E-Business Owner - Cath
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E-Business Owner - Cath

I consider myself a bit of an SBI! conference groupie (or whatever the modern equivalent is). I've been to three so far – Edinburgh, Barcelona and Chicago - and am hoping to go to Tampa in the Spring of 2011.

I live between the UK and Italy, so that's a long way for me to travel – and a lot of money to spend.

Why do I do it? Good question! As Shakespeare said – "let me count the ways".

  1. Because unless you've been to a conference, you can't imagine what it's like to sit in a room full of people who actually understand what you are talking about when you speak about your online business – and whose eyes don't glaze over. It is – as my Chicago conference friends taught me to say – "awesome".

  2. Because at each conference I've learned so many new things, all of which have moved my Web site on to the "next level". Let me be specific here.

  3. When I went to Barcelona, I had content but had not taken very much notice of the need for back-links. In fact, I had precisely four. A session at Barcelona opened my eyes – people were talking about the need to have thousands!

    So I made it my aim after that conference to build many more. A challenge on the SBI!Forums helped me out here too, by helping me with motivation – after all, building back-links isn't the most exciting of tasks.

    What happened? The conference was in September 2009. By Christmas, I had 197 backlinks and my Google Page Rank – greatly affected by links - had gone from a sad "n/a" to 1.

    OK, so there's more work to be done, but it's a start. I still use the tips I learned in Barcelona, and have used them to help other people just starting out with link-building. I’m no expert – but I know how important it is.

  4. Edinburgh. Having Chaired the Barcelona conference(I didn't’t feel I had enough knowledge to present anything) I helped to organise the Edinburgh event. That in itself was a wonderful experience – I made friends for life in the planning group. We still meet up every so often, and they've adopted me as part of their Scottish support group.

    By the time Edinburgh happened in June 2010 I had built around 120 pages and before the conference had an average 250 unique visitors a day. Not great, but not bad, I thought.

    The major things I learned from Edinburgh was the need to look at my site not as a hobby, but as a business. Which sounds easy, but I struggled with it. For over thirty years, I’d had a job I’d grown to hate. Early retirement gave me the possibility, in my mid-50s, to do something I actually enjoyed. But if I enjoyed it, it couldn't be work … could it?

    One session with Kim by videolink from America and I had a completely different outlook. I love my Web site, and I love building it – and I undertsood that it's a business.

    So what? So, I learned to work on it as I would work at any job. I have set hours and a designated space to work in. I told my family that whether they understood it or not, I am an online business owner and need to spend time working. That was a hard one – but it worked. They’re slowly getting the message.

    My other major lesson here was monetising. Because I’d always viewed the site as a hobby, monetising had been secondary. I really didn't care whether or not I made money – I just enjoyed doing it.

    Then a light went on. What if I could enjoy building an online business, and make money at the same time? And that's where the monetising part of the conference came in – not only from the formal sessions but from networking and listening to others ideas.

    So I took those ideas away, made a “to-do” list and within one month of the conference my Adsense earnings alone have gone from a few pennies a day to £s. So much so that, when Chicago was advertised, I knew I could go. My site wouldn't pay for it all, but it did pay for most of my flights.

  5. By now I was confident enough to offer to do a presentation. It wasn't a long one, it was just an overview of lessons learned – but it was so much more than I'd dreamed I'd be able to do.

    Chicago was probably my best conference experience, probably because I'd learned y now how to get the most of out conference. My conference “buddies” were incredibly hospitable, taught me how to translate English English into American English, and introduced me to Chicago deep pan pizza and Dirty Martinis – but that's another story.

  6. What I learned in Chicago would make this (already too long) article into a blockbuster. So I’ve picked just one learning point – keywords.

    I thought I understood keywords. It turns out I'd understood a little, and missed a huge amount. What on earth had possessed me to use a keyword with a demand of 42 and a supply of 35? Why hadn't I realised that the reason my pages were dropped by Google was that I was using a secondary keyword too often?

    And after Chicago? It’s been just about eight weeks since the conference ended. With around 30 new pages optimised for good keywords, my unique visitor numbers have gone from around 400 post Edinburgh and pre-Chicago, to current numbers consistently around 700. That's an amazing jump – and it's no coincidence.

    So – is it worth going to conferences? Is it any more than a chance to meet and chat with other SBIers?

    Ask me those questions and you’ll get a resounding "absolutely", every time. I've met some amazing people. The Chicago group have stuck together and we have our own Facebook page. Some of the people I’ve met at all three conferences have become friends for life. That's a wonderful spin-off, for which I'm so grateful.

    And as well as all that, the've taught me how to think like a businesswoman. How to use the amazing tools SBI! gives us most effectively. How to attract more visitors to my site, and how to give them more of what they want when they get there. And, importantly, how to develop the potential of my site to make me some very welcome money.

    I’m not a rich person. Without my site I could never have afforded Chicago – but I did, because my site allowed me to. And I'm confident it will also allow me to go to Tampa.

    So for me, the question is not "can I afford to go to the next conference?". It’s "can I afford not to?"
    Tampa – here I come!

Cath Andrews - Explore Italian Culture

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SBI! San Diego

Betty at Espresso And Coffee Makers
Each and every presenter added a new layer of information as well as their own unique spin. We were treated to live demonstrations of how they are accomplishing the tasks that we all need to take for success with our own web businesses.

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SBI! Chicago

Ashley at Python Printable Games
No matter what level you're at, you will come away from an SBI conference with something more than you expected to as you arrived. Looking down the list of topics before I went, I thought, "Okay, there's one I could miss" -- and yet, I'm so glad I did not skip a single topic, because it humbled me to realize how much each and every person had to teach me, even about topics that I thought I knew inside-out.

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SBI! Dallas

Gale at Coton-De-Tulear-Care
Like many SBIers, I have a day job and a busy life and make excuses for putting off some of the critical to success tasks like link building. This will never get me to my goals. The conference re-energized me and helped me remember why I am doing this. I am an E-business owner and I am in control of whether this business will be a success.

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