How to Build Your Own Conference: A Guide for Solopreneurs

OWS goes back to school

How to Build Your Own Conference: A Guide for Solopreneurs

You already know the value of a good conference. Not only will you gain invaluable insights from expert speakers at your sessions, they’re also a great way to connect with other solopreneurs who could turn into lifelong friends (or business partners!). If you’re like most solopreneurs, you’re itching to go to the conference everyone in your industry is talking about.

Unfortunately, you might not have enough time or money to make it happen.

Travel and hotel expenses, the cost of closing up shop for a few days, and the tickets for the conference itself all add up to a hefty chunk of change. On top of that, most conferences only cover one or two topics. That leaves multi-passionate solopreneurs making tough decisions about which conference will be most worth their while.

Luckily there’s another option for those of us who are eager to learn: build your own conference.

Building your own conference is the perfect option for solopreneurs who are limited by time, location, or money. Affordable online classes make it a snap for you to put together personalized sessions that will help you grow your solo biz.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to creating your own one-of-a-kind conference.

1. Set a conference budget and schedule

Your conference will never be a success if you don’t treat it like it’s a big deal. That means creating a budget and blocking off time in your schedule well in advance.

You’ll save a lot of money by building your own conference, but even a DIY conference comes with costs. Crunch the numbers and decide on your budget before you start signing up for classes.

Once your budget is in place, decide how many days you’ll need to spend away from client work so you can focus on attending your conference. Traditional conferences run from Thursday through Saturday, but maybe you’re at the top of your game on Mondays or you want to dedicate an entire week to your conference.

As soon as your dates are set, notify ongoing clients that you’ll be unavailable those days. Don’t forget to block off that time in your Google calendar or online scheduling software!

2. Choose a theme

Building your own conference allows you to focus on many facets of your multi-passionate business. You no longer have to worry about wasting money on a conference with a narrow focus. But that doesn’t mean you should sign up for any random class that catches your eye. A successful conference will always have a goal.

Decide what you want to accomplish with your conference. Once you know how it will impact your business, you can choose a theme to help you stay on track. For example, maybe your conference theme is to learn how to land more clients. The following classes would all help you achieve that goal:

  • Beyond Social Media: Meeting Your Ideal Client in Real Life
  • Copywriting 101: Connecting with Your Readers
  • Creating a Website that Sells
  • From Blog Reader to Paying Customer in 8 Simple Steps
  • How to Price Your Services (Without Giving Your Clients Sticker Shock)

3. Choose your classes

Now for the fun part! There are plenty of options for affordable classes taught by experienced instructors who know their stuff. Check out these platforms to find classes that match your conference theme and budget.

  • Udemy and CreativeLive each offer both paid and free courses for students at all levels of learning. With a vast catalogue of courses available on demand for each, you’re sure to find a few that fit your needs.
  • Skillshare is the perfect choice for solopreneurs on a budget. Choose from free online access, or take your learning offline with an $8/month premium membership.
  • TED and TEDx Talks live up to their motto “ideas worth spreading.” These educational videos from experts are short and free -- not to mention they cover every topic under the sun. Perfect for the solopreneur on a time crunch!
  • Podcasts are a great way to customize your learning. Podcasts like Being Boss, The Lively Show, Make It Happen, and She Did It Her Way are great starting points for all things solopreneur!
  • Online courses and ebooks designed by fellow creative entrepreneurs are sure to be chock-full of the actionable info you need to level up your solo biz. Check out A Course About Copy from Nikki Elledge Brown, Creative Coaching From Scratch from Regina Anaejionu, or One Woman Shop’s own Building Your Online Community e-course.

Remember to keep your conference theme in mind while browsing class options. If an interesting class or podcast episode doesn’t tie in, put it on the back burner for now. You’ll get more bang for your buck by focusing your energy on a single goal.

4. Build community

Conferences are a great way to connect with other solo biz owners. You don’t have to miss out on networking opportunities just because you’re DIY-ing your conference!

Send a quick email to other solopreneurs to see if anyone else wants to build their own conference alongside you. Even if you take different classes, you can plan to check in with each other on Twitter or Google Hangouts to share what you’re learning.

You can also create a hashtag to document your conference and invite your readers to follow along. (Editor's note: might we suggest #BYOConference?!) Your fans will love to see a blog post, video, or live Periscope recapping everything you learned!

What type of conference will you create to boost your biz? Share it with us in the comments!

[Yet another editor's note] The One Woman Shop Bundle is here! With four OWS-created courses and workbooks, you can create one heck of a conference. Check it out!

Study Up: 4 Sites for Solopreneurs to Continue Learning

OWS goes back to school

Study Up: 4 Sites for Solopreneurs to Continue Learning

The beauty of the age we live in is that we have a multitude of opportunities at our fingertips each and every time we sit down at a computer. Gone are the days of sifting through encyclopedias or trying to figure out the Dewey Decimal system at the library in order to learn something new.

Instead, we have hundreds, if not thousands of resources we can turn to in order to further our education. And we’d be downright silly not to capitalize on that.

Why perpetual learning is imperative to a One Woman Shop

Constant learning is crucial as a One Woman Shop, where we rely heavily on ourselves and our own knowledge. It goes without saying that when we launch a side hustle or a full-time solo biz, we are putting ourselves on a path of perpetual learning. We’ll encounter necessary tasks that we simply don’t know how to do, and run into to-dos that we just don’t feel we’re good at. (I’m looking at you, accounting.)

While we’re all about asking for help, seeking out experts who can lighten your load, and surrounding yourself with communities that can answer questions at the drop of a dime, it is also vital that we keep learning.

The good news about being a perpetual student today is that it doesn’t have to come with an astronomical price tag, exorbitant school loans, or the stress of making it to class three times per week. Instead, we can take advantage of the wealth of online opportunities to choose what we want to learn, and how and when we want to learn it.

Here are four sites to help you do just that:

Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning community with a mission to “reunite learning with education and make it accessible to every single person on this planet.” Classes are created to teach real-work skills, and all courses are project-based; that is, they’re designed around a student project that carries throughout the lessons. Each course is split into modules, making it easy to complete classes over a few days or weeks.

Skillshare has two ways to take part in their community. Monthly membership gives you access to the library of courses for $9.95 per month, or you can simply sign up and purchases classes on an individual basis. Paid classes range from $15-$45 each, but the library of free courses is delightfully extensive.

My favorite part of Skillshare? Instructors are incredibly engaged in the courses -- I regularly receive check-ins from Andrea Goulet Ford, content whiz behind BrandVox and leader of “Become a Better Blogger," and Gary Vaynerchuk’s team for his social media course. Skillshare courses give you access to great minds who truly care about your learning.

Skillcrush

Skillcrush is focused on developing technical skills, so if you’ve been considering building a knowledge foundation in web design or development, this is the site for you.

Skillcrush offers its courses on an individual basis, but is better known for its packaged content in the form of “Career Blueprints.”

Courses and career tracks through Skillcrush come with a heftier price tag than that of Skillshare (a Career Blueprint course is $399), but promise a comprehensive education that is still undeniably affordable compared to a university’s tuition. Another notable differentiator: Skillcrush’s courses run on a calendar, but are designed to be completed with an hour of work per day.

CreativeLive

CreativeLive’s focus is on “unleashing the creative potential of millions.” Classes are geared toward creative endeavors: photography, video, design, music, business, software, and more.

Naturally, the majority of courses put on by CreativeLive are, well, live. While most run on a calendar, the site also hosts classes that can be accessed on demand.

One Woman Shoppers will be especially interested in CreativeLive’s business courses, but I particularly enjoy dabbling in extracurricular interests like photography with CreativeLive. Courses are priced in a range from under $100 to over $250, with bundles available.

Quistic

Quistic is the newest course provider on my radar. It was launched by influencer and serial entrepreneur Penelope Trunk, and takes a unique approach to creating course paths for students, basing it on your Myers-Briggs personality type and focusing largely on career advancement and lifestyle design.

The course catalog for Quistic is unique in that it’s varied among different aspects of life, teaching hard skills in courses like “Grow a Six-Figure Coaching Business” and focusing on softer skills in courses like “Make Your 20s Count.”

Most classes in the Quistic lineup are priced at $195, with lifetime access and a money-back guarantee.

Keep learning

Consistently sharpening skills and learning new ones expands our value, indirectly betters the way we do things we’re already good at, and, as 99u describes it, “bullet proofs” our career. And, when we’re in the thick of solopreneurship and our day-to-day activities, learning something new can simply be fun.

Tell me, One Woman Shoppers, where do you turn when it’s time to learn something new? I’d love to hear about sites or courses that have inspired or taught you along your solopreneur journey below.