My Biggest Takeaways from Craft + Commerce 2017 (Day 1)
I feel so lucky to have attended the Craft + Commerce conference hosted by ConvertKit in Boise, Idaho last weekend. If you don’t know, ConvertKit is an email marketing software platform for professional bloggers and writers that I use to send off my own weekly email letters. They put together an incredible and diverse group of speakers, and so I wanted to share some of my biggest takeaways from them, as well as just attending a conference like this.
First of all, the whole thing seemed sort of serendipitous! My fiance and I were talking about doing a road trip through Oregon, into Idaho, and up through Washington sometime this summer anyway, and when I was given the opportunity to attend C+C at the last minute, we were like; Let’s do this! (Sidenote: If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend it! It’s scenery is diverse and gorgeous! And if you’re into road trips, this time of year is perfect for that.)
We were lucky enough to get there a day early and sort of get a “lay of the land.” Downtown Boise (which I learned is pronounced “Boy-see”) is absolutely wonderful! It’s a mix of old, mid-century, and very modern buildings. It’s bike- and pedestrian-friendly, with tons of places to eat and shop. Plus historic sites, acres and acres of parks, and rivers. I kind of fell in love!
Anyway, let’s get to Day one, shall we? The first speaker was Chase Reeves from Fizzle.co. Chase was hilarious! He was a great choice to start off the weekend, because we were all laughing throughout his talk. Chase said a lot of profound things, like this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
Comparison is the thief of joy.
But my real takeaway from Chase was when he said, “You won’t feel it then if you can’t start feeling it now.” Meaning, when you hit 6 figures in your business (or 7), or hit some other marker of success, you’re not going to be any happier than you are right now. So start enjoying your day, today. Love what you do (and if you don’t, you may want to consider doing something else.) We all have parts of our business we don’t love, so I’m not talking about that: I’m referring to what you actually do to make money. But also doing things every day that bring you joy beyond your work.
Next up was Mariah Coz from femtrepreneur.co. Mariah was the first of several speakers who talked about niching down. We’ve probably all been told to find a niche, by Mariah went further by saying that tiny, “frontier” niches are where it’s at: ideas that have not yet been tried, for small groups of (passionate) people. This gave me the confidence to continue working on my two newest offerings: Art Sales on Autopilot and a new (tiny niche) coaching program I’ve been working on.
Then James Clear, from jamesclear.com, came on stage and talked to us about being 1% better every day. I took so many notes during James’s talk (tips like tracking your habits, giving your goals a time and place to live in the world, how our workspaces influence our desires, and so much more!)
But the thing that James said that I loved most, was:
Every action you take is a vote for the person you want to become.
I thought about this a lot on the (long) drive home. Because it’s so true: whether positive or negative, my actions today, right now, in every moment, are shaping the future person I will become. And I think we all know that on some level, but also, we tend to go through our days on autopilot, not necessarily making choices that will improve us (and our lives) long-term.
There was a short break, and then we got to go to individual workshops. I planned on going to the “How to Stand Out as a Podcaster” workshop by Jess Catorc (because podcasting is something else I’ve been thinking about doing) but I started speaking with a new conference friend during the break, and I was in the wrong room (doh!) So I stayed where I was: a workshop called “Why video is the biggest opportunity on the web right now and how to take advantage of it” with Caleb Wojcik of calebwojcik.com and Levi Allen of leftcoast.co. I’m glad I did, because of it (and some other talks throughout the conference) I’m now convinced that I must do video. I’m so introverted, I’ve been avoiding it! But I realize now how important it is.
Caleb and Levi’s workshop was pretty casual: an open Q and A session for the most part. But they covered why video is important (lot’s of reasons: but trust-building was #1!), some equipment recommendations (your camera on your phone is probably just fine! Especially at the beginning, but having good audio/microphone is important!), but my biggest takeaway was that, because of our shorter and shorter attention spans, the first 15-30 seconds of your video are the most important.
After breaking for lunch (my fiance and I went to the Bittercreek Alehouse and it was delicious!) I went to an “Advanced Email Marketing” session with Nicole St. Germain from ConvertKit . It was amazing to see all that ConvertKit can do (like internal surveys for your audience, exclude and/or include portions of text within a single email, and more!), and they even have more exciting features planned in the future.
Back on the main stage Abby Lawson from JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com talked about “Does it still make sense to start blogging about blogging?” Which was a great topic for me, because I occasionally DO blog about blogging! Because Abby also blogs about organizing and decorating (not really anything that relates to blogging) she related it to pushing two shopping carts (which she had recently done with her two young boys at Target when they went to make some big purchases. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy, but she did it and encouraged us that it could be done!
Abby showed us how she has separates her topics on her blog, so that it doesn’t confuse or overwhelm her readers. She also suggested that, if you are going to start blogging about blogging, to figure out what your very favorite part about blogging is, and blog about that.
Next up was Cassidy Tuttle of Succulents and Sunshine, a niche site that earns over $100,000 a year! The funny thing was, Cassidy explained that she was not only NOT going to expand on her website, but niche down even more! So instead of talking about all kind of succulents, she is starting to blog more exclusively about succulents that thrive in a dry, 4 season climate like she lives in out in Utah. It really got me thinking about how I might niche down here at Creating Beautifully, too! I haven’t made any solid decisions yet, but you might see some changes later this year.
Then the (drop-dead gorgeous and cazy smart) Regina Anaejionu of byregina.com talked to us about scaling back in order to scale up. In some ways this relates to niching down, but in this case it was also about creating systems in your own business that actually make you a happier business owner, rather than a person who is just doing it like everyone else (and in the process just becoming an -unhappy- employee of your own business.)
Finally for day one, Sean McCabe from seanwes.com talked to us about how he writes upwards of 1 millions words per year, how you have to find that “sweet spot” between being an artist and a business person, and how we write to really figure out what we want to say. That last part may have been biggest takeaway, but the biggest shock (to me) is that Sean recommends having 6 weeks of content already in your queue. And since I’m writing THIS the same day I’m publishing it, you can only imagine how loud I gasped when he said that! 😆 (I even doodled a horrified face in my notes after that one!) I think I’ve only been able to get a week or two ahead in the past, so this is something that I’ll definitely have to work on!
Now, I’m just going to be 100 with you: at the end of the first day, my introverted sense were overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, it was an AMAZING day. But I went straight back to my hotel room, put on my pjs, put my head on the pillow and closed my eyes for about an hour. 😴 I didn’t actually sleep, I just needed to unwind in a dark and quiet space. (Which also means that I ended up getting take out for diner and going to bed early – missing some of the meet ups around the city. A bummer, I know!)
Anway, I’m going to share my takeaways from day two in a later post, but for now I do want to say that, if you have the chance to attend a conference like this (and yes! ConvertKit is hosting another Craft + Commerce conference in Boise again, next year! And yes! I’m planning on going again!) in your own niche, I highly recommend going. (Even if you’re an introvert like me.) I learned so much, met so many amazing people, and I also got to see how a company whose product I use, love and recommend, is run with integrity, ingenuity, inclusivity, and a great sense of fun!