I wish I could live at CaboPress.
I spent the past week in Cabo San Lucas, at a business conference (yes, really) made for nerds like me. To be honest, when I first heard of CaboPress (a mastermind conference run by Chris Lema), I wrote it off due to the cost, and the fact it didn’t seem like a “real” conference. Hanging out in a pool having discussions? Would that be worth it?
Turns out, yes.
After seeing several people I know and respect rave about what they got from last year’s CaboPress, I decided to give it a shot. And I’m so glad I did.
Never, at any other conference, have I had such deep discussions and made such great friendships and connections.
Before I talk about the conference, I need to mention that I was hit with a huge case of impostor syndrome once I realized who was actually going. Here I was, going to a conference with HUGE names in the industry.
How the heck did I get accepted?
And what could I possibly offer to someone who makes more money in a quarter or even a month than I do in a year?
As an introvert with some self-doubt and anxiety issues, I stressed myself out right before the trip. Would I be the loser no one wanted to talk to? Would I have to eat dinner alone while everyone talked about how awesome they were? Did I make a mistake in coming?
Fortunately, my fears were short-lived. Chris reminded us that he had purposefully selected all of the attendees, and that we were there for a reason. And as I got to meet people, I found that I did have something to contribute, that I could be helpful, even if my business was smaller.
No one made me feel like I was “less” because I wasn’t running a huge company, or wasn’t as well-known. Everyone was welcoming, wanted to learn more about what I did, and never once did I feel like I was brushed off or looked down on. In fact, once people found out what I did, many of them had questions about running their businesses that I was able to help them with! The group was truly fantastic, and I quickly felt like I was a part of it, which made the rest of the week an incredible experience.
At most conferences, you sit in an audience with hundreds of other people, and are talked at. While that has its benefits, it also has its limitations.
At CaboPress you won’t be talked at, but asked to participate in discussions led by hosts. You get the benefit of not only the hosts’ experience, but also the experiences of many others. This means you can get insights from those who have been in similar situations, and a variety of different ways that such situations were handled. I love that, because there really is no one “right way” to do business, so having different options presented allows you to pick and choose (and combine) what works best for you and your business.
Beyond the facilitated discussions, I had many, many great discussions during our “free time” in the afternoons and evenings. This was my favorite part of the conference, because typically you have a speaker dinner, or after-party, and maybe lunch to connect with people. At CaboPress you have the entire afternoon and evening to really build relationships and connect on a much deeper level.
I had a fantastic lunch group where I was able to get great insights into my business–and hopefully contribute to others’. At dinner, the groups changed each night, which gave opportunity to meet new people and connect with questions Chris wanted us each to answer during dinner. This helped break the ice in some cases, and get new discussions started.
One of the great things about spending the better part of five days with like-minded people, was that you didn’t have to constantly be selling yourself. Yes, you wanted to create good impressions because it was still a “work” event, but not every single conversation needed to have an agenda.
Sometimes, when I’m at other conferences, I know I have a limited amount of time to talk to people, and feel like I have to cut straight to the chase and only talk about business. But at CaboPress, since we had so much free time and were there for much longer, I was able to relax a bit and discuss a lot more than just work. Talking about my favorite trips or people asking about my cat (really) allowed me to connect with others on a more personal level, and actually create friendships instead of just business connections. I think that’s really important when you’re like me, working from home and running a business alone.
But of course, I also made some great business connections. No one at CaboPress is the target market for my courses, nor would they buy a website from me, since they can all make websites. But my audience is likely to buy from them, and vice-versa, so there were lots of great collaboration opportunities and discussions, about how we can team up and help our audiences even more.
Going into CaboPress, I had a few goals. In the past few months, I’ve stepped back from client work, and have focused on teaching. I have found selling courses to be much harder than selling websites. So, one of my goals for CaboPress was to talk to others who teach and figure out how they’ve been able to build a successful business around teaching.
Fortunately, one of the first discussions was hosted by Chris Lema, where he talked about product roadmaps. While my membership is pretty new (it just launched this year), I’ve been very focused on pushing features. New workshops, new content, new blah blah blah. Which, of course, is important since people sign up for a membership that promises new content monthly. However, I’ve been of the mindset that adding new workshops will magically attract new people–while promoting it to the same people over and over. Instead, I need to focus on attracting new audience segments.
To do that, I need to come up with a plan to identify and attract new segments, customize the landing page for each segment, and customize content for each segment. Eerily enough, ConvertKit (affiliate) came out with content personalization for websites within 24 hours of us having this discussion. It’s like they were spying on us! 😉
My second goal was to validate that my membership didn’t need to be its own separate business. I’d been waffling about whether to keep it under my name, or break it out completely under its own brand. Jennifer Bourn, branding genius, helped me solidify that it could be its own branded product, but still under my name. Further discussions with her and others helped me flesh out exactly how to do this. You’ll have to wait and see on that though!
My final goal was to talk to women who worked from home or ran their own businesses with little kids. I don’t have kids, but I have seen several successful female business owners struggle with the balance, and knowing that I plan to have children in the future, I want to make my business as easy to run as possible before kids enter the picture. I attended the discussion on juggling kids and business, and also spoke with several women individually about how they managed it. After these conversations, I feel as though my business is headed in the right direction, though I’ll stay a cat-mom only for another year or two!
The final dinner question was, “What’s the one thing you learned here that you’re going to implement?” I have a lot more than one thing I’m going to implement, but my first step is to focus on my audience segments, and attracting new ones. Along with that, will come content customization, and a bit of rebranding, but again, you’ll have to wait and see on that as I’m still fleshing out the details!
Special thank you to Chris Lema for putting on this event. I had a blast, learned a ton, and again, wish I could live at CaboPress year-round. I feel so fortunate to have been accepted into such an amazing group of people, and hope that I was able to give back even an ounce of what I got from the conference. Going forward, I feel a lot more confident about where I’m headed, and that the knowledge and connections I gained at CaboPress will be a huge part of my success.