I started down the alt path about 20+ years ago. My first attempts were in cyanotype and were guided by articles that I read (IIRC) in Petersen's Photographic Magazine. I had access to some direct positive semi-continuous tone film that I used to make enlarged negatives, and while the process was interesting, it was not something that I really enjoyed.
About 3-4 years ago I did a workshop in which a couple of the other students (both 'little old ladies") showed some VanDyke and Pt/Pd prints. I had always liked the appearance of Pt/Pd prints, and the fact that those two "little old ladies" were doing it convinced me to try again.
So I started out with VanDyke. I bought a kit from B&S, and picked up some paper from a local art store. I also built a UV light box. Frankly, the results weren't all that great. I went through a lot of paper with very little to show for it.
Then, I took a workshop on Pt/Pd printing with Tillman Crane where I learned how to make that process actually work. Since then, I've make quite a few prints. I've experimented with enlarged negatives (scanning 35mm negs and then printing them on overhead transparency film), but the result of those experiments haven't been all that good. But I have been very pleased with the results that I've been able to achieve from original, in-camera 4x5 negatives.