Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hello, Friend

Everyday Reading . Trouve Magazine . Emily Jeffords . Swoon . Frock Files . Solly Baby . Flax and Twine . Abby M Interiors . Random Nicole . Summer Wick . LuLu The Baker . House*Tweaking . Design Improvised . Handmade Charlotte

I've been thinking long and hard on how I want to write this post.  I'm back from another Alt Summit in frozen Salt Lake City. For those of you who don't write a blog, this is a conference like no other, designed specifically for creative/craft bloggers like myself. Topics range from "The Business Of Blogging", "Personal Branding", "Pinterest Strategies", and "Growing Your Community", and keynote speakers included Mr.Pinterest himself, Ben Silbermann. Last year I threw caution to the wind and I bought a ticket. I only knew one attendee, and I had no idea what it would be like other than that the dress code would be strictly awesome and I needed to have knock out business cards.  While I was there I spent a lot of time assessing how I fit into the big picture, feeling a little afraid that I would never really stand out, worrying a little that I might be medicore at the thing that I think I do best.  Have you ever felt like that before? I can have a lot of self-doubt. Those inspirational typography posters that say things like:

Art print by Whitney Bengal

...these are meant for me. I try to live with blinders on so that I don't get caught up in what everyone else is working on. When I lose focus, I inevitably start to question my own work. This brings me to the point of this post (finally). When I walked into the opening keynote speech at Alt Summit I was once again all alone, worrying a little about the things that do not matter like my outfit, and then there was Garance Dore, the charming and totally prolific French illustrator and blogger sitting at a lectern wearing all black.  She said a couple of things that completely changed the way I approached the rest of my time at Alt, and got me thinking about why I am blogging in the first place. Here it is (I paraphrase):


  • I write about what I am interested in. If I lose some people along the way, that's okay, there will be new people, and they are there because they are interested in what I have to say.
  • When I write, I write to a singular person.  This person is my "best friend". She is smarter than me, and she loves me for who I am. She completely supports me, but she will tell me when she disagrees with me. I write UP not down to her. 
  • In french, "Niche" means "dog house".  I don't want to live in a dog house. 

I was so liberated (and uplifted) by what she said. In that moment, I took her approach to blogging and applied it to my time at Alt. I decided right then and there that my time would be best spent not worrying about what everyone else was doing, or wearing, or who they were. I would just plop myself down next to sweet looking strangers at lunch or in seminars and make friends. I ditched my elevator speech. I really talked to people, and I met some folks that I KNOW I will collaborate with; talented, interesting women whom I would never have really known that about had I not given the conversation time and attention. Most of the time, when I gave out my card, it was because I wanted to keep the conversation going! I decided against approaching any ill-fitting brands just because they were there, and I didn't stand in line for too long after a panel to meet the queens of blogging. I got something so very different out of Alt this time. 

Because of my collaboration with Blurb, I was lucky enough to have a little corner of a party dedicated to my blog, and all sorts of people came over to talk to me. We talked about making books, their work, my work, and life outside of blogging. I met artists, architects, interior designers, foodies... my people. I got something so much more out of it this time, and it wasn't because of any panel discussion or singular piece of advice(except for Garance). I left feeling confident that great things are on my horizon, and that the measure of success is very different to different people, and that for me, making and writing is what I am good at and trying to be like anyone else, or selling myself short is the thief of my success.

18 comments:

  1. Really love this post. I'm so glad that Alt gave you what you needed. Those who have the courage to own who they are get more out of Alt. Good for you!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are a blogger I look up to, and I would wait in line to say hi to you any time! I'm so glad you found Alt so worthwhile this time. I regret I couldn't be solely for the opportunity to build my relationship with my blogging friends and to make new ones. I'm constantly doubting myself and my blog (even as I'm in the midst of complete redesign!). I worry that I don't have anything offer my readers because I don't cook or craft or create. But, I'd be writing (perhaps in a journal) anyway, so maybe I need to take your advice and Garance's -- put on blinders and write about what makes me happy.

    PS: If you ever want to collaborate, gimme a holla.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You've inspired me with your blog in ways you don't even know! My daughter has a silly book about a fairy princess written by Julie Andrews with some serious messages like "you have to let your SPARKLE out" and I am so glad you do!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You guys, you are the best (like the best friend I promise to write up to).

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great post, Heather! I think many people (myself included) struggle with everything you identified. Lately I've taken to reminding myself to "stay in my lane!" ... not to limit myself but to focus on what I do and not worry about what others are doing. It was such a pleasure meeting you at Alt -- even if it was just across the table at lunch! -- and I will look forward to crossing paths again.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I REALLY enjoyed meeting you! Your collaboration with blurb was excellent. I have been thinking about you and your work ever since. I just taped up two (yes, two, I couldn't decide on one!) of your cards onto my inspiration board. I had similar feelings about the conference. It was my first and if anything it gave me the confidence to push onward. Keep in touch!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I loved meeting you (and so so thrilled to see my business card on there!). What a great weekend - this is possibly my favorite post about Alt yet!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So glad you plopped down next to me. I also survive on a steady diet of inspirational posters :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This post is so great! I too, was really affected by Garance's keynote and similarly experienced ALT (my first time) by just meeting people and going with my gut, rather than trying to dazzle or to shine, and let me tell you, my experience was wonderful because in the end I just acted like myself, and thankfully ditched the elevator pitch too! Keep it up, and I would love to be in touch!

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a fantastic post! I was at Alt this year too (sadly, I don't think we met!) and Garance's keynote triggered the same emotions for me too. I didn't come home with nearly as many business cards as I'd anticipated but I made sure that I made a connection or at least had a conversation with each person I exchanged cards with. Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I get it! I was an Alt Summit first-timer, this year...and I rocked up not knowing a soul, not sure about my outfit choices, and not knowing how to talk about my blog. (Lifestyle blog? What's that mean?) Garance's comments about attracting vs. repelling and the dog house resonated with me, too. I decided to lean into it, and see what happened. I met some really awesome folks and learned a lot about the blogger I want to be. (Bonus: I met you, and learned about Blurb. My first photobook is on it's way! Thank you.)

    ReplyDelete
  12. http://www.suburbanbitches.com/friday-five-favorites-alt-summit-2014/

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm so glad we are reading everyone's recaps, and getting more out of the experience through other people's perspectives. Garance seems to be a common favorite, I'm so happy she led it off.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Heather, I love this post! Reading the advice from Garance gave me chills...the good kind. I'm printing it out to tape to my laptop when I'm writing. I'm so glad I found your blog--via the ALT blog, if you like to keep track of these things. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Heather, thanks so much for sharing your feelings about alt like this. It was my first time and I found it challenging. This time, for me, I spent way too much energy wondering, am I talking to the right people, who should I find, am I dressed okay, who's that over there, do I have enough of a persona, what's my angle, what's my lifestyle. It was exhausting. I hate the whole comparison bit, and that sort of conference seems to feed it. I did love Garance's note about assuming you're writing for your best friend - such a good reminder to keep in your own skin. I think I'll take your approach next time. Hopefully, you'll be there to share a cup of coffee with again!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I really enjoyed meeting you at ALT! I hope that I will see you there next year and we'll get to talk even longer.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...