I’m home from another year at Alt Summit 2018 and it just keep getting better and better.
Alt Summit is the conference for creative entrepreneurs and social media influencers. It’s colorful. It’s fun. And I’m already excited for 2019.
I went to my first Alt Summit back in 2014 with Collectively as a correspondent (photographing their events, sharing about their network, and posting about it all on social media). I remember being a bit overwhelmed and wholly inspired.
For the past two years I’ve attended as a speaker and have really loved getting to know the talented attendees and catching up with blogging friends.
Each year I find myself attending fewer classes and spending more time talking with other entrepreneurs and brands.
I’ve also learned that I really love attending conferences already knowing people. This year I was rooming with a good friend, Camille, and a now good friend, Rachel. There were a handful of other people I knew well enough to sit down and chat with and plenty more that I remembered having met at a previous Alt. This year I probably spend the majority of my time talking to new people but it is easier and less exhausting being able to come back to familiar faces, isn’t it?
From the Alt Summit 2018 classes and workshops I attended as well as just talking to people all week, here are my biggest takeaways (and a million more pictures at the end).
What I Learned at Alt Summit 2018
I was so surprised about how many first timers I met at Alt this year! In years past I’d be less likely to walk up to a girl or a group and introduce myself (mostly for fear of butting in, but also because it is easy to feel like everyone already knows each other). This year it seemed like each person I approached was brand new to Alt and feeling a bit nervous and happy to have a friendly stranger to talk to.
The reminder from last year was fresh in my mind that “everyone is just a person.” Maybe they’re a huge blogger or at Alt Summit representing a dream brand, but they’re all just people. This year I felt a lot more comfortable chatting with PR contacts and other influencers alike because, at the end of the day, we’re all just people wanting to feel included and valued.
Add More Emotion
Whether it was in the modeling workshop or panels on creating good content, I found a common theme of adding more emotion to the content we create.
Practically applied, this means smiling more in your photos and being sure to share the emotions you felt through an experience as you tell the story. Instead of just recounting what happened, be sure to talk about how you felt at each stage of the experience. Hopefully more of your audience will be able to say “me too!” and that results in more connection, more influence, and more impact.
Another great tip for thinking about imagery is asking, “How do I want people to FEEL when they see this picture?”
Add More Life
This was a specific suggestion in the interior photography workshop I took with Lowe’s Home Improvement on Tuesday morning but it also came up in the Modeling workshop and other panels throughout the conference.
Just like the need for more emotion, people will relate better to your content when there is life in the images. If you’re photographing a kitchen, include some fresh vegetables in a bowl on the table or leave a cookbook open on the counter so it is easy to imagine someone just stepped away for a second. If you’re posing for images, don’t stop moving. Real life is hardly ever still so showcasing movement in your images makes them more realistic and relatable (and also more interesting!).
Email Email Email
Last year seemed to be the conference of video but this year I kept getting pounded with plugs for email marketing.
Some of this was self selected. I chose to go to panels on email because it’s something I’m excited to grow this next year.
Style is a gateway drug:
I loved this part of Stacy London’s keynote where she discussed style as her gateway drug to more important conversations. She talked about the “spiral of intimacy” and how a simple compliment of a women’s shoes can lead to an hour long discussion about her pending divorce. Style may be the start of the covnersation but it is not the end.
Another awesome tip from her keynote: When you’re in a painful situation, spend LESS money on material things.
I used to HATE hearing the piece of advice, “you only get what you want if you ask for it.” In the last year I’ve learned to start asking for what I want more often and this year at Alt was reminded that this is the surest way to create a life you love
Favorite quotes from the week at Alt Summit 2018:
“Don’t get comfortable feeling good about saying the right thing.” (takeaway: words are great but action is better) – Minka Kelly
“When you struggle you’re forced to arrive.” – Minka Kelly
“Being honest is being relatable.” – Stacy London
“Create content that answers questions. ” – unknown ( I can’t remember what I wrote this down during – but I think it sums up the idea of creating useful content really well)
“Would you like to take a look at my backend?” – Camille Whiting to the wordpress expert when asking for some help with a plugin
Things I want to do differently
After Alt the things I am most excited about are diving into SEO and focusing on email growth. Until this point I’ve relied on social media and pinterest for traffic and I’m sold on investing in something you have more control over. Also, at this point I have hundreds (over 1000!) old posts that might be exactly what someone needs. By using email sequences I can serve women helpful content on a regular basis.
I am also more excited about focusing on higher quality work less frequently. So instead of churning our 5 mediocre blog posts a week (okay, I don’t actually post 5 times a week these days), focus on create 2-3 really awesome posts each week.
I’m also excited about using video more effectively. Other than the occasional high res video we’ll shoot as a family, I only regularly use video on insastories. I’m interested in exploring how to use video more permanently to share the same kind of information I do in written form here on ElisabethMcknight.com.
My other takeaway, mostly as I came home from Alt Summit 2018 and looked through my social media feeds, is to make my social a place I want to be again. I went through and cleaned up my instagram account so the people who show up in my feed consist more of people I want to ENGAGE with instead of just scroll through.
And finally, I want to infuse more life, more emotion, and more honesty into my content. I want more “me too”s and “I’m not alone!”s. I want to look back five years from now and be able to remember how I felt during the experiences I’m recounting and I want people to feel more connected to whatever they’re reading or watching.
Oh, And I want to start/join a second mastermind. The roundtable I led this year was all about business masterminds (why you need one and how to start one) and in developing the content I realized how beneficial it could be to have a mastermind made of creative entrepreneurs that aren’t bloggers.
^this year we stayed a hotel 10 minutes away and we’d often stop and snap photos along the way home (I do definitely recommend staying onsite if you can – but by the time I realized I was speaking the hotel was already full)
^loved having Mixbook back at Alt! I’ve had so much fun working with them over the last year and they really are the very best place to order photobooks from (the only time I’ve liked my photos better printed than on my computer screen). Their booth was so colorful and fun!
^and a flatlay contest
^live pitches to Alaska Airlines were fun to sit in on!
^the pitches this year were GREAT but none of them moved me to tears like Amy’s did last year (here she is giving tips on pitching and working with Alaska Air after winning the live pitch session last year)
^I had a short flower crown modeling stint for my awesome friend Miranda – the closest I’ll ever get to coachelle