five things I learned at alt summit

If you’re a blogger, or you read blogs, or you live in Utah, you may have heard of Alt Summit.  Twice a year, the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City is taken over by designers, stylists, bloggers, artists, and all kinds of small business owners looking to up their game on the Internet (and in life).  There are networking opportunities, keynote speakers, educational and informational seminars, and lots of free stuff (including food and drink, woo hoo!).  This was my first year attending (after two years of shirking the considerable price tag) and I’m so glad I finally pulled the trigger and went for it.  My expectations (which, to be fair, were pretty ambiguous) were surpassed and I have a notebook full of ideas and thoughts and encouragement.  It has made me VERY excited for 2015.

This post is really more for me, I guess, because it’s helping to organize my brain and cut through all the noise of the overwhelming volume of information at Alt.  But anyway, here are the top five “a-ha!” moments I had at Alt.

Alt Summit winter 2015

1 // create a content calendar.  I attended Alt with the aim of getting back into blog content that wasn’t just my wedding photos.  That will continue to be a hefty portion of this blog (because it’s my job, duh), but I used to blog about other stuff, too.  I wanted Alt to be a catalyst for my blogging renaissance.  I’m so grateful to have attended Eden Hensley’s roundtable session for this advice: SIMPLIFY, AMPLIFY, QUALIFY.  Make your story easy to interpret so others can understand and share what it is that you do. Ensure the quality of your blog posts is working and worth your time (and stop spending time on content that’s not working).  Which I’ve reinterpreted as:

Be clear about who you are, narrow your scope, and share the things you’re good at.

She advised selecting three to five (definitely not more than five) topics/areas of interest to blog about, and making it super-crazy-easy for blog readers/visitors to identify those areas (i.e. the stuff you’re good at).  Within moments, while I still sat at that same table across from Eden, I jotted down the areas I knew I loved, wanted to focus on, and would be able to keep up with:

  • photography (i.e. posting my work)
  • weddings (advice, articles, etc.)
  • lifestyle inspiration (including non-wedding-related photo shoots, recipes, and the occasional DIY)

Up for future consideration is photography education, too.  But, baby steps.  And you’ll notice my “welcome” blurb at the top of the sidebar to your right has evolved a bit to clearly spell out what’s going on around here:

You’ll find romantic images, articles to help with wedding prep, and lifestyle inspiration, including the occasional DIY and recipes.

BAM.  How do you like them apples?

All of this is to say that I now have an Excel spreadsheet for the rest of 2015 to help me organize what I will post, when I will post it, and how often.  This is going to help me rotate the type of content I’m offering and make sure the areas I’ve chosen to focus on will each get proper attention and post frequency.  I’m diversifying, people.  As much as I adore pretty wedding photos, there will be a little more substantive content around here from now on (fingers crossed).  On that note, please tell me if there is anything I’m forgetting or lacking!  I’d love feedback and suggestions for why you read this blog and/or follow Anna Delores.  That way, I can be sure to give you more of what you want, and less of what you don’t.  :)

Alt Summit winter 2015 photos

2 // prepare better next time.  I actually learned this lesson before I left for Alt.  Heck, I learned this lesson when I was in, like, first grade.  But Alt is pretty sneaky: it’s in January, so the holidays will totally throw you off, and since it’s during wedding off-season, I’m lulled into a false sense of “security” (i.e. “I don’t have that much to do right now because I’m all caught up on wedding edits”).  False.  I wish I’d done a better job of connecting with sponsors and other attendees before the conference.  I just had no idea about how networking with other bloggers would be beneficial for Anna Delores, so I didn’t give it much thought.  Now I know better.

3 // you are not your brand.  As a creative entrepreneur, a professional artist, this is one of the hardest parts of finding a solid, healthy sense of self-worth.  When someone criticizes your work, it feels as though they are criticizing you.  Photography (and blogging, for that matter) can be so deeply personal that it is a daily challenge to separate professional success from personal self-esteem.  If a bride is ever unhappy with anything, I take it personally.  And that’s no one’s fault but my own.  Businesses will have ups and downs, and it’s important for business owners to understand their value as a person and not just as the founder/owner/professional defined by the brand.  I’m actually lucky I named my business “Anna Delores” and not “Emily Reiter,” because that gives me a small leg-up on the ability to detach my personal identity from my professional one.  Thank you to The Alison Show for the reminder that I am not defined by my professional successes and shortcomings.

4 // Lisa Congdon is awesome. That is all.

5 // do stuff by the book.  There are SO MANY legal considerations for owning your own business, hiring employees or contractors, registering copyrights and trademarks, etc.  I am hoping that Amanda Schreyer, who gave an AWESOME, plain-English session about “The Business of Blogging,” will help me.  Because that is one area I just want to hand over to someone.  Like Vanessa and I laughed about the other day on the phone, we’d really love to hire someone to “just make sure I don’t get arrested.”

There you have it.  I learned so much more and met some incredible folks, but these are the tidbits I’m currently digesting.

And I’ll swing you back up to #1 for a sec, just as a reminder: I would love feedback and suggestions from y’all on why you read this blog and/or follow Anna Delores.  I’d love to give you more of what you want and less of what you don’t.

xoxo
emily

jamie & josh in cabo san lucas

Early on November 7, I headed down to Orange County with Emily (who photographed this wedding with me) and Elle (she took some rad video footage) to catch a flight to Cabo San Lucas.  We arrived in time to celebrate with Jamie and Josh at their rehearsal dinner, then get plenty of rest before their EPIC Cabo Surf Hotel wedding the next day.  We had SO. MUCH. FUN.  There are no words.

But there are photos!

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videography // elle wildhagen
second shooter // emily kappen

christy & brady in santa paula

My engagement shoot with Christy and Brady was finished in 45 minutes flat, and NOT because it was raining.  They just nailed it.  They’re a couple who claim they need help, but as soon as I directed them to just look at each other, it was all over.  They made my job WAY easy.  Even their “goofball” photos are totally blog-worthy (evidence is below).  We had a blast at Steckel Park in Santa Paula.

And such troopers despite the rainy day!  Cannot wait for Christy and Brady’s McCormick Ranch wedding in April!

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