Last week I drove 220 miles to attend the 91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Lewes. And oh my, what a jam packed creative day! We met independent shop owners (including the Willy Wonka of paint pictured above), we ate incredible food (macaroni cheese with a pulled pork topping is TO DIE FOR) and got a Pinterest workshop thrown in too. And I got to chat to fabulous creative types all day. By the end of the day I felt like a 6 year old who’d literally been to the best birthday party in the world.
Actually in the last year I’ve also attended photography workshops in Scotland and Ilkley, a brand storytelling course at a barn in Somerset, Blogtacular conference in London and the orginal Instacake in Stratford Upon Avon. It works out a bit pricy – especially once you add petrol and accommodation, but I swear by it for improving my business.
And, actually I’d say the skills I learn are less important than the other things I get out of the day. The perspective and inspiration you gain from going on a workshop ‘adventure’ can be invaluable.
When I went to Fiona Barrows’ Brand Story Telling Workshop in Somerset at the Oak Tree Barn, a very cool refurbished countryside barn in a rural village, the other creative business owners I met, the beautiful food that was cooked for us, all transported me to a very special place where I could reflect on my business with a calm and relaxed outlook. And the energy and support I get from meeting other entrepreneurial women, I can’t put a price on. It can be lonely, draining and all consuming running a business – and sometimes you need to be around like minded souls in an inspiring environment to get a boost.
And hilariously when I went to Blogtacular conference in London – I met and made friends with a bunch of creative business owners from my own city of Manchester. Isn’t it crazy that I had to go to London to meet them?
If you haven’t heard of Blogtacular it’s a brilliant two day event in London for creative business women with an emphasis on the digital side of their businesses. The first day is ‘fringe events’ – a photo walk and dinner with other conference goers and the second day is a load of great workshops about podcasting, blogging, Instagram and anything to do with running a creative business.
I’ve realised it’s really important for me to sniff out events where I’m going to meet ‘my people’. Instagram training is pretty niche and at a lot of business networking events I feel a bit like a fish out of water. But when I go to workshops with other online creative business owners, I feel lifted and understood and get so many ideas.
I can honestly say that attending all these workshops has boosted my confidence, helped me build a strong network of like minded business owners and given me so many ideas about improving my own business.
I run Instagram workshops and Instacake events myself and attending other similar events helps me consider how I can make my events more creative, more fun and make sure I can provide as much value as possible for my clients. In fact my own Instacake event wouldn’t exist unless I’d attended Charlie Budd’s Instacake in Stratford last June – it was the impetus to start my own.
It may seem scary rocking up at a workshop on the other side of the country, but I promise the benefits of taking that risk are life changing. If you haven’t done it already, why not give it a whirl?
If you enjoyed reading this you might like to read Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Freelance Business.