in which direction I should go with my blog in terms of reaching a bigger audience and broaden my topics. She had some really good advice and I think she pushed me in the right direction. Hopefully you will be able (and approve of!) to see the changes here soon.

After that I headed straight to the Roundtables – 19 experts covering various blog-related topics in very short mini sessions. I won’t bore you with the details; you get a good impression of my direction by simply scanning over the topics.

Alt Summit roundtables

As if my head wasnt’t already full of ideas, there were still three more breakout sessions to got to:

The topic: Beginning Social Media
The speakers: Asia Rau Vinton, Lorena Garcia, Sakura Considine
My takeaway: Treat your Facebook page as a landing page since everybody is using it. / Brand your grid on Instagram. / Pinterest works. It just takes time. / Share the love by curating content throughout the week.

The topic: How To Win At Content (In a Platform Driven World)
The speakers: Meg Keene, Maddie Eisenhart
My takeaway: Nowadays everything is a blog. So how do I get people to me? Look at the metrics to find out what really works. Focus on that. Update, optimize and repurpose (good) old content on social media. Promote your page by paying the minimal advertising amount. Otherwise it will NEVER show up in people’s feed. That’s just how Facebook works.

The topic? Workshop: Build Your Business Like a Boss + Learn How To Charge What You Are Worth
The speaker? Cyndie Spiegel
My takeaway? You get back what you put out there. / Become comfortable in talking about finances. / You can always change the price – it’s your business.

And finally, Elle Luna, the speaker of the closing keynote, gave a very inspirational, almost spiritual talk on creativity.

ALT Summit 2016 ended with 7 Mini Parties, one more fun than the other: Paparazzi Ready, Bring Home the Bacon, Marshmallow Mingle…

Alt Summit Mini Party Marshmallow

Alt Summit Mini Party emoji

I flew back to Atlanta on Saturday, but not without saying good-bye to the beautiful Grand America hotel and getting a surprise (or two) for my family.

My Steps Forward?

I have at least 1.000 new ideas for blog posts. I also want to write a book, pitch an article, produce a podcast, sign up for affiliate programs, hire a web designer, design an e-course, approach sponsors, collaborate with other bloggers… Oh, the places I could go!!! Haven’t I told you that my head is spinning??? Yes, I know the truth. I won’t be able to realize all of the above mentioned. At least not at the same time. Ha! Stay tuned.

Next blog conferences on my list? BLOGST 2016 in Berlin, Germany, ALT Summit 2017 in Palm Springs, California, and Blogtacular 2017 in London! Hey, a girl can dream, right?

PS: You know what the best part of the entire trip was? Coming home in the middle of the night, sneaking into the kids‘ rooms and seeing their cute little faces. There might have been a tear or two ;-)

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