So, I’ve just been to my 3rd Litmus Email Design Conference. The big difference for this year though, was that as a Freelancer, I was paying for the ticket myself. At £780 (inc VAT) it’s not cheap, and bearing in mind this is the early bird cost, which I had to make a decision to buy literally days after leaving my full-time position, it wasn’t an easy decision. But it was one I made in seconds. There was no way I was missing out on the Litmus conference. No way! This is the highlight of my career calendar.

Last year, I was in full-time employment, as the Manager and Technical Lead of the email development team (team: me, another dev and some contractors). That company had an ethos of ‘sharing’ where they’d buy tickets that had to be shared amongst people. All well, and good and on the surface seems fair – but when you’ve got people who attend every single free event in their own time, and are wetting themselves to go to the BIG event (Me and Steph the designer), sharing with people who only really want to go cos it’s been offered, and it’s some time off from doing some actual work (who would be other devs, campaign managers and PMs – who it really isn’t relevant to), suddenly it doesn’t seem so fair any more. So I took matters into my own hands – I booked off the days as holiday as soon as they were announced, without anyone else knowing what they were for (you see, no one else cared as much about the conference to know the dates had been announced). And then as soon as the tickets were released, I paid for mine on credit card. So I had the time off and tickets. I then asked if they’d let me claim it on expenses (obviously in exchange for getting the benefit of my attending, notes, feedback etc), but either way I was going. And it paid off, they paid for my ticket (and Steph’s) and I got my holiday days back.

So why is it such a big deal for me?

  • Firstly, it’s the #emailgeeks. A bunch of email devs who met through Twitter using that hashtag, who met IRL at The Email Design Conference 2013. And we’ve all met up at various conferences, meetups and email events since then. Most are from various places around the UK, although some are from further afield. And with each conference we seem to grow our numbers slightly. We’re a friendly bunch (unless you work for gmail, or take pictures of speakers with your iPad during a conference, and don’t turn the sound off #click), who share solutions for coding problems, bounce ideas off each other and have general email banter.
  • Secondly it’s Litmus itself. They are an awesome company, and having that good relationship with them is invaluable. And the more you get to know them personally, the more likely you are to come home with Litmus swag (Socks people! we got Litmus socks this year). Not only do they provide a fantastic tool, and customer service to go with it, but they practice what they preach – they’re always staying a step ahead with their emails, from blow-your-mind live twitter feeds and gifs, to treasure hunting for golden tickets within emails themselves.
  • Thirdly, the talks. There’s always a wide variety of topics, from basics through to those who leave a room full of up to 300 email geeks in shocked silence, broken only by the odd gasp and frantic scribbling / clicking of note taking. They give ideas for quick fixes as well, as stuff to aspire to. And some stuff that’s just incredible, although you know in your heart of hearts you’ll never be able to do it. But you still love hearing about it. Which leads me onto…
  • The post-conference buzz. I think it took me one and a half days this year to get over the mental exhaustion of absorbing all of the information – and that was in no way alcohol related (seriously, I really didn’t drink that much this year). And I still want to watch the videos of the talks I didn’t see (there were multiple talks at the same time), and re-watch some of the ones I did see… But once your brain cells recover from email overload, the renewed passion and excitement kicks in. You remember what it is that you love about what you do, and feel eager to try new things. It’s like having an annual reboot, everything just runs more smoothly, efficiently and effectively afterwards. For e this year as well, the joy of not having to convince other people of what we should focus on, try, and what to ignore is amazing. The take-aways are all mine 🙂

These might not be the most traditional of reasons for attending a conference (or at least, not the most traditional order of priorities) but it works for me. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day struggles of email, this conference reminds you to lift your head up, look around, find out what’s new and take some breaths.

Thank you to Litmus for arranging this, and bringing it to London again.


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