{Handmade Business in 31 Days — Day 29, Traveling to conferences.}

Day 29// I started traveling to blog + handmade conferences about three months before I quit my day job to focus on Gussy Sews full time and I can absolutely credit many of the goals I’ve reached to the conferences I’ve attended. {WOW, what a testimony!} For me, investing financially — just like I talked about at my “how to build a brand debt-free” session at Allume in Pennsylvania over the weekend — is such a big motivator to following through. I’ve learned over the years I’m able to translate a financial investment into tangible energy, and I think that’s pretty neat. Perhaps you work the same way?

These blog + handmade conferences — after first hearing about them from friends I hadn’t met yet but was dyyyying to know in real life — have challenged Gussy Sews to unbelievable heights. I’ve been blogging for over four years, and from the beginning my blog served as a journal for the business, documenting personal events as well as a resource for what I was learning about Gussy Sews.

Oftentimes I’m asked how I convince Zack to purchase a conference ticket, airfare and hotel for 3-4 nights in order to attend a conference. Here’s my answer: I’ve never had to convince Zack of the value of my time spent working on Gussy Sews, which includes travel. Zack + I share a comment thread of thoughts, he knows on a nearly daily basis what’s going on with the business, what my goals are, how far we are from reaching them — that sort of thing. And because of this constant interaction Zack trusts my time spent online ~ my actions are consistent with reaching goals I or we’ve set.

And not only does traveling help me to network + grow, but it’s produced material results. Earlier this year I came home from a conference and was able to increase sales weekly with the tips I learned from spending a weekend with influential, successful business owners. And just this past weekend I came home knowing how to add more time in my day without actually doing more — how to gain more momentum without losing any energy.

Have you been wondering what it would be like to travel to a blog or handmade conference? Here, lemme show you what it’s like…

^ Caroline, Tracey + me having some SmileBooth fun @ Allume. The mornings + afternoons are mostly filled with business-y events whereas the evenings are “reserved” for having lots of fun.

^ Everything, one of the books inside our swag bag @ Allume. Click to see all the other books we received. The conferences I’ve attended have always done an amazing job gifting us with free products relative to our goals/interests.

^ social media positivity, personal branding, opportunity-taking — so many GREAT sessions {with lots of note taking} @ Allume {photo via Sarah Markley}

^ preparing for my sessions, I spoke twice {nervous grin} @ Allume

^ This girl, not only is she biz smart but she’s a great friend @ Snap! There’s so much learning that happens outside the session rooms… it’s been a pure joy to travel these last few years.

^ Jess + my Nester @ BlissDom — two of my mentors. They’ve both helped Gussy Sews grow in the most precious way {thank you, friends}

^ Coffee + more friend time — yep, we do a pretty good job at making work feel super fun ;) @ Snap!

^ Handmade market decorations + handmade pretties to purchase. So much inspiration, cheerfulness + new things to see! Oh, and the food was super yummy, too @ Snap!

^ Dinner, dessert + dancing on the last night @ Snap!

So which conferences have I’ve attended + highly recommend?? All of them mean so much to the growth of Gussy Sews and the personal friendships I’ve made: BlissDom, The Creative Connection, Snap!, Blog Sugar + Allume.

WANT TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE? HERE ARE 5 TIPS:

  1. Find a friend {or two} to room with. Whether you’ve met in person before or not, knowing at least one familiar face will be super calming
  2. Bring business cards, samples of your product, know your elevator speech, and have a few business goals you want to accomplish while at the conference
  3. Does the conference also have a handmade market? If so, consider reserving a booth to show off + sell your handmade wares
  4. Ask questions during the panels {probably my most result-producing tip}. Stand up, share who you are and then confidently ask your question :) Take notes throughout the sessions on what you learn, too
  5. What bloggers/handmade shop owners do you look up to? Which conferences are they attending? How can you get there, too — and what will attending do for your blog or business?

 

PS. A couple more conferences I’d love to know more about but haven’t attended yet: Alt Design Summit, The Sewing Summit + School House Craft.

Homework// It’s time to pull up your budget + goals list and plan which conference you want to attend next year. YEOWWW! Most conferences cost anywhere from $600-$1,000+ to attend {hotel, airfare, conference ticket, meals/coffee, handmade market shopping, etc.}, so plan now for how you’ll pay for this event later {6 to 9 months from now}. You’ll want to purchase your conference ticket first, but the hotel + airfare can be booked about 2-3 months prior to the event. Be intentional with new product launches + flash sales — brainstorm now, how  can you pay for this trip with cash? And don’t let the overall cost scare you. Break the expenses down into $200 increments and just… get… started…! :)

Do you have a specific question about traveling to conferences? Leave a comment below, let’s discuss!

become a pro — read all Handmade Business in 31 Days posts here

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I don’t have a handmade business but I’ve really enjoyed reading this series anyway, and this one especially! It’s amazing to see how these conferences have expanded and grown your business! What an investment! :-) Thank you for sharing!

  2. 2

    says

    I have always wanted to attend a conference. They look like sooo much fun! I really want to go to Snap! one year because I have heard so many great things about it. Need to save some $$ now then because I didn’t think it cost so much to go to one but it’s on my list of things “to do” and I know I can definitely learn from going to one of these events! Maybe I will see you at one too! :)

    • 3

      says

      @Kayla from Love Sparkle Pretty, If you live near the conference you could always stay at home, but half the fun is staying at the hotel and having impromptu chats with women you admire/your friends :)

      You should DEFINITELY attend Snap! Seriously, one of my favs and April 2012 was their first year. The more roommates you have the more affordable your hotel room is. The earlier you book a flight the more affordable. And of course buying a conference ticket the first day they are released can save you money, often they are discounted $50+ that first day.

      I’m excited for you! xoxo

  3. 6

    says

    I’ve been wanting to attend a conference too…. I’m hoping to choose one to go to next year. They always seem to be so far away though! In the south or mountain states. Way too far to drive from Michigan. I’m making it a goal to choose one for next year though & plan my races & weekend schedule so that I can go! They need to bring some to the midwest!

  4. 13

    says

    Love this post!! Will be looking into each of the conferences that you mentioned. Have already purchased my ticket for Craftcation in Ventura next March. Will be attending with bestie and fellow handmade business owner to defer some expenses. Excited to be able to travel all the way from Texas for this and see how it can help me grow my business.

  5. 17

    says

    Maggie, your posts are so helpful! I was checking into the costs & such of a specific conference and almost had a heart attack it was so expensive. Then my husband told me to just set a goal to be there and work toward it. So I am and hopefully one day I’ll get there!

    Thanks so much for all your posts these past 31 days. You’re really inspiring me to work hard for my handmade business.

    • 18

      says

      @leslie zimmerman, I know, it’s basically insane! What can help is if you’re able to drive, share a room with 3 other girls (the rooms are usually priced at 2 people, so if you can have 4 per room the hotel cost is cut in half!), and if you’re able to be sponsored and/or asked to speak. For the first two years I had to save a lot of money to be able to go, but lately I’ve been speaking so the ticket, airfare and hotel is covered. BUT, your husband is totally right: set a goal + work hard to achieve it. Conferences are so much fun!!!!!! xoxo

  6. 19

    says

    Love this post! Very informative! Question – my products are not handmade. Would these types of conferences benefit me? Any more than others? Thanks for your insight! (P.S. Hope you are enjoying your phone cover. :))

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