Craftcation Recap

It’s been almost a week and I’m still not sure I’m fully recovered from the Craftcation conference.  I was scheduled to run three sessions in three days, but then added a fourth at the last minute when another speaker had to cancel.  Having been a middle school teacher for six years, where you teach 4-5 hours a day, I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but I was exhausted at the end of every day.  I forgot how tiring it can be when all of your down time between sessions is spent networking, even meals!

Moving your Business Beyond the Kitchen Table panel at Craftcation with me (moderator), Angharad Jones, Delilah Snell and Nicole Stevenson

Despite my exhaustion, I had a really good time.  I love helping other creatives (especially women) get their businesses on the right track, and I got to spend a little quality time with other energizing crafty business ladies.  I had one particularly raucous dinner with Steph Cortes from NerdJerk, Rosalie from Unanimous Craft, Marlo Miyashiro, Danielle from Etsy, Ashley Jennings, and Rena Tom that I will not soon forget.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Marlo, Rena and me

I was really pleased to see such great attendance at Craftcation, though some of my sessions didn’t run quite as smoothly as I’d hoped.  The session on pricing was so popular that the room became a fire hazard and we had to start turning people away.  We also didn’t have a working projector, but the attendees all rallied their technology so that each table could view the slides on a shared iPad.  The marketing session was also a full house and we ended up running out of handouts halfway through, but my helper for that one, Stephanie, was freaking amazing.  I understand that you can never quite predict session attendance, and besides, shit happens, but I want to make sure that anyone who couldn’t attend or take home handouts has a chance to access the materials.  Y’all paid good money to attend the conference after all, so here are the links to the materials from my three solo sessions (the panel didn’t have materials):

Full house at the Marketing on a Budget Session at Craftcation

One thing I’m having trouble with is measuring the ROI of this conference to my own business.  The benefits are so intangible for the most part that it’s tough to tell whether offering three days of (essentially) free teaching will pay for itself in the long term.  I really like teaching, so there’s that intangible benefit right off the bat, but does it make up for the three days I couldn’t work on any of my own projects?  Right now I’m leaning towards “yes”, but I couldn’t give you any hard evidence for why I’m leaning that way.  Right now it’s just a gut feeling surrounding the concept of “networking”.

How do you figure out when to take on projects that are peripheral to your creative business, like speaking, writing and teaching?  I could honestly really use some help with this one.

4 Comments

  1. I just watched your Etsy summit video and it was so articulate and full of great resources, thank you. Looking forward to attending the conference in 2013, sorry to have missed it this year.

  2. Having been there and feeling similarly, I’ve gotta say that you did a fabulous job of teaching, networking & being awesome without making it look like you were exhausted! You always had a kind word, or something helpful to say to put things into perspective - which is just one of the reasons I admire you.

    As far as you last question goes, I’ve gotta say that it’s a balance. I was talking to Diane Gillieand about how many classes she was offering at the beginning of the year and she said it was “teaching season!” I remember how struck I was with how smart that simple statement was at the time.

    During the slow times, when you know you have a minute to do something that does not directly put money in your pocket that second, but has the potential to have long-term ROI, I think it’s okay to take time and invest in making those connections. Maybe not all of the time, but when you can.

    Doing follow up Q & A’s in addition to wonderful blog posts just solidifies the fact that you’re an intelligent human being who has intelligence to share with the right people. I hope that you’re feeling that way, Lauren. I know you always make me feel smarter just by being around ya!

  3. Aw, you make me blush. 🙂

    I think you’re right that these sorts of things are best left for times when money-making endeavors are slowest, but my slow “seasons” seem to change every year, which makes it a little more difficult to plan out in advance.

    What’s hardest for me, though, is deciding when to spend my time building connections or “maintaining my profile” and when to spend it practicing/improving my craft. Which of those ultimately has the better long-term ROI?

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