Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Minnesota Family Entertainers & Artists' Business Conference - Sept 2015

I had the MOST amazing time as a speaker and an attendee of the MN Family Entertainers and Artists' Business Conference last week!

Carpoolin' to the Conference!
The conference was orchestrated and hosted by Lori Hurley, our own local family entertainment goddess who not only runs an incredibly successful business, but has published two books and spoken at numerous conventions around the country on the topic of business.  Her willingness to not only share her own expertise, but encourage other local entrepreneurs to do the same, is evidence of our belief that if we work together for the good of our industry, it benefits us ALL in the end.
 
A few old friends and a few new ones!
Many talented artists from across multiple disciplines, coming together for one common goal to grow our businesses!!
I have seen this time and time again as I host as many local jam sessions as I can squeeze in my calendar.  I am not an expert on every aspect of face painting, and I don't ever want to be.  I learn something new from my "painty friends" every time we get together, and I hope they learn from me as well.  Every time we bring another local artist into the fold, I see our support and networking benefiting all sides.  Not just me and my friends, but also our clients!!  We are consistently raising the bar here in the Twin Cities and it's really showing!

Ready for the next speaker!
But back to my recap of the conference!

On September 22nd Lori opened her home to over a dozen local artists.  Face painters, balloon twisters, henna artists, magicians, clowns...we were all there together for the common goal of growing and transforming our businesses.  The cost of this first "pilot" conference was just $50.  Attendance was capped at just enough to really get into some good networking and conversation, but not enough to require the costs to rent a space.


Four local artists gave 6 presentations throughout the morning and afternoon:

David Walbridge gave great tips on how to add value by adding fun and humor to our work, and four things to think about when creating a character for yourself.  David encouraged us to take the time to really have fun with each and every "small person" we work with, and not only gave us many great insights, but catchy insights that rhymed!

Lori Hurley talked about how to get paid faster...seriously, who doesn't want that?! She also gave us some incredibly useful advice for creating effective contracts that manage clients' expectations and minimize preventable headaches, generously walking us through her own contract verbiage. 

Cindy Trusty gave us the permission and that many of us needed to give ourselves a raise! We learned how far our own confidence in ourselves and our rates can go, and when the best time is to raise your rates.  Cindy made it personal with real life stories from her own experience which were priceless!

I (Gretchen Fleener) spoke on two topics: Creative ways to advertise for little or no money, and how to design a pay-per-face booth that does the selling for you.

The conference followed a format similar to TED Talks, where each speaker had strictly timed slots to speak within.  Questions were not allowed during the talk, but were written down and handed to the speaker at the end.  The format was really great in my opinion...it enabled us to really focus and get everything we could out of the time we had.  I'm a huge fan of efficiency and not wasting time!

Lori encouraged us all to write down 3 action items after every speaker to take home and implement in our businesses, which was an excellent exercise and gave us a clear list of the valuable items we all took away from this conference.  I am already working on implementing some of my to-do's and hope to get through all of them soon!

At the end attendees had one more opportunity to hand in questions, which the entire panel of speakers answered.

I really loved many aspects of this conference:
  • Structure - I didn't feel like a single moment of time was wasted! (my hugest pet peeve!)
  • Content - Presenters have a way of cutting to the good stuff when they only have 15 minutes!
  • Collaboration - Imagine a world where your "competition" actually helps you succeed!
  • Bang for your Buck - $50 is a steal for any class or conference, but the sheer amount of actual value we got out of each speaker was amazing. And you can't beat the savings of having a conference in your own back yard!
This was a "pilot project," but I am hoping we have another one soon!! Be sure to watch our Facebook page as I will definitely share it again if we do another!

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