How did the weekend progress? Well I left Birmingham about 3pm on Friday afternoon and drove up to Leeds, feeling calm and collected even with my presentation being just 19 hours away. Arriving at the City Inn in Leeds I was greeted by Dom and as I looked around the lobby started to recognise the faces of other speakers, such as Jaamit Durrani (seoinsight.co.uk) and people I had only ever spoken to on Twitter, it was quite surreal.
I checked into my room, got changed and made my way down to dinner where I met Mel Carson, Community Manager at Microsoft Advertising and his wife Ashley for a very brief pre-dinner drink prior to Dom ushering us quickly to the table where most of the other speakers plus guests had already gathered. Dinner was beautiful, I had a Spiced Beef dish (can’t remember what it was called) to start with and a strange breaded mozzarella risotto main course which looked like two large scotch eggs, but were great none the less. Also at our table were Richard Baxter (Seo Gadget) Carl Hendy and Rob Kerry from Ayima, Karyn Fleeting of Tinderbox Media and our distinguished host Dom Hodgson.
After the meal we headed over to The Square pub in the centre of Leeds for the pre-conference party/pool competition/icebreaker/meet and greet. I lost in the first round, to pool shark and later found to be poker dealer Al Carlton…who, I might add, you should never ask to get you a non alcoholic drink because you’ll die of thirst waiting for it! As the time got closer to the midnight hour I thought it was time to head off and get some sleep before the big event…
THE DAY OF THE CONFERENCE:
7am I’m up and down for breakfast, ordered a full english…what a fucking mistake that was, as soon as it arrived I could have barfed it all back up with the anticipation of having to present for the first time about domain names in about 3 hours time! (Seems silly now to get nervous about talking through a subject you have lived and breathed for almost a decade!)
Anyway I walked to the venue, The Alea Casino enjoying the scenery of the Leeds Canals. Arriving about 8:15am I was again greeted by Dom, and Dom? Doh, it was his life size cardboard cut-out! The venue was pretty slick, the team at Think Visibility had obviously gone the whole slog with arranging everything and I was in awe at the level of organisation there was as the team hurried about on radios checking equipment and setting up. I sat down and had a glass of water to chill out for a bit and compose myself. I had a look through my Think Visibility booklet and circled the talks I wanted to sit in on. Its a shame I could sit in on all, but such is the nature of the beast, not enough hours in the day.
I decided on:
- Mel Carson – Learning and Earning through Social Media
- Site Clinic – With Dave Naylor (Bronco.co.uk), Michelle Pilcher (Caboodle Design, oh and check out her blog www.websitedesign.org.uk, with possibly the coolest styled sitemap you have seen!) Dr Karl Blanks (Conversion-Rate-Experts.com) and Kieron Donoghue (Sharemyplaylists.com and here.org.uk)
- Dr Karl Blanks – Conversion Killers: 15 Common Causes of Conversion Death
- Paul Madden – Black No Hat SEO: What Would a Spammer Do?
So what did I take away from the talks?
Well some notes include:
- Karl Blanks on blogs,
“create attention or controversy with your tag line…”
“make it irresistable for them not to subscribe to your RSS or email newsletter…provide freebies and incentives”
- Dave Naylor on blogs,
“Aim for community first, user generated content, then monetise afterwards…”
“Use categories with images to enhance usability of the site, helping people to search/navigate for what they are interested in > also helps increase targeted traffic through Google images”
- Michelle Pilcher on blogs,
“Design is key [talking about conversions] give it feeling for the industry/brand”
“Use of dramatic effects [images and colours] enhances interest…pay attention to USPs…”
- Kieron Donoghue on blogs,
“Use of the Facebook likes button, 10 likes rule…” >>> If you get 10 likes on facebook you get access to 10 sets of facebook viewers which could share and re-share your post multipling your exposure.
Of course there was my presentation too which I will talk about in a separate post.
During the conference the opportunity to mingle/interact/network with loads of like minded people is incredible. I caught up with Ben Styles of StylesCreative.com who runs a growing portfolio of keyword .co.uks domains at StylesDomains.com. In particular I like their range of Mini Fridges at minifridge.co.uk. I met some guys I had spoken to on Twitter and AcornDomains.co.uk previously and had been wanting to catch up with, like Dave Marshall (davedevelopment.co.uk) and then some other domain industry players like Chris Clarkson of sunshine.co.uk (who’s collection of geo-domains includes spain.co.uk) the list goes on with other guys there owning great internet real estate such as Edd Dawson at broadband.co.uk, and Harvey Mason representing domains.co.uk to show but a few examples. So I suggest if you’re into domains and haven’t already got into Think Visibility then you start thinking about getting tickets for next March!
The day ended well with a really positive vibe and with the Casino after party on countdown it was time to head back to my room, grab a shower and get ready for some gambling!
THE CASINO AFTER PARTY:
Arriving stylishly late I headed over to the bar with Ben Styles and caught up with Karyn Fleeting for a chat about PR. She showed us her newly decorated iPhone 4 courtesy of Rick Jesse at GadgetGlamour.co.uk, who had also done the speakers some awesome twitter stickers http://twitpic.com/2l7jtf the job they did was incredible. Within 15 mins of arriving I was persuaded into a poker tournament by Al “The pool shark” Carlton. 2 tables, 20 people, one winner…not me. Enjoying the company of people like George Currie at the sunshine.co.uk team and Ian Pouncey (ianpouncey.com) I got down to the last five and was 3rd biggest chip holder after 2 and a half hours of playing but decided to go all in on a crap hand and lost. To drown my sorrows of not just losing at pool but not winning the poker either I headed down stairs to the real casino and thought I could make myself happier with a win on the Roulette…the win never came…Jesus that game is for mugs, blind luck and money down the pan!
The time was about 11pm so a load of us headed over to the Sky Lounge at the City Inn to finish the evening.
I finally retired to sleep at about 12:30am where I ended up just catching up on Twitter for an hour or so.
All in all, a top weekend and hopefully this post will encourage anyone who hasn’t been yet to a Think Visibility conference to sign up for the next one.