Double Your Freelancing Conference

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This past week I had the pleasure of traveling back to Virginia for a conference. Brennan Dunn has a product line entitled Double Your Freelancing ______ where _____ is replaced with words like Rate, Clients, etc. Well, this conference is called Double Your Freelancing Conference. In reality the talks were focused on Agency and Online Business Owners and helping them figure out how to be better at what they do. How to set up their businesses to succeed. What follows here is a recap. It is as much for my historical reference as anything, but if you find some usefulness from it then it is a Win-Win.

The very first talk was James Clear. James' talk was focused on the 5 steps to building the habits we need to get the results we want. The first step was to simplify. Figure out what your top 5 goals are and focus on them like a rabid animal. Step 2 was to prioritize. Once you have figured out what your top 5 goals are don't let any other goals distract you. Step 3 was to design your space for your default actions. In other words, don't check email first thing, remove apps like Facebook and Twitter from your home screen, turn off notifications on your iPhone apps etc. Add a step or two to each distracting behavior. Step 4 is to measure your progress. We tend to focus on goals but goals may not be realistic. Measuring your progress gives you a realistic idea of what you can accomplish. Step 5 is to commit and repeat. James' talk was a heck of a way to kick off the conference. Kind of like a 2x4 up side the temple. He used the story of Warren Buffett's pilot Mike Flint. I'll not repeat that here but you should read it over at James' site.

Later in the morning Kurt Elster spoke. One of his very first slides was a statement that he had received 91 sales leads in the last 30 days. Suffice it to say we do not receive that many leads so my interest was piqued. Another slide said something to the effect of:

You don't have a "business" & "personal" life, you have A LIFE. Use it well & stop drawing lines.

That hit me. So often we talk about balance. Kurt’s talk was all about marketing automation as a way of freeing up time to do the things we want. His company has also set up an on boarding page on their site for new clients. I thought that was a really great way of communicating with new clients. This is something we will be doing for Blue Fish.

Mojca Mars did not wear her dinosaur onesie and I don’t know if I can forgive her for that (I’m kidding Mojca). She has a company that focuses on social media management for clients. I love that she teaches her clients "Don’t be a robot. No one wants to follow a robot.” It’s so true. She advises them to show their personality. That it helps build their brand. She also talked about the idea of Implement. Measure. Modify. Repeat. as a way of testing new ideas and keeping things moving forward.

Nathan Barry is a really genuine guy. I had the chance to chat with him at the airport after the conference and he is as he appears. Nathan has a line of educational products geared towards developers. He has written books and tool kits. He is also working on a new project called ConvertKit which is an email platform that has automation built in. Nathan started out talking about Chris Coyier. Chris is fairly well known in web circles as an authority (see what I did there) figure. Nathan spoke of a time that Chris wanted $3,000 to do some screencasts and ended up getting $89,000. He was perplexed by this until he realized that while Chris was teaching Nathan was quietly working. That the act of sharing what you are learning helps build your platform, and that “Experts” don’t teach because they are experts they are experts because they teach. That sharing your growth from beginner to expert helps others follow that same path. Nathan is also well known for being a prolific writer. He talked about having set a goal of writing 1000 words a day. Every. Single. Say. Don’t worry about giving “it all away for free”. You want to give away a lot for free. More than you would think you should and that will in turn build your audience and give you a platform by which you can do other things. Write. Every. Day.

Ed Gandia’s talk was titled Effortless Productivity. He opened with "You don’t need technology to achieve superhuman productivity” at a fairly tech conference… He went on to say that it’s not about Time Management as you can’t control time, but you can control yourself. He advised that we resist giving into the urge to multi-task. That it is a farce. And that we lose 2 hours a day from distractions and interruptions. That we should commit to doing one thing at a time. He also suggested having a morning routine that gets you in the right mindset. His consists of spending time writing down what he is grateful for, journaling, reading, and meditating. I was happy to hear this as I have found going to the gym is my way of getting into the right mindset for my day. He also suggests that we should take Fridays off. That having a day to do things that are not family or work related help refresh your brain and allow you to get more done in less time on the days when you are working.

I always love hearing Amy Hoy speak. This time she hit on Brainwashing our prospects. It sounds weirder than it really was. Basically she is making a statement that working with folks outside of the tech industry means those clients probably don’t know what it means to work with us. That we need to take them through some on boarding that primes them for the work ahead. She also used this quote, which I find quite true:

No matter how it looks at first. it’s always a people problem. - Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg

She stated that the #1 cause of failure is inaction, and that Brainwashing creates a positive change. It gives them a manual for your process so they can know exactly what they’re buying. She is the master at helping people build products or productized services with her 30x500 class and she attributes some of this to her on boarding.

Brian Casel used to run Restaurant Engine which was a website design service for restaurants. He has recently sold that business for 6 figures and has since started AudienceOps. He talked about the process he went through, starting the business in 2011, hitting a wall in 2013, continuing and finally being able to get to a point where the business only required 3-5 hours a month from him. He talked of his new venture and how if you’ve done it (built an audience and a business) before, you can do it again 10x faster. He focused us in on sell solution not product even if the end result is a product. The client does not really want a product, they want the solution or results that the product is going to net them.

And finally, Brennan Dunn closed the conference. He proposed that we build a business that fits the life we want to live and asked us to choose the type of consultancy that we wanted to have. Do we want to become a premium consultant? Do we want to scale and ultimately build an asset that runs on its own? Or do we want to use client work to finance building other assets? He also suggested reading Anything you want by Derek Sivers which I picked up immediately and read on the plane ride home. Expect a review this week. Once you’ve figured out where you want to go you need to plan your journey. Once you’ve done that you need to rank the tasks by effectiveness. Ask yourself "What can I do now that will almost immediately yield results?”. He also said to keep in mind that you are going to have bad weeks/months but that you need to just pick yourself up and keep going.

All in all this was a great experience. I walked away with a number of action items I want to get in place:

If you run an online business and are looking to increase your traffic, sales, conversions, whatever, then I would highly recommend checking out Brennan’s stuff. And I’ll see you at next year’s DYFConf!

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