creative freelancer conference 2010, day 1

ode to the entrepreneur, samantha bennett

it’s finally here, the creative freelancer conference for 2010! i got into denver yesterday all ready to take on the double header [CFC is closely followed by the how design conference]. the conference kicked off today at 2pm, here’s my run-down of the day’s events:

you are a business!

the opening keynote was given by ilise benun of marketing mentor: you are a business! she gave a humorous recap of how she got to be in business for herself, and talked about the various descriptions we give ourselves, as well as the different stages of success we feel we have to enjoy before we truly take our businesses seriously. these examples started off appealing to our less-business-minded sides, the ones who sometimes deny ourselves the titles we deserve, but she progressed toward some more empowering ideas many of us could identify with. one thing she said that i liked was “there’s no such thing as a business person, only business tasks.”

pitch perfect

the first session was dyana valentine‘s pitch perfect. i will admit, i’ve participated in this process in a few different incarnations, and as its developed over time, it’s become better with every revision. valentine now has this pitch brainstorming & refining exercise down to a guided worksheet, where you’re thinking about the kind of work you do best [or want to do], the clients you most want to work with, what your secret weapon is, and what clients have said when you do your best work with them. taking all these ideas, you get into the essence of what you do best and how to communicate it clearly in an elevator pitch that people outside your field can understand. really great session!

who’s the boss?

the next session was who’s the boss: managing clients and their expectations with luke mysse. i really liked this session, and not only because it echoes ideas i’ve heard by my very favorite mentors. mysse talked about moving past being a creative and becoming a business that sells creative services [again with the advice to stop denying you’re a business]. he told an honest story of the evolution of his career and shared some of his most valuable takeaways, like getting to know yourself, defining your boundaries and policies [and sticking to them], marketing yourself confidently to get the right clients for your business, keeping open communication and ultimately knowing when to move on. my favorite advice was his suggestion to offer a monthly marketing meeting with your ongoing clients, to stay engaged with their plans, offer help and solutions, and help advise them on the best moves from a marketing and design standpoint. i really like this idea, it’s so closely integrated with what i already do that it makes sense to help clients plan out their year from the beginning.

freelance success panel

steve gordon jr. at the creative freelancer conference 2010 in denver, colorado
[photo: dyana valentine]

the day wrapped up with the freelance success panel, featuring steve gordon jr., alisa bonsignore, and laura foley during which we got to hear from 3 really different professionals on their goals, how they run their businesses, and how they got to where they are today. we then got to unwind and network at a well-deserved happy hour.

i have been so happy to reconnect with so many people i met last year, catch up with where they’re at, and meet many of the new attendees. another big message of this conference is “you are not alone!” and though it may feel that way sometimes, it’s really nice to be able to tell colleagues that i love their newsletters, or that i saw some of their work in a store or online, or that they wrote a great article—or to hear compliments that they’ve been seeing & liking what i’m doing too. we’ve built this great life, going out on our own and getting to work, it’s been good to take time out, meet up and appreciate the progress.

but before any more of that happens, it’s time for bed so i can wake up early and tackle those breakfast roundtables! more tomorrow!

[continue with day 2 of the creative freelancer conference here!]

7 thoughts on “creative freelancer conference 2010, day 1

  1. thanks for the mention and fabulous recap, Heather! I was blown away by the level of engagement from stage and audience! I loved the personal stories and how everyone really showed up for each other. Can’t wait for more!


    1. dyana, you have pitch perfection down to a science! it was great seeing your presentation and participating in both conferences with you!


    1. thank you for your awesome ode to the entrepreneur and your talk on prioritization. your sense of humor and attitude were right in line with how i think, i really appreciated everything you had to say. especially the “should” house rule you keep—i might try that one myself. thank you!!!


  2. I have to follow Dyana even on the web comments 😉

    Thank you for the kind comments. Good luck with the monthly marketing stuff, it’s a great way to work. The key to making it work is to charge a monthly fee for some simple things that are easy to deliver. Must be easy for you to deliver or you’ll give away too much. Ping me if you have any specific questions, I’m still perfecting my offering.


    1. thank you, luke, your talk was really helpful in so many ways. i will be trying to figure out a system in the next few months, i will certainly open a dialog if i run into questions.


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