20th February 2008

In January of 2007 I joined StomperNet under the belief that I would get the personal attention of their world-class faculty.

I assumed that for the nearly $10,000 I was going to pay for the year, I would not only learn everything I wanted to know, but I would establish some personal relationships that I could continue to nurture over time.

Admittedly I learned an awful lot, but primarily what I got was sales pitch after sales pitch, and “new program” after “new program”, and far too many different forums that offered practically no participation by the original faculty members that were the catalyst to my joining.

The primary reason for my joining was to hear directly from certain faculty members, and overall, as a group, their participation was shamelessly poor. The whole experience at StomperNet basically sucked my time dry, and left me wanting for much, much more.

To be clear, I’m not saying StomperNet sucked, or that StomperNet wasn’t worth the money for anyone, just that it wasn’t worth the money for me, because I didn’t have four hours a day to wade through their ever growing and poorly organized volumes of crap looking for the “good stuff”.

At PubCon In December I was discussing my disappointment with someone, and telling him that I was not going to renew Stomper after January 1. I’d put in a year, and was fed up. That’s when he told me that he had gone to Elite Retreat, and it changed his life.

Elite Retreat
The more he talked about Elite Retreat, the more I realized that I had really blown it making my decision to skip it last year. Everything he claimed to have gotten out of ER was exactly what I had been looking for.

Last week I was on vacation with my family in Mexico, and I spent nearly three hours every day doing email, and dealing with work issues by phone and by web.

After getting back this weekend, and immediately spending nearly 2 hours on three separate unproductive phone calls this past Monday morning, I hung up from the last one and immediately signed up for Elite Retreat.

It’s not “productivity” that’s my problem, it’s that I’m focusing on the wrong things. With only so many hours in a day, my business model really isn’t scalable, and more growth as an “SEO Consultant” isn’t something I really want any longer.

One of my Internet Marketers New Year’s Resolutions was to do more of my own affiliate sites, and while I’ve been managing to keep two people fairly busy, we just haven’t made nearly the progress I expected to make nearly 2 months into the year, and have been bogged down by little details. I’m counting on this conference to change that.

Elite Retreat will be held April 2 & 3 2008 in San Francisco, and will be a conference unlike any other I’ve ever attended. To begin with, it’s only comprised of 35 attendees, instead of the hundreds thousands that attend Search Engine Strategies and Webmaster World’s Pubcon.

Elite Retreat is more what I would call an “interactive session”, as opposed to a conference, and I expect to be learning far more in this two days that I would in an entire year of Pubcon and SES conferences and learning it in a much different way.

Along with only 35 attendees there are six world-class experts in their fields, including the keynote speaker, Guy Kawasaki. The entire faculty will be there the whole two days, which means lots of face-to-face quality time with some of the brightest minds in the world.

I’ve spent nearly half of my entire 2008 education & travel budget on this event, and I’m specifically skipping SMX West and SES San Jose as a result, but I have no doubt it’s going to be worth it.

Here’s who’s running the show in San Francisco…

Guy Kawasaki guy.jpg
I was riveted by Guy’s keynote at the 2006 Pubcon, and it remains the best I’ve seen. He’s motivating, inspirational, and dare I say brilliant? I remember trying to get near him just to say hi, and to be perfectly honest, I had an easier time talking to Google’s Matt Cutts than I did getting close enough to Guy because of the crowd.

Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm and a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College

Jeremy Schoemakerjeremy.jpg
Since I ran across Jeremy’s blog a little over a year ago, I’ve found some of his posts to be incredibly inspirational for me, and it’s clear that there’s a reason he’s holding that big fat AdSense check, and it’s not because he just got lucky. This guy is the real deal, and while his “no bullshit” style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he’s exactly what I need.

Jeremy Schoemaker (widely known by his nickname of ShoeMoney) is an important player in the search engine marketing world, and his knowledge and expertise make him one of the top go-to guys for PPC, arbitrage, SEM, branding, and online income optimization. His weekly Internet radio show Net Income allows listeners to hear Jeremy’s honest assessment about his failures and successes in the online marketing space.

Neil Patelneil.jpg
Having seen Neal speak three or four times now, I can say that he is one of my favorite speakers, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know him. His presentations are always rapid fire fast, totally enlightning, and given with such total confidence and enthusiasm, that you can’t help but realize that he’s bursting at the seams with killer information.

Neil Patel is an Internet marketing consultant and the founder of Advantage Consulting Services which was started in 2002. He has lead Internet marketing strategies for small and medium sized businesses as well as top companies such as Hewlett Packard and Wal-Mart. His experiences include search engine optimization, social media optimization, reputation management, and viral marketing.

Aaron Wallaaron.jpg
This is the guy that actually “wrote the book” on search engine optimization, and while it may not have been the first, (or was he?) I do believe it’s been the best, to ever come out.

At PubCon in Las Vegas, Rand Fishkin said that Aaron was one of the smartest people he’d ever heard, and “if there’s one blog you should be reading every day, it’s Aaron’s”.

Aaron Wall is a search engine optimization expert who blogs about search at SeoBook.com. He also wrote a popular book by the same name, publishes numerous other websites, and has consulted clients large and small about how to increase their search exposure.

Brian Clarkbrian.jpg
Being a conversion expert, I expect to learn a lot from Brian not only in the area of usability but in measuring and quantifying results.

Learning how to use the tools I already have, like stats, logs and Google Analytics, to better identify exactly where and how conversion rates can be improved upon has never been a more valuable skill.

One of the best quotes I heard at PubCon last year was that “it’s a lot easier to double conversions than it is to double your traffic”, and I’m taking it to heart, not only for my own sites, but for my clients as well.

Brian Clark is an Internet marketing strategist, content developer, entrepreneur, and recovering attorney. In addition to building three successful offline businesses using online marketing techniques, he has sold scores of products and services online via joint venture and affiliate arrangements. He founded Copyblogger in January of 2006, and continues to develop successful web properties with a variety of partners.

Andy Liuandy.jpg
Andy’s name did not sound familiar to me at all, and I can’t even find anywhere online to link his name to. However, anyone not living under a rock has heard of Net Conversions, (now aQuantive, err, Microsoft) and as the President of an Internet company way back in 1999, he undoubtedly has a lot to offer.

As a startup expert, I think he rounds out the faculty perfectly for me, because I have some of my own ideas far beyond simple affiliate sites, and I’m really looking forward to meeting and hearing from him.

Andy Liu is CEO of BuddyTV, the largest independently held TV site on the Internet reaching over 4.3MM monthly uniques. Prior to BuddyTV, Andy served as President and CEO of NetConversions from 1999-2004 prior to its sale to aQuantive and served as VP and GM of its Site Optimization unit from 2004-2005.

He’s also a founder of a non-profit focused on technology in developing countries and is very passionate about entrepreneurship. He brings deep experience in building companies, site optimization, SEO, community building, and product development. In 2003, he was named to Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 under 40 and holds an MBA from Wharton.

What do I really hope to gain?
By paying approximately $300 per hour for two days of “coaching”, I’m hoping that I can get any specific question I might have answered, and believe me I have a lot of them. I have three pages on the front page of Google for a “Internet consultant”, yet what I DON’T know could fill volumes of Encyclopedia thick books, and I don’t expect to hear many “I don’t know”s from the student questions this crowd gets asked.

I hope to gain the confidence I need to try new things. I’ve continued to stay in my comfort zone for the past couple of years, both in my personal projects and in dealing with clients. I’ve turned down dozens of consulting opportunities, simply because I didn’t like their platform, or I didn’t know anything about their technical setups, and I hope to gain the confidence to break out of that comfort zone and accept those challenges if I choose to.

I hope to gain lasting relationships with these guys, and because they continue to hold weekly conference calls for past attendees, I expect that will happen. The insights that I got from having a conversation with one of their ATTENDEES was enough to keep my buying the drinks in Las Vegas.

I hope to gain some sanity in my affiliate business, as I continue to flounder making just a few bucks here and there on several of my own domains, while I continue to leave dozens of other domains that I own undeveloped. With what I know ALREADY, this shouldn’t be the case, yet it is, and I’m tired of it.

I hope to gain some insight on better ways of scaling some of the mundane tasks that are necessary, like outsourcing decent content, getting that content into pages, and obtaining inbound links. I have developed my own methods out of necessity, but the time involved in doing this successfully when dealing with a dozens of affiliate sites is astronomical, and paying employees to do it is not cost effective. There’s got to be a better way.

Above all, I hope to gain more of the knowledge and the networking connections necessary in this industry that will allow me to write my own ticket (but upgraded, of course) and continue making a living online, without the need to get out and “sell” my SEO services – That’s just not a game I want to play any longer.

Since I live eat and breathe for search, and I’m truly passionate about what I do, for me, this is going to be like going to a fantasy baseball camp. There’s literally nothing I’d rather be doing… If you’d care to join me, there are still a few seats left to sign up.

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    6 Responses to Elite Retreat Should Stomp Anything Else

    1. Julie Davis says:

      Sounds like a star studded event. I hope you get the info you are hoping for and then throw a few pearls our way.

    2. Peter Davis says:

      At some point, you just have to stop looking for answers from the “Gurus” and just start doing the work. With all the money you’re spending on Stompernet and Elite Retreat, you could have just bought a website that’s already doing quite well. Hard experience is the best teacher.

    3. Scott says:

      LOL – Point taken, and great advice for anyone. However, I already have too many mediocre domains, and am spinning too many plates to do a good job with my affiliate stuff. Systemization, repetition, efficiency, and product/trend/kw research are what Stomper, and now ER have been about.
      thanks for commenting!

      The most motivational post anywhere… ;)

    4. Scott says:

      forgot to mention conversions too!

    5. Doorhanger says:

      Nice, “objective” review, complete with affiliate links.

    6. Scott says:

      Thanks for commenting –

      First, it’s not a review, since I haven’t been yet, but I will certainly evaluate honestly when I do.

      Second, yes, I’m now an affiliate too (see banner on the right) so why wouldn’t I link with it?

      Here are my thoughts on affiliate link disclosure, FYI.

      thanks,
      Scott

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