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Attending A Conference Helps You Revise What You Knowby@poornima
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Attending A Conference Helps You Revise What You Know

by Poornima VijayashankerJune 30th, 2017
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I’ve written about the importance of <a href="http://femgineer.com/2016/07/handle-grunt-work-balance-growth-work/" target="_blank">investing in yourself</a>, <a href="http://femgineer.com/2016/07/growth-work-really-looks-like/" target="_blank">doing growth work</a>, and <a href="http://femgineer.com/2016/11/personal-growth-work/" target="_blank">why we often fail to invest</a> in ourselves. And that it’s not only is it important to invest your time but money as well in yourself.

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ConvertKit’s Craft + Commerce Conference: First Year Recap

I’ve written about the importance of investing in yourself, doing growth work, and why we often fail to invest in ourselves. And that it’s not only is it important to invest your time but money as well in yourself.

Practicing what I preach, each year I set aside funds to participate in a course, training, or conference.

This year I decided to invest in myself by attending the ConvertKit’s Craft + Commerce Conference. The reason I chose this conference was that I had the great opportunity of working with Nathan Barry back in 2014 when ConvertKit had just launched.

Nathan had created ConvertKit Academy, which was a month long program for aspiring authors. At the time, I was interested in writing my first book: How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products. ConvertKit Academy helped me with a few practical matters like naming my book, learning to build an email list of people who would be interested in purchasing it, and designing the initial cover for it. It also provided a support system, where I got to exchange ideas with Nathan and other aspiring authors.

The other things it gave me were a kick in the pants along with practical direction to complete and launch my book.

After ConvertKit Academy, I purchased Nathan’s Mastering Product Launches Course. This taught me how to package and price my book. Along with some more advanced techniques for building and engaging an audience.

Having had a lot of success with Nathan’s teachings, I figured attending ConvertKit’s Craft + Commerce Conference would give me a creative boost coupled with useful techniques to implement on upcoming projects.

I was also looking for a more intimate conference where I could get to know the attendees on a more personal level, and interact with the speakers directly. Both of which are hard to do at conferences that have more than 500+ people. ConvertKit’s Craft + Commerce Conference had about 300 people in attendance.

There were new things I learned, and other concepts I already knew, but hearing about them again reinforced their importance.

In this post, I’ll share my learnings with you, because one of the motto’s of ConvertKit is “teach everything you know”.

The curse of the comparison complex

When we’re getting started it can feel like we have so far to go. When we see others who are way ahead of us, it leaves us feeling like we’ll probably never catch up, we probably don’t have what it takes to get to where they are. They probably were just more talented or lucky than us.

Chase Reeves kicked the conference off by talking about the importance of putting aside these thoughts. They stop us from doing the work, and more importantly realizing the joy we get from a creative pursuit. We need to start by creating for ourselves, eventually to help others, and learn to enjoy the process no matter how challenging it can be.

Habits and micro changes make an impact

Just like comparison can hold us back from creating, so too can the need to see big changes. Our email list going from 100 to 1000. Or growing revenue from $1K to $1M.

We are looking for the hack or the tactic that is going to give us the boost. However, there is no hack. It’s about cultivating consistent habits, which will enable us to create daily, weekly, and monthly.

James Clear talked about how sadly consistency rewards us long term but our reptilian brains favor the short term.

What can we do to balance them out?

Trick our brains into thinking we have made short term wins, and we get to decide how short term. It could be rewarding you for a daily practice, or just getting started. Seems silly, but without that positive reinforcement (those daily hits of dopamine), the long term will feel like drudgery.

Niche down your audience

When we market our product or service we are tempted to go broad. We want to cast a wide net to ensure that enough people will come to us.

The adverse effect of doing this is that people may be in disbelief around the benefits you offer, think it’s not for them, and it makes it hard to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Mariah Coz Coz the founder of Femtrepreneur shared her story of starting a blog dedicated to showcasing how she renovated Comet Campers at the age of 19. Even though there were not a lot of people doing it at the time, as she blogged about it, more and more people became aware, reached out to her, and she became the go-to resource for it.

Likewise, Cassidy Tuttle shared how she began a blog about succulents. As she dove in she discovered the various varietals like ones native to Southern California versus other parts of the world and ended up making a conscious decision to niche down to focus on succulents that could be managed in dry climates like Utah where she lives. The end result of focusing was a book deal and a six-figure business that is healthy and thriving!

Writing every day can transform your life and career

Some of us love to write (moi), while others of us find it a chore or just don’t think we’re good at it. But it’s a skill that can be taught and honed. The reason it’s important for all of us to adopt it as a practice is that it’s becoming increasingly important for communication (email, texts, slack, etc.) as well as building credibility.

Sean McCabe shared how he started a daily writing practice. As someone who has authored and self-published two books, and blogs consistently, I’d agree wholeheartedly. After all, writing has helped me build and nurture an audience, given me a lot of credibility in the software and the public speaking world, and it continues to serve as a stream of career and networking opportunities.

Sean emphasized cultivating a daily writing practice. I know this can be a challenge because I struggled last year to keep up my 60-day writing challenge. However, the consistent practice will improve how you think and write. And writing at least 1000 words a day for 60 days is a great way to write the first draft of a book!

I especially liked his suggestion to do free writing, which is writing from a stream of subconscious, like keeping a journal.

Sean also reminded me of the importance of having a 6-week backlog of posts if you are going to publish weekly, and a 2-week backlog if you are going to publish daily. This is something I am bad at doing. I’ll admit I do end up writing a few days before I publish a post, and when I was doing my 60-day writing challenge, I wrote, edited, and published all in the same day.

The reason this is hard for me is because I can’t just generate a bunch of ideas, incubate them, and then write. I tend to need a lot of time to incubate an ideas, so that when I sit down to write I’m in a state of flow.

But I’m going to take Sean’s suggestion and work towards creating a backlog going forward because as I’ve learned this year, there are times when I face extenuating circumstances and cannot consistently create. Hence having a backlog will not put me in a bind.

Appealing to multiple audiences

Abby Lawson shared how much work she has to put into nurturing two different audience segments on her blog. She produces content for those who are interested in interior decorating, and she blogs about blogging. Her advice was to go for it if you really do want to appeal to the two groups, but know that you will need to communicate more, and be clear about what you are offering and to whom.

Learning to scale back before scaling up

As creatives, we do the work because we love to create something from nothing. However, as we get more recognition we can lose sight of this. Other things start to influence our thinking. We may stop focusing on sharing our expertise and helping audiences. Instead, we become fixated on growing for the sake of growing and comparing ourselves to where other people are in their business.

These feeling can cause us to burn out, or worse hate the work that we once loved to do and found joy in doing.

Regina Anaejionu made a great case for scaling back. Sometimes a six figure business is where you are at. Realize the initial hundred subscribers on your mailing list will most likely be your most loyal followers. And just because someone is farther along, generating more revenue with a bigger audience, doesn’t mean that what you are doing and creating isn’t worthwhile.

Finally, don’t forget to nurture the support system that got you to where you are today. It’s easy to overlook them when you’re stressed or have a busy schedule. Even the most introverted creatives are still human and need social interactions to know that they are loved and cared about.

Don’t do free

Nicole Walters did a great job of highlighting how we fall into the trap of doing free. We say yes to gigs like speaking engagements or writing blog posts. All in the hopes that they will build exposure for our work, and because the thought of asking for money causes us to cringe. We don’t want people to think we are just after $$$.

While it’s important to pay it forward and do pro bono work for those who are in need, going overboard with free means that you aren’t valuing your time, your energy, and the creative work you are producing.

People respect and value you more when they know how much you work is worth.

Other things I learned

As someone who creates a lot of videos, I’ve shied away from vlogging and favored produced pieces, because I felt that if I’m going to be on video, I want to have something substantial to say.

However, LEVI ALLEN made me rethink vlogging, sharing short pieces of content via the stories feature of Instagram or other social media platforms as a way to build credibility with audiences and give them a peek into your personal life.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Marianne Sundquist who hosted a Wonder Women Meetup on Saturday night for female attendees. It gave me the opportunity to connect with other female founders, learn about their businesses, and understand how they juggle the demands of work, life, and family.

I had to leave early so I missed the last few sessions with Melyssa Griffin, Sarah Kathleen Peck, and Seth Godin. I’m sure they were stellar as well.

Overall, it was time well spent, and if you didn’t get a chance to attend, I highly recommend considering it for next year!

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And check out additional post I’ve created on the topic of personal growth work: