This year Team Lulu has been lucky enough to attend a variety of conferences and conventions around the world – publishing events like IBPA University and London Book Fair, professional conferences like Social Media Marketing World and MozCon, and even conventions like Creator Economy Expo. Most recently we traveled to Boise, Idaho for an amazing weekend at Craft + Commerce, a creator-focused conference hosted by ConvertKit.
Curious about what creator events are like – who attends, what they do while there, and what you could learn from them? Considering attending a conference like this one in the future? Read on for a recap of what you missed (and why you definitely should take the opportunity to attend a creator conference in the future)!
Who is ConvertKit, and What is Craft + Commerce?
ConvertKit is a marketing platform designed to help creators of all kinds grow and monetize their brands. ConvertKit’s mission is “to help creators earn a living online,” and they do this by providing a platform and the support necessary for creators to earn a living from their craft.
Craft + Commerce is an annual conference hosted by ConvertKit in Boise, Idaho. ConvertKit’s international staff comes together to host over 300 creators from all over for three days of inspiring keynote speakers, educational sessions, intimate workshops, and more. We met so many different creative types this year, from people just getting started on their creator journey to industry experts, and they all had so much to share.
As ConvertKit themselves put it: “This conference is specifically created to help online creators like you – bloggers, makers, vloggers, photographers, freelancers, podcasters, and the many others who identify as creators – be inspired by stories from fellow creators and educated by experts to help grow your business.”
Who Attends Craft + Commerce?
“Creators” is a pretty broad term, right? At Lulu we tend to use that word a lot – creators, creative types, etc. – but who exactly are we referring to when we talk about creators?
That’s easy: you. And me. And all of us – any one of us who sits down and creates some kind of shareable content, experience, product, or service. We’re talking about (and to) writers, bloggers, vloggers, artists, photographers, graphic designers, podcasters, and influencers, of course. But we’re also talking to chefs, teachers, fitness instructors, nutritionists, financial advisors, professionals, and so many more.
As broad and expansive as this definition of “creators” seems to be, we met almost all of the above at Craft + Commerce! So if you’ve ever thought to yourself “wow, a conference like that sounds fun, but I’m not really sure that I qualify or that I would fit in there,” great news: there’s room for creators of all kinds at an event like Craft + Commerce, including you! The Creator Economy is an ever-growing area of industry, and we love how broad and inclusive it is.
What is the Creator Economy?
ConvertKit recently published a report on the State of the Creator Economy for 2022. It’s a really interesting read, I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you are at all curious about what, exactly, your fellow creators are out there doing. They do report, among many other things, specifically on what types of creators are out there in this ever-expanding creative economy.
If you are, as my boss likes to put it, a data nerd, there are more reports like this one that are totally worth a look. Patreon put together their first ever Creator Census in May 2022, The Tilt shared an extensive report 2022 Content Entrepreneur Benchmark Research, and SignalFire took their own look at a Creator Economy Market Map.
Why Would I Want to Go to A Conference Like Craft + Commerce?
Let’s be honest for a second: conferences are expensive, exhausting, and occasionally overwhelming. But they can also be also extremely worth it. There are so many great reasons to attend a creator event like Craft + Commerce, but these are my top four:
One of the main draws of a conference like Craft + Commerce is, of course, the speakers. Event hosts like ConvertKit work hard to put together a list of presenters that represent some of the best and brightest in the industry. It’s not often any of us find ourselves in the same room as so many influential and knowledgeable experts, which makes conferences a great opportunity to learn from brilliant professionals!
Take a look at the 2022 Craft + Commerce Agenda – speakers included Hustle founder Sam Parr, ConvertKit founder Nathan Barry, psychologist Benjamin Hardy, cinematographer Chloe Weaver, travel blogger and entrepreneur Glo Atanmo, artist and activist (artivist!) Nikkolas Smith, and many more – including our very own VP of Marketing, Matt Briel! With such a broad range of experts, experiences, and personalities in a single place, how could you not learn something new?
Maybe you’re thinking “if there are so many different types of creators in one space, how can anything be made relevant to any one specific type of creator?” You’re right to wonder; it is definitely a challenge to keep the session topics broad enough to appeal to a wide audience, but also specific enough to provide valuable insight and education.
The good news is that the experts that put together these events are really good at achieving that perfect balance. The even better news is that sometimes finding yourself in a session that isn’t 100% perfectly tailored to you is actually the best part of a conference like this. You may just find yourself learning about something outside your niche, genre, or industry that you can then connect back to your brand. You know what that is? Growth. And also a fantastic new opportunity for you!
After all the educational opportunities, easily the next best thing about a conference is the chance to network with other creators! We’ve talked before about the importance of growing your author network, so I won’t belabor the point. Instead, let me give you a real-world example of how conferences can be great networking opportunities:
Back in May at Creator Economy Expo, Team Lulu was so excited to meet Daren Smith, producer, entrepreneur, and creative coach who had recently published his book Craftsman Creative using Lulu Direct for Shopify. It’s always an amazing experience to get to meet Lulu creators in person, learn more about their experience, and see the unique ways they’ve found success with their book(s), but sometimes it can be even more than that!
In this case, we were excited to learn that Daren would also be attending Craft + Commerce and was hoping for an opportunity to share more of his experience with some of the conference attendees.
Cut to June and here we all are, back at another creator conference, where our very own VP of Marketing is hosting a session on Repurposing Your Content to Create Passive Streams of Revenue + Turn Followers Into Fans. Talking abstractly about how creators can take their existing content and monetize it by publishing a book is great and all, but you know what’s even better? A firsthand account.
Like, for example, inviting Craftsman Creative author Daren Smith up on stage to tell the audience about why and how he published his book, and what kind of opportunities that book has created for him. Talk about making amazing connections at conferences – we’re so glad to have met Daren, and for the opportunity to learn more about his story!
Conferences can be a great excuse to explore somewhere new! I’m a New York transplant living in North Carolina – I can’t think of any other reason I ever would have gone all the way west to Boise, Idaho… and I would have seriously missed out if I never made it over there.
While the conference filled up our days, we had a few opportunities to explore downtown Boise once the sessions wrapped. We discovered some amazing spots along the way, like Rediscovered Books (always look for the nearest indie bookstore to visit when you’re in a new city!) and Fork.
What Did Lulu Do At Craft + Commerce?
Being an exhibitor at a conference is a very different experience than being an attendee, but not in a bad way! As exhibitors, we have the opportunity to meet so many of the attendees that stop by our booth to say hi, learn more about Lulu, and pick up some of our awesome swag.
We met people that had already published a book in the past and were looking for alternatives to that traditional experience. We met people that plan to publish a book soon; fun fact, according to ConvertKit’s report, 41% of creators surveyed say they plan to create a book in 2022. And of course, we met plenty of people that hadn’t ever really considered publishing a book before, but we’re hoping we may have changed their minds…
Especially those that attended Matt Briel’s excellent session on Repurposing Your Content to Create Passive Streams of Revenue + Turn Followers Into Fans. I’m totally not just saying this because he’s my boss – our VP of Marketing is passionate and knowledgeable about publishing, the creator economy, and how a book can be an incredibly valuable marketing and revenue tool for any brand.
Matt spoke to the importance of building a community on your space, like your own brand website (as he puts it, having a following on a social media platform like TikTok or Instagram is great, but you’re building on rented land). He also shared some of our favorite examples of different creators that have monetized and grown their brand with a book. Creators like Bola Sokunbi of Clever Girl Finance, who published personal finance and budgeting journals, or Armen Adamjan of Creative Explained, who published a collection of plant tips & tricks, and of course Daren Smith.
Want to see what a session at Craft + Commerce is like? Check out this recording of Matt’s presentation on Repurposing Your Content to Create Passive Streams of Revenue + Turn Followers Into Fans.
Is A Creator Conference Right For You?
It’s easy for me to sit here and say “you should totally go to a conference, they’re so much fun!” They are so much fun, but they’re also overwhelming, abundant, and costly. Ultimately, only you will know if attending a conference will add value to your brand and your personal business opportunities.
But I would encourage you to very seriously consider one, at the very least. They are amazing experiences, filled with opportunities for learning something new, networking, and getting inspired. Plus, we love getting to meet y’all! If you ever do see Team Lulu at a conference, don’t forget to come say hi!
Lauren is the Social Media Manager at Lulu, which means she gets paid to spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day. When she’s not browsing social media she can often be found voraciously reading romance novels, collecting books, or attempting to exorcize her cat.