1 – Alright Dale, I’m assuming wearing a bowl hat and moustache wasn’t enough to sneak you in, so how on earth did you, Doodley McDoodleFace, end up in a marketing conference?
Let’s roll back to the summer of 2015. I was spending three months in San Francisco, my first real immersion in the waters of nomadism, and my brother had come with. Both of us were freelancing, and he, a digital marketer, had bought us tickets to MozCon in Seattle.
2 – Those events are incredibly expensive though, right?
True, on face value. But if you use their products or are on their mailing lists, the early bird offerings can be up to 75% off. You’ve just got to commit to it months in advance. If you can get a speaking gig at them, they’ll often throw in free or reduced accommodation on top of free tickets. Just email the conference, have a speaking portfolio ready and see if they’re game.
3 – Sounds groovy. So what exactly is MozCon?
Moz sell marketing analytics software. They’re one of the biggest in the field and put on an annual 3 day conference of industry speakers and social events.
4 – But you don’t know anything about marketing?
And you’re not exactly Patrick Swayze on a Friday night are you, so pipe down judgemental! Themed conferences in the digital are generally open to anyone and, yes, whilst some of the jargon went over my head, I did learn a shit ton about an industry I previously knew very little about.
5 – So, in a room of marketers, how did you become the belle of the ball?
I used my non-marketing background as a way to stand out. Firstly, I made sure I was active on Twitter. At digital conferences the real action is happening online, but instead of just tweeting, I accompanied my tweets with quick doodles of concepts discussed or lines from the speakers.
My visuals were more intriguing to marketers who deal with numbers all day than a Hawaiian shirt sale to hipsters. The likes and retweets rolled in, and I was popping up in hundreds of people’s news feeds.
6 – And secondly?
MozCon also use a Facebook group to gather attendees of conferences, past and previous, to introduce, pitch and discuss things outside of the live action. On the evening of day 2, I dosed myself up with caffeine (eight hours of talks really does melt the brain) and wrote a short article on my then website entitled ‘The Mole of MozCon: Being a Non-Marketer at the World’s Biggest Marketing Conference’.
This article wasn’t anything special; it just gave my take on the conference and how, even though I wasn’t from a marketing background, I was still learning bucket loads. Once done, I posted it in the FB group.
7 – I imagine the plot then thickened?
Oh, very much so. Turns out I wasn’t the only ‘non-marketer’ there, and many people, including photographers and admins, commented on the thread about how happy they were that someone else who didn’t really have a clue what was going on was still having a good time. The post got over 100 likes and even Moz’s MD liked it.
8 – And then you bought a scratch card and won $2k?
Can you imagine? Dick move ending, right? No, I got an email a day later from the marketing manager of an SEO firm. He told me he’d gone through my website, looked at my portfolio and ‘liked what he saw’. He asked about my availability and, a month later, I was commissioned to do a series of infographics for the firm, accumulating to the sum of $3000.
9 – That website housed your ‘San Francisco’ blog, right?
Yes, it did. A foul-mouthed, overly poetic diary of a country bumpkin’s time in America. There was even a bit in there about me drunkenly falling over in a shower and farting on impact. I to this day pray he never read it, but who knows…
10 – Okay, to finish up, you’re essentially saying I should fly to expensive conferences to get work?
No, but I am saying that, if the numbers stack up and the intrigue is there, they can be great places to get connected. Factoring out San Fran, if you add up an early bird ticket at $450, a flight at $188 and a rough and ready hotel-come-illegal-rental of $100 (and that really is a story for another day), not to mention everything I learned, MozCon 2015 gave back way more than I invested.
Yes I had to put myself out there, a somewhat nerve-wracking experience, but few places gather so many industry experts and people with important positions at companies, who very much have autonomy to hire someone like you if they like your stuff.
Go forth my friend!