The event itself may be over, but the buzz from attendees across the Internet is still going strong and we are already starting to organize #FREECON17.
Our goal was to reach more freelancers and deliver an experience the attendees would not soon forget, full of learning and connecting. We met our goal by selling out the morning of the conference to 150 people, some coming in from as far away as California! #FreeConATX is no longer only a local conference.
The speakers pulled in examples and references to sessions before them to create a thread throughout the day of taking the time to work ON our business instead of only IN our business. Brennan Dunn and Matthew Pollard definitely brought that message home with a talk and a workshop on exactly how to grow your income and business when everything is you.
Nando Caban-Mendez kicked off the day with the inspiration of finding what it is we really want, and why it is equally important to know what we don’t want to do. Monica Borrell took us through a hands-on visual process for managing projects that helped attendees get their arms around the details and organize them with ease. Abe Nadimi pretty much blew the audience away with a direct talk about how it is possible to build out a steady stream of incoming work by building relationships instead of passing out business cards.
Paul O’Brien brought to light how we can add millions of people to our target market as quickly as today just by expanding our physical target market. Coming from the Silicon Valley, he is accustomed to driving a broader distance to conduct business. Then he took us through what could happen if people in Austin expanded their market a comparable distance to include San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. Laura Beck bared her soul and danced on stage by sharing the failure of her business and how she learned more than she could have imagined and now knows EXACTLY what she is will do with her career. She went through the journey of the birth and death of Striped Shirt, sharing the emotional journey of letting go and accepting that she had not put a plan in place and was staying with a business she hated just because. Her peace came from accepting it was over so she could move on.
The interactive panel was an audience favorite again this year. Elijah May rocked the house with getting the audience to share their stories of being the freelancer from hell. Three participants were invited on stage and led a fabulous conversation of how they got there and lessons they learned. This session gave the audience an opportunity to be vulnerable, share their moment, and be supported, as well as laugh together.
There was a race to the finish of the scavenger hunt, but only one attendee completed every challenge. Marissa Nicole took home the grand prize laser printer. Attendees expressed how much they enjoyed learning more about our sponsors through the challenges and felt like they were able to connect with them instead of only being a faceless company at the conference. We will definitely do a scavenger hunt again next year.
Before wrapping up the day with a signature #FreeCon Cooler cocktail at the after party, emcee Shelley Delayne interviewed co-organizer Margi Finch and founder/organizer Emily Leach from the stage to find out what they learned through creating the event this year. It turns out that seeing freelancers connect and learn together throughout the day is far stronger than any challenge that comes up in bringing this event to life. Emily says it best in her personal hashtag, #BlessedToServeFreelancers.
Survey results are coming in and we are dedicated to taking your feedback and making next year even stronger. Until next year … stay calm and freelance on.