Conference Burnout

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 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.

Your Thoughts?

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?

Published: January 18, 2008 by Aaron Wall in conferences


January 18, 2008 - 6:10am

Hi Aaron,

Well, I hope you take some time to refresh. Your content is a gold mine as are your connections. How about interviewing some of the industries best and brightest on issues that are directly related to the needs of your audience? The seminars do not have to be in video format where we see the interviewer and interviewee. All you need is an online PowerPoint presentation which could be downloaded for reference. This way you can interview all the up and comers in the SEO world and provide additional relevant content to your audiences.

Marketing Profs charges $129 for their online seminars. However, they have a year long premium membership that is available for $249 which lets you have an all access pass to their content. By the way they have an SEO/SEM section on their site which I think you should check out and consider contributing to if you have not done so already.

I appreciate everything you do for me as a customer. I find great value in your site ie..the videos, specific content on blog optimization, your great posts and some of the guest posts. I would pay for a premium content channel where I can listen to in-depth interviews or presentations on updated SEO/SEM strategies and tactics with access to a premium version of some of your SEO tools.

These are suggestion for you to consider. I am just starting out in SEO/SEM so I maybe off base; however, I see an opportunity for you to leverage your connections and expert status in the SEO world to provide pay-for-quality content and increase your ROI or shall I say ROE (Return on Effort) .

Igor The Troll
January 18, 2008 - 7:09am

Aaron, take a vacation. Come down to South East Asia and do the Wild Thing!

Igor The Troll
January 18, 2008 - 8:11am

Aaron Heads up to Google Foul play I just received an email to my business Website asking to advertise on my travel forum! I replied yes but I have to use rel=nofollow and will have to approve the content. The caveat that struck me suspicious is why they email to my business Website address not to the travel forum address, or my IT company email address.

So heads up to all business Websites, forums, and blogs! Google using undercover analyst to manually deindex a site if it violates the GQG. This is nothing new and Sebastian from have talked about this before. And recently Matt Cutts said to IZEA that links to sponsored content need to be rel=nofollow and Michael Arrington from Technorati changed all links in his post to sponsors to rel=nofollow

Be careful, Google playing Dirty!

Sam I Am
January 18, 2008 - 9:36am

Aaron, sometimes the hardest part of being successful is learning when to say no. ROI is a good way to look at it, but that of course won't always be measurable or definable in advance. Think I'm preaching to the choir saying that though :) Keep on building the brand!

January 18, 2008 - 5:10pm

The real big money is yet to be made.

The "easy" money earned through heavy sweat and effort of years gone by will pale with true fortunes that will be made in the next 10 years.

But the skill sets will be completely different.

You can't measure the value of an interaction by links - that is the old, sweat-based currency.

Thinking in terms of building a fortune or empire, not just making a ROI.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.