Going Solo Venues, Open Stage, and Link Love [en]

[fr] Sur le site de Going Solo, vous trouverez le récit de mon après-midi passée à visiter des salles de conférences à Lausanne. Ma proposition d'Open Stage pour LIFT'08 semble avoir du succès mais a encore besoin de vos votes.

Je me pose ensuite des tas de question sur les raisons pour lesquelles Going Solo ne semble pas attirer plus l'attention des blogueurs. Est-ce trop tôt? Pas assez d'informations? Ai-je épuisé mon capital social? Est-ce que tout le monde pense que les autres s'en chargent?

Pour que des personnes en-dehors de mon réseau direct puissent entendre parler de Going Solo et s'y intéresser, j'ai besoin de votre aide. Voici la (modeste) collection de liens couvrant Going Solo. Julien a parlé plusieurs fois de Going Solo en français (merci!), mais je crois que c'est à peu près tout côté couverture francophone. Oui, la conférence est en anglais. Mais vos lecteurs francophones ne sont pas tous nécessairement anglophobes, ni les personnes qu'ils connaissent à leur tour.

Que ce soit clair: je ne veux forcer la main à personne. Si vous trouvez Going Solo inutile ou même bête, ne perdez pas votre temps à en parler (ou mieux, en fait, racontez pourquoi vous pensez ainsi, ça m'intéresse). Mais si vous désirez soutenir cette conférence et que ce n'est visible nulle part sur votre blog... Prenez un petit moment pour ça.

Et si vous avez un éclairage à offrir concernant ma difficulté permanent à "rallier" les gens autour des choses que je fais (pas les choses que je blogue, hein, celles que je fais), je suis toute ouïe. Merci d'avance.

Just a note to say I’ve published [a blog post on hunting for venues for Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/2008/01/21/venue-stories/) (yes, on the Going Solo blog — what? you haven’t subscribed yet? what are you waiting for?). If you have any thoughts on the points I raise there, go ahead.

In the good news departments, it seems [my open stage proposal about organizing a conference for freelancers](http://www.liftconference.com/going-solo-being-freelancer-connected-world) is attracting interest. It still needs votes though, so if you [want to help make sure I hit the big stage](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-community-program-propositions#openstage) and you are going to attend LIFT, be sure to [vote](http://www.liftconference.com/going-solo-being-freelancer-connected-world). (Every vote counts. Thanks.)

*Prepare for slight digression.*

For some reason, I seem to always have trouble motivating people to “spread the word” about stuff I’m doing. There seems to be a disconnect between the picture people send back to me (“Oh, you have so much *traction*, you’re so influent, etc.”) and what actually happens when I try to get the word out about something.

I usually don’t have this problem when it’s somebody else’s stuff. If I sign up for your nice new shiny 2.0 service and like it, I’m going to convince dozens of people to sign up. Twitter. Dopplr. Seesmic. It’s even happening with offline stuff like [the neti pot](http://steph.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/morning-rituals/).

I guess one of the issues is that I’m not really comfortable promoting my own stuff. Some people seem to have no problem doing that — I always feel like I should shut up, and if what I’m doing is really worthwhile, other people will pick it up and blog about it. On the other hand, I am pretty comfortable [page-slapping](http://joi.ito.com/archives/2003/08/10/page_slapping.html) people with my own writings.

So, what is it? Do people underestimate the support I need from the community? Am I one of those annoying people who [ask for too much and don’t give enough](http://www.horsepigcow.com/2007/11/24/you-may-be-a-community-freeloader-if-you/)? Do I squander my social capital? Is the stuff I do so lame that nobody has any interest in talking about it? Am I simply just “missing” a little something somewhere that I still haven’t figured out? Am I just not active enough in self-promoting?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about my [technorati ranking](http://technorati.com/search/climbtothestars.org) or about the fact that some of my blog posts have already been around the world three times (my stuff on [MySQL encoding problems](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/18/converting-mysql-database-contents-to-utf-8/) and [multiple WordPress installations](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/09/02/scripts-for-a-wordpress-weblog-farm/) have remained popular for years — the latter with spammers, maybe, I’m afraid). It’s more about *stuff I do* as opposed to *stuff I write*.

Take [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net). I know I haven’t really started pushing it out there, because we don’t have branding yet and the price isn’t quite set. But still. When I [announced it here on CTTS](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/) (and before that, when I [said I was starting a company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/)), a lot of people stopped by to leave an encouraging comment or send me a nice tweet. I really appreciated it.

Now, not trying to make anybody feel bad here, but here’s [the coverage of Going Solo](http://del.icio.us/steph/coverage+goingsolo) that I’ve been able to round up (or the [technorati cosmos](http://s.technorati.com/going-solo.net). I’m getting into the habit of bookmarking any “coverage” links, because they’re easy to find on the moment, but 6 months later you can forget about it.

Is it because I haven’t explicitly said “Going Solo needs your link love”? (If that’s it, I’m saying it now.) Is it because it’s “too early) — ie, people are waiting for the venue to be set, the full programme to be announced, sidebar badges to be available and the tickets to be on sale? I personally don’t think it’s necessary to wait that long. I’m convinced Going Solo is going to be a really useful event for many freelancers out there. I want to get the word out and create interest for it, also outside my immediate network. And for that, I need you. You’re the only people who can help me reach “outside my network”. Or maybe I’m being difficult, naive, or expecting too much?

I’d like to understand what’s happening. I’d like more people to talk about Going Solo and try to promote it to their networks, of course, but my main issue here is understanding. So any insight will be… more than welcome. If you think Going Solo is worthwhile, but you haven’t blogged about it, it would help me if you left a comment to tell me why you haven’t (yet, hopefully!) blogged about it. Again — I’m not asking for justifications, just insight from “the other side of the fence”.

This week-end, as I was hurrying to get [my LIFT workshop](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/01/19/lift08-workshop-get-started-with-blogging/) out of the door, I was astonished (in a disappointed sort of way) to see how few people had come up with proposals for LIFT. I know people wait until the last minute to do it, but I also realised that I hadn’t really blogged about LIFT this year. I guess I was thinking that it was so popular anyway, a blog post of mine wouldn’t really make much difference. “The others” were already blogging about it.

Then I took a step back and thought of [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net) — how my frustration that people weren’t talking about it more. So I wrote a blog post to tell people it was [the last minute to send a contribution to LIFT](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/01/20/very-last-moment-to-propose-a-contribution-for-lift08/). Did anybody make one because I blogged about it, I wonder?

So, done with the angst-ridden rambling. I welcome your comments. And Going Solo needs your link love.

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15 thoughts on “Going Solo Venues, Open Stage, and Link Love [en]

  1. Je pense qu’il y a fondamentalement un problème d’adéquation public/fonds en effet, si ton événement vise à aider les gens qui souhaitent devenir indépendants dans le milieu du web, alors ne pas indiquer directement le prix de la conférence est une erreur.Ton prix devra évidemment être très bas, hors de question de taper dans les tarifs du WEb3, par exemple: petites structures et indépendant rime avec tout petit budget.
    De même, petit budget dit “pas de super voyage pour aller visiter lausanne” ->peu de public étranger a priori. Et dans le même temps, si je suis suisse, que la conférence se passe en Suisse, je vais m’attendre à ce que les conférences soient dans une des langues nationales.
    C’est un peu le serpent qui se mord la queue, et ça rend ton projet difficile à promouvoir.
    Quant à ne pas savoir se vendre, j’ai tendance à considérer ça comme une qualité, mais c’est sans doute parce que je souffre du même problème!

  2. Fred, tout d’abord, merci pour ton commentaire. Côté tarifs, je te promets que s’ils étaient fixés je les publierais. Mais je ne veux pas publiciser un tarif qui n’est pas définitif. J’ai une assez bonne idée de la fourchette (comparé à d’autres événements du même calibre) et clairement, on va pas chercher dans les tarifs Web2.0 Expo ou LeWeb3 (ou même LIFT), mais on ne va pas non plus pouvoir faire un événement commercial à “très bas prix” (la conférence à 99€, ça va pas le faire).

    Comme l’a dit très sagement un de mes amis, quel que soit le tarif que je fixe, il sera beaucoup trop cher pour certains, et pas assez pour d’autres. C’est en fonction du coût de la conférence qu’il va falloir que je détermine ça (au programme pour demain, entre autres choses).

    Je crois qu’il ne faut pas perdre de vue ce que les gens vont retirer professionnellement de cette conférence. Il ne s’agit pas de faire une virée à Lausanne pour passer une journée à réseauter dans le vide. Les personnes qui viennent à Going Solo vont repartir avec des idées, des méthodes et des outils qui vont les aider à rendre leur business solide, et en fin de compte (car c’est bien de ça qu’il s’agit) de gagner plus d’argent.

    C’est un investissement.

    Je crois que beaucoup d’indépendants (même des petits) dans le milieu de web voyagent pour aller à des conférences portant sur des sujets en rapport avec leur travail. Ils passent de nombreuses journées à préparer des projets pour des clients qui n’en voudront pas. Ils suivent des séminaires de réseautage ou marketing.

    Ça ne me paraît pas illusoire d’attendre un public autre que local — sinon, très franchement, je n’aurai pas choisi Lausanne, mais Londres. Lausanne, tu peux y arriver depuis n’importe quelle ville Easyjet pour moins de 200CHF. On paiera moins cher pour les frais de la conférence, donc ça nous aide à garder un prix abordable.

    Cela dit, je comprends bien que le fait que les prix ne soient pas fixés décourage les gens de prendre une décision (je viens/je viens pas). Par contre, est-ce que ça empêche les gens d’en parler?

    Ne pas savoir se vendre, effectivement, j’aurais tendance à considérer ça comme une qualité humaine (plutôt que l’excès du contraire, en tous cas) — mais côté business, ce n’en est clairement pas une.

  3. Bon, je suis peut-être un peu terre-à-terre ou “bouchée” mais j’ai l’impression qu’il manque quelques infos qui donneraient envie de faire suivre la nouvelle: des choses basiques comme le lieu, le prix et surtout le contenu (titres des conférences, résumé, présentation des intervenants etc.)! C’est plus agréable de parler de choses bien concrètes, non?
    De plus, il y a peut-être un problème de définition de “public-cible”. Il pourrait être intéressant de dire clairement quel genre de personnes pourrait être intéressé (plus précis que free-lancers).
    Les blogueurs francophones ont peut-être aussi du mal à parler d’un événement qui se déroulera en anglais dans une ville francophone…
    Dernière remarque: Going Solo est un événement très nouveau, de même que Going Far, et viser un public européen dans une ville suisse qui n’est ni Genève, ni Zürich, c’est plutôt audacieux pour un début, non? Cela aurait été plus simple (moins intéressant?) de commencer par une conférence plus “locale” (public romand, ville romande et langue parlée en Suisse romande).
    Voilà pour ces réflexions, j’espère qu’elles ont un minimum de sens. Au plaisir d’entendre encore parler de Going Solo et Going Far.

  4. Hello Charlotte! T’as raison. Les infos disponibles sont encore fragmentées. On est pas encore prêts à vendre des billets, comme je l’ai dit plus haut, mais je pense que ça n’empêche pas de parler déjà. C’est vrai que de l’extérieur, je peux comprendre que ça paraisse un peu nébuleux — à plus forte raison pour mon réseau francophone, vu que j’ai blogué principalement en anglais.

    On m’a fait remarquer (cf. mon dernier billet là-bas) que le site de Going Solo ressemblait plus à un “blog de préparation de conférence” (ce qu’il est, aussi) qu’à un “site d’événement”. M’en vais donc rajouter quelques onglets indispensables euh… une fois que j’aurai mangé, en tous cas.

    Définir le public cible plus clairement est une excellente idée. C’est d’ailleurs un des articles dans ma pile de brouillons en mal d’écriture. Puisque tu me le fais remarquer, je pense que je vais m’en occuper plus rapidement que ce que j’avais prévu. Tant à faire, et tout en même temps! C’est un peu l’ambiance ces jours, j’avoue 😉

    Concernant ta dernière remarque, on en revient de nouveau au choix de Lausanne, comme ville. Je reste persuadée qu’on n’est pas obligé de se coltiner toujours les mêmes villes si on ne veut pas faire dans le “local”. Lausanne est à 35 minutes de l’aéroport de Genève — c’est plus proche que bien des endroits à Genève. C’est une ville magnifique, qui a tout ce qu’il faut côté business pour mettre sur pied un événement comme Going Solo. J’ai longuement expliqué en anglais mon choix de Lausanne comme ville pour cette conférence, plutôt que Paris, Londres, ou Berlin.

    Je me rends compte que ce serait peut-être utile de le faire aussi en français.

    (Je sais que tu as peut-être lu mes articles en anglais, hein, je parle de façon générale.)

  5. OK, …. let me be blunt. 😉 Every event organiser wants my linkylove. Every event organiser asks me to blog about their event, to email people I think might want to go, to pimp their ride, as it were. But they never really explain to me what it is that I get out of it. I get lots of people asking me for stuff, but very few people offering me stuff. Why should I write about any event, if I’m not in the mood to? What is it that I’m going to get out of it?

    Generally speaking, I usually intent to blog about the events that I’m going to go to, but certainly over the last year I’ve been too busy to even do that. I don’t even have time to write up my own talks! Daft.

    Asking people directly for linkylove isn’t going to work, because you’re making it all about what you need, and offering them nothing in return. And no, a “blog badge” isn’t going to cut it. I’m not sure what is, but there’s got to be some exchange of value. I’m giving you my time, attention, a bit of my reputation, and the attention of my readers… you’re giving me what?

    This has nothing to do with the value of your event, or how interesting it’s going to be, or the quality of the speakers, but is more about understanding what the transaction is that you are attempting to enter into with people.

    And it’s not just you. I was disappointed at how little participation there’s been on the Creative Business project I’m running. But I haven’t had time to really think about how to get people on board, and by the time I do, it will be all over.

    So I’d say think a little bit more about what it is that you’re offering, rather than what it is that you want.

    Now, as this event is you, and I’m involved, then I will put more effort into blogging about it once I have all the screamingly urgent things I need to do done. What with the wedding and stuff, you can imagine my to do list. But at least the good intention is there. 😉 Others, well, yes, it’s going to be hard to get them involved. It always is.

  6. Whilst you’re currently #1 in Googling for “going far”, both the Going Solo and Going Far websites have one problem: They don’t look like their intended aims. Going Solo is an event, not a blog, right? So what needs to be made is a website that looks like it’s the web presence of an event. Sure you can have a blog on there to publish whatever news is coming in as planning progresses, but the front page, the first thing users see should cry out “IM A REALLY COOL EVENT”. I guess the same goes for Going Far. You have to have more than just a blog, you need to get a CMS, or make something and show that Going Far is a company, what’s your goals, what you sell as a business and so forth. Whilst content is king of the web, appearance is equally as important in my opinion.

    In regards to your tweet: I don’t think neither the French nor the long post killed English comments, rather, French and English comments here run parallel with a language wall diving them that only anglo-phonic francophones such as yourself can “see” both sides of the wall. But if one language starts the dialogue, generally it can be intimidating for another language to start, even if we know many would understand. Props to Suw above to starting us off.

  7. I’m really intrigued by your conference, and I think I fit the profile of people you’re looking for, but right now I honestly don’t know if it would be worth attending. I already freelance, so I’ve been through the start-up thing; I’m more concerned about where to go from here and how to get better.

    In particular, I’m not seeing (yet) what would make this conference better than a general business meet-up on freelancing. It has to be much, much more worthwhile than something I can get in my own backyard, or I can’t justify the travel, the hotel, the fees and all that. I’m hoping you’ll show me…:)

  8. Ali: could you tell us more about what you get out of a general business meet-up on freelancing, and what would make Going Solo more worthwhile than that? What’s missing in the usual business meetings you’ve seen or been to?

  9. I'm really intrigued by your conference, and I think I fit the profile of people you're looking for, but right now I honestly don't know if it would be worth attending. I already freelance, so I've been through the start-up thing; I'm more concerned about where to go from here and how to get better.

    In particular, I'm not seeing (yet) what would make this conference better than a general business meet-up on freelancing. It has to be much, much more worthwhile than something I can get in my own backyard, or I can't justify the travel, the hotel, the fees and all that. I'm hoping you'll show me…:)

  10. I’m not sure how useful my opinion will be! I go to a local business breakfast meeting with other small businesses, and that is quite helpful. We are all from slightly different backgrounds and we talk about our issues and help solve each other’s problems.

    When i set up 5 years ago, I also did government-run courses on running your own business. All of those are pretty good for general information. My personal challenge right now is whether to continue being low-key, or take things to a different level, focusing more on developing an identity or brand, and finding more of the interesting assignments.

    I think I’m particularly looking for insight into the internet/web 2.0 context, and how that might differ from other contexts. Personally, I’d also be looking for clear messages about what I would get out of the time and how I might use it to solve some of my own issues. Also, what type of people are coming and what opportunities there are to interact?

    My worry right now is that it would be a bit basic and a bit generic; there’s a book I read a while ago which was called ‘Going Solo’ which was good on general touchy-feely inspirations for freelancing, but quite poor on tips for putting things into practice. So, there you are. Brain dump. But I’m probably not typical…

  11. Thanks a lot, Ali, that was helpful. You know, nobody is typical, when you look closely. So it’s useful for me to see some real personal needs/opinions expressed. It helps me understand my “audience” (ugh, don’t like the word) better.

    The people who I imagine will be interested in coming to Going Solo are freelancers (fresh and more seasoned), people who are not freelancers but might be thinking of taking the plunge, and very small business owners.

    Though they are not the primary target, we might also see people interested in interacting with and understanding freelancers — but these will certainly be more on the sponsor/partner side of things.

    My aim is to be practical (as much as possible in a conference format), even though everything might not be new for you if you’ve been freelancing for the last five years.

    Your interest in the characteristics of the Web industry as an industry to freelance in is a good point. I’d also been thinking about including something along those lines.

  12. Stephanie, one more thought: I may be typical of a certain type of freelancer, in that I freelance primarily because I have kids, and I have a small number of loyal clients. I may have been doing this for five years, but someone who’s working full-time, full-on might have outstripped me in terms of genuine experience by the time they were doing it for a year!

    I see people like me as very typical of freelancers, but not very sexy as a group. I do think it’s a stage thing, you go down a few gears for a year or two, and then you come back. Or indeed, reinvent yourself, all over again…

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