The editing conference season is winding down, and this year has been extraordinary. I was able to attend ACES’s, Northwest Editors Guild’s (NWEG), and CIEP’s conferences in person. I also participated in virtual events for NWEG’s recorded sessions. They were invigorating!
I’m grateful to be at home for a bit—though I know I’ll be itching to travel again soon. I’m a planner, so I’ll be looking at next year’s conferences in the coming weeks to consider the exciting options.
The editing community is fortunate to have so many quality conferences to choose from each year. And while the impacts of COVID were devastating, a silver lining is the increase in virtual and hybrid options that give more editors more ways to participate, hone their skills, and expand their network.
How do you choose from them all? Here are the things I consider when planning my conference schedule. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
I love the chance to teach other editors. If a topic that I am experienced with will fit in well with a conference’s theme, I’m happy to be a part of it. Plus, it helps promote the coaching and website reviews I offer for freelance editors. Sometimes presenting means receiving an honorarium or a discount on the conference, which doesn’t hurt either.
But in the editing world, conferences are largely a volunteer effort. Just having the opportunity to give back to the community that supports me is worthwhile.
Learning is one of two big reasons to attend a conference. One struggle I have is finding enough sessions that I’m interested in. As an experienced editor and freelancer, I’m looking for more advanced sessions to help me continue to grow my skills (email me: I’ll give you a list of ideas for your next conference!). I’m also willing to develop advanced sessions for other editors like me.
What do you want to learn? What do the conferences you’re considering have to teach? Review the conference’s full schedule, if you can, before registering.
Also consider how you learn best. Maybe you thrive on being in the room and having the opportunity to ask a lot of questions. Or maybe you like watching a video that you can start and stop at will. When learning is the goal, find the method that works best for you.
Networking is the other big reason to attend a conference. Not sure why you should network with other editors rather than potential employers or clients? Because other editors will recommend you to those employers and clients. True fact: about 40 percent of my work comes from referrals!
Networking is hard for many editors, especially introverts and neurodivergent folks. Consider how you network best and look for conferences with those types of opportunities. Virtual and hybrid conferences tend to do scheduled online meetups, and there have been both formal and informal watch parties for recorded sessions—all great options for the editor who wants to network from home (regardless of your reason for being at home).
For in-person events, look for both scheduled events and open times in the schedule for informal meetups. Hanging out in the conference’s open areas (doesn’t have to be the bar!) is a good way to meet people.
Do you bring your hobbies with you? Preconference, you might schedule informal group events, such as runs, yoga practices, knitting/crocheting/needle crafting, and tabletop games. Word-related games like Scrabble and Bananagrams are especially popular.
If you’re going to an in-person event, travel will be a central concern. Is the conference in or near a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Consider combining work and vacation to be able to deduct some of your costs (check with your tax account for details).
If you have a smaller budget or need to be away for a shorter time, check out conferences that are closer to home. There’s nothing like being in your own bed after a busy day of conferencing.
Just Do It!
If you’ve been looking at some conferences, reading about others’ experiences, or checking on prices, this is your sign to put your name on the list. Whether you prefer to attend virtually or are eager to be in-person, there are plenty of conferences available for you. With today’s technology, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Why not tap into it? You just might make new editor friends!
Want to learn from recorded videos? Purchase one of my recorded sessions. You’ll find them all in the Editors Resources. Look for the “Webinar” tags.