I’m writing this at 11pm on Thursday evening, having had an average of just three hours sleep a night for the past four nights, so please excuse any random spelling mistakes (well, any more than usual), because I simply have to put on record my thoughts on the 2008 A4U Expo before they become a distant memory (as demonstrated perfectly here).
No-one knew what to expect from the first event last year, but this time, the expectation level was much higher – The standard was set, and we certainly weren’t disappointed – I’ve certainly come away with the “feel-good factor”, loads of notes, ideas and freebies. Was it as good as 2007? I’d certainly say it was, and I didn’t think that would be possible.
I blogged a few weeks ago that I was really looking forward to the sessions this year, and I have to say that on the whole they were so useful and relevant to me – I’ve come away with even more notes than last year, and some fantastic tips and tricks that I can put into practice right now to start repaying the investment in attending expo. I’m going to pick out three key sessions that really stood out head and shoulders above the rest for me:
The very first session I attended was Joost de Valk’s WordPress Optimisation session, and despite the first thing I wrote down being “download entire presentation from Joost’s site”, I still proceeded to fill another page and a half with extra ideas and tweaks that will help make WordPress even better than it is now. Everyone was really blown away by this session, and all you could hear from affiliates as they came out of the room was “wow”, “oh my god” and “that’s dynamite” (and that was just me!) The techniques and tools that featured in this session will be the very first thing I’ll be working on post-expo, and I’ve no doubt will pay for the cost of attending many, many times over.
I wasn’t sure whether to attend the Affiliate Doctors Live session, as knowing that affiliates are generally very coy and reluctant to give out their URLs publicly, this had the potential to be a very hit-or-miss affair. After a brief silence though, we were off and running, with the panel of Marcus Tandler, Dave Naylor and Chris Garrett being joined by Joost once again after Bob Rains went AWOL. Again, I walked out with massive amounts of notes, tips, tricks and ideas to help every single one of our sites do better in the SERPS. And Kudos to the guy from Clothing for being brave and putting his neck on the chopping block – The feedback he received is going to be of massive benefit I’m sure – Personally I’d have loved to have put one or two of my sites up for
ripping to shreads constructive feedback from the board (When are you ever going to have the chance to have four guys of that quality give you a free consultation?), but I’m far too chicken. Cluck!
Finally, I really enjoyed
Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs Al Carlton’s session “Million Dollar Blogging Strategies” – This was standing room only, and a really enjoyable session – The presentation itself was pretty cool, but it was in the more relaxed, unprepared Q&A session that Al really came into his own, and as someone who’s spent the whole of the last year starting to build up a network of blogs, I found Al’s example really inspirational, and hope to be half as successful in a couple of years time (especially if Al receives his $30m asking price) – I’m only sorry I had to turn down Al’s offer to join him in scouring London for a late-night drinking den at 4:30am this morning, but I was completely drained by that point!
I seem to have brought home a load more freebies this year, and a huge wad of business cards, and I reckon we’ve done a lot more networking than last year – A little longer between sessions helped with that, but with some sessions overrunning, it was still a tight squeeze – We skipped a couple of sessions to allow time to cruise the stands, but still didn’t get round to see everybody. It’d be nice if the exhibition stayed open a little longer after the sessions finished (say till 7pm or so), but I don’t know whether that would work logistically, or whether I’m just going to have to miss another session or two next year.
The cruise down the Thames was stunning – London at night really is an amazing backdrop, and it’s great to see the charity auction raised a huge amount of money. There were issues with the catering on the boat, and a lot of hungry affiliates by the end of the night, but Matt came right to the rescue by laying on loads of bowls of chips for everyone once we had our sea legs back on dry land. Day Two clashed with the England v Belarus World Cup qualifier – Not a problem though, as those nice guys at Sky laid on a VIP Party for us where we could watch the game (which was of course live on Setanta, not Sky sports lol) whilst quaffing champagne with Chris Kamara and Matt Le Tissier, which certainly made Jason’s day!
With heading to bed at gone 4am every night and breakfast at 9am every morning, perhaps Matt and the team should consider approaching ProPlus for some sponsorship money next year, as I doubt I’d have made it through the event without them!
In 2009, a4uexpo splits off into the third annual London event (again at ExCel, on the 14th and 15th October 2009), but also for the first time the team will be taking the a4uexpo brand into Europe with an Affiliate Marketing conference in Amsterdam on the 28th and 29th April 2009. I’m not sure whether I’ll make it to the Amsterdam event (No doubt my arm will be twisted once I see the sessions and the exhibitor list), but you’d have to physically restrain me to stop me going to a4uexpo London in 2009 – If you didn’t go this year, then you missed out big time – don’t make the same mistake next year!
Now please, please please… Can I go to bed?
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