“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” — Warren Buffet.
Our lives and work require so much of us. It’s sometimes hard to know what to focus on. But underneath all that is you. And there’s no greater return on investment than the expertise and skills you learn when investing in yourself.
Yearly conferences are a wonderful way to level up your writing, marketing, and tech skills while boosting your creativity. You learn, network, and open yourself up to new possibilities. Plus, you make connections that can last a lifetime.
But, with so many conferences out there, it can be hard to know where to put your time and money. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the top freelance conferences for creatives in 2024 so you can decide what’s right for you.
Top Freelance Conferences and Creative Professionals
Dates: Mar. 8-16, 2024
Location: Austin, Texas
Description: The SXSW® Conference began to help creatives achieve their goals by celebrating the film and music industries.
South by Southwest is one of the go-to top freelance conferences for creatives now. It’s a hub for industry leaders and artists to celebrate technology, film, music, art, and comedy. There are many opportunities to meet people and connect at festivals, meetups, and parties. You can listen to keynote speeches from industry leaders, change things up, and customize your schedule from the wealth of workshops, roundtable sessions, and media events. There’s something for everyone.
Great for: Writers, authors, artists, filmmakers, YouTubers, musicians
Dates: April 23-24, 2024
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Cost: Tickets are $249-$599
Description: An annual gathering of startup teams from around the world. Startup Grind is a community of over one million entrepreneurs across 120+ countries. It’s a great entry point for freelancers trying to get their careers off the ground and connect with like-minded people. It’s attended by everyone from Forbes to Slack to Facebook. It encourages space to network, brainstorm, and build relationships with people looking to take their careers to the next level.
Great for: Business owners, startup founders, creative entrepreneurs
Dates: June 4-5, 2024
Location: Chicago, IL
Cost: Full-conference pass $1,895; single-day passes $1,295
Sponsor: Landmark Ventures
Description: The Social Innovation Summit is a conference about action. It encourages a space to explore the next big idea and start building it instead of just discussing it. It curates a calendar of topics that all center on innovation. It covers everything from the impact of AI to the new leading practices in business. This is the place to go if you’re looking to take your freelancing to the forefront of your industry and make an impact. Previous speakers include Mark Cuban and Van Jones.
Great for: Entrepreneurs
Dates: July 8-12, 2024
Location: Washington D.C
Cost: $845+ for one-day pass, $2,595+ for full five days; virtual passes $395+
Sponsor: Creative Pro Network
Description: This is one for the freelancer designers. Creative Pro focuses on creating a learning environment where you can get your pressing Adobe design and publishing questions answered. It covers tips and tricks for all proficiency levels and encourages a warm networking environment. Through their workshops, you can take your design to the next level by learning how to increase the quality of images, create digital documents, design the best layouts, and more.
Great for: Graphic designers, artists, and publishers
Location: Los Angeles, California
Cost: Passes range from $1,495 to $1,895.
Description: This is a creativity-based conference covering everything from writing to video to social media marketing. It’s an epicenter of creativity, curating labs, and workshops led by some of the top creatives in their industries. Adobe Max is an excellent choice to level up your skills, feed your creativity, and boost your career. There is also a lot of space for networking opportunities to help you share and develop new ideas.
Great for: Creative directors, photographers, writers, and business strategists
Sponsor: HOW Design
Description: Helping designers to be more creative and inspired, HOW began as a design magazine and expanded to help designers build connections and improve their skills. This conference is for designers and creative leaders who want to make a positive impact. HOW presents opportunities to test-drive new technologies and gain insight to benefit your clients and team. Vendors share implementable resource materials with attendees. It’s a great place to collaborate on projects that can lead to lifelong business connections and partnerships.
Great for: Business owners, designers, creative leaders
Things to consider for your 2024 conferences
When you’re considering the top freelance conferences, think about the return on your investment. You want it to be worth your time and money. Whichever conference you choose, you should leave feeling empowered by the experience.
Don’t forget to consider the distance, travel time, and hotel options. Always check conference websites to see if they suggest hotels or offer discounts for conference attendees.
When you’re networking, incorporate some best practices to make sure you’re maximizing your networking potential. Try to relax and be present, and make sure to take great notes. Most of all, have fun learning and growing.
Freelancing Next Steps
Freelancing is a journey that can come with a lot of pitfalls and challenges. If you’re looking to upgrade your freelancing career, ClearVoice can help. Joining our Talent Network can lead to a wealth of connections and opportunities.
And if you’re wondering how to get better pay and build bridges as a freelancer, check out our guide here.