If you’ve worked in consulting, you might be familiar with wanting to present clients with “A-ha’s”…Not “that’s so interesting, let me file that away for…next year or never”, but rather big moments where the cartoon lightbulb goes off over your head and either you’re inspired to fix something right now, or fireworks go off because you realize whatever your working on can be done in a way that’s consistent with what you are doing.
Even though I had envisioned doing lots and lots of Alt recaps, most have been done excellently already (for a full list, see the Alt Blog here). Don’t worry, I still have a couple planned for Photography Fridays from the camp sessions since that’s a different kind of content, but looking back on the weekend in Salt Lake City, I realized that despite my pages and pages of notes, there were several big “a-ha’s” that stood out for me:
1. It’s okay if it takes awhile: After a few sessions, you quickly realize that the panelists are panelists because they know what they’re talking about. And they know what they’re talking about because they have been doing it for awhile – often times five years, six years, seven years…It’s okay if you don’t know everything right off the bat – you can take advantage of learning from others who have learned on a longer curve, but don’t expect to be where they are “overnight”.
2. You can be older than 20 and still a relevant blogger: One of the refreshing things about Alt was that you quickly realize that it is totally normal to blog in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond that – there is room for all ages in the blogosphere. And in fact, there was one dapper gentlemen in his 70’s behind me in the registration line. The organizer at the desk asked him if he had come to the right event and he replied, “Of course I am. I am an architect and anyone who cares anything about design should be at this conference.”
3. You can keep your day job: In fact, most bloggers have a day job. Even those who you assume blog professionally. Some people have day jobs as bankers/lawyers/etc…some wait tables, some are stay at home moms (let no one tell you that’s not a job)…and some blog professionally but they also have interior design services…styling services…photography businesses…you name it. The only question is what do you want your day job to be?
4. If you want your blog to be any kind of job, get legit: If you’re thinking of taking any kind of payment in monies or kind, you need to get squared away on your paper work. Lots of advice around this but no surprise here, if you want a business from blogging, you have to treat it as a business and that means getting incorporated, paying taxes and all that good stuff. In fact, it’s like your other real jobs minus the 401(k).
5. The internet domain is not the public domain: I had a crash course on this last year when I was a really new blogger and made some assumptions on how to best credit sources. Someone corrected me and it all got sorted out – and in fact, I made some great blogging friends in the process but if you’re going to blog, be you a new blogger or not, there are definitely some rules to follow. As far as crediting goes, Erin Loechner’s handy dandy guide and Link with Love are great places to consult but keep in mind that while most of the information refers to photography, it applies across everything: artwork, videos…and music. One of my biggest eye openers was that if you buy a song on iTunes, it’s a no-no to use it on a video you made and posted to the internet (no longer personal use, it’s broadcast) – you’re going to have to license music. For the recreational user, this is kind of crappy. And defeats a bit the purpose of iTunes. But it is what it is, so good thing I learned this sooner rather than later.
6. Design used to be a distinguishing factor, now it’s a prerequisite: It used to be that people who invested in the look of their blog were set apart because they did so, but now it’s just the entry ticket. It doesn’t mean you have to pour in thousands to get a good blog design, but it does mean that you have to balance what you want out of it with being functional, clean and easy to navigate. Be smart about your design decisions early on.
7. Just be yourself: This must have come up in every session – all the more interesting when I was speaking with someone who attended the year prior and said there was no where near as much mention of original content and authenticity as there was last year. It’s challenging to write creatively, consistently and with your own voice, but no voice, no blog. Be comfortable in your own thing.
In case it is not immediately apparent, the photo above is me having one or all of these a-ha moments during Ben Silberman’s Keynote – photo courtesy of Brooke Dennis Photography. All official Alt photos can be found here.