The first ever Freelance Conference was this past Tuesday. It was billed as an event “created by freelancers, for freelancers […] those who leave a J-O-B with the dream of freedom, better income, and the ability to control our own careers.” I had met the founder, Emily Leach, through some networking events and heard her talk about this new venture. And I was excited for it. I’d never been to a professional conference before, not having an employer to sponsor my travel & ticket (looking at you, HOW Design). This one not only had an affordable ticket price, but was also right here in Austin and geared specifically towards the self-employed. That’s the holy trinity of conference specs as far as I’m concerned.
To say I jumped on registration when it opened is not an exaggeration; it turns out I was the very first person to buy a ticket. Emily actually called me
out up at the start of proceedings for being the first person to support the Freelance Conference. I didn’t get the face-burny feeling I usually get from blushing, so hopefully I handled that surprise ok. Thanks, Emily!
Ok, so the conference itself. I’m glad to say it lived up to what I was hoping for, especially for an inaugural event. Here’s some highlights:
- Affordability: it was $92 for a ticket. No problemo.
- The time & location: Abel’s on the Lake was a great location (free parking, great water views) and I liked that the conference didn’t start super early (I’m not a morning person) or run very late.
- Having Brad Closson start off the day’s panels with a fun twist on networking was brilliant. I liked this panel MUCH more than I thought I would from the website description, and met some lovely people as a result.
- The Clients From Hell panel during lunch was well-done – interesting enough to entertain, but didn’t require note-taking so you could actually eat your meal.
- All of the panels were at least interesting and kept my attention, though some were more applicable or organized than others.
- Being surrounded by people who actually get all of the ups and downs, perks and heartaches of freelancing was awesome.
- Technical difficulties regarding the Skype call with Brennan Dunn. His was the panel I was most excited about, and it was cut short because of this. But it works out ok, because I’m taking his free email class on the same topic now.
- Hard wooden chairs all day. There was bruising. ‘Nuff said.
- While all of the topics were great, not all of them included actionable steps on how to apply this new knowledge. I like my workshops/panels to be practical, too, not just theoretical.
Overall, I had a lot of fun, and I’ve come away with some new connections and a ton of new ideas for my business. Plus, of course, all of the great swag. 😉 And apparently the conference for 2015 is already in planning stages, so it will be happening again next year. I, for one, will jump on that registration bandwagon right away.