Takeaways from Double Your Freelancing Conference Europe 2016

Brennan in Yukata Brennan Dunn in his Yukata at Yasuragi Spa, Sweden

I signed up for a business conference. On Midsummer.

For you who don’t know about Swedish summer traditions, Midsummer is one of the big holidays that you are supposed to spend with friends and family - almost as big as Christmas for some families.

The reason was that the inspiring Brennan Dunn, most known for his book “Double Your Freelancing” threw a conference here in Sweden. He picked the beautiful Yasuragi Spa & Hotel as the venue, and sold a discounted “Partner Ticket” so my wife could join me at the conference. It was an easy decision, even considering it was on Midsummer.

So, how was it? Wonderful, strange, inspiring and fun. Everyone I met was happy, open and helpful. Most people wore the traditional japanese robe, Yukata for the whole conference. I felt like I really belonged in this group of inspiring people.

I really did not know what to expect before I went to the conference, but the people in Brennan’s audience are one of the most giving, inspirational and professional audiences I’ve seen. I had a great time, and since people kept sharing their best tips, encouraged each other and acted as good friends usually do it became one of the best conferences I’ve attended.

The speakers

I think all speakers did a great job. Some of them stood out a little more to me than others to me.

Like Laura Elizabeth that talked about Making Remote Work, work. She shared her best tips for working with a client when you can not be at the same place and meet in real life. She also shared some of the resources she is using in her own day to day freelancing, like a beautiful client area and some clever text snippets for aText.

Or Nick D who talked about how he disqualifies clients that won’t be an ideal client of his, mostly by asking all kinds of questions and having the customers fill out forms before they contact him. I can see how this is a big time- and energy saver for both parties. I was really impressed about how focused Nick’s consulting business is, and how he is pricing his services. The bottle of Malört (little drink; snaps) he brought to the spa was appreciated too.

The engaging Kai Davis reminded us that you need to ask a potential client questions until you get a clear Yes or No. He also told us to ask for referrals from our clients whenever we could.

Mojca Mars opened my eyes to how advanced you can get with your Facebook ads, targeting specific and small groups of people - which lowers your total cost for the campaign. If you have an e-mail list you could even target a campaign to the list via Facebook Ads. She gave her speach in a dinosaur onsie. Brilliant.

Nathan Barry showed us ways to get our first 10 customers, and then building from that when starting an e-mail list. He also gave away his three secrets to success. I’ll write more about that some day.

A few things to note for other people arranging conferences

  • Brennan invited us all to a shared Slack channel before the event. We’re still sharing pictures of sushi there. Using a Slack channel before, during and after the events lets the conference participants talk to each other and share things long before and after the conference is held. This increases your community engagement and perceived value.
  • Brennan didn’t treat the speakers as something special. Sure, they were on the stage talking, but other than that they shared the same pool and ate the same meals as everyone else. They participated in the conference.
  • We got a strong recommendation to leave any digital tools (phones, iPads, computers) in our rooms and use regular pen and paper for notes. That increased focus of the whole audience.
  • There’s not much else to do at the Yasuragi Hotel other than to participate in the conference, eat great food and enjoy the spa. Having everyone staying at the same place and not going somewhere else also increased interaction between the guests.

TL;DR: I really recommend going to Double your Freelancing Conference. I had a great time, got new friends and learned a lot.