“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” — Warren Buffet
Content marketing, social media, productivity. Our lives and work now require so much of us. Sometimes it is hard to know what to focus on. But underneath all the skills is you. There is no greater return on investment than investing in yourself.
Yearly conferences are a wonderful way to up your writing skills and give your creativity a boost. You learn, you network, and you open to new possibilities. But, there is a problem. With so many conferences out there you can end up spending more than the value you get out of it if you do not choose carefully. That’s why we are bringing you this guide to help you decide what 2018 conferences will be most valuable to you this year as a writer, freelancer or creative.
If you are looking for marketing-focused conferences, check out The Ultimate List of 2018 Marketing Conferences. And to help you generate ideas for 2018, please also check out our 2018 Editorial Foresight Calendar Template, complete with 300+ notable dates and events.
Top Conferences for Freelance Writers and Creative Professionals
Dates: February 12-14, 2018
Location: Redwood City, California
Description: Silicon Valley is the place to be to discuss startups, and this conference is sure to deliver. Roughly 5,000 founders and investors with 40 keynote and fireside sessions share wisdom, content and education to help you build a company of value.
Attended by industry leaders like Forbes, Slack and Facebook. Make friends that you can grow with and get the resources you need to make your business successful. Brainstorm, write, network and play. With a full-access pass, you get the entire conference, plus access to sponsors and 300 exhibiting startups. You also get networking activities, meals and a digital gift bag with special discounts.
Great for: Business owners, startup founders, creative entrepreneurs
Dates: March 7-10, 2018
Location: Tampa, Florida
Cost: $150 – $215 for members ($225-$290 for non-members to book and purchase membership)
Description: The AWP Conference is the largest literary conference in North America, where visitors gather for four days to discuss contemporary literature and network. Readings, panels and lectures, along with a large book fair, make this conference engaging for the over 12,000 attendees.
Author George Saunders is the scheduled keynote speaker for the 2018 conference. This award-winning author was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine in 2013 and is sure to offer helpful insights on crafting your story. The book fair brings together more than 800 exhibitors and is open to all registered conference attendees. This conference boasts its own app, too: The #AWP18 mobile app can be used on desktop, tablet or your mobile device to personalize your experience by creating your own event schedule. It can also help with directions, search for panelists, and connect you with other attendees.
Great for: Writers and authors
Dates: March 16-17, 2018
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Sponsor: Makers Collective
Description: The small business conference for creatives. Inspiring entrepreneurs in art, craft and design gather for consultations, crafting, and hands-on workshops.
Discuss day-to-day challenges of creative small businesses while also stepping back to look at the bigger picture. Keynote speakers share their wisdom from the trenches. Peer group and one-on-one sessions allow you to share and brainstorm ideas, opening up to new ways of thinking and doing business. Other makers share to help you ignite your dreams and give you the courage to take the leap and put your creative business out into the world.
Great for: Creative entrepreneurs who are part-time or full-time
Dates: April 30 – May 3, 2018
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Sponsor: Web Summit
Description: “America’s fastest growing tech conference” with CEOs of fast-growing startups, large companies like Amazon and Google, plus investors and media.
Topics in business, tech, IT, renewable energy, understanding Millennials and more make up this power-packed set of conferences and workshops to help you move your business forward. More than 3,000 CEOs and over 5,000 companies join in this massive tech and business conversation with 100+ countries represented.
Dates: April 30 – May 3 2018
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Description: Helping designers be more creative and inspired. HOW began as a design magazine and expanded from there to help designers in building connections and improving their skills.
The conference is for designers working with clients and creative leaders who want to make a positive impact. HOW presents opportunities to test-drive new technologies and gain insight to benefit both your clients and your team — in a four-day event that will improve your whole year. Vendors share implementable resource materials with attendees. Networking opportunities lead to lifelong business connections and friendships. Connect with people, support one another and collaborate on projects.
Great for: Business owners, designers, creative leaders
Dates: May 9-11, 2018
Location: New York City
Description: “A creative knowledge conference of inspirational proportions.” The 99U conference is ready to help you build a creative career you love. Industry leaders come together to bring insights and trends in technology, leadership, productivity and more.
The conference is made up of stage talks, breakout sessions and three 99U parties. The wind-down party will be held at the Museum of Modern Art. You can also attend hands-on workshops to help you sharpen your creative skills. Past speakers have included well-known writers, entrepreneurs and creatives like Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, and Seth Godin. A great opportunity to network and reignite your creative passions.
Great for: Writers, artists and creative leaders
Dates: June 4-8, 2018
Location: New Orleans
Creative Pro Network
Description: “The giants of the Web assemble,” according to The Wall Street Journal. A practical how-to conference with Adobe and ePublishing. The week starts off with PhotoShop and InDesign conference and ends with Print and ePublishing. This conference will help you bridge the print-to-digital gap while optimizing online design productivity.
The conference focuses on creating a learning environment where you can get your pressing Adobe design and publishing questions answered. Both beginners and experienced designers and illustrators can benefit from productivity tips, learning how to increase the quality of images, creating digital documents, best layouts, and more. You can learn how to work more efficiently both on desktop and mobile.
Great for: Graphic designers, artists, and publishers
Date: June 26-July 2, 2018
Location: Portland, Oregon
Cost: $697 sold first-come, first-serve
Description: “An unconventional weekend for unconventional thinkers.” From best-selling author Chris Guillebeau, who started this conference back in 2011 to spark creativity, dreams, and a sense of adventure.
This conference offers a variety of fun and insights from writing your first book to travel hacking. Chris used travel hacking to visit all 193 countries around the world. Chris is also the host of the daily podcast “Side Hustle School” and author of the book ‘$100 Startup’. With your ticket, you have access to the main stage speakers along with half-day workshops, community, and other activities like karaoke and yoga. Definitely a place for creative types to have fun and connect.
Great for: Writers, bloggers, artists, influencers, and entrepreneurs
Dates: August 10-12, 2018
Location: New York City
Cost: $369-$499 (Depending on how early you book)
Sponsor: Writer’s Digest
Description: “Writer better. Get published. Build your network.” Everything you need to advance your writing career professionally and creatively.
No matter where you find yourself in your writing career, the Writer’s Digest conference can help you sharpen your skills and learn how to pitch your work to literary agents. Writer’s Digest has been nurturing writers at all stages of development for nearly 100 years. Because of this long track record, Writer’s Digest draws top-notch speakers who are in the trenches of the writing and publishing world to help you navigate the craft of writing.
Literary agents and editors come in search of the next big thing in a variety of genres, offering the opportunity to share your work. Part of this conference is the Pitch Slam, which gives you the opportunity to pitch your book directly to agents and editors and get immediate feedback.
Great for: Writers, authors, bloggers, and anyone wanting to develop their writing skills.
Dates: October 26 – 28, 2018
Location: Franklin, Tennessee
Cost: $299-$599 (Standard or Premium Tickets)
Description: The Tribe Conference was created by author and blogger Jeff Goins to gather writers, authors and other creative entrepreneurial types together.
The focus is on growing your craft and sharing your work in a way to attract and engage your tribe of fans. As one of Jeff’s books states, “Real artists don’t starve.” The conference teaches participants how to leverage their artistic sides while making a good living and life. Grow your platform and learn how to share your purpose and message. Along with your 2018 conference ticket, you get all the 2017 videos from the previous conference. A conference for clarity and connection.
Great for: Writers, authors, artists, work-from-home entrepreneurs
Things to consider for your 2018 conferences
Think about your return on investment in terms of both business and personal development. When choosing a conference also think about your distance, travel time and hotel options. Be sure to get the most out of the networking opportunities by having business cards ready or consider a more unique handout to share with all the new friends you will meet. Try to relax and be present in the moment to get the most out of each opportunity. Be sure to take great notes too. Use a notetaking app to record details about people you meet to follow up with them later.
Most of all enjoy, learn and grow.