Everything About the Alt Summit Conference, So You Don't Have To Research It
My New Year's Eve Resolution was to attend all the creative conferences in 2019. For a few years, I've been compiling the conferences I wanted to attend and made a conference bucket list.
When I first heard about Alt Summit, it was from blogger gone media maven Kachet from The Kachet Life. She's always up to date on social media and marketing trends, so I trusted her judgment on whether I should attend or not.
Last year I wasn't able to attend Alt Summit, but I did end up attending Alt Together (Alt Together was a virtual way to watch keynotes and some workshops from the Alt Summit Conference). I learned so much from Alt Together, I decided I wanted to attend in person the following year. So I did! And now, I’m here to share my experience and pro-tips.
OKAY C, GREAT INFO BUT WHAT IS ALT SUMMIT?
Alt Summit is a conference featuring a community of women entrepreneurs in creative fields. It is known as THE conference for creative entrepreneurs and stylish social media influencers, and it absolutely is. There are classes for various skill levels, so no matter who you are, Alt Summit is for you.
THE WORKSHOPS, THE REASON I CAME
Okay, so I came to Alt for four reasons: to get better at storytelling on social media, stepping my photo game up, information on the book publishing industry, and managing finances as an entrepreneur.
Here’s a sampling of the workshops I attended, keep it mind they offer SO MUCH more than this, this was simply the path I chose.
Social impact as an influencer
Stop motion animation
Videography and how to speak on camera
Focus on Instagram
Facebook & Instagram Advertising
If you're interested in learning a skill, Alt Summit is for you. I learned how to do stop motion animation (something I had no idea about) and got some cool tips on how to get involved in the Bookstagram community. Some tips were major, and some were minor but valuable, but I learned so much. Here were some minor but valuable things I learned:
Don't have your nails done for a photoshoot? Use press on nails for your fingers, it's a cheap, quick and easy option. - Bookstagram Workshop with Frolic
Collect cute mail and napkins for your flat-lays, so you’re not spending a ton on money getting items for your photoshoot. - Bookstagram Workshop with Frolic
Blog has seasons. You grow. You may change. And that’s okay. However, you must do it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t alienate readers. - Making A Social Impact as an Influencer with Quiana from Harlem Love Birds
THE PANELS, GIVING ME ALL THE 411
Panels were another great addition to the Alt Summit, and the second reason why I came. I got to hear from industry professionals and leaders on a wide range of topics, the ones I attended were:
Profit First panel
Making money as a creative
Focus on Instagram
I wanted to learn about the book publishing industry, I had no prior knowledge about it and didn’t know many authors, so I took advantage of being at Alt to learn. I learned about the process from beginning to end of getting your book published, received resources on how to find an agent, and what to look out for in my publishing contract. There were other panels such as the Profit First Panel, Making Money as a Creative, and the Focus on Instagram panel, that were brilliant and informative.
Here are some resources & tips I got from the panels:
The profit-first model from the book Profit First
Start your assignments ASAP. Clients are most likely going to need it done early. Also if you finish early, you'll be able to let it sit, take a look back at it and send it to them the day before your deadline." - Natalie from Making Money As A Creative Panel
ROUNDTABLES, HYPED UP FOR A REASON
Roundtables are like an Alt Alumni staple. They fucking love them, and I'm officially one of them who do, too. Prior to attending, I didn't get why these were loved so much until I did a roundtable.
Round tables are a block of time probably two hours where you are in a room with tables featuring 10 chairs and each table features a speaker on a topic. There are about 35+ topics and for 30 minutes you will learn something from that speaker then move to the next round table. It's close-knit so you can get to know the speaker and ask questions directly.
Roundtables were one of my favorites because I learned SO much within 2 hours, it was a fucking dream for me. I learned about batching social media content, how to write for other blogs and get paid, how to write an effective mission statement, and how to craft the perfect about me page. Instead of learning all that in one day, I was able to learn it all in TWO hours! I can't believe I almost skipped out on this- so do yourself a favor and don't miss out if you're attending!
Meet-ups are a great way to get your network on with an industry that you're interested in mingling with. I ended up only going to one meet-up because I didn't have it in me after the second day. By the end of my day, I just wanted to go to my hotel, soak in the tub and write out all my notes. So, unfortunately, I was only able to attend one meet-up. But networking wasn't one of my core goals- my goal was to learn. So I simply focused on that.
Pro-tip: Think about your focus at Alt and make those a priority, because there is a lot of shit going on in these 6 days.
PRODUCTS, THE BOOKSTORE & VENDOR MART
Alt Summit featured a vendor mart which featured products from some of the speakers and some attendees. Although I'm not into make-up, I LOVED the Aether Beauty sage sticks. And, after hearing Tara from Rad & Happy speak at the Focus on Instagram panel, it was pretty cool to look at some of her designs. They were absolutely adorable and of course, rad and happy!
Also, I had the pleasure of getting advice at the Ask An Expert Panel discussing on-demand printing from Mica of May Designs. There's just something about supporting people who give back to their community and the vendor mart was a cool way to learn about these brands, but also give back to those speakers who have given us so much!
The book store was my favorite spot too, and probably where all my money went. It featured books from the author’s who were doing book signings at Alt and also some speakers, and featured some fierce novelty items. I ended up purchasing a couple of books and a desk plate that said ‘head bitch in charge’.
HOTELS, AND WHERE I STAYED
The Riveria Palm Springs - This is the hotel I ended up staying at. It was the "hub" you could say, the keynote was here, roundtables, the vendor mart, and the bookstore were here- so it was nice to be close to everything.
I would stay at the Riveria again, it was a good price, clean, and it was nice to be close to everything. My room had this standalone bathtub that I loved soaking in after every day.
The only thing I didn't love was some of the food, their Chicken Quesadilla and Chicken Wings were a little sad, but they had some really outstanding items such as their Wagyu Burger, Pickle-Brine Chicken Sandwich, and Parmesan Fries to make up for. Just choose wisely, and take my advice on those two sandwiches.
Here are some photos at the other locations, I didn't end up going to the Parker which was the fourth hotel. But enjoyed a glimpse of these two, the Saguaro was absolutely filled with vibrant color and fun party vibes. I heard the El Jefe restaurant was a treat, but I never got to go. The Ace Hotel was gorgeous as well and was home to some fun pool parties!
FOOD, YOU GOTTA GO TO ELMER'S
Also, before going to the Ace Hotel in the morning I stopped by this Palms Spring staple called Elmer's. I was told that I HAD to have the German Pancake, so I did it. I overheard someone telling a friend who was visiting that this was a must when you visit Palm Springs. It was, so therefore I’m passing off this information to you.
During the meet-up I attended, I went to On The Mark. It’s this amazing gourmet market and deli that features wine, craft beer, artisan cheese, nitrate-free meats, and speciality sandwiches. I ended up having a wine tasting and charcuterie board and it was unique and tasty. I would definitely make a stop at this place when visiting Palm Springs again!
PRO-TIPS, & THINKING ABOUT GOING? BE PREPARED, HONEY
Now that I've given you the 411 on Alt Summit, here are some pro-tips if you plan on attending.
Plan Your Schedule, Do Your Research
As soon as you get your schedule start doing research on the classes and speakers. If you’re taking a flat lay photography class, take a look at their work. Make sure this is someone you can learn from and they have the skills you are looking for.
I suggest taking a look at the speaker's website and see how knowledgeable they are. Take a look at their social media, especially if you're going to hear someone speak about social media, you want to make sure they are actually an expert and know more than you. I heard from so many attendees who said they wished they did their research on the panels and workshops because they ended up at an event where that person was not quite what they expected.
I researched almost every speaker and only ran into one bad class, and that's one I never researched, lol, so please make this money you are spending worth it and do your research.
Early Bird Doesn't Get Exhausted
Come the day before to get situated. I was exhausted the day I flew in. Once I got to my hotel, I didn't want to do a damn thing. So, do yourself a favor, fly in a day earlier, so you'll be able to get situated and plan for the first day- bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready.
Planning Your Schedule
First, I used the Alt Summit app to checkmark all the classes I wanted to attend, regardless of whether it overlapped with another class. I checked them all.
Then I did my research on the speakers and cut off who wasn't an expert or qualified in my opinion.
After checking the events I wanted to attend, I wrote down the categories and subjects that were a priority for me to learn at Alt, and I created an Alt Summit Trello aboard. These were the categories I was interested in below:
After that, I used the custom fields power-up in Trello to add time, the day of the week and venue the event was located at. If you’d like to copy this board, feel free to here.
By doing this it helped me build my schedule, but also make sure that I covered all the topics I wanted to learn at Alt Summit. After doing this, I organized my schedule in the Alt Summit app and used the Trello board to double check whether I covered all the categories I wanted to learn about.
When doing this, keep in mind to have a few extra classes you want to attend, just in case you don’t make it or need a back-up. There were times where I was exhausted traveling between three hotels and just wanted to stick to one so I changed my schedule, so always have a back-up.
If you’re an influencer or interested with working with any of the sponsors, research the sponsors before the conference starts. Engage with them on social media- you get the sponsors early for a reason, and this is why. Do your research and engage early.
Be Selfie and Photoshoot Ready
There were a bunch of selfie stations and beautiful artwork located all over each hotel for you to capture a selfie or portrait, so stay ready so you ain't gotta get ready. Also, there are a bunch of photographers on deck at Alt, so if you need photos for your blog and social media, this is the perfect place to get those done!
Be Smart, Be Sneaker Chic
I wore sneakers with every outfit and I went from place to place with a breeze. If you are a thug and you have it in you to wear flats that will eventually hurt or heels, do you boo. But, I suggest wearing sneakers and getting sneaker chic..
A Small One, But A Biggie
Bring an external battery charger, it was a life saver.
Get Business Card Ready
Bring about 200-300 business cards, and if you can make some that stand out that would be ideal. Keep an eye out for areas like the business card wall and areas where you can leave your business card. I noticed spots like that in the Riveria and Saguaro, so keep an eye out.
Don't Be Hangry
Eat a big breakfast before your first workshop and have snacks on you throughout the day. I was in session from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. almost EVERYDAY. You will starve. You will get hangry. Also, don’t depend on the lunch tickets from this event. Hopefully next year they will be a lot more organized, but it was an entire mess. Some places ran out of food, and some lunch ticket locations were no where near where you were at, but by the end it was a lot smoother… but just beware and keep that in mind.
Be an Early Bird
Having a conference with over 2,000 people and shuttling between four hotels is a lot. You are bound to deal with hiccups, and there definitely were a lot. Some attendees couldn’t get into events because they were filled to capacity, some didn’t make it to an event on time because the shuttle line was long and it took forever to get to your location because the shuttle stopped at EVERY hotel location making a 10 minute trip, 45 minutes.
I understand it was frustrating, but instead of letting it get to me I strategized. Every morning, I was the first on the shuttle (most of the time by myself or with less than five people) to get to my class early to make it there on time.
The gifting party was another big issue. There was a gifting party on Monday night and I knew I had to get there early. There were 2,000 people at this event and I hate long lines with a passion, so I arrived at the gifting party about 30 minutes early and there were about 40 people already ahead of me. About an hour later I was able to get in and pick out my 5 items for my swag bag. However, when I walked out… the line went all the way downstairs and wrapped around the hotel. It was insane.
So when I say be an early bird… fucking do it or else you’ll be stuck in a really long line or miss out. Eventually product ran out and the people at the end of the line were given only a few sad choices for swag.
Events aren’t perfect, being someone who has experience in running events, shit happens, especially when it’s the first time. As an attendee, you have to learn how to adapt and work with what you got, instead of complaining about it. Because you’re already there, and you already paid the money, so you gotta make the best of a shitty situation.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS LIKE JERRY, AND WOULD I GO AGAIN?
Hell yes, I would go to Alt Summit again! If you are a creative entrepreneur or someone who wants to learn more about social media marketing, this event is for you. Whether you are new or seasoned... you can learn so much from this conference. I made some unexpected relationships with people who are like-minded and I gained so much knowledge and skills from this event.
Events are bound to have hiccups, and like I said it’s best to adapt to your surroundings. Regardless of the hiccups that may have happened, because I did my research and was prepared I had a great experience. I believe your Alt experience ultimately depends on how you approach the conference. I would definitely attend next year- hopefully next year you’ll see me as a speaker!