when you want to work as remotely as possible: traveling for business
July 22nd, 2014
Q: How often do you travel for work? Do you think it is worth it to take time off to go to conferences when you are just starting a business? How do you make it work?
A: Travel is important to me because it helps my morale. It recharges my spirit. Every month or two? I like to get away as often as I can…probably sometimes to the annoyance of my business partner and coworkers. It’s always important to me to find something to work on wherever I go–a reason to make it worth my while from a business perspective–but there are some places I go just to ONLY work.
I suppose there are some ways to measure the effectiveness of the meetings and interactions I have when I travel to conferences and events for work. For me, maybe that’s book sales, maybe it’s new blog readers that can be used to add value to my advertisers (hey, it’s a thing), maybe it’s sales for Hello Holiday. I have these little business cards that say “you look great” that have a coupon code on the back that I often use as a conversation starter. You kind of duck in, give it to them, and then if they want to talk, we can get to know each other better—and if not, they have a coupon code that I can trace back to this event once it’s used. I can track that hundreds of dollars were spent at Hello Holiday as a result of coupon codes I gave out to well-dressed people at a conference in Portland, for example. So that’s worth it.
Another way to get to conferences if you are nervous about being able to make up the cost is to try to get someone else to pay for it. I have been invited to speak by conference organizers who covered my travel costs or offered a stipend, and I’ve had the chance to speak on my publisher’s dime too. A few years ago when I learned that travel could be comped if I had a skill to offer or a reason to promote my employer (like my publisher), it was a huge motivation to develop those marketable skills that would get me to the coasts to have these experiences. There are lots of people who write about travel hacking, which would be a better way to learn more about the “how” of it.