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Last week I drove 220 miles to attend the 91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Lewes. And oh my, what a jam packed creative day! We met independent shop owners (including the Willy Wonka of paint pictured above), we ate incredible food (macaroni cheese with a pulled pork topping is TO DIE FOR) and got a Pinterest workshop thrown in too. And I got to chat to fabulous creative types all day. By the end of the day I felt like a six year old who’d literally been to the best birthday party in the world.

Actually in the last year I’ve also attended photography workshops in Scotland and Ilkley, a brand storytelling course at a barn in Somerset, Blogtacular conference in London and the original Instacake in Stratford Upon Avon.  It works out a bit pricy – especially once you add petrol and accommodation, but I swear by it for improving my business.

And, actually I’d say the skills I learn are less important than the other things I get out of the day.  The perspective and inspiration you gain from going on a workshop ‘adventure’ can be invaluable.

When I went to Fiona Barrows’ Brand Story Telling Workshop in Somerset at the Oak Tree Barn, a very cool refurbished countryside barn in a rural village, the other creative business owners I met, the beautiful food that was cooked for us, all transported me to a very special place where I could reflect on my business with a calm and relaxed outlook.  And the energy and support I get from meeting other entrepreneurial women, I can’t put a price on.  It can be lonely, draining and all consuming running a business – and sometimes you need to be around like minded souls in an inspiring environment to get a boost.

Oak Tree Barn, Burrington.

Oak Tree Barn, Burrington

And hilariously when I went to Blogtacular conference in London  – I met and made friends with a bunch of creative business owners from my own city of Manchester. Isn’t it crazy that I had to go to London to meet them?

If you haven’t heard of Blogtacular it’s a brilliant two day event in London for creative business women with an emphasis on the digital side of their businesses. The first day is ‘fringe events’ – a photo walk and dinner with other conference goers and the second day is a load of great workshops about podcasting, blogging, Instagram and anything to do with running a creative business.

Blogtacular attendee.

Blogtacular allowed me to meet a lot of my kind of people

I’ve realised it’s really important for me to sniff out events where I’m going to meet ‘my people’. Instagram training is pretty niche and at a lot of business networking events I feel a bit like a fish out of water. But when I go to workshops with other online creative business owners, I feel lifted and understood and get so many ideas.

I can honestly say that attending all these workshops has boosted my confidence, helped me build a strong network of like minded business owners and given me so many ideas about improving my own business.

I run Instagram workshops and Instacake events myself and attending other similar events helps me consider how I can make my events more creative, more fun and make sure I can provide as much value as possible for my clients.  In fact my own Instacake event wouldn’t exist unless I’d attended Charlie Budd’s Instacake in Stratford last June – it was the impetus to start my own.

Instacake attendees.

Instacake Stratford Upon Avon

It may seem scary rocking up at a workshop on the other side of the country, but I promise the benefits of taking that risk are life changing. If you haven’t done it already, why not give it a whirl?

If you enjoyed reading this you might like to read Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Freelance Business.

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