I think conferences are great for coming up with business ideas and making meaningful friendships and business relationships, and I would not have as many opportunities as I have now unless I went to many conferences back in the day. But I think I have been going to about 8 or 10 conferences a year for the past couple years and have got burned out on them. I am going to be at Elite Retreat this year, but am hoping that I can take a break otherwise.
Appreciating Conference Saturation
This past week Elite Retreat was announced and I turned down speaking requests for 4 other conferences! It seems I could do nothing but speak at conferences, but I just have too much fun playing online and see too much opportunity to have to travel once or twice a month. And conference overload leads to burnout, a line I am near more often than I should be.
Appreciation of Online Assets
In the last few years I have seen
- the lowering of the value of typical reciprocal links
- the lowering of the value of most directories
- drastic reduction in cost of market research
- sharply increased domain prices (some people have offered enough to make me a seller, and I get offers about once a week from a rather small portfolio)
- increased cost per click prices
- buying PPC ads getting harder due to relevancy scores that try to prohibit non-brands from advertising
- sales cycles getting more efficient
- the creation of shaddow brands to allow businesses to be bolted on to free offerings that build good will and reduce their marketing cost to zero
- increasingly complex information formats (both free and paid)
- the saturation of markets that were largely created AFTER I got into SEO
- quality links becoming tougher to get (you can see this with how the media is linking internally where they used to link out...you appreciate the trend even more when a few friends send you some private internal documents from said companies)
- increased time commitment to create valuable brands due to increased market competiton (in some rare cases even pure spammers are creating good content)
- people becoming more cynical about content quality due to linkbait attention whoring
- hand edits wiping out once highly profitable websites that were cleaner than competing ones own by large corporations
- the move from one-time sales to subscription based pricing
I still have a few tricks and ideas that offer an amazing ROI, but as more people use them the ideas will see their ROI approach zero, unless I look for ways to layer real value on top of them. And it is hard to layer real value without committing both time and capital to the project.
Comparing Online ROI vs Offline ROI
A few weeks ago my wife held a meetup for bloggers where she and I gave away tons of tips to people with no sales pitch. I also paid for dinner for about 30 people. Out of that mini-conference type event I think only 1 blogger even mentioned it online. Most expensive paid link ever. ;)
When I went to the Blogworld Expo I think there were about 30 or 40 people in the audience. And going to the conference cost me a couple days of work. In about the same amount of time I was able to create the Blogger's Guide to SEO and market it. It got a couple thousand inbound links, over 1,000 bookmarks, over 50,000 reads, and videos I embedded in it got about 300 hundred to 600 clickthroughs to YouTube from my article.
I have way too many ideas and way too little time to implement them. In some cases I have partnerships and my wife is doing lots of development stuff now too, so both of those help, but do you still get the same ROI out of conferences as you did when you first started going to them? If not, what do you do in place of them where you find better ROI?
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