MicroConf 2013 was Freakin’ Awesome

250px Welcome to fabulous las vegas sign

I had the opportunity to attend this years rendition of MicroConf in Las Vegas, NV, run by Rob Walling and Mike Tabor and attended by many great people. All I can say, I will be back next year.

MicroConf is a conference not for startups who took venture funding but rather those of us shoestring it and bootstrapping everything we do.

There is an overwhelming theme I noticed after talking to attendees; virtually everyone is doing some form of freelance consulting and wants to get out of it and move on to a product business. One speaker asked how many were on this path I would say 90% raised their hands. I think that says a lot.

Much of the move to a product based business from consulting almost always raises the question of how to begin the transition and how to replace the lucrative consulting work with paid products. Some demonstrated success with writing ebooks and using that revenue to replace consulting or as a launchpad for their SaaS offering.

Brennan Dunn exemplifies taking this path.

For those who have never written a book it can be hard to imagine you have enough knowledge and experience to produce something of value. Patrick McKenzie was asked about this and his reply was “you know more than you think you know”. Solid advice for sure and provides encouragement for developers to consider this avenue of starting the product business.

Rob Walling started the first day with a challenge, where he asked attendees to create 3 actionable items from the event. I think I can boldly share mine:

  1. Stop consulting and be 100% products by MicroConf 2014
  2. Create and market and ebook…topic to come.
  3. Finish and launch SimpleMailr.

As part of these goals I plan to generally improve my business skills in several areas:

  • Marketing – this such a broad area but includes driving traffic to my business, by SEO understanding and implementation as well as better use of advertising (Google, Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Copywriting – honing skills of creating eye popping copy to pull people in.
  • Design – this has always seemed like a black art to me. I plan to not become a designer but rather be more aware of design and the process to effectively create good design. It’s important to have enough skills to communicate the business needs to a qualified designer. It would be helpful to better understand design to take what a designer has to say to then relate to the business.
There are a good number of other accounts of the event from attendees so I won’t rehash everyone else’s thoughts.  One site in particular by Christoph Engelhardt is worth reviewing.  He took great notes on every talk:

Notes on the talks

  1. Jason Cohen’s Opening Talk: “Designing the perfect bootstrapped startup”
  2. Josh Kaufman: “Shut up and take my money” (still needs a lot of editing)
  3. Joanna Wiebe: “Copywriting that converts”
  4. Ben Yoskovitz: “Measuring What Matters”
  5. Guest Speaker – Patrick Thompson: “Bootstraping an App Business”
  6. Guest Speaker – Sherry Walling: “Don’t Burn up in the Launch”
  7. Guest Speaker – Jody Burgess: “Dude. Marketing is not your thing.”
  8. Guest Speaker – Josh Ledgard: “Getting your first 989 Customers”
  9. Rob Walling: “How to 10x in 15 months”
  10. Erica Douglass: “How to Measurably Move the Needle With Your Software Company”
  11. Dave Collins: “SEO Demystified”
  12. Hiten Shah: “Killer Content Marketing”
  13. Mike Taber: “Enterprise Sales Tactics”
  14. Guest Speaker – Nathan Barry: “Zero to $5,000 / month”
  15. Guest Speaker – Brennan Dunn: “The Long-Tail Sale”
  16. Guest Speaker – Brecht Palomo: “How a Non-Technical Founder Built a 6 Figure SaaS App Using Only Free Public Data Sources”
  17. Guest Speaker – Cameron Keng: “Taxes for SaaS”
  18. Patrick McKenzie – “Building Things To Help Sell The Things You Build”

Christoph followed up with What You Can Learn From MicroConf 2013 – Even If You Did Not Attend (great use of copy hack from Joanna Wiebe‘s talk)

Some attendees wrote up their take or takeaways from the conference as well: 

I’m sure this list is far from exhaustive, but you get the idea.   

The bottom line for me is this was a great conference that I will be back for next year.  I walked away from this event with more excitement and to-dos for my business than ever before.  If you didn’t attend this year, you should next year…*after* I have my ticket in hand.

2011 Conference Season

Railsconf2010

I mentioned in my review post of 2010 that I planned to spend more time networking, in particular attending conferences.  I have a pretty solid schedule between conferences and vacation time to last me into the Fall.

I will be attending the first two representing InfoQ, so if you are speaking and want to get together to talk about what you are doing then hit me up.

Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise, April 27-28 in Philadelphia, PA.  Please take a look at the speaker line-up.  I will be attending the speakers dinner on Tuesday evening, please find me.

The 6th Annual Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise Conference has become the Mid-Atlantic’s go to conference for developers, architects, and IT executives. Subjects as expansive and intricate as emerging technology and Open Source require a dynamic forum. This conference provides just that, with industry experts providing up-to-the-minute insight.ETE 2011 brings together pioneers across the spectrum to discuss the principles, practices, and products that are transforming IT’s ability to drive the success of the enterprise.

RailsConf 2011, May 16-19 in Baltimore, MD.  Please take a look at the speaker line-up.  I attended last year and it was a great event, very well run.  Being held in Baltimore again it is hard to pass up not attending.

Thanks in large part to the Baltimore Rails Community who were such a great hosts in 2010, RailsConf is returning to Baltimore again in 2011. Happening May 16-19, 2011 at the Baltimore Convention Center, RailsConf is the official event for the Ruby on Rails community. If you’re passionate about Rails and what it helps you achieve—or are curious about how Rails can help you create web frameworks better and faster—RailsConf is the place to be. Learn more about RailsConf.

MicroConf, June 6-7 in Las Vegas, NV.  I am tentative on this one only because of how soon it is coming and other work and family commitments.  It is put on by Rob Walling and Mike Taber of Startups for the Rest of Us podcast.  The event, focused on small software companies.

MicroConf is a two-day conference focused on self-funded startups and single founder software companies. A limited supply of discounted pre-launch tickets will be available soon; sign up for pre-launch below.

360iDev, September 11-14 in Denver, CO. This is my first conference covering iOS topics.  After watching the session videos from the last event, I decided this was a good one to get started.

360|iDev is the first and still the best iPhone developer conference in the world. We’re not a publishing company pushing books, or a media company selling subscriptions. We’re a conference company, focused on community. Our goal is to bring the best and brightest in the developer community together for 3 days of incredible sessions, awesome parties, good times, and learning. If you don’t leave Wednesday night, with more ideas than you know what to do with, we’re not doing our jobs!

Business of Software 2011, October 24-26 in Boston, MA.  I wanted to attend last year but the price of admission was too high, but this year an early discount rate made it happen.

In short, BoS is a meeting of minds in an incredible, nurturing, sharing environment where amazing people share their thoughts about building better, more sustainable, more profitable software businesses and getting more out of their lives in the process.

I may end up at some smaller conferences at the last minute involving iOS development or other business of software topics.  Hopefully some become available after October.

Again, anyone reading this attending, please hit me up as I would love to meet and talk.