Last week I jumped on a short flight to Stockholm in Sweden, to attend Double Your Freelancing Conference EU (DYFConf). This was the first time Brennan Dunn, founder of Double Your Freelancing, has held the conference in Europe. Going to Stockholm, hanging out in a Japanese resort complete with spa pools, with like-minded people and learning from a fantastic round up of speakers - attending was most definitely a no brainer!
But could it top the best conference I’ve been to?
Last year I attended Microconf EU in Barcelona and declared it to be the best conference I had ever been to. Why was Microconf so good? Most of the talks were great. But it was the people. For the first time at a conference people weren’t off in their own circles, doing their own thing. People wanted to hang out with each other, get to know each other, learn from each other. It was a truly superb experience and easily the best conference I have been to. So you're wondering: could it be beat?
Well this year, I had to decide between going to Microconf and the new kid on the conference block, DYFConf. I have known Brennan for years and he has built his brand around freelancers and consultants. He helps them get to the next level in their business with the aim of making more money and leading better lives. There is a lot of advice out there online (and offline) and you don’t always know who to believe, but Brennan is one of those voices that I truly trust. So I decided to book DYFConf instead of Microconf. And I was not disappointed. DYFConf exceeded all expectations on all fronts and is now easily the best conference I have been to!
The social conference
If you enjoy hanging out, sharing ideas, having fun and making friends with a bunch of like-minded, inspiring and motivated people from around the world, then DYFConf is for you. I met people that I know will become life long friends. And that wasn’t confined to just the participants. The speakers were just as much a part of the conference as the rest of us. I feel like I got to know the speakers more than I could have at any other conference.
So why did it work so well? It is hard to put your finger on these things exactly, but I believe Brennan’s idea of how a conference should run is why it worked so well. He believes in small and intimate conferences, where the speakers don’t have their own speaker's room and one where everyone hangs out together all of the time.
This is why I think this was an amazing conference:
- The people: They were full of energy, passion and willingness to share and connect. It was a privilege to hang out with every single one of them.
- The speakers: All of the talks were top notch and we all left with oodles of notes and take aways. But more importantly, the speakers were accessible all of the time. I had a great time getting to know many of them.
- The venue: the conference was held in a Japanese resort in beautiful setting in the archipelago in Stockholm. Everyone was in the same place all of the time - no one left the venue. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We hung out in the spa, in the bar and on the deck. We played games, we laughed, we talked and we connected.
- The barman: I think we all left feeling like we had met the best barman in the world. Marcello was almost like another participant. He was a pleasure to be around.
- The Brennan factor: Brennan has helped so many people develop stellar consulting businesses over the years. He has created this community of like-minded people, which is an amazing thing (if you want to checkout his work, take a look at Double Your Freelancing).
Talks round up
The talks were absolutely top notch and action packed and all of the speakers were fantastic, both on stage and off.
Normally I come away with some key take aways. With DYFConf, the talks were so good that they were full of take aways. It will probably take me until the next conference to implement them all! But as I do implement the take aways, I will share the steps and results with you in Propel Weekly.
- Nick Disabato on Client Communication and Boundaries. Nick outlined his playbook on dealing with the human side of client work. He talked about the things we should be doing before, during and after the engagement to set clear boundaries. The main premise is that if you don’t set solid boundaries, clients will run all over you.
- Julie Elster on Client Onboarding Done right. Julie went into great detail on what to include in a client onboarding process, including an application form, welcome email, kick off meeting and client education. Julie also talked about the customer support aspect of consulting, which is something we probably all overlook.
- Laura Elizabeth on Remotely Working with Clients From All Over the World. Being a remote freelancer gives us tremendous lifestyle benefits, but, as Laura points out, it is harder to build trust with clients. Laura talked in great detail about the 3 areas to work on: trust, communication and experience.
- Jeremy Clark on Writing a Book As a Way of Getting Clients. This talk was dear to my heart. I have seen for myself, how writing a book is a great way to elevate your reputation and authority and bring in great clients. Jeremy talked about this and provided a great recap of the steps you can take to create a book.
- Kai Davis on Writing Emails That Win You Clients. Kai walked us through a range of tactics to use email in a better way to win clients. Kai talked a lot about the need to followup. I’m sure we are all guilty of not following up enough. Kai also provided advice on become more referable. This is partly down to positioning, and partly down to getting better at asking for referrals and making it easier for people to refer you.
- Matt Inglot on Multiplying Income without New Clients. Matt talked about increasing your consulting revenue by helping your existing clients identify what they are trying to achieve, being a super reliable part of their team and actively helping them continue to reach their goals.
- Austin Church on Attracting Better Clients. Austin gave an awesome talk on a simple premise - generosity is the single most attractive way to get more clients. He then talked us through a list of tactics that we can action and encouraged us to choose three from the list.
- Kai Davies, Nick Disabato and Kurt Elster on Automation Strategies. Kai and Nick recorded a live episode of their podcast, Make Money Online with guest Kurt Elster. They went into detail about Kurt’s marketing automation setup, which is something he has gotten down to a tee. There were lots of great insights!
- Nathan Barry on Building an Audience Online. Nathan is one of the masters of audience building. His talk was a fantastic outline of ways that freelancers can build their own audience, which isn’t that dissimilar to a product business.
- Mojca Mars on Social Media for Consultants. Mojca walked through the process to set up and run successful and profitable Facebook ads. This is something I really want to try, so it was perfect timing!
- Jane Portman on What Should Your Sales Website Say and Do. Jane provided a great overview of how you should structure your consulting website to make it more effective. This includes strong positioning, developing evergreen content, marketing assets, identifying pain, structuring sales pages, and polishing your headlines. Copy is critical and Jane, being a well known designer, says “write not design”.
- Eric White on The Demand Perspective. Eric walked us through using the Jobs to be Done framework to better understand why people buy. The talk included an interview with one of the participants to gain an understanding of their most recent purchase.
- Reuven Lerner on Technical Training, The Ultimate Productised Service. As someone who has been offering training services, I was really looking forward to Reuven’s talk and he did not disappoint. Reuven talked about how you can decide if training is for you, building authority, positioning yourself, identifying companies who need trainers, pricing and much more.
- Gabi Logan on the Power of Learning Sideways. Gabi’s talk was a fascinating look at learning from other, seemingly untreated, industries and borrowing their ideas for your industry.
While I'm still unpacking the detail of the talks, there were some common threads throughout the talks and conversations.
- Teach everything you know!
- Always prequalify clients and only spend your time talking to clients that meet a certain good fit criteria.
- Have a solid client onboarding process.
- Your clients only care about themselves and not your other clients - set expectations.
- Followup is everything!
- Be a business partner, not a labourer. Actively help your clients reach their business goals.
- Building content and marketing assets for your consulting and product website can take years of work. Keep at it.
- Spend as much time promoting your content as you do creating it.
- Don't let confidence issues hold you back. Everyone gets nervous when out of their comfort zone.
- You can build the life you want through independent consulting, coaching and training.
- Be intentional in everything you do.
- Automate processes where you can but stay human
- Build real relationships and be generous.
The goodbyes started on the final night as some people left that night or early in the morning. That is when I realised - saying goodbye to these awesome people was not going to be easy. It was emotional and there were many many hugs!
It goes without saying, we are all looking forward to returning to DYFConf next year. Will you join us?