Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, entrepreneur, or small business owner, you’ve probably attended or considered attending a conference in your field. What you’ve most likely discovered in researching or going to one is that they’re a major investment of your time and money. Unfortunately, finding the right conference can be a bit like finding the right hair stylist – you don’t know if it’s going to be amazing or disappointing until you’ve paid up and sat in the chair. So before you budget, save, and book your next conference, be sure you choose the best one for you and your business. Ask yourself these five important questions, and check out these great, comprehensive resources to help you research and register for your next conference.
What’s resources do you have?
Before you start looking for a conference you should determine the resources you have to invest – ask yourself, what’s my budget and how much time do I have? Some conferences are only half a day and may cost around $100, while others can span over the course of several days and cost close to $1000 or more. It’s important to be clear on your resources before you go searching so you don’t over extend yourself. You can expense a conference to your business, but you still need to be certain your finances are intact before committing. It’s also essential that it works into your personal and professional calendar. Even if the conference is booked out further than your work schedule, you’ll be able to notify your clients accordingly.
Where do you want to go?
Now that you’ve got an idea of the time and money you can invest in a conference, you can determine where you want to go: somewhere local, somewhere out of state, or somewhere international. This decision may be dictated by the resources you have, but there are other factors to take into account when choosing a location. Do you want to connect more deeply with your regional network? Do you want to gain more national exposure? Do you want to experience your industry from the perspective of another culture? While contemplating these questions, you should keep your target audience and client base in mind in addition to the personal growth you hope to achieve.
How do you learn best?
Once you’ve covered the logistics of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, you can focus on what you want to gain from the conference. In my experience, taking into account your personal learning style is one of the most important steps you can take in choosing the best one for you. Think back to academia – did you thrive in a larger or smaller class size? Consider lectures or workshops you’ve attended in your professional life – do you enjoy engaging with the speaker and other attendees or do you prefer to soak it all in with your eyes, ears, and notepad? Being clear on the type of environment in which you’re going to learn most effectively is essential to having the best possible conference experience.
Why do you want to attend?
Knowing the purpose or intention behind why you want to attend a conference is also key. It’s pretty easy for a conference to catch your eye just because the price is right, the location is convenient, or the lineup of speakers is amazing. However, if you don’t know what knowledge, skill, or connection you want to walk away with at the end, you could be left with a great experience and nothing to show for it. Are you hoping to build and expand your network or are you looking to learn a new skill or more about a particular subject matter? Maybe you’re at a transitional moment in your career or planning to expand your business in a big way, and you need more insight before you get started. Determining why you want to attend will help you to have the best conference experience.
Who do you want to connect with?
Whether your primary goal is to network or not, you will have the opportunity to connect with others no matter what conference you attend. Considering who you want to connect with is one more factor to take into account as you hone in on your decision. Do you want to connect with peers in your field, industry veterans, or potential clients? Peers are pretty easy to engage with at any conference, but if you want to be able to interact directly with the speakers or presenters, you should consider one with a more intimate atmosphere. Conferences are also a place to connect with potential clients – just look for a one that’s hosting companies, brands, or sponsors on site.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what you’re looking for in a conference, it’s time to start searching! Check out these three awesome and comprehensive resources to get started:
Social media was intended to connect and build community, but as these platforms have evolved, we’ve started to use them to disengage. Social media has become an escape not a meeting place. All too often, we hide behind 140 carefully composed characters or the perfectly staged Instagram image. We feign enthusiasm or conviction, and we show the portion or version of ourselves we want to portray. What happened to true authenticity in social media? I found it on Periscope.
With the live-stream platform, it’s much more challenging to customize your persona. You can’t sit down for an hour and compose your scopes for the month, and you can’t schedule a Periscope broadcast on Hootsuite. Instead, you have to be present and engaged, and best of all, you have a live audience and interaction with real people.
I believe that Periscope represents the direction social media is heading. It’s getting back to the original purpose: to connect and build communities among likeminded people. This platform is forward-thinking, and I sense that people are intimidated by it. Yes, it’s much more comfortable and safe to hide within the confines of other social media platforms, and it’s a little bit terrifying to actually consider being vulnerable and truly authentic in the digital landscape. I urge you to face your fears! Download this application. Give it a try. Start out as an observer. You can join and never broadcast a livestream. You can simply watch others and join the conversation.
If you want to learn more about Periscope before creating an account, I highly recommend visiting the Facebook group Inspired Scope, created by Cathy Olson, the founder of Love Inspired. This group is a great place to start to understand Periscope better and receive support from others who are exploring the platform and helping it grow.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and join, I’ve made a list of ten interesting people you should check out and follow. Finally, join me on Periscope @AOCBlogGirl every Friday at 5:30P ET for #FridayUnfiltered, a community building scope for artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and anyone who is self-employed! I hope to see you on Periscope TODAY!
10 People to Follow on Periscope:
@LoveInspired: daily business scopes
@CyndieSpiegel: business strategy scopes for creative entrepreneurs and badass women
@JessGrippo: dance breaks and creative inspiration
@JelloydJMJ: behind the scenes scopes of a recording artist
@DanelleMercurio: daily guided meditations and weekly horoscopes
@CourtRJ: daily copywriting and business scopes
@JennMSterling: health and wellness tips
@LindaUgelow: guided mediations and creative inspiration
@LizDiAlto: guided meditations and inspiration for women to connect with their bodies
@MelissaEEarle: photography and design tips for amateurs and professionals
On Saturday, September 5, 2015, ARTicles of Clothing Blog celebrated its second birthday. Over the past couple years, I’ve faced the challenge of defining the blog’s voice and purpose. It began as a creative outlet and a place where I could write stories of personal interest independent of my freelance career. The initial focus was on fashion but has since expanded into a variety of other topics, such as freelancing, fitness, and the great city of NYC. Earlier this year, I took a brief departure from social media and from AOC Blog. I needed to step back and reconnect with my unique digital persona, the one I want to shine through on this blog. After I returned, I made my own version of an editorial calendar to map out six months of opportunities and ideas for posts. Since taking these two imperative steps, I’ve seen AOC Blog evolve and flourish in the direction I initially intended. I’m incredibly proud of where AOC Blog is today, and I’m excited about the direction it’s heading into year three.
As you take a moment to celebrate this milestone with me, please direct your attention to the Top Five Posts of Year Two (below) and the brand new, easy to navigate top menu bar (above). I added an ARTICLES section that features a drop down to sort posts by category, a SERVICES page for those who want to partner with me, and, last but not least, an all new ABOUT page that shares AOC Blog’s journey over the past two years. Finally, I must send my deepest and sincerest gratitude to my family, friends, and loyal readers who have supported AOC Blog over the past two years. CHEERS to you and to AOC Blog’s second birthday!
TOP 5 POSTS OF YEAR 2
“That feeling of solidarity is what a ‘fashion community’ can give you.” Continue reading
“Yogasmoga is not just a brand for yogis. It’s a brand for those who embrace the principles that go with it: joy, energy, and balance.” Continue reading
“The confidence with which a woman wears the fashion and the pride a woman takes in her fashion are the foundation of Woodbury Lane’s aesthetic.” Continue Reading
“I learned three of the easiest hairstyles for summer – no braiding required!” Continue reading
and the #1 post of year 2 is…..
“We all have a relationship with our clothes. After imagining yourself as Adaline, a woman who has lived for almost a century, consider how deep that connection might be with certain articles of clothing.” Continue reading
“Goals take commitment but are much more achievable when handled realistically and from a place of possibility.” – Cyndie Spiegel
Cyndie Spiegel is a business strategy coach for creative entrepreneurs who believes in the profound effects available through integrating meditation into your career. I first discovered her on Periscope and instantly connected with her upbeat personality and creative spirit as well as her background in fashion. I also find Cyndie particularly relatable because she never fails to lighten the mood or emphasize a point with a swear word (or two). I finally had the chance to meet her in person at the Freelancer’s Union popup event, Meditate, Create, and Cultivate.
Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly curious about meditation. I read a couple books (both of which I would highly recommend – a personal narrative by Dan Harris called 10% Happier and a beginner’s guide called 8 Minute Meditation). I started practicing but never consistently. Then, within the past couple weeks, meditation started popping up in various facets of my life – in a yoga class, on Periscope, and in my horoscope. When I saw Cyndie’s workshop, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to delve deeper.
Meditation is often thought of as a spiritual practice. However, Cyndie believes in approaching it in a more practical way. She guided us through a basic ten minute meditation followed by a series of activities focused on letting go of limiting beliefs and gaining clarity in goalsetting. First, Cyndie directed us to sit comfortably, close our eyes, and root ourselves in the present moment. Next, she encouraged us to honor the time to connect with ourselves and our inner wisdom. As the minutes went on, Cyndie reminded us to be patient, keep sitting, and focus on our breath. The activities that followed aimed to harness the clarity and openness gained through meditation and apply it to a goal we intend to accomplish in the next three months.
To me, goalsetting can be intimidating and overwhelming. The simple act of stating a goal can make you feel vulnerable or anxious as the pressure to achieve it amounts. Detailing the steps, checkpoints, and barriers to accomplishing a goal can be equally staggering. You may begin to realize that the path to your goal is long or that there may be a number of roadblocks along the way. These feelings and beliefs are the exact limitations that can prevent you from realizing your goal. After using Cyndie’s meditation method, I felt the negativity dissipate, and I was able to approach the goalsetting process with more confidence. I left the event feeling incredibly energized and excited to expand my meditation practice into my career and my current and future goals.
As a resident of New York City for nearly nine years, Alyssa, my friend and fellow writer, is a master at finding the best events in the city. When she emailed me about an event at The New School called the Best Online Editors Panel, I was immediately intrigued. I started typing, clicking, and digging on the web. I quickly discovered that tucked away in Greenwich Village sits The New School, a progressive university that attracts intellectual and creative minds. The event featured a panel of eight online editors from publications like Tin House, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Dame Magazine, and more. Plus, the panel was hosted and moderated by none other than writer, teacher, and New York Times bestselling author Susan Shapiro. Needless to say I purchased my ticket and replied to Alyssa that I was in.
While the event was geared toward journalists, I found the information to be beneficial for any type of freelance writer or blogger. Whether you’re pitching an article, blog post concept, or even partnership opportunity, engaging with publications or businesses is a major part of journalism, freelancing, and blogging. Ultimately, the panel discussion was centered on navigating these interactions and relationships successfully.
There were three main questions that led the panel. Each of the eight online editors had his/her own unique approach to working with freelancers, and along the way, Susan Shapiro interjected interesting feedback from her students and aspiring writers. Below I’ve summarized the key takeaways from the discussion.
3 Questions Answered by Top Online Editors:
- Should I submit a pitch or a finished essay?
This seemed to be the most polarizing question of the evening. The verdict? A fifty-fifty split. Below are five of the arguments:
- It depends on the publication or an editor’s preference.
- Do your research on the publication and the editor before submitting.
- Kera Bolonik, executive editor of Dame Magazine, suggested writing the full piece and pitching the standout lines in a summary of two to five sentences.
- Another debate arose within the discussion of this question: should you attach your work as a document/PDF or include it in the body of the email? The verdict, again, resulted in a fifty-fifty split.
- Jerry Portwood, a professor at The New School and executive editor at Out magazine, posed a solution: do both so all your bases are covered!
Applying the advice beyond journalism: There’s a fine line between a well-developed idea and a concrete idea with no room for creativity. When pitching any type of concept or partnership opportunity to a potential client, it’s important to research the brand and the point of contact. Be clear on what they expect and show your knowledge of their business in how and what you pitch.
- What should freelancers NOT do?
This question elicited some tough love from the panel. Below are the five key DON’TS for freelancers:
- Don’t submit a piece or a pitch on a Friday. It can wait until Monday!
- When an editor rejects your piece, it’s the end of the conversation. Don’t reply to the editor asking why or looking for an explanation. At most send a simple thank you for his/her time.
- If you have a story, even one that’s not fully developed and could only amount to a few lines, do not publish it on a blog or give it away to an unpaid source if you ever hope to submit or pitch it to an editor.
- Never send a general pitch or simply pitch your services – you must be specific! Don’t make an editor work for the piece!
- Don’t take rejection personally. In this industry, success is all about being in the right place at the right time.
Applying the advice beyond journalism: It’s pretty self-explanatory how these DON’TS can apply beyond the field of journalism. The fourth point is specifically key for any type of freelancer or blogger. Avoid sending general or form emails to potential clients, and don’t make them work for your partnership! Be specific each time you reach out to a brand. This personalized approach will illustrate both your understanding and passion for their company as well as your confidence in your business and services.
- How can freelancers make their work better?
The third question from the panel allowed the editors to give their last words of wisdom for freelancers. Below are five closing pieces of advice:
- Enlist a ghost editor to review your work before submitting to an editor.
- For an even stronger edit, read your story aloud before submitting.
- Learn to love being edited. You can get better every day and with each and every new piece you write.
- Know a publication before submitting a pitch or piece to them. Do your research, know exactly what they’re looking for down to the word count, and show your knowledge through what you submit.
- Be passionate and enthusiastic in your writing. Write the story you just have to tell.
Applying the advice beyond journalism: Much of this closing advice is about the editing process. For other freelancers and bloggers, editing is not always part of the process in a literal sense. However, consider having a friend or colleague review an idea or concept before pitching. Once you’ve secured a client, remember to remain open to their feedback or criticism. Again, successfully building and maintaining relationships is crucial for journalists, freelancers, and bloggers alike.
A final note from the online editors: Buy publications you value. Engage with publications you admire on the web by clicking and sharing links. Support the industry!
This final note from the online editors is, of course, applicable across industries. No matter what type of freelance work you do or blog you have, support your industry!