Four Years Later

Looking back, both the Going Solo conference in Lausanne and SoloCamp in Leeds were extraordinary experiences.

The energy of the Lausanne conference led me to open a coworking space, eclau, which is thriving. In the course of my consulting work, I regularly advise freelancers and other micro-entrepreneurs on how to manage their online presence and solo professional life. Freelancing is very much a topic dear to my heart, and Going Solo was clearly the starting-point of a long-term involvement which still goes on today. You’ll also see me blogging on subjects related to freelancing on the eclau blog (in French) and in my category “Being the Boss” on Climb to the Stars.

Today is the kick-off of another “freelance-related” project: a Going Solo facebook group, for us to share our stories and discuss our preoccupations. There is another group, started by Claude Vedovini (who was the first person to sign up for the Going Solo conference, by the way!), for location-independent professionals.

Happy freelancing, and see you around!

Going Solo Status

A few people recently have asked me for news about Going Solo. After a very successful conference (Going Solo) and a no less successful unconference (SoloCamp), I’m now concentrating on stabilising my “normal work“.

There will probably not be any Going Solo event in 2009, but 2010 might bring surprises! If you want to be sure not to miss it, you should make sure you are subscribed to the Going Solo newsletter or the facebook group. Any important news will be sure to be announced there.

In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to this blog like Henriette just did with her article on mainstream PR and marketing, or if you have ideas for the Going Solo community, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

how to include mainstream media in your PR and marketing

Hi there, Im Henriette Weber a social marketing and branding professional having my own company called Toothless Tiger, working out of Copenhagen, Denmark. I am writing here to offer you some advice on “how to include mainstream media in your PR and marketing”.

I got to write this blogpost on the Going Solo blog because Stephanie and I had a conversation in the back of a car during the shift08 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. I told her about my strategy for mainstream and so far I am working my way around it, and so far it works.

Now:

Journalists wont be knockin on your door or ringing you. You need to contact them. nothing new here. There’s one keyword to a succesful mainstream media presence: proactivity.

I have defined it in three steps

1. You figure out who you are

Or let me rephrase that – you figure out who you are towards your peers – your community. Both Micro and Macro community (meaning people who knows you very well and people who knows you less well personal and workwise). What do they think about you – is your thought about yourself the same as other people think ? or are you way off ?. Conduct a research and figure out where you’re at, or who you are to others.

2. you become who you are

Either you change the perception that people have of you, or you change – so you are real close to be in sync with the thoughts about you from your peers.

3. you find out who you want to be

Make a strategy for how you want to be in the future.

4. you market who you are

you use the two above steps to market who you are – inside out. Both who you feel you are, but also other peoples perception of you.

You do it proactively. Say no to things and interviews that is not in sync with step 3.

write letters, columns and debates. proactively within your subject – that makes your person stand out more.

that’s my first advice here – enjoy

Happy Soloists at SoloCamp Leeds

There were about 20 of us yesterday at SoloCamp Leeds, for a day full of fascinating conversations about the topics we cared about as freelancers. Great format, great people.

We started the Going Solo Wiki to share notes from the day. I hope that we’ll see this wiki grow into a real community ressource around Going Solo and SoloCamp.

I took some photos. Here are two to give you a feel of the day. First the general setting, relaxed and interactive:

SoloCamp Leeds 11

And the big sprawling mind-map which grew out of the discussion about finance facilitated by Dennis Howlett (it was followed by three more big sprawling mind-maps as the day went by):

SoloCamp Leeds 05

More on the Going Solo Wiki! Head over to see what we’ve already done, and if you have an itch to contribute, please do not hold yourself back. It’s everybody’s wiki!

Interview by Krishna De for BizGrowthLive

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Krishna De, who hosts the BizGrowthLive podcast. Krishna asked some good questions and I was really happy with the interview. You can start with the blog post which accompanies Hosting Live Events To Attract More Clients, or head over directly to BlogTalk Radio to listen to the interview.

You can also use the embedded widget below:

SoloCamp (Unconference) in Leeds on September 12th

As I announced, the cancellation of Going Solo Leeds does not mean that we will be idle on September 12th. The first SoloCamp, a barcamp focused on freelancing issues, will take place at the date and location announced for Going Solo Leeds: Old Broadcasting House, September 12th.

SoloCamp Logo.

Get your ticket and put your name on the wiki. Then tell your freelancing friends to come too! The event is free and open to all, in pure unconference style.

The programme of the day will depend on the number of people present and what they want out of the day. If we’re five or fifty, we won’t be looking at the same kind of event — it can go from animated discussion around a table during half a day to a whole day packed with presentations and workshops. For obvious reasons, we won’t be reproducing the Going Solo programme, though some speakers will be present and we will be taking inspiration from it. You make the programme!

So far, Suw Charman-Anderson, Stowe Boyd, Philip Oakley and myself have confirmed participation. Imran Ali will drop in during the morning. We’re just waiting for you! Come and join us at SoloCamp Leeds on September 12th.

Not Enough Attendees For Going Solo Leeds

Yesterday mid-afternoon, I had to take the difficult decision to cancel Going Solo Leeds. The reason for this is that a bit over two weeks before the event, there are simply not enough registrations for it to take place under the conditions I envisioned for it.

After discussing the situation with my advisors, I reached the conclusion that the most responsible course of action right now was to cancel as soon as I could.

I’m aware that for some of the people who have arranged to travel to Leeds, it’s already too late to cancel travel plans. If you’re going to be in Leeds anyway, how about doing something together? Let’s gather on the 12th for a free SoloCamp where we will discuss soloist issues amongst ourselves in an informal way.

The Going Solo conference concept and the community around it live on. There will be a third edition of Going Solo — I’ve learnt a tremendous amount of things preparing both the Lausanne and the Leeds editions, and will be taking advantage of those lessons to do things slightly differently. How, when and where are still unknowns, but if you are subscribed to the newsletter you’ll be informed in good time.

I’d like to extend a huge thanks to all the people who took part in the Going Solo Leeds adventure: people who registered, sponsors and media partners, bloggers who promoted the event though blog posts or badges on their sites, advisors, speakers, and friends who helped out. To all of you who believed in this project: thanks so much for your help.

I’ve included below a mini-FAQ and will update it if other questions show up.

Why did you cancel?

Two weeks and a half before the event, just over 25 people are registered to be present at the event. Even though Going Solo aims to be an intimate event, I don’t consider it is fair towards the attendees, sponsors and speakers to run it with such a thin crowd.

There were 60 people in Lausanne, which made for a good audience. A conference with 25 people present is not the event I designed and advertised — and not what people paid for.

I considered giving it another week, doing the maximum to drive registrations, but in all honesty time was getting too short. Expecting another 25 registrations in 3-4 days was utopian. If the event has to be canceled, I would rather do it two weeks and a half before the date than 10 days or a week.

What about the people who had paid a registration fee?

People who paid the registration fee will be refunded. They will also be given a 50% discount if they sign up to a future Going Solo conference, when time comes.

Are you doing anything instead of Going Solo Leeds?

Yes. As we’re in town, we’ll meet up to talk about freelance issues, but in a very informal way: that’ll be SoloCamp. I’m not sure exactly what shape it will take, but it will be free and I’m hoping we can have a venue for it at OBH, where Going Solo Leeds was to take place.

It would be nice to have a sense of how many people will be present (5 or 30 makes a difference!) so let me know if you think you’ll be there, and if you want to get involved.

Will there ever be another Going Solo conference?

Yes. I still believe in the concept and format of the conference. The Lausanne event was a success, and the general enthusiasm for Going Solo has been huge (media partnerships, coverage, post-event feedback and general comments).

That it did not translate into actual registrations is more a question of circumstances. We learn as freelancers that how well you do does not necessarily reflect how good you are at your actual job, and I think the same is true everywhere. Having a good idea is not an immediate recipe for success — other ingredients are needed.

There will be future Going Solo conferences. I will approach the organisation differently, based on what I’ve learned over the last year. I’ll be writing more about what I’ve learned over the next weeks.

Why didn’t people register this time around?

That’s the big question, and I’ve spent the last month banging my head against the wall (not literally) trying to answer it. I think there are a bunch of reasons we can identify, and probably another bunch which are just “random” (having read Fooled by Randomness recently, I’ve come to understand that there are no absolute recipes for success or failure — chance plays a part in both). Here are some ideas.

I think the Leeds event was too close (in space and time) to the Lausanne event. People came from Lausanne from all over Europe. Those who wanted to attend Going Solo did so in Lausanne. The first event “exhausted” the pool of potential attendees, in a way.

The word “recession” has been showing up regularly on my radar over the last months. Though not everybody is hit, of course, I think freelancers are particularly vulnerable when the economy starts wavering: it’s easier to cancel the freelancer or not hire her than fire an employee.

The pound has gone down. I don’t know exactly how much impact that could have, but it does mean that the British economy on the whole is suffering a bit (just like we’re all feeling the rise of oil prices).

What about you? Do you have any ideas? If Going Solo seemed interesting to you and you are a freelancer, what kept from signing up?

Catching Up On Introducing Sponsors

I’m fallen a bit behind on introducing our sponsors for Going Solo Leeds, and as you can see in the sidebar or on the Sponsors page, the list is growing fast.

I’d like to start by pointing out some of our recurring partners.

Expectnation

Expectnation Banner

Expectnation were our first partner for Going Solo Lausanne, and I have to say that all through the preparation of the two events, Edd Dumbill (the brains behind the machine) has offered support going way beyond the normal “tech support” one would expect in such circumstances. So, thanks Edd, and very happy to have the opportunity to use Expectnation and contribute in a small way to making it an even better service.

SmallBizPod

If you remember well, last time around Alex Bellinger of SmallBizPod recorded some great interviews of the Going Solo speakers. This time, Alex will actually be present at the conference and interview freelancers during the day. I’m really looking forward to having him with us!

TheNextWeb

The Next Web logo.

Famous for their “Men in White”, TheNextWeb are with us again this time. A last-minute incident prevented them from being present in Lausanne, but we’re confident we’ll be seeing coverage of our Leeds event on The Next Web blog!

If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, we still have some sponsorship positions open.

There are also sponsorship opportunities for individuals (not just companies) – there has been a lot of positive feedback about the idea, but we’re still waiting to see who will actually take us up on the offer! ;-)

PayPal Buttons for Individual Sponsorships, and Housekeeping

Whether you generously want to support the Going Solo conference or are looking for an opportunity to make your name known, you can now become an individual sponsor a little more elegantly than by sending PayPal money to an e-mail address. (Read the initial announcement.)

We now have buttons for you, and a few tweaks.

Tweak #1: the £200 and £500 packages now include an opportunity to provide business cards that will be added to the attendee packages (being a sponsor is about promoting yourself, isn’t it?)

Tweak #2: you can specify which area of Going Solo you would like to sponsor in priority. There is food, speakers, conference materials, and event organisation to choose from (and also “I don’t really care” if it’s the case).

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Name (+link to personal website) on Going Solo site
  • Personal slide in the “Thank You” slideshow presented at the event
  • Opportunity to provide business cards in attendee package (for £200 and £500 options)

As an individual sponsor, you may also request discount codes or a free pass (for the £500 option). Ask for details.

Become an Individual Sponsor for £100


Become an Individual Sponsor (£200)


Become an Individual Sponsor (£500)


While I was at it, I did a little housekeeping and separated the page listing the sponsors and the instructions and information about the sponsorships.

For the curious, here are the discounts you can ask for when you become an individual sponsor (it’s not compulsive, so don’t be put off if you can’t use them — somebody else will take them). £100: two 15% discounts, £200: three 20% discounts, £500: 1 free pass and two 20% discounts.

Do you know anybody who would be interested in being an Individual Sponsor at Going Solo? Suggest it to them, and send them the link to the individual sponsorships sign-up page. I’m around to answer any questions, of course.

Individual Sponsorships

Update: below is the original announcement. Some things may have changed. You should visit the sponsorships page for up-to-date information.

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked if Going Solo was offering any individual sponsorships. I was a bit taken aback at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea.

Going Solo is about people. It’s about individuals. Most of the time, it’s about people building a personal brand. So, it would make a lot of sense for Going Solo to allow individual people to be sponsors too.

As an Individual Sponsor, you of course get a chance to show your support for a great event and benefit from the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with it (and that’s important) — but it doesn’t stop there:

  • your name (with link to personal website if desired) is listed as an Individual Sponsor on the sponsors page and in the sidebar
  • you will be personally thanked along with the other people who have contributed to making Going Solo what it is in the ‘thank you’ slideshow displayed during the conference

Being an Individual Sponsor also allows you to ask for discount codes to give away, if you know people who might benefit from them. This is completely optional, of course.

So, this is what the package officially looks like:

Individual Sponsor – £100, £200, £500

  • Name (+link to personal website) on Going Solo site
  • Personal slide in the “Thank You” slideshow presented at the event

As an individual sponsor, you may request discount codes or a free pass (for the £500 option). Ask for details.

I’m going to set up a few shiny buttons to make it easy to sign up for this sponsorship, but until I do that, you can simply PayPal the amount of your sponsorship directly to steph@going-far.com and e-mail me at the same address if you have questions, would like discount codes, or (who knows) would like to discuss a different sponsorship amount.

You can now buy your sponsorships directly through Paypal, with the help of a few handy buttons on the “How to Sponsor” page.

I’m really excited about the fact that we’re giving individual people the opportunity to benefit from Going Solo’s visibility by associating themselves to the event. I’m looking forward to seeing who jumps on the occasion!

If you’re a company, you’ll want to check out our micro-sponsorship offering if your budget is a few £100s, or our standard sponsorship packages if you have a more generous budget or want extra exposure and presence at the event.

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