Sometimes I get in a rut of talking to the same people all the time and doing the same things over and over. Last month I was given the opportunity to get out of that run by traveling to Philadelphia for the first ASCEND Summit, sponsored by Aweber.
I use Aweber for a number of my newsletters, and I was asked to moderate a panel about Affiliate Marketing. I viewed the conference as an opportunity to get a little more speaking experience and participate in a panel of really smart people in my industry. I didn’t expect to actually get a lot out of the conference because only a small part of my business is email.
I was absolutely, completely dead wrong. I got more out of the conference than I have in a long time. There were various reasons for that.
First, I was out of my element. The conference wasn’t about affiliate marketing. Everything I was learning was something new. Second, there was only one track of presentations and I didn’t feel comfortable skipping things. So I attended sessions I would not otherwise have attended (almost out of guilt!). Third, I was with a whole bunch of new people I had never been around before–never learned from or shared ideas with.
What I Learned About My Business
As much as I think I know, I still have a lot to learn. Ann Handley gave me ideas about generating better content. Wil Reynolds helped me understand the importance of branding on SEO. Andy Crestodina taught me that I am not using Google Analytics enough. Justine Jordan made me completely rethink the way that my emails appear on mobile devices. Oli Gardner and Brian Massey showed me that my landing pages are pretty much crap.
That’s all just the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how all of those things would greatly impact my affiliate marketing business. Did you know about 50% of people open their emails on mobile and 30% of people who unsubscribe do it because they just don’t like the LOOK of the email? Did you know that having social icons on your website just leads your customers AWAY from your website to a point that they will probably not come back? Or that telling people you will not SPAM them just makes you think about spamming them?
I also learned about some really cool stuff that Aweber is doing that I should have been paying attention to. If you have a mailing list and are serious about growing it and making it convert, you need to check out their tools.
What I Learned About Myself
I need to get back to the basics that got me where I am. I need to attend more sessions at Affiliate Summit instead of looking at it only as a networking event. And I need to go back and watch videos of sessions I didn’t get to. I need to attend more small conferences as well so that I can grow my network and learn from new people.
I consider my affiliate sites a business. I don’t just blog for fun (although I usually have fun doing it!). Yet I have really been missing some huge opportunities to learn and grow my business the last couple of years. I always think that I don’t have the time to spend listening to speakers or attending more conferences. But what if I were learning things that would 1) help me save time in my work, and 2) grow my business more so that I can hire more employees? Wouldn’t it be worth that time investment?
Two Challenges for You
I have two challenges for you.
Challenge One: Check out the ASCENDSummit2014 hashtag and either follow a couple of the speakers or click on some of the resources they provided. I guarantee you can learn something.
Challenge Two: Go learn something new this week. Either attend a webinar, watch an Affiliate Summit video, or find a local meetup. Spend just an hour learning something new that might help your business–even if it means one less hour you have to get work done!
Did you attend the conference and learn something that will change the way that you do business? When was the last time that you DID learn something like that?