Conferences continue to be a game changer in the growth of my businesses, and 2015 has been no exception. So far this year I've attended three unique conferences all catered towards online entrepreneurs. In addition to conferences; local meetups, group masterminds, and breakfast/cocktail hours have all been contributing to a higher level of success. In this article I will give a brief overview of each of the online entrepreneur conferences and tell you about other meetup opportunities that might work well for you and your business.
Vidcon 2015 Conference
The Vidcon conference is geared towards online video creators, video industry businesses, and Youtube fans. My friend Antonio Centeno from RealMenRealStyle (who has 300,000+ Youtube subscribers and a super successful business) recommended me to join him for the conference in Los Angeles, California in order to learn how to continue to grow my Youtube business. Overall, I really enjoyed the conference and did get a lot out of it. There are basically 3 passes available for attendees to choose from. Here is the breakdown from 2015.
Industry Pass: $600 – This is the pass for the serious Youtuber and for video related businesses. You'll get exclusive access to keynotes, a lounge to relax in, free mixers/get togethers, and access to the third floor of the convention center which is only available to those with the industry pass. This is the pass I purchased and would recommend. There are roughly 1000 or so people with this pass.
Content Creator Pass: $200 – This is the pass for the bulk of the Youtube creators. It will give you access to many of the Youtube Creator panels who will share their knowledge about building a business around creating content. This pass works great for Youtubers and I'd definitely get this badge if the $600 Industry pass is a little more than you are wanting to spend.
Community Pass (Fan Pass) : $150 — This consists of primarily fans in their teens wanting to meet their favorite Youtube Stars. There are about 18,000 of these pass holders.
Vidcon Conference Review and Key Takeaways
If you are in the business of Youtube and creating videos, you'll want to attend Vidcon 2016. Attending the 2015 conference gave me the opportunity to meet a number of other Youtubers who I am planning to collaborate with in upcoming videos on my DIY Pete channel which is currently at 20,000+ subscribers. I also had the chance to get to meet Steve Ramsey from Woodworking for Mere Mortals and Rosanna Pansino from the Nerdy Nummies channel which has over 4.1 million subscribers. She had so much valuable information to share about building a Youtube channel and I got to meet her after she spoke. She is just 30 years old and is crushing it with her Youtube business.
Here is an example of her channel which is about baking.
Creating content needs to be done consistently in order to build an audience most effectively and to gain traction. It's like watching your favourite tv show. You know what day a new episode comes out and the time to watch it. Having a schedule for your Youtube channel will keep your fans coming back and in turn, help grow your channel. An example of a channel that does this successfully is the KLS channel (Kids Learning Songs). They are a family who sing songs about daily routines, such as how to learn to brush your teeth and cleaning up litter. They upload every 2-3 days and this is how they are able to grow their channel to the size it is today.
Collaborations are a great way to get to know other Youtubers and to grow each of your audiences. Reach out to other Youtubers or content creators in your niche and ask them to collaborate. It will allow you to leverage each of your audiences.
Be yourself. Be transparent. Don't be a different person when you are behind a camera. People love to build relationships with their favorite Youtubers and to know they are “Human” as well. Just because Youtubers may have a following, they are human and make mistakes just like everyone. Don't be afraid to mess up, show bloopers, or have a video that is not 100% perfect. That is what makes it real and allows everyone to be able to relate.
Just put a video out there. It doesn't need to be perfect. In fact, fans love to watch your journey as you learn, grow, and become a better Youtuber. Look at Rosanna Pansino's channel videos. The first videos she created were in her apartment right after college. Since then, she's been able to upgrade overtime from basic cameras to top quality equipment and a beautiful new home. It's super inspirational to see how Youtubers start from scratch and are able to grow 6 and 7 figure businesses to run full time.
Here is a look at one of her first videos made in her apartment in 2011.
Fast forward to her brand new home in 2015. This shows you how much she's learned and grown over the years.
Put your personality into your videos. People want to know about you. Don't forget to include friends, family, or pets from time to time. I've always done quite a bit of voiceover in my instructional tutorials. However, in 2014 I invested in a really good quality Sennheiser wireless microphone setup so I could talk to the camera and walk around the shop while talking. This way I'm able to talk and explain things in person and viewers can make more of a connection by seeing me and learning about my personality.
Here is an example of the Voiceover style.
Now I incorporate at least an intro and outro with me talking directly to the audience.
One of the new video technologies available is Periscope. Periscope is a live streaming service where you can do anything in real time and interact with viewers with a built in chat.
Many Youtubers are great at creating content, but might not necessarily have the business background to generate a living from creating the videos. While Adsense does bring in a good chunk of change for those with huge audiences, someone like me with only 20,000 subscribers at the moment might only bring in between $500-$1200 a month. While donation platforms like Patreon will bring in some additional money, I think it is necessary to look into selling digital products, books, courses, sponsorships, creating membership sites, making affiliate marketing links, podcasting, and creating online stores. I did meet a lot of MCN people (Multi-Channel-Networks) who basically will act as agents for a Youtuber. They take a portion of earnings. So, while this might be a good fit for Youtube creators who don't have a business background, I'm not sure it is the best fit for those who do.
If you are interested in podcasting or have a podcast this is a conference you'll want to attend. Although I've taken a bit of a break with my podcasts, I still knew I'd get a lot of value from the conference.
This conference is a great way to learn how to get into podcasting, to get guests, to network with successful podcasters, to learn how to make money podcasting, and to learn how to build an audience. Speakers like Kate Erickson, John Dumas, Meron Bereken, Pat Flynn, and Lou Mongello were just a few of the amazing people to share their knowledge. The conference was in Dallas, Texas this year and had about 1,000 podcasters. It will be in Chicago, Illinois next year and I can imagine it will be a bit bigger. Click here to get the virtual ticket in case you missed this years event. It is available here (content will be available soon).
Automate and Systemize
Kate Erickson did an amazing job explaining how to delegate, batch, automate, and systemize a business. Taking the time to write down systems, outsource, and plan will take your business to the next level.
When it comes to building an audience and being yourself, Pat Flynn is the man. Pat is why I made my first $90 check from Bluehost in 2011. This has turned into a consistent 5 figure a month check nowadays. Thanks Pat. Being honest with your audience and interacting is key to building an online business.
Good Quality Makes a Difference
When getting started with your podcast, make sure you have good sound quality. Who wants to listen to a podcast with dogs barking, cars driving by, or static in the background. The good news is you can podcast on a budget with amazing results. There are a few editing tricks within Audacity to use that will make your podcast sound professional in less than 10 minutes. You can use Audacity (free software), the AudioTechnica ATR 2100 mic for under $60 (which I use for my podcasts and voice overlays on the DIYPETE Youtube Channel), and Meron's free podcasting startup video guide found over at http://www.podcastincubator.com/sound.
Collaborations in Podcasting are just as important as in Youtubing. Reach out to others in your niche to be on each others shows. Cross promote. Leverage other audiences. Cliff Ravenscraft had a great talk about collaborating, building an audience, and engaging with fans. While you can't spend the same amount of time with all your fans, make it a point to engage with a few on a high level. Call one of your biggest fans, send them a handwritten note, or record a voice message for them and email it using a free program like Vocaroo. They will never forget this and they'll become even more of a fan.
New Media Expo Conference
The New Media Expo Conference is held in Las Vegas, Nevada. This conference is catered towards all sorts of online entrepreneurs looking to learn and network with other people in the same boat. You will learn all about podcasting, creating video content, social media strategies, blogging, and building an online presence. The conference is formerly known as Blog World and has quickly grown to become a rather large conference. I attended in 2013 for the first time. Doing so took my business to the next level and introduced me to the big players in the world of online marketing. I met people like Pat Flynn, John Dumas, Jaime Tardy, Antonio Centeno, Meron Bereket, and a number of others finding great success in building an online businesses. I've become good friends with a number of these folks and we now see each other many times a year at other conferences and meetups around the country. In fact, Meron lives in Israel and we now do a bi-weekly Google Hangout Mastermind along with our friend and Finance Blogger Deacon Hayes from WellKeptWallet.
I am going to be honest that the 2015 conference was quite different then years past. What used to be a much smaller and intimate conference with 1-2 thousand people has changed into a massive sized conference. This is because they went under the roof of the NAB conference ( National Association of Broadcasters ) and so the conference has literally morphed into one giant get together which makes you feel somewhat like a small fish in a giant ocean. According to the NMX website, there were 97,917 content creators and 65,062 buyers who attended in 2014.
The specific NMX portion was in the Westgate hotel which essentially connects to the Las Vegas convention center. While the separation was nice, the overall feel of the conference seemed huge and much different then years past. However, I do still think you will get a lot of valuable information from the conference, especially if you are in your first couple years of running an online business.
Other Online Entrepreneur Conferences
Michael is a great person who brings top notch speakers and attendees to his conferences. I'd highly recommend going to his conference if you are looking to take your online business to the next level with social media, affiliate marketing, and building an online presence. Click here to Sign up Today!
EcommerceFuel Live – A great friend of mine named Andrew Youderian puts on this conference. It is for top notch e-commerce entrepreneurs serious about learning all things e-commerce.
Agents of Change – This conference is held in Portland Maine and is about leveraging social media, online marketing, and various platforms to grow your business.
FinCon – Great conference for Financial bloggers
StyleCon – My good buddy Antonio started this high quality conference for business owners in the style industry.
Lastly, ThinkEntrepreneurship has been putting together local meetups for online entrepreneurs over the last 2 years. This is a select group of top notch bloggers, ecommerce store owners, podcasters, Youtubers, and internet entrepreneurs. We all are able to speak the same “online entrepreneur lingo,” to hangout, and have fun together. Would you like to be a part of this? If so, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Conferences are one of the best investments you can make in yourself to learn, meet new people, and grow your business. I'd highly recommend investing in at least one conference that you think would be the best fit for you. Other great opportunities are local events and meetups. If there is not a conference or a meetup that is a good fit, don't hesitate to start your own! Sites like Meetup.com are a great place to start to find like minded groups and events in your area.
Please share conferences that you recommend below! I'd love to hear about others in addition to the 2015 Entrepreneur Conference Experiences – Vidcon, Podcast Movement, NMX — mentioned in this post 🙂
Cheers from Montana!
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