The Best Conference for Making Money Online

I’ve blogged about Elite Retreat many times, because it has changed my life significantly more than once. So when I saw Keith’s post about Reasons Not To Go To a4uexpo, I decided I would sponsor someone’s trip to a conference — someone for whom, like me 2 years ago, it could be the tipping point that moves them from day job to 100% online.

What conference would be best, though? I’m highly partial to Elite Retreat, but I’m not exactly drawing from a very large sample.

So I turned to some people with more experience and asked them this question: What 2 conferences would you recommend that would best help someone get to the point where they are making enough to quit their day job? Here are their answers.

Aaron WallAaron Wall — SEO, etc.
elite retreat would be my top conference recommendation, and webmasterworld pubcon would be #2.

Adam JuskoAdam Jusko — CrunchFood, etc.
I personally can never force myself to pay for a conference, but the one that I’ve itched to go to is PubCon, both for the fact that it seems to offer good content and the fact that it is filled with attendees who would actually understand what I do for a living. (I hate trying to explain to people socially what it is that I do. They never quite get it.)

Al CarltonAl Carlton — Coolest Gadgets, Self Made Minds
My opinion would be none, I quit the 9-5 before knowing about conferences but have enjoyed a few since. This is probably the wrong answer but it worked for me.

Brian ProvostBrian Provost — Scoreboard Media Group
I don’t think any of the conferences are all that useful from the traditional continuing education perspective. I do, however, think conferences are invaluable to less-seasoned practitioners who need the benefit of networking (let’s face it, just about every facet of this biz is easier if you have a personal relationship with others in the field). I think Pubcon is one good choice. If nothing else, a quick triggered newb can get some blackmail-level pictures of an A-lister having a Robert Downey Jr moment in Vegas. I also think something less-regimented and personal like that ThinkTank gig in San Diego could be helpful. I’d be going to that if I had the time.

dkdk — Purposeinc
For the guys doing 100k or more per year online I would recommend the Elite Retreat and the ThinkTank. For the under 100k or more per year online I would recommend the Elite Retreat and Scary SEO.

The reason I am recommending the smaller conferences is becatuse you will have a much better chance getting to make friends.

Pubcon has been very good to me and I highly recommend it to others. But unless you are incredibly good at making friends it is hard to meet people at Pubcon.

I also know Danny Sullivan’s new advanced seminars sound really good, but I have not been to one.

Also, SEOmoz is doing some smaller conferences that also sound excellent but I have not been to them yet.

Greg GoGreg Go — Killer Aces Media,
I would say SXSW and BlogWorld Expo are the top 2 conferences I’d recommend to online entrepreneurs. I may be partial to problogging though. If the online entrepreneur is not into blogging, I’d recommend a niche specific conference. For example, I’m a Drupal developer and would recommend one of the DrupalCons to another Drupal developer. SXSW is good for everyone.

Jeremy SchoemakerJeremy Schoemaker — ShoeMoney, etc.
I would love to be able to answer this question…. but I feel that I need to explain some things about my conference going history…

5 years ago I started going to conferences… the first one was Search Engine Strategies in San Jose. I was not making much money at the time but was making enough to support myself. I attended every session and had 2 notebooks full of notes. It made all the difference in the world to me. That was 5 years ago though. Since then I have attended over 60 various industry events and I would say the 2 that have stuck out in my mind the biggest was that first one and then last year at the techcrunch40 conference.

Both of those conferences had AMAZING impacts on my companies which very much altered the course of our businesses.

Jeremy WrightJeremy Wright — b5 Media
BlogWorld Expo, this week, Vegas : )

Lee DoddLee Dodd — Escalate Media. etc.
I am not that big on conferences, but overall I feel that something like Elite Retreat is the most profitable kind of conference. A more intimate, personal session is always best. For contacts or networking I like a Pubcon or Affiliate Summit, but they have nowhere near the power of a smaller session.

Neil PatelNeil Patel — Pronet Advertising, etc.
elite retreat is one and maybe some sort of marketing/affiliate conference. not exactly sure on the second.

Peter AskewPeter Askew — The Domainer’s Gazette
elite retreat & think tank

Patrick AltoftPatrick Altoft — BlogStorm, Branded3
Probably the best conferences are affiliate ones like a4u expo. I’ve never been to a conference though.

Yaro StarakYaro Starak — Entrepreneur’s Journey
I’d love to help out but I just haven’t attended enough conferences to respond to this one with authority. Living in Australia I miss most of the good ones in the USA.

I take three big things away from this, but I’d like to hear what you think first before I chime in. What insight does this give you?


  • Rich

    September 16, 2008
    at 1:59 pm

    Great post Shane. I thought about going to both BWE and PubCon, but decided on Affiliate Summit West since I can get some face time with the folks who send me the nice affiliate deposits each month!

    I’d love to win, but since I quit my day job last year, I guess I don’t qualify. So sad. I may spring for Elite Retreat the next time they do it, and Think Tank sounds great but is too soon, too pricey and may be somewhat over my head at this point.

    Keep up the great work. At this point, yours is my favorite blog about making money online.


  • Garrett

    September 16, 2008
    at 5:24 pm

    I think benefiting from a conference really depends upon your current business status. If you’ve already got some great sites cooking and just need a few ideas to boost your traffic, raise your conversions, solve an indexing issue, etc. conferences can be an easy win. If you’re relatively new, some of the more advanced conferences may be too overwhelming.

    I’ll be heading to my 5th Pubcon this year (my day job sends me). Will it be the tipping point that’ll finally allow me to break out of my $20/day rut on my side projects? Doubtful. I think that my next major breakthrough is going to come from “Just Getting Started” ( Specifically, trying to carve out some more time to test new ideas and think bigger.

    IMO, that’s the largest barrier (for me anyway). You can read a lot of blogs (the right ones) and get the same info that’ll be shared at most conferences…you just need to find the time to apply that info and test your ideas. Networking helps, but I don’t think it’s the golden ticket that many bloggers lead you to believe. They don’t hand out #1 rankings at the conference doors…you gotta find the time to bust your ass for that. 🙂


  • ukgimp

    September 18, 2008
    at 5:48 am

    not really a conference as such, but SEO Roadshow is a bit of a must really, especially if you want it like it was at the first couple of pubcons.

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  • Chris Guthrie

    September 19, 2008
    at 12:12 pm

    Nice list. I haven’t attended any conferences yet, but I’ll make sure I keep this list in mind when I do start looking.

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