Alt Summit NYC Recap, and The Difference Between ALT SLC & ALT NYC

This post is for anyone wanting to know more about the Alt Summit blogging conference. If you want to read more about Alt, here's Five Tips for Alt Summit, a recap of Alt Summit NYC, a recap of Alt Summit 2013, and a declaration that bloggers are so much more than bloggers. Thank you so much for visiting and I love your comments.

All photos by the wonderful Alt Summit photographer, Justin Hackworth

Whew! I was fortunate enough to attend Alt Summit NYC last week and I'm excited to share a few pictures from my day at the Martha Stewart Headquarters with all the other Alters.

I got to Alt halfway through the day so unfortunately I missed Grace Bonney's wonderful talk, crafting time, and a delicious lunch. The first thing I caught was a panel on social media with social media directors from Warby Parker, MooMah Magazine, and Lucky Magazine, moderated by Gabrielle Blair. (Great recap of the panel here.)

Following the panel, there was a 9 x 5 panel : Nine NY-based speakers speaking for five minutes each. This was a genius idea! I loved hearing from so many speakers and it kept the ADD at bay. And! So awesome that my husband, Keenan, was presenting.

He spoke all about online youth culture, improbable artists, and why the internet has made it possible for people who would've never been artists or perhaps never had a creative outlet, to become super successful tastemakers and creators. He surprised everyone by even tearing up half way through as he shared the personal stories of several teen "improbable artists" that inspire him online—I know how passionately he feels about the good and the possibilities that exist on the internet. I feel the same way. He briefly mentioned Days, a visual diary app he and his amazing team launched one month ago, and it was so fun to have so many people come up to us afterward to ask questions or give feedback on how they love the app

After a brief break (during which Keenan and our friend Danny admitted that they felt like they were at an awesome baby shower:)), we met again for the final speaker: Garance Doré. I admit I was unfamiliar with her blog until the conference. Shame on me! She was flawlessly candid and beautifully French, and I loved all of her business advice. You can read more about what she said here.

Then, the party didn't stop as we headed to another room decked out in true Martha Stewart fashion. It was so over-the-top beautiful. 

I reconnected and bonded with the other Design Mom contributors—Amy Christie (DIY), Gabrielle Blair (The Design Mom herself), Amy Hackworth (Family, Parenting, Life).  Missing Carter Higgins (Children's Book guru), Lindsay Johnson (Living Well Series), and Raleigh-Elizabeth (Food and Entertaining). I love how this picture captures just how excited we were to be together in person. It's a really amazing thing to collaborate every day online and then *finally* get together in person. I always love running into Brooklyn friends like Mim, Mara, and Jenny (though I didn't get any pictures!) and meeting new and awesome people like Chris, M.J., Ellen, Paige, Molly, Dervla, Jessica, and Cigall. It was also fun catching up with friends from ALT SLC like Haeley and Rashi.

I loved ALT NYC and am so impressed with the organizers behind the event and their impecccable attention to every tiny detail. It's an exquisite experience.

In case you're interested, I created a short Q&A all about Alt Summit based on some discussion with friends and questions other bloggers have been asking me about my experience at the conference. After I attended ALT SLC, I wrote something I titled Not Just Bloggers Anymore that made big rounds because it wasn't a typical ALT recap. It's what I had to write instead of a rundown on business cards or outfits. I also wrote something about being terrified to act on a good idea, which readers loved. I can't tell you how many people have emailed or talked to me privately about this exact feeling. If you have any questions, comments, or tips, leave a comment at the bottom or you can send me an email at koselicummings @ gmail . com. 

On the Fence about ALT in general? 

If you're on the fence about whether to purchase a ticket for ALT SLC, or a little lost in the blogging world, you may like my tips for Alt Summit NYC and a post about why bloggers are so much more than bloggers these days. Blogging conferences have the power to jumpstart your creativity, re-evaluate your business goals, and connect with people you should be connected with. It's also an incredible way to make friends that love the same things you do—which is super powerful whether you're a huge blogger or just starting out. If you can go, go. And if you want a ticket, you have to get it FAST the day it's available. They sell out in minutes.

Did you prefer ALT SLC or ALT NYC?

I attended ALT SLC in January 2013 and now ALT NYC in June 2013. To me, the two felt very different. The NYC conference was a one day conference only 45 minutes away from my house: the SLC conference was a solo, red-eye flight with my toddler and several days of 5:30 AM-11:30 PM networking. (Not to mention commuting in blizzard-like conditions!) The branding is similar, the people are still just as kind, and the topics and speakers were just as on-point. Both are super exciting to participate in and both have incredible networking opportunities. NYC feels small compared to SLC—in scope, venue, and in number of participants. It just depends on your budget and business needs. That being said, I loved being completely immersed at the SLC conference—I attended alone, packed everything I needed for the day (I commuted 40 minutes by car each day), and just made friends and learned all day long. It was heaven for me. It was a welcome change from my distracted day-to-day as a mom and part-time writer and I honestly didn't think about anything but the conference until the fourth day when I suddenly missed my son like crazy and raced back to my parent's house to cuddle that baby like crazy. If you can go, go! If you're on the cusp of starting your own business or blog and you need that final push, Alt Summit is it.

What should I wear? 

Something that makes you feel bangin'. That was hard for me to do at Alt NYC because I'm six months pregnant and in that weird in-between stage, but I did the best I could. I really think spending a little money and making sure you love every detail of your outfit goes a long way in an intense social situation like this. You don't want to be fussing or worrying about anything during the conference. That's time wasted! So buy those shoes or splurge on that gorgeous black dress if it helps you feel confident. The SLC conference requires several outfit changes for all-out evening parties each night—NYC is one outfit for one day.

A few tips on what to wear:


*All-black is slimming and looks chic and pulled together in pictures. I LOVE Gabrielle's jumper, and I also always love a perfect pencil skirt and button-down collared blouse. It ALWAYS looks so good.

*Statement jewelry and lipstick can add a pop in photo booths,  

*Stuff a light pair of comfy flats in your bag, but wear your favorite shoes the majority of the time. There's a lot of sitting.

All that being said, beware of rumors that Alt is all about fashion or looking perfect. It's a business conference, not a beauty pageant. It's so important to stay true to you and your own personal style. You don't need a whole new wardrobe or the perfect highlights—honestly, that's time and money wasted if you don't have a purpose for attending or haven't done your research on the speakers and those you'd like to connect with. Research first, fashion second. Dress for yourself, not for others.

What about business cards? (!!!!!) 

I have to laugh because everybody goes c-r-a-z-y about business cards at Alt. It's a little funny considering actual printed business cards are a bit dated (though I do love them!). But it's become a staple of Alt to exchange business cards with almost every person you meet. A clear, beautiful card that clearly states your blog or business, your name, and some contact information is most important. But there are so many variations of a business card that pop up at Alt it's seriously incredible. As long as it's true to your brand and business and isn't too huge to fit in someone's bag, go for it. :) 

Pro tip: Do your research! Try to get to know the names + blogs of the biggest bloggers who will be attending the conference so you don't find yourself slipping them a business card without any idea that they could be a future mentor for you. It goes a long way when you know a little about someone or their work when you're introducing yourself! On that same note, don't ignore anyone. Learn to slip in and out of conversation gracefully, but remember that this is a very tight knit community with a lot of super talented, super hard-working individuals who are (or are on the cusp of) doing amazing things. Always respect what others are trying to create and never doubt their sincerity. 

What should I pack? 

Ez of Creature Comforts pulled together a comprehensive list here. I'd also add an extra pen, snacks, (I have hypoglycemia so this is a must!), two pouches for your business cards AND for the cards you collect, lipstick and a compact, and a list of Twitter handles and email addresses of those you want to connect with while at the conference.  At ALT SLC, I wasn't staying in a hotel downtown so I had to pack everything I needed each morning. I stashed my evening clothes and freebies by the coat rack every day and it was totally fine. The bathrooms at the Grand America are big and gorgeous—plenty of room for getting ready for the evening parties. Or you can make friends with someone staying at the hotel, like I did with the awesome Gay last year, and change there. All in all, don't stress the changes. It's not a big deal when you're there and in the mode.

Any other tips/questions/comments on Alt Summit in general or on specific elements of the conference? I'd love to hear!