Aethelstane emerges

Thoughts on INTERNATIONAL FREELANCERS DAY 2

International Freelancers DayI might as well continue the ‘tradition’ of an Ivanhoe-based title, started in my review of day 1.  As I did there – bearing in mind my comments about my background – I will give a brief review of each of the presentations, as they happened, and direct the comments to the presenters as much as to other readers, before I make some more general comments.  As before, I’m not going to pull my punches either!

  1. David Meerman Scott:
    Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now
    This was (probably) taken from a book-launch presentation.  The camera was focused almost entirely on David, so many of the slides he was commenting on were not visible, and/or not on-screen long enough to get notes.  A summary slide of key points at the end would have helped, but there were some interesting ideas as take-aways – the clearest one for me being that “Social Media is a mindset – not a set of tools”.  Again, like yesterday’s first offering, this was a gentle ease into the rest of the day.
  2. Jason Womack:
    7 Productivity Secrets To Make Your Best BETTER!
    There were technical issues for me with this video, which meant that it was chopped up and buffered so much that the time limit was reached about ⅔ of the way through the presentation.  This was a pity, because Jason paced his presentation well, including a mix of live-to-camera with overlaid captions to highlight key points – much better than some of the talking heads from yesterday.  I actually only saw 4 of the 7 secrets live – as it were – but the lively group of tweeps on the #IFD10 hashtag helped out with what I missed.  I liked John’s great sketch-notes!  I am certainly going to go back and review this – without the chops, I hope – once participants get access to the watch-again opportunity next week.
  3. Ann Handley:
    Content Rules: What Stories, Blogs, Video & More Should Be Doing For You
    This was another information-rich presentation, with lots of set-up before going into nine points about how to produce the kind of “killer content” Ann was describing.  Slide design was a little ‘quirky’ at times, but there was enough dynamism and variety of pacing to keep the audience engaged – I could have done with a little less Chinese drywall though!  I’m going to go and check out some of the sites Ann mentioned, and re-view this presentation, after I’ve watched Jason’s.
  4. David Siteman Garland:
    How To Build Your Business By Creating Your Own Smarter, Faster, Cheaper Web TV Show
    Since David was presenting on a visual topic, I had high expectations of this presentation before it started, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s very difficult to talk to a camera and make things seem natural, and David’s experience clearly came through, adding another layer of credibility to his message.  Boy was this packed with information, though!  We fairly zipped through lots of useful ideas, practical advice, do’s and don’ts, useful tools, etc.  Although I am not planning to start my own TV show, I certainly got a lot of good ideas for approaching a video product and I plan to implement many of David’s suggestions very soon.  I liked having the video ‘embedded’ in the slides – it added a new dimension to the majority of audio+slide presentations.
  5. Jill Konrath:
    How to Land Bigger Freelance Clients
    This was originally scheduled as number six, but was switched.  Jill clearly knew her subject matter, but her presentation was talking head only.  No slides or short bullet-points to summarize content.  There were some nuggets buried in amongst it – but I did feel a little like a fossicker!  The tweeps were getting good information though and, judging by their comments, many found Jill’s presentation extremely helpful – despite the comments about the colour coordinated glasses, lipstick and shirt!
  6. Ed Gandia:
    5 Proven “Low-Tech” Ways to Land Profitable Clients
    Ed started off with a whiteboard introduction, complete with cuts and zooms which gave a slightly surreal quality overall!  He then went on to talk about each of his five points – introducing each segment with a slide which gradually built up through the presentation.  This was a useful ‘signpost’ to where we were in the presentation, but the slides could have been on-screen a tad longer.  It would have been really helpful to return to the final slide as a summarizer/reminder before the close.  Integrating the sponsor’s message with the actual presentation also got around the irritating ad overlays/cut-off.  This was clearly a problem that the conference team had not expected to happen, based on an email sent out to participants, and worked on to eliminate.  Later presentations certainly didn’t seem to be so badly affected.
  7. Rebecca Matter:
    5 Tips for Increasing Your Competitive Advantage Over Other Freelancers
    Rebecca’s was yet another informative presentation.  Her slides were on-screen long enough to absorbed and she moved through concepts at a good pace.  She also offered a free report to supplement her message.  I still find it hard to believe that 75% of freelancers fail to meet deadlines, though… Eek!
  8. Nick Usborne:
    Become an Expert at Optimizing Web Content for Social Media
    This, too, was another information-rich presentation.  It was very well-paced and dovetailed beautifully with the ‘star’ presentation give by Mari yesterday – well I thought it was the ‘star’ anyway!  There was lots of good, sensible, practical advice here, and Nick’s understanding of the importance of the visual element was demonstrated in his slides too.
  9. Michael Huggins:
    Transitioning from Freelancer to Creative Business Owner
    As an interview, this presentation differed in format from all of the others.  The questions were helpfully displayed on slides as they were asked, and Michael’s responses were general enough to be useful to those not involved in graphic design.  One or two slides to summarize key points before moving on to the next question may have helped, but that’s only a small gripe.
  10. Peter Bowerman:
    12 Strategies for a “Well-Fed” Freelancing Career!
    Now Peter’s presentation was definitely quirky!  It was clearly home-made – up to and including the paper slides! – and audio-video synchronization problems caused one participant to tweet that it was “like watching a Japanese cartoon”!  This was almost just another talking head – even if it was saying things without moving its lips – but was saved by Peter’s dry sense of humour and clear enjoyment of sharing with us.  The slides could have been held up a tad longer though – or maybe his arms were too tired!
  11. Michel Fortin:
    Negotiating Your Way to Success
    This was an effective, no nonsense delivery about a subject which is very tricky for many people to handle.  There were some gems to take-away, and Michel specifically pointed participants towards two particular blog posts – about getting the fees you deserve and how to negotiate better fees – which complemented his presentation.  Some of the slides were on-screen a little too long for my liking – maybe some sub-heads or bullets to supplement the point would have helped – but this is another mini-moan on my part.
  12. Bob Bly:
    How to Write and Design Winning Landing Pages
    The conference blurb warned that this was going to be a ‘bleeding chunk’ – as I call them – from a longer workshop/seminar, so I was prepared for a slightly more variable style of presentation. “Next slide” – definitely shades of Larry Ellison here!  Was it my imagination or did some of the content really need to be updated?  Did he really say: “OK there’s a grammatical error, but that’s not a big deal?”  There were microphone issues here, with another presenter interrupting on a completely different, much lower, audio level.  Some of the slides from the presentation were helpfully overlaid/interspersed – but some of them were not all that easy to read and the one with the 10 key points delivered towards the end of the presentation should have been left up much longer.  Very much a Curate’s egg, and I am not surprised some decided to leave, make dinner, etc. before the end.

I felt most of today’s presentations were considerably better in terms of content and engagement than most of yesterday’s.  I came away with stacks of information, loads of URLs and action points to take or investigate further.  I feel drained and energized at the same time, which is always a sign of a good conference to me.  I also got a lot of new followers on Twitter too, many of them on this list!  If you missed the Twitter discussions, don’t forget that I set up two archives (TwapperKeeper and WhatTheHashtag?!) so you can go back and catch up on some of the action.

Final thoughts – let’s do this again, let’s keep in touch, let’s act on what we learned!  A big thank-you to the organizers, presenters and sponsors who gave us so much for free over the past two days and an extra-special thank-you to Crystal, the event planner.

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