Whew. This is the fourth full post I've dedicated to Alt Summit. It was so much to take in, though, and if you really want to know the details it couldn't have been posted in one post. If you don't want to know all the details, then aren't you glad I properly labeled everything so that you can just skip to the parts you're interested in?
Alright, so in previous posts I alluded to major changes I wanted to make to my blog to make it feel more authentic. Let me give you a little background: way back in 2007 (?) I was in school for Interior Design - capital "I" capital "D" and was taking a few art classes. In one of them, we were required to keep a sketchbook and our instructor would check it each week. I was (and kind of still am) awful at drawing, but I loved keeping the sketchbook. I would clip out photographs from magazines that I liked or even packaging that struck my fancy, and glue it into my sketchbook. Occasionally I would try to sketch one of those photos, too. I would also experiment with things, like taping in multiple sheets of vellum and drawing on each layer, attempting to create dimension. One week, my instructor took my sketchbook away from me and showed the class, telling them that it was "what a real sketchbook looks like." I was mortified, because my art was so terrible, and also because one of the pages was called "10 Reasons Why I Love Rubber Cement," and two of the reasons were because I loved the smell. One of my classmates, though, suggested I start a blog and post my pages. She said people would read it. She said she would read it. I dismissed the idea, but it stuck with me. A year later, I did start the blog.
And I posted. Eventually, I wanted a sleeker looking site, and I switched to Squarespace. I viewed the switch as an opportunity to change my blog a bit to be more like the diy blogs I read. I am copied over a few of the posts, the ones that I felt kept with the spirit of my new look. I wanted to brand, and obsessed over colors and voice. I obsessed so much in fact, that I stopped blogging. I still was drawing and sewing and painting and creating, but I wasn't writing about it or taking pictures of it or posting it.
Lisa Congdon changed all that for me. During her Keynote speech, I had an epiphany: I needed to get back to my original vision. No more trying to turn myself into a diy guru. No more plans for opening an online shop. Just back to my authentic journey. How I was going to do this, though, was a little up in the air. Still, I went back to my hotel room and starting editing this website. I refocused my about page and deleted a lot of my posts.
The next day, I realized that no matter what I was hearing about branding, I need to find myself. I've decided to post blog entries and Instagram photos completely uncensored, completely uncurated for six month. Or maybe even a year. In six months, I'll come back and see what I'm blogging about. I'll look at the colors I'm naturally drawn to. And I'll rebrand then. When I've found myself. Because I don't want to create someone, I want to get in touch with my true self and take an authentic path. I think it will lead somewhere awesome.
Back to Alt - it literally would not have happened without the conference. The speakers I heard, the advice I received, the friends I made, all combined to give me the courage I need to get back on track, even if that means off-the-beaten path.
I came back with a notebook full of notes, advice from speakers, and project ideas that popped into my head throughout the conference. Honestly, guys, I have enough creative ideas written down to last me a decade. I swear it. And most of them are truly great ideas.
The atmosphere at Alt Summit is outrageously conducive to creative inspiration. Which both completely makes sense and is completely unexpected. Most of the sessions are geared towards the business end of blogging, but I guess you can't separate these woman from their creative selves and that shows through in each and every speaker. Luckily, some rubbed off on me.
So, for practical advice:
- Connect with other creatives before you arrive. Use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to create the beginnings of a bond with people you feel a connection to.
- Show up early and stay late. I HATE being away from India & Xavier for too long; they're so young and each day really matters to them. Still, the days before and after the conference are the only time you'll have to take those tentative connections and make them strong bonds. Which basically means it's great socializing time.
- Be selective with the swag you take home. There's a ton of it and why waste the space if you know it will end up in the trash anyway?
- Despite your best intentions, you will end up with a ton of stuff. Bring an extra bag. Trust me, it's worth the extra hassle.
- Bring tape so that you can put the business cards you get directly into your notebook and add a note reminding you about the person.
- Put the cards into your notebook while the encounters are fresh in your mind. You might feel an instant connection with someone only to realize days later that you can't remember what their name was or which business card they were connected to. And now you've lost your future best friend.
- Don't worry too much about what you're going to wear. Before I went, I kept reading all this advice about dressing to impress and how beautiful everyone at Alt Summit is. Which is true. We should always dress to impress and everyone at Alt Summit was beautiful. But we don't need to pretend to be on the runway when we feel more comfortable at the library and everyone at Alt Summit was beautiful partially because of who they are and what they stand for. I don't know where I read it, but somewhere I read, "Don't worry too much about what you wear to Alt. Everyone there is too concerned with what they're wearing to notice what you are." And I think that about sums it up.
- Follow up. Stay in touch with the people you meet.
- Most importantly, be yourself. Be authentic. People will like you. I like you!
I hope your week is starting off great!