2013 Creative Freelancer Conference Recaps and Round-Ups

One of the best-kept secrets in the freelancing community is the HOW Creative Freelancer Conference. I’ve attended it several times and always come away with my head swimming with new thoughts, ideas, and advice on how to work smarter, treat my clients better, and as a result boost my income. It’s not an exaggeration to say my income has gone up well over 50% since I started attending back around 2007-ish, and a large part of that is due to things I’ve learned from the conference.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend this year’s conference, but others who did attend have posted some great blog posts and recaps outlining what they learned. There’s some great stuff here! Most of it has been gathered into one Pinterest page by Ilise Benun (who co-founded a terrific company, Marketing Mentor). Or, you can click on some of the links below:

Top Ten Things I Learned At The Creative Freelancer Conference by Jill Lynn

The Dark Art of Pricing by Jessica Hische

A New Perspective: The Creative Freelancer Conference by Kimberly Salisbury

Creative Freelancer Conference Recap by Loretta Robinson (Part 1, Part 2)

Resources For Making People Love You Madly by Colleen Wainwright

CFC: My Ten Specifics Behind ‘The Awesome’ by Deidre Rienzo

The People You Meet And The Books You Read by Luke Mysse

Episodes of the Reflex Blue Podcast related to the conference.

Now….get out there and work smarter!

EDIT: Next year’s conference will be May 12-16, 2014 in Boston. Mark your calendars!

2011 Creative Freelancer Conference Is Fast Approaching

Later this month I’ll be in Chicago for the Creative Freelancer Conference, a two-day event designed to help freelancers work smarter, up their game, and as a result boost their incomes. This will be my fourth year attending and I can’t wait. It’s easily one of the top events I attend each year.

The Creative Freelancer Conference will be held June 23-24 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. If you make a living as a creative freelancer (photographer, designer, illustrator, etc.), or are thinking about taking the plunge into freelancing, you absolutely must go to this conference. You’re guaranteed to walk away loaded with practical info and inspirational ideas on how to make freelancing work better for you. The better you are at freelancing the happier your clients will be and the greater your chances of overall success. Its a win-win for everyone.

Time is short but its not too late to register. This year the conference is also piggybacking off of the HOW Design Live conference so if you plan to attend both you get a discount.

To get a taste of what’s in store you can purchase audio and powerpoints from the 2009 Creative Freelancer Conference here. Attendees of the 2011 conference can also order audio of this year’s event but if past conferences are any indication that audio may not be made available to the general public. If you still aren’t sold, you can read my recap of the 2009 conference. I’d also recommend visiting the website of Marketing-Mentor, the terrific people who partner with HOW to make the conference such a success.

Hope to see you there!

Discount for Creative Freelancer Conference

Today (April 15) is the last day to get the early-bird discount on the Creative Freelancer Conference. Plus, if you take part in their Twitter promotion you’ll save an additional $25 off the registration price (even after today’s deadline, I believe). Details here.

Full disclosure: If you enter my Twitter name (“cedrichohnstadt”) when you register I’ll be in the running to win an free iPad. But I’m not expecting to win so I don’t want you to think that’s why I’m plugging the conference. I’m being completely sincere when I say the Creative Freelancer Conference is a *fantastic* resource and I would highly recommend it with or without my very slim chances of winning.

This will be the third annual conference. I attended the first two and each one has been one of the professional high points of my year. Even though I’ve been freelancing for thirteen years I still learned an awful lot from these conference that has helped me to be more professional and boost my income. In my case, I’ve learned enough ways to make more money through all the great seminars that each conference has easily paid for itself.

But its not just about the money. You’ll also learn a great deal about how to run your freelance career more like a business, which just makes life a little easier. At past conferences I’ve learned a lot about “scary” topics  like networking, self-promotion, how to talk to clients about money, etc. The folks who put this conference together are top-drawer and really know their stuff.

I own a ton of books on freelancing but when am I ever going to have time to read an entire book? By carving out a couple of days in my schedule to get out of my studio and focus solely on learning about freelancing, surrounded by other creatives with the same goal, has been a terrific solution for me. Each year I’ve come back smarter and excited and ready to take my business to the next level.

Unfortunately most art schools don’t do a very good job of preparing their students for the business side of freelancing. I’ve certainly had to learn most of it on the fly. Fortunately this conference is custom-made for illustrators, designers, photographers, and other creative types who would rather be creative than do a business plan. You’ll learn how to make your skills profitable from other successful people who speak your same language.

The conference this year will be June 5-6 in Denver. It will be immediately followed by the HOW Design Conference so you can kill two birds with one stone if you are so inclined.

More info on the Creative Freelancer Conference here.

HOW Design Conference


HOW Magazine is sponsoring their annual design conference in Boston May 18-21. The conference offers dozens of workshops and presentations. They are primarily aimed at graphic designers, but there appear to be a lot of topics that could easily apply to illustrators, web designers, and others in the various fields of commercial art.

I’ve never attended a HOW design conference but am considering attending this year. Besides the opportunity to network with lots of potential clients, there are a some presentations and events I think I’d get a lot out of. Here’s a few that really interest me. (Whenever you see the word “designer”, insert your profession, i.e. “illustrator”, since most of the content will still apply to any creative field.):

Financial Planning for Solo Designers (i.e. freelancers). Shel Perkins will help you get a handle on your overall financial situation, as well as manage every day growing pains—from capital needs and financial projections to banking relationships and cash flow.

Get Your Network to Work for You. Tim Pederson will share the proven formula for successful networking, with tips on building a relationship in five questions, using “the million-dollar question,” and networking at a mixer.

The Design Enterpreneur. Charles S. Anderson will take you on his journey from designer to design entrepreneur—creating, manufacturing and licensing digital and tangible design products for distribution throughout the world. (Think dinnerware, gift wrap, note cards, books and apparel.)

Applying Color (The ABCs, HSVs , RGBs and CMYKs of Color). Join color expert and author Jim Krause for a session that’s 20% color theory and 75% practical palette-building techniques that you can directly apply to your own design and illustration projects. You’ll leave with an understanding of color that is both simplified and expanded; a greater awareness of the qualities and effects of color; and practical strategies and formulas for choosing and combining colors

Creating the Perfect Pitch: Tools to Help Express Your Vision. You may have an awesome vision for your client, but if you can’t express it in a way that resonates with them, you’re sunk. Learn the tools available to you for creating a visually stunning presentation. In addition, we’ll show some of the tips for choosing colors and design elements that help you stay true to your pitch during the design process. Knowing best practices can make technology a design asset, freeing you to express your vision flawlessly.

Inside Red Nose Studio: The Creative Process of Illustrator Chris Sickels. Chris Sickels will walk you through his creative process, from early concepts to model making to drawing the final images—even some animation. You’ll learn how to take full advantage of whatever you have at hand, how to experiment and push the limits of creativity, and the real value of original commissioned illustrations.

Email by Design: The Art of Creating Effective Email Communications. Discover simple tips for improving your email response rates and results, and review creative samples that work—and some that don’t—so you can be sure you’re creating email newsletters and campaigns that look great and work even harder. You’ll learn simple tips for improving the quality and results of your email communications; easy ways to create more timely, targeted and personal customer and member emails; how to design for different email programs and make sure your masterpieces look great no matter where they’re being seen

You can view the full list of presentations and register at the HOW Design Conference website.

Have you ever attended a HOW Design Conference? What did you think? Was it worth it? Leave a comment below and give us the inside scoop.