When I first started my career as a blogger and social media consultant in 2012, I was starting from scratch. Less than scratch, truth be told.
I had a server and I had programming experience, so I built my own website and started publishing content.
Within the first couple of years, I gradually became aware of the various marketing conferences held throughout the United States – conferences where I knew I could really expand my learning, as well as make fantastic industry connections.
But for a solopreneur just starting out, none of them were in my budget. Beyond the conference fees, travel was also an expense as not a single conference was in or near St. Louis, so that meant airfare and lodging as well.
Two years later, things started to change. Instead of relying on AdSense earnings and one-off clients, I was signing long-term consulting contracts and doing more affiliate work. I’d even published my own book. With stability in my income, I started to think about how I would be able to take my business, and my personal growth, to the next level.
Soon thereafter, I revisited the idea of attending one or more conferences… but which one?
I decided that the first conference I attended would be Content Marketing World. In addition to being a great fit for both me and my clients, it is held in Cleveland, OH, just 45 minutes from my hometown. Driving to Ohio with the family is something we do all the time, and it made sense to let my kids spend time with their grandparents while I was ‘working’ over in Cleveland.
The conference was amazing, and it was incredible to meet so many of my peers face-to-face for the first time. I will definitely be going to CMWorld again in the future.
But the best conference was yet to come.
Throughout the rest of 2015, all of my social media peers and colleagues kept saying the same things to me. That where I really needed to go was San Diego.
Social Media Marketing World
Presented by Social Media Examiner, there’s no other conference in the world that sees such a concentration of social media experts, panelists and marketers.
I was determined to make that conference the next conference that I attended.
Naturally, we made it a road trip.
That Spring I packed the fam into our Acadia and off we went, driving through Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and then on into Southern California. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend you drive through the Southwest at least once in your life.
For the next three days, while my family was enjoying the sights, I was enjoying the complete immersion into social media marketing with every friend and peer and mentor I’d known for the past 4 years.
From the moment I walked into the lobby of the San Diego Convention Center, I knew I’d made the best decision of my career.
Raise your hand if you’re going to Social Media Marketing World!
From the workshops to the panels to the keynotes, every session was packed with information and every time, I walked away feeling like I’d gained knowledge in some way.
I took notes. I tried new apps that were recommended. And I discussed ideas and strategies and tactics with people who get it and were having as much fun as I was.
Most importantly, I networked. I made new friends and renewed old ones, and that has had the most tremendous impact on my career.
Discussions happening at Social Media Marketing World
Note that while this article was written for SMMW17, it’s all true for 2020 as well! I’ve updated the link and dates accordingly.
This year, I can’t wait to return to Social Media Marketing World. Michael Stelzner and team have already put together an incredible docket of expert speakers which will make this year bigger and better than each previous year.
For instance, this year they’ve added an entirely new series specifically for Creators. You’ll see how successful bloggers, live video producers, podcasters, vloggers and YouTubers build and maintain content that their fans love to share. With 40 sessions dedicated to content creators, you’ll be sure to find actionable tips on topics such as Facebook Live, Periscope, video production, audio recording, WordPress and much more.
Social Media Marketing World 2020 is a conference designed to help you master social media marketing and content creation. You’ll hear from Guy Kawasaki (author, The Art of Social Media), Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day), Jay Baer (author, Youtility), Ann Handley (author, Everybody Writes), Michael Stelzner (author, Launch), Michael Hyatt (author, Platform), Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies), Chris Brogan (co-author, The Impact Equation), Mark Schaefer (author, Social Media Explained), Scott Monty, Kim Garst, Tim Schmoyer, Darren Rowse, Gini Dietrich, Shaun McBride, Joel Comm, Viveka von Rosen, Zach King, Marcus Sheridan, Amy Schmittauer, Pat Flynn, Joe Pulizzi, Cliff Ravenscraft, Christopher Penn, Ian Cleary, Madalyn Sklar, John Lee Dumas, Lou Mongello, Sue B. Zimmerman, Carlos Gil, Derral Eaves, Peg Fitzpatrick, Rebekah Radice, Jeff Sieh, Steve Dotto, Bryan Kramer, Andy Crestodina, Lee Odden, Leslie Samuel, Holly Homer, Brian Fanzo, Donna Moritz, Neal Schaffer, John Jantsch, Dan Miller, Ray Edwards and experts from more than a dozen top brands as they reveal proven social media marketing tactics and content creation tips at Social Media Marketing World 2018.
Social Media Marketing World 2016 Speakers
If you can only budget for one conference this year (and believe me, I know what that’s like), this is the conference you need to attend.
And hear me on this: the sooner you make the decision to attend, the less expensive it will be. The conference fee gets more expensive the closer we get to March, so register today for the most savings!
Everything you could want or need to know can be found on the conference site – from the agenda and speaker list to hotel & travel arrangements. And if you’re not sure about something, just ask away in the comments below. If I can’t answer your question, I know plenty of people from the conference staff who can.
What If I Can’t Afford SMMW This Year?
If you’re where I was a few years ago, and investing in a conference registration + travel seems outside your budget… consider this…
Attending a conference like Social Media Marketing World has the following immediate and lasting benefits on your and your business:
- The sessions you attend result in a dramatic increase in your available knowledge, which can then be translated into tangible improvements for your business and clients.
- The fun, learning environment has an incredibly positive impact on your psyche that is motivating and uplifting, even long after the conference has ended.
Social Media Marketing World 2016 Red Carpet
But more important than all of that, taking the time to meet and spend precious moments with peers, colleagues and mentors can and will have unbelievable, unforeseen repercussions for years to come.
Just think, what if you were able to sit down and have lunch with a social media expert that you’ve admired from afar. What might you learn? What might they learn about you? Or what if you had a chance to chat with the CEO of one of the tools you use every day and offer them feedback that they appreciate, and want to hear more later?
The opportunities for referrals and relationships is unprecedented. And, quite literally, not to be missed.
Getting ready to meet Mari Smith and Kim Garst at SMMW16
In other words, the best advice I can give you to not wait as long as I did. If you want to have a career in social media marketing – either working for yourself or for someone else – you cannot afford to put this off.
You need to attend Social Media Marketing World.
P.S. Once you’ve registered, let me know that you’re going to be attending! I’d love to say hi, and if there’s interest, I may be scheduling a free Q&A session while everyone’s in San Diego, by way of thanks.
P.P.S. If attending the conference live simply cannot be scheduled, you might want to check out the Social Media Marketing World Virtual Ticket!
Links to register for the conference are affiliate links. I felt so inspired and impassioned after the first year that, not only did I know I would keep attending, I wanted to promote the conference and let others know what a life-changing event it is.