for the past twenty years, i've been my own boss...
I have started, sold and said goodbye to more than half a dozen businesses, from my clothing line to a soap company, to my brick and mortar craft studio…. just to name a few. Through it all, the number one biggest growth accelerator for my businesses has been attending events. In the early days, all the events I went to were in-person but over the past five years (and especially now), I’ve been attending more online events.
Whether they’re in person or online, the ROI on the events I’ve attended over the years has been significantly higher than many other areas where I invest in my business. The education and community from events have helped me grow my business from a part-time hustle to a multiple six-figure brand that gives me the privilege of working with our team of creative badass women.
The mindset and confidence I needed, the skills to scale up, the support from a group of like-minded business owners and everything that I needed to check those big goals off my list, directly or indirectly, came from attending in-person and online events.
This is one of the big reasons why we created Camp Dear Handmade Life, our 6-week at-home business, craft and community retreat! I was sick of being cooped up in the same Groundhog Day reminiscent routine at home and wanting to infuse some connection, making, growth and education into my life.
Camp DHL, is an at-home summer camp experience where you’ll take part in six (6) purpose-driven weeks of small group and solo creative activities and meaningful conversations in our virtual cabins… all designed to spark inspiration, nurture creative connections and boost your motivation.
We’ll close with a 3-day virtual summit featuring live expert-led business and craft classes with interactive discussions, wellness sessions like meditation, yoga and journaling and online social gatherings!
With registration for Camp Dear Handmade Life open now, I wanted to share some of the ways attending in-person and online events have helped me grow my business, my support circle and my joy!
1. build your community
The support that I have now of my fellow makers, artists, creative business owners, service-based bosses and growth-minded besties was patchworked together from events I attended. While we rarely get to hang out in person, we have a virtual water cooler where we reach out for advice, celebrate each other’s wins and carry each other through the rough patches.
Several years ago I attended an intimate mastermind with a group of five other creative business owners. That weekend changed the trajectory of my business and helped me through a difficult personal time. Guess where I met those women? Through one of our events!
It can be just as easy to connect online as it is in person when you have the right framework. At Camp DHL, we custom match you in a cabin with a small group of other campers where you’ll spend six weeks getting to know each other and yourself, finding your creative flow, and conceptualizing your goals through our weekly cabin itinerary. At the Camp DHL Summit, we’ve created between class fireside chats where you can join a small group in a mini-meeting and spontaneously share your thoughts or use our customized questions and discussion prompts to steer your group. Did the class spark an idea and you’d love some feedback or maybe you need help implementing one of the tips you learned? This is your perfect chance to have a focused brief discussion on the topic!
2. CONNECT YOU WITH OTHER BRANDS
When I’m at an event, I always make it a point to check out the sponsors and partners. This is a rare opportunity to have an “in” with big brands that can be hard to get to know through a cold email. Even if I don’t have an idea of how I’d work with the brand at the time, I hold onto their info for future ideas and projects. I keep all the contact info organized in a spreadsheet with name, business name, position, contact info, where and when I met them and any specifics about our conversation.
I’ve collaborated with big brands, like on guest blog posts and Instagram takeovers, to help me grow my audience and smaller brands on bundled giveaways and lots of other projects.
Plus… Finding reliable service providers that understand the creative business landscape and aesthetic isn’t always easy which is why I love spontaneous networking to find service-based businesses (photographers, web developers etc.) at events.
FYI: One of my favorite features of Camp DHL is our private Facebook community where you can hang out with other campers including our sponsors and partners. It’s the perfect opportunity to start building a relationship in a no pressure setting.
3. build your education
At a conference several years ago, a speaker blew open my idea of branding. My business partner at the time and I ended up back in our hotel room brainstorming and unearthing the seeds that would eventually transform our business from separate events to everything we offer being under the Dear Handmade Life umbrella.
I also LOVE taking online courses because I enjoy learning at-home and at my own pace, plus they’re usually a deep dive into a certain subject. Most of the online courses that have really moved the needle for me have been $300-$2,000. And, every single cent was 100% worth it.
A big positive of events is that a ton of learning is packed in and it is usually wayyyy less expensive than purchasing each class on its own. The bundling aspect of the education at events helps you get skills in a wide variety of areas in a short time. It’s not just the classes either. I’ve learned so much from conversations with my fellow attendees. That kind of intensive learning has been key for me!
We have not slacked on the bundle for your budget aspect of events at Camp DHL. Not only do you get 18 live craft and business classes during our Summit but when you register you’ll get access to 8 pre-recorded classes so you can start learning right away!
4. change your perspective
It’s easy to get stuck in the way you do things. Especially if you spend most of your work time alone, like me. I’m totally a perfect example of pushing against change in our business systems because the old way worked. But, friends, we don’t want our business systems to just work, we want them to perform, to save us time and make us more efficient.
It took a revelation at an event where I heard someone speaking about businesses that died because they didn’t adapt, to move me from saying “no” pretty much right away when someone would suggest a new way of doing things to how I strive to be now. Instead of saying “no” (often because I get stuck in the idea that I don’t have the time to learn and transition to a new system) I pause and say let me think about it.
The classes, conversation and stepping out of your routine that events offer can give you the mindset shift, AH-HA moment or push you need to see your business and the way you do things in a new light.
I didn’t see how desperately we needed a rebrand until I had popped into a branding class at our Craftcation Conference and ended up in the hot seat getting a my website and branding critiqued by the branding expert Lela Barker of Lucky Break Consulting. What she said switched a light on and I knew that the way we presented Dear Handmade Life at that time not only wasn’t accurate to my vision but was standing in the way between all the greatness Dear Handmade Life could be and all the people we could help.
Our branding was out of date but I needed that perspective shift to be able to admit it outloud and begin to explore what our branding should be. It was like trying to attract a mate and showing up to your first date in sweatpants.
When you’re around other creatives from all over in a variety of creative businesses, you’re exposed to their ways of doing things and those new ways can totally alter your business and life the way they have for me.
5. reignite your passion
Remember how I said I work alone, and at home? Yeah, it can get really lonely around here.
I mean, I have a dog constantly nipping at my heels to let her in or out of the house and a one year old who our doctor described as “extremely active”. At least the cat just stares at me with that aloof look and is basically self-sufficient.
Lonely is different than bored. I’m certainly not bored but I tend to generate new ideas, push myself out of my comfort zone and make serious headway on my goals when I’m out of my routine and feeling the inspiration of other creatives who share my love for talking for hours about storytelling for your brand or goal-setting or productivity tools.
At the end of last year, finally shimmying my way out of my lake of postpartum depression coupled with being a 44 year old first-time mama in the middle of COVID, I was LOST. I was lost, like I hadn’t been since I was in my 20s. I watched everyone around me evolve and I was just trying to keep my head above water. As we celebrated my son’s 8 month birthday and I celebrated four months on my postpartum depression meds, I signed up for an online event. At first, I was just going through the motions but then, through the class and online chats with other attendees, I found myself inspired to recreate our entire social media scheduling system, find more efficient systems and rethink how I told our brand story. Yep, my fire was reignited! The classes and community I found injected my life and business with a much-needed dose of motivation and inspiration.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running your own business since dial-up (like me!) attending in-person or online events is one of the best ways to get the know-how, connections, inspiration and community you need.
... OR ANY COMBINATION OF THE ABOVE...
camp dear handmade life was made for you!