In 2003 I started making money online. I was stunned the first day I made a dollar on the internet with Google AdSense. Amazing. I was hooked and joined various internet forums to connect with others and learn more about making money on the internet.

On Sep 19, 2004 (yes I just looked it up) I joined the Digital Point forums. I had probably lurked around months before that but thats the date I joined and started interacting with the community. It was awesome.

I started the shoemoney.com blog and shared what I was doing to make money. It got rapid readership.

Fast forward almost a year and I am crushing it with Google AdSense. Six figures a month.

And then one day I got the dreaded “your Google Adsense account has been suspended”. My heart stopped. So I asked on Digital Point what happens when this happened to you? Most of the responses were “you’re screwed” but the more insightful people, that knew I was doing this on the up and up told me there was a conference coming up called Search Engine Strategies in San Francisco and a lot of the “shot callers” from Google Adsense would be there. They said there is nothing like a face to face talk with them.

So I went. The night before the conference started I met with several Digital Point members. That was super cool.

I was blown away by the event but more importantly the speakers. I attended every session and made a book of notes.

Its funny reflecting on this now but I was so star struck with the speakers. These guys were my idols at the time. I had been reading their blogs and listening to all their radio shows on webmasterradio.fm.

A really cool, and surprising thing was that a few people recognized me and said they read my blog and enjoyed the content.

At this event I happened to pass by Jenn Slegg of JenSense.com (the Google AdSense blogger) and she was having lunch by her self. I approached her explained who I was and that I needed help in that my account had been suspended. When she was done she took me to the Google Booth and introduced me to a key person. Right then and there my account was reinstated. Whew.

By the next couple events I was now good friends with most of the speakers. Talking with them on instant messengers and what not. Some of them even making money with. I became part of the crew. By my 3rd event I was now a speaker.

I started attending another event at that time called Pubcon.

Between the speakers and digital point people we became a pretty tight nit crew attending all the events.

All of us were very social people. Sure we would roll everywhere together but we also picked up a lot of people (some would call them groupies) and took them with us. We would show up to exclusive Microsoft, Google, Yahoo or whatever conferences where only a few of us were on the guest list with like 50 people and say, “Hey its all of us or none of us”. That was always interesting. LOL.

This trend continued until about 2007ish. I think the big turning point was when Danny Sullivan left the Search Engine Strategies events as the founder (or whatever his title was) and started the SMX events. The crew was somewhat torn on which events to follow. Also at that time ad-tech and Affiliate Summit started to get a hold in the Internet Marketing Industry.

I fell in love with Affiliate Summit. All the other shows I attended prior were so focused on SEO… and that was never my thing. I always thought it was bullshit and a house of cards. But I won’t digress into that lol.

The point though is that there were now so many shows that I rarely caught any of the old crew. I spoke at every event I attended but mostly was bombarded by attendees and I never went to the sessions. After all most of the speakers I could reach out to at anytime and talk if I wanted to.

Also a lot of the conferences that I started with were now sponsored with the giants in the industry. Ebay, Google, Yahoo, etc etc. That sponsorship money was huge and so the focus on speakers became less about bringing in regular people doing stuff and more about big name speakers from these companies that were now talking about best practices and theories but in reality they knew jack shit about actually generating income online. This was the beginning of the fall of SEO conference. Not just for me but for everyone. There was just little value and take aways from these shows. They became so corporatey.

For me the shows were more about the people attending and the networking that took place. Affiliate Summit and LeadsCon were now my primary shows.

And it stayed that way for the next 6 years. During that time my business(s) and business model changed a lot. I had started numerous companies and even dabbled in creating my own information/training products. I was doing business with people all over the board. Affiliate items, general business stuff, venture capital people, I mean geez you name it. Probably the biggest thing is I was actually attending the conferences now to get business and build contacts primarily…. and not just party with industry friends until the sun comes up.

In 2014 I attended and spoke at the Ungagged Conference in Las Vegas. Like I said above I haven’t attended sessions at a conference for almost a decade but I filled up a few pages on this one attending them. They billed the show as “Ungagged” meaning the speakers were going to really show what is working. Black/Gray/White hat all allowed. The Black Hat side of people making money online is VERY discouraged at all other shows I have ever spoken at. So this one really peaked my interest.

The Ungagged show was awesome. I was VERY impressed with the speakers and how forthcoming they were with showing exactly what is working and showing live sites and campaigns. For me, personally, this is the most actionable value from any show I have gotten to date.

A month ago I was invited to speak at the DigitalMarketer Traffic and Conversion Conference.. This was unbelieveable. I am going to do a indepth post on this conference by itself soon but imagine a conference that was centered around a company that has sub companies in very different verticals with different teams. And in each of those teams were different people… And they all presented which worked for those companies and how they grow them. There were other speakers but that was amazing. Like I said I will go more into this conference soon.

The Traffic and Conversion show though blew me away with the attendees. I ran into people I have not seen in years. Everywhere I went I was like “Hey wow what are you doing here?”. and I am talking people from all walks of life. My old school friends from digital point, VC people, old school SEO people and a TON of affiliate people. That surprised me as much as the content of the show.

For me – Affiliate Summit, Ungagged, and T&C are the shows I will be attending. Reminds me off the old days where I got value… instead of just giving value. That might sound selfish but hey…

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

8 thoughts on “The Evolution of Conferences Over The Last Decade”
  1. Very Interesting Jeremy , it gives us some knowledge how the internet marketing is evolve all these years and where it is heading.That gives us some edge to make money online in the future.
    Thanks for the great post
    regards
    ebijayashanti

  2. Thanks for the insight about Ungagged. I have been looking at that conference for awhile now. It is always annoying going to conferences and all of the sessions are sales pitches instead of actionable information and insights. Presenters start out with great information and then you can sense the conversation changing toward the end as they start to push their products or services.

  3. Earlier it wasn’t about just raking in the moolah for the organisers, now it is or so it seems.

  4. Ya several guys I know are still doing 5-10k/day in the adult space. I will forward this over to them.

  5. Its true the adult industry has always pioneered affiliate marketing. Poker, Porn, Pills remember?

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