alt: part 1

February 19th, 2014

elsie marley at alt

It’s been  just about a month since the Alt Design Summit. I came back excited, inspired, and lucky to have met such an amazing group of bloggers. But I also came back feeling conflicted. Blogging is an odd thing: everyone seems to be doing it, a large percentage of people claim to be experts at it, but no one is sure where is going or what it means. 

On the plane home, I wrote up a list of what I heard the most at Alt.

be authentic, but focus on what your readers want

be authentic, but focus on making money

be authentic, but tell everyone you have the GREATEST BLOG EVER!

blog 3 times a week, but say no to being overwhelmed

focus on one social media outlet, but rule them all

sponsorship is not a dirty word, but sell yourself to make a lot of money

find your niche, but don’t get niched–you must appeal to wide variety of brands

do everything for free, until some point, then charge a lot for everything you do.

video is the future, but no one knows if video is really the future.

do all of this yourself, even though most profitable blogs have teams running them.


sewing bloggers unite

1. dana 2. jessica 3. me looking like it’s the first day of school 4. melissa 5. andrea 6. kate 7. delia

It’s confusing and conflicting but still all true. Oddly, it’s a lot like the advice new parents get. Maybe blogging is like parenting: you stay up all hours doing it, you can’t explain to people who don’t have blogs why you have one, and you’re not sure how it’ll turn out in the end.

creative mamas

clockwise 1. me, again on the first day of school 2. carla 3. celina 4. andrea 5. bonnie 6. marigold 7. helen 8. stacy (kneeling)

I did learn one really good thing at Alt:


Blogging is weird. You talk to so, so many people everyday, but every interaction is planned, controlled, and/or edited. Not at lot of creativity bursts forth from controlled situations. We need other people to challenge us and show us new things–this coming from a tried and true introvert. So reach out to similar bloggers.  Collaborate! Contribute! Talk–face to face even! Gossip! Bullshit! Just say something off the top of your head for once…

Alt: part #2 

Posted in inspiration.

26 Responses to alt: part 1

  1. melissa q. says:

    It’s been one of those weeks for me so I really appreciate hearing this. Yikes. It’s weirdly comforting to hear that I’m not just doing a half-a*sed job but, it’s true, the true nature of blogging is such that this conflicting information makes a weird kind of sense.

  2. Carla says:

    I am soooo glad I’m not the only one who felt like I learned everything and nothing! Best Alt recap ever! Also, I adored talking to you!

  3. This is a great post and sums up some of the conflicts I’ve been wrestling with lately. It seems really easy to get overwhelmed with it all and forget it is about connecting with people. Thanks!

  4. Tara says:

    Oh Elsie, you’re the best. Not many people would say this on their blogs even if they were thinking it.

  5. Katie says:

    You look faaaabulous! Love the red tights. And blogging, like parenting, is something you only know if you’ve succeeded at once it’s all over.

  6. Katie says:

    Oh, I forgot to say: you need to switch out the phone in your photo for a martini and you’ll be set for the next James Bond movie.

  7. Jess Abbott says:

    This was so well put!!! I loved this post so much Meg, truly – loved it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Celina says:

    hmmm I haven’t written my Alt post maybe because I feel just like you and haven’t quite put my finger on how I feel. I came back full of ideas and great intentions and now I am feeling totally confused and just like I did before I left for Alt. You nailed it talking and connecting is key. Thank you. Now what is part 2 going to be about???

  9. kristin says:

    of all the Alt attendees i know, i was most curious about what you’d think, both as an introverted person in a purely extroverted situation, and as a person whose blog has always been about your own voice and creativity for the sake of it, rather than a moneymaking type deal. blogging is so much about balance and i think everyone approaches that differently – anyway though, awesome post and thanks for writing it! i’m looking forward to part 2 too!

    • RAE says:

      Took the words right out of my mouth, Kristin.

      Meg, I was also super curious to see what your take on Alt would be as well because — and I hope this comes off as the compliment it is supposed to — I have always perceived you and your blog as a refreshing contrast to the flashy-fancy super commercial career bloggers’ blogs that seem to be so prevalent and celebrated at Alt. Even though I jealously scroll through all the photos each year and dream about what *I* would wear to Alt, I always wonder what the ratio of useful information/connections to Big-Fun-Party is. Not that Big Fun Party is a bad reason to hold an event, I’m just saying… :)

  10. haha! Blogging is sooo like parenting!

  11. gail says:

    thanks for this great post, i love your take on all of this. you’re a gem, meg. <—- palindrome alert

  12. Sasha says:

    Thanks for this great post… I’m a new blogger and I’m confused. First they said literature was dead, than newspapers now is blogging’s turn to “be dead”, dying or whatever. They say (they = media analysts) that there is no longer a conversation. It’s been replaced by a sort of frenzied media consumerism -without the digestion part- a sort of media bulimia if you want — pin pin pin — re”blog” on tumblr. What are we to think? That we can no longer form communities and share ideas, emotions or dreams? That the number of “followers” is the ultimate goal? I do not know and so, I choose not to care. For me blogging is mainly a way to keep focus.. and if it happens to find on my way likeminded people.. well.. that would be nice … wouldn’t it?

  13. I think that like parenting there are lots of ways to blog well. Attachment parenting, strict household, freewheeling and creative, orderly and scheduled…all of those parenting styles can lead to great kids as long as underneath it all is love and respect. There are successful blogs of every variety (run by teams and turning huge profits, run by a person who just likes to knit, funny, serious, gorgeous, plain), but underlying all of them is a drive to make and to share. If you’re doing it and you love it, rock on.

  14. The blogs I read most faithfully [yarn harlot, communing with fabric] are offered by good writers who have something interesting to say. I don’t read them for the projects, which are well above my skill level – I read them to understand they way they think about craft process, and to enjoy their take on life, the universe, and everything.

    You are a good writer too, and you often have something to say. As a reader of yours, please let me suggest that you think about expanding the space you give here to your ideas and creative process. Anybody can paste glitter on an egg. You have something different to offer.

    • meg says:

      Pamela I was actually thinking about writing more about process and creativity in general. And I think you’re right regardless of sponsorship what makes blogs good is when the writer is interested and interesting.
      Thank you so much for your kind words they mean a lot. Also I might have to frame or embroider or somehow show off your quote, “anyone can paste glitter on an egg.”

  15. Nienke says:

    Your equation of blogging to parenting is fabulous! ;-) Alt sounds awesome…

  16. Melissa says:

    You’ve nicely summed up some of the confusion I felt at and am still feeling about Alt. Which might be why I haven’t blogged about it at all.

  17. futuregirl says:

    I think those pix of you are adorable. :)

  18. Kim says:

    Love it. What a great blog post. I do not intend to make money on my blog but I do appreciate when I get contacted by companies with cool products. I love those pics. You are adorable.