Why Events? [en]

[fr] J'explique dans ce billet pourquoi je me lance dans l'organisation de conférences-événements. (Le français c'est ambigu: une conférence ça peut être un blabla par une personne, ou bien une journée entière avec plusieurs intervenants. Je parle de ce dernier cas de figure. Faites signe si vous avez un meilleur mot.)

J'ai perdu le compte des conférences auxquelles je suis allée assister au cours des derniers 18 mois. Au point que j'en ai un peu marre, j'avoue. Les organisateurs de conférence commencent à avoir l'habitude de lire mes critiques au sujet de leurs événements, donc je sais qu'on va m'attendre au contour.

Donc, je commence à voir un peu de quoi c'est fait, ces fichues conférences. C'est l'occasion de me lancer dans un projet un peu plus à long terme que ce que je fais d'habitude, de m'entourer de personnes compétentes (parce que finalement, je me rends compte que j'en connais une pile), et d'utiliser ma connaissance du milieu web/tech pour monter un programme qui non seulement tienne debout, mais danse la valse.

Donc, voilà. Comme je l'ai déjà dit, cela ne veut pas dire que je mets un frein à mes activités de consultante ou de conférencière (j'ai d'ailleurs des idées à ce sujet que je vais développer dans un prochain billet).

The idea of [starting a company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/) and organising conferences like [Going Solo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/) is the result of a conversation I had a bit over a month ago, just before Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin.

Even though it sounded like a wacky idea to me at first, organising events now really seems like the “right thing to do” today. I’ve been to more conferences during the last 18 months than I can remember, so I’m starting to get a good sense of the ingredients. I have a good network. I have a “generalist’s” view of the web/tech world. I’m also a detail-oriented person. It’s also time I became more active in my professional life (ie, “taking things into my own hands”), and I like the idea of building something over the long term (well, long term by my standards).

If you’re a reader of this blog, you know I’ve become a bit [conference-weary](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/06/too-many-people/) lately. I’m also known (to conference organisers, at least) for my sometimes nasty (but heart-felt!) feedback on their events. So, rather than continue complaining, I’m going to organise **conferences I’d like to attend**. I’m perfectly aware that given my track-record for finding fault with conference organisation, you’re all going to be waiting for me when I do mine. So be it ;-).

I believe it isn’t possible to please everybody: my intention isn’t therefore to organise the “perfect event”, as I know that it doesn’t exist. However, I’m strongly committed to getting **all** the basic stuff right, and to providing something slightly different from what already exists. More will unfold about that over the next weeks.

I’d like to state again that **I am continuing with my speaking and consulting business** (I actually even have plans for it in the near future, particularly in Lausanne). I know organising a conference is a lot of work (and luckily I’m not alone for that, I have two great partners and a bunch of very precious advisors), but that doesn’t mean I’m dropping everything else while I organise it.

*Going Solo* will be my first event, but I already have ideas for events to follow on other topics. The responses so far to my desire to organise an event for freelancers and very small businesses as been very encouraging, and has caused me to start thinking about what else I could set up for this audience/public (which I’m part of).

So, please, keep the feedback coming — I’m off to start writing my next post. (Feeling like a serial blogger just now.)

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Website Pro Day, deuxième! [fr]

[en] Website Pro Day, first edition, was such a success that we've set the second one for December 28th. If you're not in Lausanne, no problem: grab a friend or two and lock yourselves up to work on your professional online presence for the day. Let us know, so we can send you some good encouragement vibes!

I'm also planning the World Wide Paperwork and Administrivia Day (WWPAD for short), which will be held in participants' homes (obviously): sort those receipts and send them to the accountant, pay those bills, file those contracts, purge the piles of paper lying on your desk or in your drawers... Let me know if you're interested so that we can choose a date together.

Ils y étaient, ils ont vaincu! De gauche à droite: [Anne Dominique Mayor](http://annedominique.wordpress.com), [Olivier Tripet](http://b-spirit.com/blogollie/), Stephanie Booth (bibi) et [Julien Henzelin](http://julienhenzelin.typepad.com/) sont ravis d’avoir pris le temps de travailler ensemble, loin du bureau et dans une atmosphère détendue, sur leurs sites “pro”.

Website Pro Day 1, Lausanne

La première édition du [Website Pro Day](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/31/une-journee-pour-bosser-sur-nos-sites-pro-website-pro-day/) a en effet rencontré un tel succès que nous avons décidé de remettre ça le 28 décembre. Vous pouvez [vous inscrire sur Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=6369349379) si vous voulez vous joindre à nous à Lausanne pour venir lustrer votre plumage numérique.

An Afternoon in San Francisco 85 Il s’agit donc de consacrer une journée à l’avancement de sa présence professionnelle en ligne. Oui, je sais, on a toujours plus urgent à faire :-).

On fait aussi des choses sympa comme manger de la soupe, ou discuter d’idées nommées par exemple “Coworking Léman” (plus à ce sujet dans un prochain billet).

Si vous n’êtes pas sur Lausanne, mais que l’idée vous tente, prenez le taureau par les cornes! Attrapez un/e collègue qui a les mêmes besoins que vous, et mettez sur pied votre propre Website Pro Day dans votre ville. Le même jour si possible, comme ça on peut tous s’encourager mutuellement!

Pour ceux que ça intéresse, je suis également en train de mettre sur pied le World Wide Paperwork and Administrivia Day, qui sera consacré (chacun de son côté, là) à avancer dans le triage de paperasse, le remplissage de formulaires administratifs, les coups de fils qui attendent depuis des plombes, le triage des quittances à envoyer au comptable… bref, vous voyez l’idée. Si ça vous intéresse, faites signe, et on posera une date ensemble.

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Announcing Going Solo [en]

[fr] J'ai annoncé il y a quelques semaines que j'avais des projets de création d'entreprise: c'est en route, et nous préparons pour début mai une conférence-événement (une journée de conférences) à l'attention des indépendants du web. En dehors de savoir faire des trucs cools, être indépendant (ou une TPE) pose un tas de problèmes "accessoires": comment fixer les tarifs? approcher les clients, ou mieux, les aider à nous trouver? s'en sortir avec l'administratif? trouver un équilibre de vie entre travail et loisirs, surtout si l'on a fait de sa passion son métier?

Après avoir pensé à Berlin, Paris, et Londres -- nous visons un public européen -- nous avons finalement opté pour Lausanne. A deux pas de l'aéroport de Genève, très joli cadre, et aussi, pratique pour les organisatrices principales, toutes lausannoises.

Je vous parlerai de tout ceci plus longuement dans les jours à venir!

So, here we go. [As I mentioned in my last post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/12/news-from-leweb3/), things are shaping up enough for me to start talking about them, even though a lot is still “floating”.

I’m taking the plunge into the event business. The first one I’m organising is *Going Solo*, a one-day conference in the beautiful and easily accessible city of Lausanne in Switzerland, which also happens to be my home town. It will take place early May.

**Going Solo will fill a gap in the current conference offerings: it’s an event for freelancers of the web industry** (soloists, hence the name) and very small businesses — from all over Europe.

Being a freelancer myself, I’ve come to realise quite a while ago that there is more to freelancing than “knowing cool stuff” and having people around willing to pay for it. How do you fix your prices? Close deals? Find clients, or better, help them find you? Collaborate with others, whether soloists themselves, or employees in a huge company? Deal with taxes, contracts, accounting, and all the rest of the boring administrative stuff? Achieve that delicate “work/life balance”, when you’re one of the lucky ones who turned a passion into a job?

Going Solo will address all these issues (and others), providing those attending with valuable insights and tools which will help them become better at what they are doing in the business world. (Sounds almost like a press release, doesn’t it? I’m practising for the sponsor offerings… shhh.)

In simple words: this is the kind of event I would have wanted to attend two years ago when I was struggling with the idea of becoming freelance. It’s the kind of event I would have liked to attend a year ago when things took off and I started realising how complicated all this “business” stuff was. And it’s also the kind of event I want to attend today, having faced the ups and downs of freelancing in the fast-moving world of new media, in the early stages of starting a company, and wondering what “holidays” means now that my everyday life is split between “hang out online”, “travel to foreign cities”, and “talk about exciting stuff with people”.

Where-when-what-how-why?

I’ll follow up later with a little insight into what’s going on. Be warned, though: you’re going to be following some thought processes here, and might be faced with decisions-in-the-making and not-sure-what-I’ll-do-yets. I welcome all feedback.

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News from LeWeb3 [en]

[fr] Je suis à la conférence LeWeb3, et pour une fois, je ne suis pas en train de bloguer les sessions. Je suis ici pour une autre raison: entamer des discussions avec des sponsors potentiels pour la conférence-événement que j'organise début mai. Je vous dirai plus à ce sujet dans un futur billet, mais si vous me voyez au Web3, n'hésitez pas à venir me demander, je vous en parle volontiers!

This is going to be a quick and dirty posting. Lock up your sheep and warn Grandma.

The reason you haven’t seen much liveblogging from LeWeb3 is that I haven’t really been attending the sessions. To be honest, not many seemed that interesting to me (I’m aware, this year, that I’m not the target audience, so that’s OK with me). But aside from that, this is the first time I’m coming to an event with an explicit goal other than “watch interesting talks” and “catch up with friends and make new ones”.

Remember, some time back, when I told you I was [starting a company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/)? Well, things are starting to warm up and take shape. I’ll blog about it in more detail (probably on the train going back home this evening), of course, but here’s a tidbit for those of you I haven’t yet had a chance to speak about it directly.

LeWeb3 2007 marks the beginning of my discussions with companies interested in sponsoring the event that I will be holding early May. And so far, honestly, I’m really excited about how people have reacted (potential partners *and* attendees). But as I said, more details in a bit.

Back to LeWeb3: first of all, I’d like to say I wasn’t really planning on attending as I had been quite disappointed with last year, but following the [nasty things I said about the event last year](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/12/le-web-3-et-sarko/), Loïc kindly invited me to come and see for myself that he wasn’t going to do “les mêmes conneries” twice in a row (his words) ;-). So, thanks for the invite, and here are a few complaints and praises.

– The wifi was flakey yesterday, though not as bad as last year. I had a bit of trouble logging on right now, but finally made it. – The food is delicious, as it was last year. I think a buffet for lunch is a really good idea.
– I didn’t like the first rows being reserved for the press — it did eliminate any impulse I might have had to liveblog.
– I like the venue. The lobby is arranged carefully, with enough small tables to fill in the empty space and encourage people to congregate.
– Shuttle bus: great. Really.
– Badges with information printed on one side only. Really. Stop doing that, conference organisers. Specially if the hangy-thing for the badge is meant to swirl around.
– Good to have video of talks in the networking area. I can write this post and keep an eye on it so I don’t miss [Doc Searls](http://www.searls.com/). (You don’t want to miss Doc. Or [David](http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/).)

Don’t hesitate and come up to speak to me, specially if you’d like to sponsor my event (I’ll tell you all about it). I’m **not** [suffering from conference overload and oversocialisation right now](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/06/too-many-people/) and quite happy to network and chat.

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Focus Page on Experiential Marketing [en]

[fr] Une page sur le marketing expérientiel, en anglais seulement j'en ai peur. Feedback bienvenu.

There, here we go. I’ve written up a page on [Experiential Marketing](/focus/experiential-marketing/) for my new [Focus](/focus/) section. Feedback, ideas, reactions, etc… all welcome here in the comments.

And please, don’t hesitate to be critical if you think it’s required. Just stay constructive — thanks.

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Stowe Boyd on Experiential Marketing [en]

[fr] Quelques citations (audio et texte) de Stowe Boyd sur ce qu'il appelle "experiential marketing" (marketing expérientiel en français). J'ai eu quelques discussions récentes avec des clients pour des mandats de cette nature, et je prépare une page d'explications à ce sujet pour ma section Focus (pas encore en français, désolée). Si vous êtes curieux, manifestez-vous dans les commentaires, ça me donnera probablement l'occasion de parler de tout ça en français!

I’m preparing a page on *experiential marketing* for my [Focus series](/focus/), as I’ve been in discussion about this kind of work with a couple of clients lately. It’s a term/concept coined by [Stowe Boyd](http://stoweboyd.com/message/) (not to be confused with the related but different independently named experiential marketing you can read about [on wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_marketing)), so I dug around in his archives to see if he had blogged anything significant about it.

I found a few quotes in blog posts, but most interesting was this (http://blog.openbc.com/2006/04/the_comfy_sofa__2.html) in April 2006. Start listening just before the middle of the interview (the first half is about other stuff). Oh, and keep on listening after they’re done on the topic of experiential marketing — Stowe tells the story of why he wears a cap. 😉

It’s interesting to see how the idea evolved from the moment of this interview, just after he came up with the idea, and subsequent incarnations which he blogged about between then and now. Here are a few quotes I picked up:

> Experiential marketing — as an increasing social consciousness pervades the online marketing world, advertisers will realize that ads are becoming less effective, even when streaming and animated. One answer is what I am calling experiential marketing: individuals or groups will be solicited and directly compensated to try out products and blog or otherwise chronicle their use. With highly trusted advocates acting on behalf of the community these campaigns will become a mainstay of product marketing 2.0.

Stowe Boyd, 15.06.2006

>So, I will be posting on this “experiential marketing” project over the next few months, as I attempt to follow the advice of OpenBC’s staff and most knowledgeable users about how to achieve these aims, and I will examine everything involved: from the creation of a detailed profile, to developing a personal network, and the ins and outs of trying to use the system to accomplish real business goals. Because my goal is to spend more time in Europe, I am calling this the “More Europe” project.

>As I said, I will be candid and critical. If I think some aspect of OpenBC’s user experience is dumb, I will say so. If I start drowning in social spam, I will write about it. If I get no traction on my plan, I will chronicle that.

Stowe Boyd, 20.07.2006

> As I announced a few weeks ago, I am doing a new experiential marketing program for the folks at Blogtalkradio.com, one that entails me running a talk radio show. The first show was Thursday, and I had a great time interviewing Ted Rheingold of Dogster about Online Community (see /Talkshow Tomorrow: Ted Rheingold of Dogster on Online Community).

> I started using the term experiential marketing a few years ago, in a project I was doing for GoToPC, and then again last year in the “More Europe” project for OpenBC (now Xing). The premise is that true understanding of a product or service can’t be gained from a half-hour demo: it requires hours, and perhaps weeks of use.

> In this project I will be running a web-based talk show relying on the Blogtalkradio.com technology platform. Along with doing the show, I will be writing up my experiences with the software, recommendations for its improvement, and guidance for others trying the software.

Stowe Boyd, 14.04.2007

More details on all this when I put the Focus page online!

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Competition, Colleagues, or Partners? [en]

[fr] Avec mon projet de démarrage de boîte, je me retrouve à me demander comment exactement l'on définit la concurrence. Qui seront mes concurrents? Quelle genre de relation peut-on avoir avec "la concurrence", surtout lorsque ceux-ci sont des amis ou des connaissances? Est-il possible d'aspirer à un rapport s'approchant de celui de collègues, plutôt qu'une guerre sans merci? Vos idées et expériences sur la question m'intéressent.

In the last ten days I’ve started planning, thinking, and talking about [my new company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/). One of the things I’m struggling with at the moment (besides finding a name which isn’t already taken, isn’t too lame, and won’t get me sued) is how to consider others that are in the field I want to step into (I haven’t told you yet, have I?)

Very obviously, they are competition. My company is going to be doing stuff similar to theirs. But I don’t have the feeling it’s really clear-cut. I mean, look at the “social media consulting” business. Amongst my acquaintances and friends, there are many people who do similar things to me. But they feel more like colleagues than competition.

Is it simply because our skills overlap imperfectly, and our markets are geographically or economically separated?

As I understand it, to be competition, two companies (or people) need to be competing for the same clients/users, and this competition has to be exclusive. By that, I mean that if the client/user decides to go with company A, company B is going to lose his business. I guess this is pretty obvious.

So this is what I’m wondering about. I’m preparing to enter a market which is not totally new. There are already people/companies doing what I want to do. But I’m going to do it in a unique way — mine. Does that still mean the others are “competition”? and in that case — for those of these others who are friends or contacts — does that mean that I will be perceived as a threat, and that any “network benefits” I would have had from those people is to be considered lost? Is it going to have a negative impact on these relationships?

This seems pretty tough. (Maybe it’s just the business world, and I need to toughen up, but I don’t like this side of it, if it is.)

I’m not here to put others out of business. I want to do things better, appeal to a different audience, or “increase the consumption” (horribly way to phrase things, but I don’t have anything better on the tip of my tongue without being more specific) of the current “audience”.

I’m aware I might be coming across as terribly naive to all of you seasoned entrepreneurs and business people out there. But I’d like to believe it’s possible to “play nice” with “competition” — maybe not to the extent that they become partners, but at least something resembling a relationship between colleagues. A relationship where help can be given, contacts shared, advice and lessons learned dispensed. Even if I wouldn’t go so far as to expect partnership.

What about partners, then? Can they be involved with the competition? Could they have interests in one’s competition? (That sound like a bad idea, said like that.) Conflicts of interests aren’t good, that’s certain — but can we really be free of them?

I know that without the specifics this may seem a little abstract, but I’d really love to hear what you all think about this.

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I'm Starting a Company [en]

[fr] J'ai décidé de créer une entreprise. Eh oui. Sans donner trop de détails, je peux déjà vous dire qu'il ne s'agira pas principalement de consulting web (même si je ne renonce pas à mes activités professionnelles courantes) et que ce ne sera pas non plus une application web. Par contre, ce sera l'occasion de faire bon usage de mon réseau.

Un peu étrange pour moi, mais ce sera aussi la première fois dans ma vie que j'entreprends quelque chose dans le but avoué de gagner de l'argent. Bien entendu, ce ne sera pas aux dépens des produits/services/clients/utilisateurs/employés/collaborateurs/partenaires... Je reste qui je suis et j'ai des valeurs auxquelles je tiens 😉

If you [follow me on Twitter](http://twitter.com/stephtara), then you’ve certainly already [heard the news](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/387658512): I’m starting a company. Now, though I’ve told a few people online and off what it was about (shhh), I’m not going to spill all the beans right now (have to keep you wondering for a bit, right?).

What I’ll say for the moment is the following:

– I’m not “retiring” from any of what I’m doing now (I’m still for hire for my usual consulting/speaking/experiential-marketing/etc. stuff, though I might be a bit busier in the coming months, so plan ahead!)
– my company’s main business will *not* be consulting, and it will *not* be a web app (that narrows it down, doesn’t it?)
– strange as it may sound for me to say this, for the first time in my life I’m making a professional decision with the intent of earning money (though not at the expense of my products/services/users/clients/employees/partners, obviously)
– I’m still thinking about a name (“Pink” stuff is out, unfortunately — that should give you a serious hint)
– this will be a chance for me to put my network to good use (amongst other things, I intend to surround myself with great advisors/partners/collaborators).

I’m excited! Full of questions and ideas, but really excited 🙂

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Talk: Being a Blogging Consultant [en]

[fr] Notes d'une conférence que je viens de donner en Serbie sur ce qu'est le travail d'une "consultante en blogs" (notez les guillemets). Je préfère en fait me définir comme une spécialiste de l'internet vivant (celui des dialogues et des relations humaines) et de sa culture. J'interviens partout où ce genre de connaissance est utile à mes clients.

Here are some rough notes of the talk I gave at [Blogopen](http://blogopen.eu), reason of [my presence in Novi Sad, Serbia](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/12/blogopen-in-novi-sad-serbia/). I hope they can be useful to some. Number between square brackets refer to slide numbers (

This slideshow could not be started. Try refreshing the page or viewing it in another browser.

(http://www.slideshare.net/sbooth/being-a-blogging-consultant) embedded below).

*If you have notes of this talk or by any chance have recorded it, please leave a link in the comments.*

**update: yay! some short recording snippets. see the end of this post.**

[1] [2] Two years ago I was a teacher, and if you had told me then that I would be here in Novi Sad, talking about what it is like to be a freelance blogging consultant, you would probably have seen me make a face like this:

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 9

[3] Later on I’ll tell you about what a “blogging consultant” like me actually does, but first of all, here’s my story. I grew up with computers in the house, discovered the internet in 1998 and soon after [created a website](http://old.climbtothestars.org/hist/version1/). I [started blogging in 2000](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2000/07/) and gradually built a small reputation for myself online. By the time the Swiss media discovered blogs in 2004, I’d been at it for a while. When they started looking for Swiss blogs, they found me, and the phone started ringing.

You know how it is with the media: once one journalist has written about a person or a subject, all the others follow. I started [giving interview after interview](http://climbtothestars.org/about/presse), exciting at first, but somewhat tedious after some time. But I was lucky to have very good local media coverage, which did help people find me or hear about me.

Just before the press started to show an interest in me (and blogs), a friend of mine asked if I could explain to her how to make a website. We sat together for two hours, and I told her how the internet was made of servers, and websites were in fact files that lived on those servers, files you can make in a text editor with special markings known as HTML, with CSS to control the visual aspect. She said “wow, you’re really good at this, you should get people to pay you to do it!” I was a bit skeptical, but thought it would be cool. So just before my first appearance on TV, I created a [professional website](http://stephanie-booth.com/) (just a few pages, and if you look at it now, it’s really out-of-date — I’ll be working on it during the [“Website ‘pro’ day”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/31/une-journee-pour-bosser-sur-nos-sites-pro-website-pro-day/) in a bit over a week). And on that website, I made [a page](http://stephanie-booth.com/particuliers/) saying something like “I’ll explain to you how to make a website, this is how much it’ll cost”.

Shortly after my TV appearance, I was contacted by a school who wanted me to come and talk about blogs to a class of teenagers. It went surprisingly well and I really enjoyed it, so I added an extra page on my professional site saying [“I give talks in schools”](http://stephanie-booth.com/ecoles/). Little by little, through word of mouth mainly, I started having clients. And at one point about 18 months ago, I started having enough clients that I could consider quitting my day job (teaching).

That’s how I became a professional blogging consultant.

[4] So, what does a “blogging” consultant do? It’s not just about blogs. Actually, one of my ongoing struggles is to find a “job title” to define myself. “Blogging consultant” already existed, and people knew about blogs, so it wasn’t too bad.

[5] Blogging is more than it seems. It’s a tool, but it’s more than that. It’s also a culture, and if you’re a company or an institution, blogging is a communication strategy. We see companies and media corporations using the blog tool to publish press releases or official documentation. That’s using the tool, but they don’t get the culture, and they haven’t changed their strategy. *(You might want to see the notes on my talk [“How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/24/how-blogging-brings-dialogue-to-corporate-communications/) if this topic interests you.)*

[6] One expression we hear a lot in this kind of context is “social media”. Traditional media go in one direction. Journalists write, people listen (or put their fingers in their ears). It looks like this:

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 1

With social media, on the other hand, we have a new type of media (well, *reasonably new*) where conversations take place. Communication goes both ways:

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 3

So basically, being a “blogging” consultant has a lot to do with social media. (Understanding and explaining it.)

[7] All this kind of stuff is explained in a great book that everybody should read: [The Cluetrain Manifesto](http://www.cluetrain.com/). You can [read it for free on the Internet](http://www.cluetrain.com/book/index.html) or buy it as a real book if you prefer. The Cluetrain Manifesto was written in the year 2000, so quite some time ago, but it’s still spot on. It tells us how people are sick of being marketed at and talked at, and how people are already having conversations everywhere about brands, companies, and these conversations are happening on the internet. Companies, politicians, and media empires would be smart to step in and join the conversation. Anyway… read the Cluetrain Manifesto if you have any interest in what’s going on on the Internet.

[8] So, in my job, I don’t just work with blogs. In addition to blogs, sometimes solution require wikis, podcasts, or social networks. [9] Using these tools brings up values like dialogue, transparency, authenticity, and often leads to rethink strategy. [10] Finding a solution for a client can be helping them re-organise their e-mail, set up a mailing-list, or simply build a website. Maybe it requires social tools like Twitter or Dopplr, or they might even want to know about virtual worlds like Second Life.

This is clearly not just about “blogging”. It’s about this bigger world blogging is an important part of.

[11] I like to think of myself as a specialist of **the living web** and its culture. The living web is the internet of people, conversations, and relationships.

My work is anywhere people need this kind of knowledge. Who needs this kind of knowledge?

[12] Schools, politicians, companies big and small, freelancers, non-profits, media, startups, people…

[13] Here’s a little more about what it means to be a freelancer consultant in today’s world.

[14] [The Balance of the Soloist](http://www.freshbooks.com/blog/2006/09/08/going-solo-a-few-words-of-advice/) according to [Stowe Boyd](http://stoweboyd.com/message):

> The most difficult challenge for soloists is to find a balance between the various activities that must take place to survive. I like to oversimplify these down to three:

> 1. **Doing The Work** — The heart of consulting — of whatever description — is delivering the work. A soloist has to deliver value to the client in order to make money. Most consulting-oriented people start with this capability: it’s the other two that cause problems, in general.
> 2. **Marketing and Networking** — I have already noted that I principally market myself through blogging, and that I attend conferences: those are the outward signs of a willingness, or even an obsession with networking with likeminded others. When I find out about a web product that sounds interesting (my beat), I sign up for the beta, fool with it, write a review, ask for more info, and very soon I am involved in a direct communication with the company’s management. I read other people’s blogs and comment on their ideas. When attending conferences I try to chat with both old friends and folks I have never met before. I know many consultants whose natural introversion makes such activities difficult if not impossible. But these interactions are just as critical to being a soloist as performing the work, and are likely to take up just as much time!
> 3. **Prospecting, Contracts and Cash Flow** — I am always happy to talk about money, and as a soloist it is imperative to get what you are worth, and then to collect the fees. This is a blind spot for many, and a make-it-or-break-it issue. I know a lot of folks that find it hard — even with people they know well — to ask for a project, an engagement, whatever, and to demand payment later on. It may seem obvious but many consultants only get involved with this as a necessary evil, but it’s not. It’s just as central as delivering the goods and networking.

Stowe Boyd, “Going Solo: A Few Words Of Advice”

These are the three skills the freelancer needs. Often people drawn towards freelancing are people who are good at doing something (the work) and reasonable networkers — and the third part (money) is the most difficult.

[15] **the work**

This will of course vary from person to person. Depending on your skills and abilities, you will be doing different things. For example:

– talking (like this talk I gave — speaking engagements)
– explaining — talking with clients to tell them about things they need to understand
– solving problems
– gathering information (about your client, about a subject you need to know more about)
– managing projects
– installing tools (WordPress, wikis…)
– coding HTML, CSS, or even PHP
– doing graphical design in Photoshop (I don’t do this, I’m really bad at it, so I usually tell the client he needs to have somebody else for this)
– training — it’s not that easy for “normal people” to learn how to use a blog tool… and more importantly, understand the blogging culture. Linking can be the topic of a two-hour class! (what to link, when, with what text, trackbacks, linking technique… suddenly text has two dimensions instead of one, so it changes writing style…)
– “cluetrain 101” — explaining the basics of what the internet is changing to the way we communicate
– experiential marketing (I’ll blog more about this later) — where you use a client’s product and blog about it
– blogging for a client (even though it’s not something I believe in, and I don’t do it — some people might)

[16] **Marketing**

– blog, blog, blog. And blog more. Demonstrate your expertise. Look at how [Thomas Mahon](http://englishcut.com/) used his blog to demonstrate his expertise at being a high-class tailor. Blog about what you know and what you’re doing.
– be a good connected net citizen. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, IM… be out there
– talk around you offline
– go to events — try to speak! send in proposals! [Barcamps](http://barcamp.org/) are a great place to start because anybody can talk. Get somebody to film you and put it online. If you’re not speaking, [publish live notes of the talks on your blog (live-blog)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/01/on-liveblogging). People who weren’t there or didn’t take notes might appreciate yours.
– in short, take care of your social capital ([whuffie](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whuffie)) — your social connections
– if you’re lucky enough to have journalists call you — be nice with them. I would probably not be here today if it hadn’t been for the local press in Switzerland.

[17] **Cash**

Often a difficult point, as I mentioned.

– how do you actually get to the point where you close a deal?
– contracts
– you’re worth more than you think! Have friends help you keep that in mind before you negotiate with clients.
– will you be paid per day, per project?
– how much? fixing the right price can be tough — I haven’t completely figured out pricing yet.
– when do you ask for money, when do you not ask? Sometimes it’s [not that obvious](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/30/operations-mediatiques-marre/).

In addition to this, going freelance might mean you have to think about:

– insurance
– taxes
– laws
– accounting
– invoicing

And also… balancing your personal and professional life. All this “taking care of your social capital” does tend to blend the two — in a good way, often, but also in a way that makes taking days off or going on a real holiday very difficult. Pay attention to that.

[18]-[23] So, looking back… After my initial “no way!” reaction to the idea of being a “blogging consultant” two years ago, even though I went through phases like this

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 2

and this

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 12

and this

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 11

and even

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 3

overall… I’m pretty happy about my life as a blogging consultant:

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 14

*note: I took all the rather cheesy “emotion” photos myself the morning before the talk, because I didn’t have the time and resources to go hunting for good “emotional faces” stock photography… I hope you’ll forgive me!*

You can find [more stuff about consulting in my del.icio.us links](http://del.icio.us/steph/consulting).

Thanks to everybody who attended my talk and gave me kind feedback. Many Serbian bloggers also mentioned my talk in their blog posts, but I’m afraid I can’t understand any of it! [Here are the links](http://del.icio.us/steph/blogopentalk%2Bcoverage%2Bstephaniebooth), though:

– [Borska internet organizacija | BITNO na BlogOpen-u / 2](http://www.bitno.org.yu/vesti/?p=33)
– [Blogopen utisci](http://blog.aurora-dizajn.info/izvestaj/blogopen-utisci/)
– [BlogOpen & Novi Sad – dan posle | O zivotu, Vaseljeni i svemu ostalom](http://www.mmilan.com/2007/11/11/blogopen-novi-sad-dan-posle/)
– [BlogOpen – Elektro kuhinja – Blog.hr](http://elektrokuhinja.blog.hr/2007/11/1623579400/blogopen.html)
– [» Blog Archive » Susret na Blog Open-u](http://www.gradjanski.co.yu/blog/?p=13)
– [Nemanja Srećković » Blog Archive » Utisci sa BlogOpen-a 2007](http://blog.nemanjasreckovic.com/2007/11/10/utisci-sa-blogopen-2007/)
– [BlogOpen Review](http://blago.blog381.com/2007/11/10/blogopen-review/)
– [Uh kakva subota! at Samo malo](http://samomalo.hermani.info/?p=345)
– [BlogOpen u Novom Sadu – total report | Webmasterov blog](http://snaxors.com/blog/?p=57)
– [BlogOpen utisci | Dragan Varagic Weblog](http://www.draganvaragic.com/weblog/index.php/349/blogopen-utisci)
– [BlogOpen weekend](http://www.blogowski.eu/2007/11/12/blogopen-weekend/)
– [Blog Open…i kako ga pregurati](http://auroraborealis.blog381.com/2007/11/13/blog-openi-kako-ga-pregurati/)

As far as I can tell, some posts simply mention me. But if there’s anything said worth to be translated or paraphrased, feel free to do so in the comments! (Just tell me what link it’s about…)

**Update:**

Thanks a lot to [darko156](http://komunikacii.net/2007/11/12/blogopeneu/) who filmed two short video sequences and uploaded them to YouTube. Here they are. The first video is slides [4]-[7] (what exactly a blogging consultant is, social media, The Cluetrain Manifesto):

The second is slides [7]-[10] (Cluetrain, social media tools and values — dialogue, transparency, authenticity, strategy…):

Curious about [what I was waving in my right hand](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/1988146940/)?

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Une journée pour bosser sur nos sites "pro": Website Pro Day [fr]

Si vous êtes un peu comme moi (consultant/indépendant dans le domaine du web) vous avez probablement quelque part un [site professionnel](http://stephanie-booth.com) qui erre, l’âme en peine, attendant depuis une année qu’on veuille bien s’occuper de lui.

Eh oui, comme on dit, c’est les cordonniers les plus mal chaussés, et les professionnels de la communication web qui ont les sites-vitrine les moins à jour. Pas pour rien qu’on recommande le blog, c’est beaucoup plus facile à entretenir, comme format.

Donc, mon pauvre site professionnel a bien de la peine, depuis un moment déjà. Il n’est vraiment plus à jour. Je fais des tas de choses qui ne sont pas annoncées sur le site, et franchement, ce qui y est aurait besoin d’un bon coup de peinture pour le remettre au goût du jour. Me “vendre” n’a jamais été mon point fort, et ça commence à se voir.

Sans compter également que, côté “vitrine professionnelle”, les nombreuses années d’écriture sur Climb to the Stars ont tout de même généré quelques bons articles qui méritent d’être mis un peu en évidence, alors qu’ils sont enterrés dans [les archives et une arborescence de catégories](http://climbtothestars.org/archives) à faire pâlir un bibliothécaire.

Vu également que mes activités professionnelles se développent à l’étranger, une version en anglais de ce site ne serait pas du luxe.

En résumé, y’a du boulot.

La bonne nouvelle, c’est que je ne suis pas la seule. Une remarque d'[Ollie](http://www.b-spirit.com/blogollie/) sur le piètre état de [son propre site pro](http://www.b-spirit.com/) m’a donné une idée. M’inspirant de [la journée “finissons et publions nos brouillons d’articles!” mise sur pied par Chris Messina](http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/295393/), si nous organisions une journée pour bosser sur nos sites pros? Quand on travaille seul ou presque, structurer son temps est une des grandes difficultés. Se retrouver à plusieurs dans un but spécifique nous paraît une bonne idée pour faire avancer les choses.

Donc, le mercredi 28 novembre à Lausanne, Ollie et moi nous serrerons les coudes pour offrir un sérieux lifting à nos sites respectifs. Si vous êtes dans une situation similaire à la nôtre, c’est avec plaisir que nous vous invitons à vous joindre à nous! L’invitation est [sur Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=6980246501) (si vous êtes un indépendant du web, vous y êtes certainement déjà!):

Facebook | Website Pro Day à Lausanne

> Cette journée de travail (d’étude, enfin) sera consacrée à la remise en forme de sites professionnels trop négligés d’indépendants du web.

> On passe tellement de temps à se soucier des sites de nos clients que les nôtres en pâtissent! Il est temps de prendre le taureau par les cornes et de consacrer une journée à polir notre propre présence online.

> Concrètement: on se retrouve dans un lieu adéquat (wifi, calme, vivres) et on bosse chacun sur son site, avec son laptop et son matériel. A plusieurs, c’est plus motivant!

> Attention: ceci n’est pas un atelier où on débarque pour se faire “coacher” ou pour apprendre quelque chose. C’est chacun pour soi, chacun son truc (même si entre collegues, un peu de feedback ou de dépannage peut aider). On est entre pairs, quoi.

> Si vous voulez être des nôtres, envoyez-moi un petit mot!

> Si vous avez un lieu à proposer sur Lausanne, faites signe aussi.

J’ai choisi le perroquet plein de couleurs pour illustrer l’invitation, parce que c’est l’occasion de nous mettre en avant sous notre meilleur jour!

Si l’idée vous interpelle mais que vous n’êtes pas sur Lausanne… pas de souci! Organisez un événement similaire dans votre ville 🙂

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