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I’m going to say it, I’m officially a professional conference convert.

That isn’t easy for me to admit after almost 7 years of avoiding all forms of professional development. 

But to tell you the truth, I just didn’t need it in my previous job – I know how that sounds, but please hear me out…

You see, during my time as a design engineer, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by an incredible team. All of them very good at their job and willing to teach you. 

Because of this, I quickly learnt the ropes and made a name for myself. I had the confidence to hold my ground against far more experienced colleagues. And, I knew my team always had my back.

But, all that changed when I began freelancing. Suddenly I was on my own. I had no one to bounce ideas off, ask questions or get some sage advice from. 

That was until I stumbled across Kate Toon, her incredible Clever Copywriting community and Copycon.

Copycon 19

As part of her mission to create a supportive community for aspiring and experienced copywriters alike, for the last 3 years, Kate has put on Copycon – Australia’s only dedicated copywriting conference. 

This year, I decided to bite the bullet and go. 

And you know what?

It was fantastic.

Held on the May the 4th at the Melbourne Arts Center, Copycon was packed with enlightening and insightful presentations, on-stage discussions, plenty of fun and even an interactive quiz.

What I got from attending

I could go on for another thousand words or so with all the gold nuggets of info I picked up…but I know you don’t have all day. So I’ll get right to the point and highlight my main takeaways from the conference.

1. Personal development

First speaker of the day was the very funny and intelligent Robert Gerrish. He talked about the five key personality types most likely to suffer from Impostor Syndrome, and strategies to overcome this.

As a condition that around 70% of adults will suffer or have suffered from, it really struck a chord with the room. 

For me personally also as it’s something I suffer from, from time to time.

Robert Gerrish Speaking at Copycon 19

Robert Gerrish talking about Imposter Syndrome.

2. Business development

In a one-on-one interview style session, David Bell (from MercerBell)  talked with Kate about what it’s like to work for agencies and what they look for from copywriters. He also dropped a great tip – feed your creative brain with sources of influence outside of work. 

While the rather colorful (literally – she danced on stage in a carnival-style feathered headgear) Suzi Chadwick reminded us about the importance of building your brand and forming an emotional connection with your clients.

Suzi Chadwick Speaking at Copycon 19

Suzi Chadwick speaking about building your brand at Copycon 19.

3. Professional skills development

It wouldn’t be a copywriting conference without learning a little about copywriting.

Ryan Wallman, Bernadette Schwerdt, and Rob Marsh gave us some valuable copywriting tips and tricks:

  • The importance of a good taglines
  • Use copywriting formulas: save yourself a lot of time and produce better copy
  • Sell with stories – the secret to writing killer sales pages

While SEO guru Aaron Agius, brought us up to speed on the latest in getting found on Google. His fun, yet surprisingly competitive interactive Quiz was a definite hit.

Ryan Wallman speaking at Copycon 19

Ryan Wallman sharing his passion (copycon joke – see below) about taglines 

4. Learning from the experiences of others

A highlight of the day for me was hearing from fellow community members about their struggles, their stories, and their successes. 

Donna Webeck, Nerissa Bentley, and Rachel Alt covered why to niche in a panel discussion – something I’ve only recently started doing. 

.An engaging panel discussion with Donna Webeck, Nerissa Bentley and Rachel Alt about niching.

The panel discussion with Nerissa Bentley, Donna Webeck and Rachel Alt about why to niche. 

Amanda Vanelderen shared the importance of a great brief and Liz Green about getting your assumptions right. While Sophia Arthur shared her increased success once she started showing up like a boss.

The most memorable presentation for the day though goes to Kate Toon and ‘dating your clients’. High on euphemisms yet packed with years of insights and experience about how to best handle the tricky client-copywriter relationship.

Kate Toon talking about the client-customer dating game

Kate Toon’s memorable discussion about surviving the client-customer dating game.

5. Networking opportunities

Networking is a big part of events like this.

I got to meet and chat with so many fabulous copybeasts. Many of whom I’d only seen in facebook groups. 

And I finally, got to meet my fellow South Australian Recipe for SEO Success Course buddies, Kate Crocker and Angela Pickett in person.

I got to meet my Recipe for SEO Success course buddies: Kate Crocker and Angela Pickett

I got to meet my Recipe for SEO Success course buddies: Kate Crocker and Angela Pickett

6. A feeling of support and community

Be it sharing an Uber from the airport with the lovely Leanne Shelton, or getting some sage advice from Zoe Heard and Elizabeth Bond, my first time at Copycon wouldn’t have been as enjoyable as it was without the amazing people who attended.

They made me feel welcome and a real part of the group.

7. Having a laugh with other human beings

The best part about getting out from behind your desk is simply having a laugh and relaxing with people in your profession. 

Of course, being May the 4th, the after party was inevitably Starwars themed. 

Although I didn’t dress up, some members went all out!

Having fun at Copycon

Unfortunately, our table didn’t win the ‘best photo’ award…but we had a lot of fun trying.

The wrap-up

Attending Copycon was like being back with my old workmates. I got to bounce ideas off people, got some fantastic advice and a real sense that I’m apart of a bigger community. 

After such a great experience, I’ll definitely be going to more conferences in the future. 

So for anyone who thinks conferences aren’t for them, don’t think they have the time or cringe at the thought being in a room full strangers.  

Change your mindset, make the time and get over it. 

Going to a good professional conference is an experience you won’t regret.

Over to you

Are there any professional conferences or events you really enjoy? Comment below.

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Written by Josh Rose.

SEO copywriter. Word lover. Addicted to travel.

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