ALT SUMMIT: PART ONE

alt-summit Dudes. Let's do this. I asked you on Monday what you wanted to know about Alt Summit... well here we go! I've picked out the main takeaways from the first 5 sessions as well as answered a couple other Qs... I'm throwing a lot of information your way, so I decided to break this up into 2 parts.

01. collaboration with sponsors

Takeaways:

+ Seek out the right brands for your blog. Only work with brands that are a great fit for your mission and aesthetic. If McDonald's offered me mucho dinero to blog about them? Tempting, yes, but my answer would be EW, get away McDonalds. It's important to get really clear about your brand. What do you stand for? What do you want to be known for? Think about what's at the core of your brand and then seek out other like-minded brands that share your vision. That will ensure collaboration magic. + Another major, major point that was reiterated throughout the conference was the importance of compelling and creative content. Guys, that's what we do! We're content makers - creative geniuses if you will. It's easy to get caught up in the growth and monetization of blogging, but content must always be our number one priority. If your content is stellar, then growth and money will come naturally. So get to brainstorming, ya hear... or meditating ;) Original and interesting content trumps numbers. Even if you're a smaller blog, if you have a great idea and really believe in what you're doing, the right brands will want to be a part of it.

See the slideshow presentation from this session here!

02. how to earn money from your blog

One of the most powerful things I took away from alt with was the understanding that we should get paid for what we do! We deserve to make money. No excuses or apologies. While content is my priority, heck yeah I wanna get paid for it, and that will only allow me to create better content. Alt definitely helped me realize it's okay to go for what I really want.

Takeaways:

+ Affiliate links - when someone clicks on an affiliate link from your site and makes a purchase, you get paid bro. Here's a great list of affiliate programs. + E-courses - such a fun option for earning money! I'm horribly camera shy though... + Selling ads - whether you reach out to small shops or larger companies, make sure you have a solid media kit and be selective! Only work with shops and brands that are the right fit. + Ad networks - they help you find sponsorship opportunities, whether display ads or sponsored posts. Some ad networks include Lijit, Glam Media, Blogher, Sway Group, and Federated Media.

P.S. Nicole of Making it Lovely wrote a really great post on how her blog went from a hobby to a job... check it.

03. blog to shop

Are you wondering why I took Blog to Shop when I don't sell anything? Fair. I've always been super curious about having an online shop... I'd love to do that eventually. I'm just not sure what my shop would offer exactly. Someday, friends. It'll happen. Packaging up tiny gifts and sending them out just sounds so exciting...

Takeaways:

+ Sell without selling out: find the intersection between what you love and what sells. + Follow the sales trail: don't be surprised if it's not what you expected. Follow what works. + Connect with influencers: reach out to bloggers with a ton of pinterest followers, for example. Create collaborations with people who'd love to promote your work. + It's easier to keep repeat customers than find new customers: make every interaction positive and be consistent (i.e. your packaging should match the aesthetic of your blog/shop). + The highest sales are around mid-month (everyone's already paid rent and they've got their second check), this is a good time to promote your shop. + Best time to tweet, pin, or post your work is Monday-Wednesday, 11-1pm. BEST time is Wednesday around 1pm... who knew?

04. being a contributor

Takeaways:

+ Put yourself out there: build a successful site and share your work. Respond to those calls for contributors! Engage with bloggers you'd love to work with. Be confident, be persistent, be tough! + What blogs are looking for: a unique perspective, a strong voice, writing skills, passion + energy, creativity + initiative, and mad photo skills are a bonus. + Always negotiate payment: talk numbers with confidence and value your work. They're paying for creative genius... and that's costly. + Charge more for original posts & photos vs. roundups.

Goods sites to connect with:

+ Curbly + Momtastic (you don't have to be a mom to contribute to a mom blog!) + Vivint + Apartment Therapy + Design*Sponge + Gawkerverse

05. makers gotta make roundtable discussion

Oh this was one of my favorites! Sandra from Raincoast Cottage and Jennifer from Classic Play did an amazing job. We discussed topics like how to deal with jealousy, our inner critic, finding a balance, and building a community (online & offline). It was so refreshing to openly discuss issues like jealousy and self-doubt. It's something we all deal with... especially at a conference surrounded by incredibly talented and powerful women.

Takeaways + my thoughts:

+ Ask yourself why you're jealous: what skills are you wanting that so-and-so has? Use your jealous feelings to guide you to change. Don't get discouraged and put blinders on, instead thank your ego for showing you where you'd like to improve. Man, that's a tough one, huh? + Your critic is not your truth: you don't have to listen to every thought that comes into your head (something Eckhart Tolle says and I luurve it). + You are more than one post, one tweet, one project; you're a whole body of work. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to post everyday or get upset when you don't get to everything on your to-do list. You have a whole foundation of awesomeness already.

Wow, big thank you to Sandra & Jennifer!

Taxes

In Monday's post, Em asked about taxes as a blogger and becoming a LLC. While I didn't attend any alt sessions on the topic, I did get to meet my amazing CPA, Helena Swyter of Sweeter CPA. She's so knowledgeable, guys. She'd definitely be able to help you out with any tax Qs. The alt blog also has some great info on the subject... AND Helena's teaching an alt online class, Ask an Accountant, on February 18th.

I will say this - I was kind of surprised at what I loved most about alt. I thought my favorite thing would be all of the invaluable information I'd be getting during the sessions... but, nope. That wasn't my favorite. There was some good info, but honestly alt's online classes are just as helpful. Sorry alt, but it's true. I still love you. Srsly the BEST part was meeting all of these incredible women (and man) in person. They're even more awesome in real life. I'm so grateful to be a part of this creative community... alt has made me realize the importance of building community and engaging with the people I really love. That's the good stuff.

To be continued...

link up. be happy.

Photo found here by Brooke Dennis. Check out all the awesome alt photos here!