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!