#2 – The Secret Inbound Marketer Rises


Live Blogging SEO Conferences

After some encouraging comments from the community about my previous work diary, I thought I’d also post about my experience at my first SEO inbound marketing conference. I know what you’re thinking – does this guy ever stop and take a break? No rest for the wicked, my friends…

The Importance of Preparation

7.30am – Super pumped about my first conference! Irritating that I had to get up early for the train, but these are the types of sacrifices that an inbounder has to make on a daily basis, no biggie. 1st class seats though, that’s what I’m talking about! Luckily I came suited and booted, possibly the best dressed in the carriage. Just call me James Bond; James Bond.

Disaster! I was just in the toilet moisurising and I noticed some white paint in my hair! Dulux non-drop gloss – it does NOT come out easy. Why did the Mrs have to make me paint the day before my big conference? She’s never understood how important I am.

While I wait for a taxi I double check that I’m following all the conference speakers on Twitter so that they recognise me. One of them has used a ridiculous cartoon avatar. This really doesn’t help. Am I having a panic attack? I send them each a jovial tweet and drop in a joke about (not provided).

8.30am – I’ve arrived! An attractive woman asks me for my autograph and hands me a lanyard with my personal brand and Twitter handle on. I doubt I’ll need it with all the work I have done in the last few months developing my real online persona. Guest posting FTW! I can’t see any of my Twitter friends nearby so I grab an espresso and find my way to the cool seats (I decide to sit near the back so I can chat to my neighbours and make new friends while the presentations are on). A true inbounder never misses an opportunity to network!

This is How We Network

9:30am – I connect the holy trinity (laptop, iPad and iPhone) to the Wi-Fi so I can start live-blogging. This is what I’ve read other people do at conferences so I better get on it, after all if I don’t write about it where will my readers get the information from?! I Evernoted a YouMoz post the other week about someone’s live-blog getting them over 1000 new business leads afterwards. And 0% bounce rate! I’m going to fill my boots! My awesome live blogging hits a snag with Wi-Fi dropping out every 5 minutes. I’ll have to go for a round-up post instead. My old Nokia phone is the only thing that can connect to 3G, at least I can tweet from that. I start live tweeting every word anyone says, along with the conference hashtag. My fingers are sore but it’s worth it. Regurgitation is king!

10.30am – Sitting at the back was a masterstroke! I am all over the coffee and cakes as soon as the break starts, and my networking plan is working perfectly. The guy to my right is a German called Hans who owns a massive pharmaceuticals company. I get his Twitter ID and add him straightaway. I let him see my profile page first and play the waiting game. I’m pretty sure he was impressed that I’ve got over 1,000 real followers.

11.30am – In an effort to develop our relationship further I show Hans the meme I made of Rand and a beard-based pun. He doesn’t seem to know who Rand is. What an amateur. Holy crap! The current speaker just said he built his slide deck last night – what a legend! Planning is for pussies.

Rand Fishkin Beard Meme

Tweeting Like a Pro

12.30pm – I see some of my Twitter buddies over lunch talking to a couple of the speakers. Probably asking for advice again. I casually stroll over to impart some wisdom of my own. Annoyingly, I don’t get introduced to the speakers and they cut me out the conversation. In their defence, it’s highly likely that they see me as a threat. I abandon my friends and spend the rest of the lunch hour tweeting the conference hashtag with witty remarks. My aim is to get total coverage of the tweet wall. It’ll be impossible to avoid me in any Storify based posts – more brand value. I ask Siri to remind me to get my IQ tested again. I’ll surely get that invitation from Mensa any day now.

1.30pm – Refresh… nope. Refresh… YES! I’ve got a new follower! My tweet wall work is paying off already. Svetlana from Czech Republic. I immediately follow back – my auto-response will send her a message thanking her for the follow. I get back to live-tweeting and set the company Twitter account to retweet my musings. Social media automation is the future and I am its God.

2.30pm – The afternoon is drifting slightly, I’m not really interested in this content marketing presentation. Ok, ok, so content marketing does have its merits but come on it’s nothing on inbound marketing right? Anyway everyone knows that AuthorRank is the next big thing. That reminds me I need to upload a new headshot to Google+ so my author snippet shows up in the SERPs…

3.30pm – Finally another break! The live tweeting has made it hard to focus on the presentations. I really should learn to automate Siri and live tweeting, would save a lot of hard work! I tweet at each of the speakers that their presentation was the best of the day and wait for a response.

The Breakthrough I’ve Been Waiting For

4.30pm – A hit! Wil Reynolds retweeted me! This is a turning point for my career, I can feel it. I wonder if he’d be interested in my latest blog post? I’ll tweet it to him later and we can discuss the points I raised at the after-party. I reply to all his other tweets and end with ‘twitter stalking FTW’ & #RCS. He’ll love that.

5.30pm – Conference over, quick change then it’s party time! I’ve told most of my Twitter mates I will ‘buy’ them a drink at the free bar! I’m such a card. I’m staying at the ‘official’ conference hotel. It’s on the company anyway and you get a Mac in every room! Although I don’t actually like Macs cos the buttons are all back to front.

6.30pm – I write up my feedback as soon as I’m back at the hotel and schedule my draft to publish whilst I’m at the party. Classic. I get halfway to the party before realising I’ve left my business cards in my other jacket! I rush back to get them. I’ve had new ones printed with ‘Inbound Marketing Ninja’ as my job title. That will definitely impress Rand.

Shots, SEO Celebrities & Subpoenas

7.30pm onwards – [REDACTED]


  1. Reply
    Duncan November 1, 2012

    Tremendous post Mr Hathaway, I was worried you had been learning dangerous new information at these conferences so it’s a relief to see you’ve missed most of them live blogging.

  2. Reply
    Patrick Hathaway November 1, 2012

    Pah! Nothing to learn for an individual of my calibre.

  3. Reply

    “She’s never understood how important I am” That’s sad. You should carry around a physical, laminated copy of this..


    “Hey girl, I just came over to.. oops (drops card on floor).. Oh. what? this? Well, you know..”

    • Reply
      Sean November 1, 2012

      Back to her house within 30 mins and she lives an hour away…

  4. Reply
    Chris "Cameo" Dyson November 1, 2012

    Live Blogging is for wimps everyone knows its all about instagraming conferences these days

    PS I’d have shitbounded this in a heartbeat

  5. Reply
    Alessio November 1, 2012

    my twitter wall is often like this, when there are big conferences:

    “Do things for the user- rand fishkin”
    “Do things for the user- rand fishkin”
    “Do things for the user- rand fishkin”
    “Do things for the user- rand fishkin”
    “Do things for the user- rand fishkin”
    “Do things for the user- rand fishkin”

    x 100 times in 2 min refresh (with small variations like (rand fishkin) or (@randfish)or #randfishkin)

    what the hell? and then you have the summary anyway after 2 hours.

    people then ask me why I’m not going to conference. I mean, I just save a lot of money.

    • Reply
      Patrick Hathaway November 1, 2012

      I have genuinely unfollowed people because all I’m getting is a massive steam of conference hashtag comments. Without the context of the presentation they really don’t make a lot of sense – and it is that context that I think you go to conferences for in the first place.

      • Reply
        Sean November 1, 2012

        Conferences are weird. I’ve been to a grand total of one (SMX London) but didn’t find it particularly useful. This is either because ‘the good stuff’ was going right over my head and I was too busy tweeting or that the information on offer wasn’t all that. Of course this could be completely different at another conference…

        I understand where Alessio is coming from though. It would be interesting to find out how many people would pay with their own money to go to most conferences.

  6. Reply

    I went to Mozcon in July, and definitely suggest going to conferences if you don’t have an immediate peer group/meetup things going on in your area..

    There really is no alternative for making connections (the presos you can’t really prepare for-most at Mozcon were good, but I heard people criticizing some) with your peers.. if that’s your thing. It’s mine.

    I say if you wanna connect, social and blogging is great, then try to graduate to email, then see if you can talk to your peer via phone/skype, and finally, there really is no alternative for 3D encounters..

    So, I think yes, it’s a money investment, but well worth if you get the chance to talk with peers. Honestly, I may have been lucky; I had the opportunity to get to meet Klettke, Agate, Sebald, and a number of other great people out of the gate.


    • Reply
      Patrick Hathaway November 1, 2012

      I agree with Anthony – conferences are brilliant even if only for networking. ThinkVis in Leeds is absolutely brilliant for this – from about 6pm it is just a massive piss up all night long. Great to meet peers and solidify relationships made on social media. When I know I’m going to a conference I actively solicit my Twitter friends and try to get them to go, cos you can’t beat meeting people in real life.

      For London-based folk there are meetups and whatnot going on all the time, so a conference is the only time I ever get to meet anyone!

      In terms of content – it can be hit and miss. Personally I’ve been to SearchLove London for the last 2 years and genuinely came away with a load of ideas for us to implement that I would not have got otherwise.

      • Reply

        Also, you can’t always go by the second-hand reviews of others. Maybe you get something from a preso another does not.

        For example, Marty Weintraub had ridiculous marketing mastermind shit in his preso.. maybe in Bruce Lee fashion, it was so year 5,000, Rand got on stage and told Marty people were confused. (pic http://bit.ly/SzCtT1)

        I would very much like to rap with Marty in the future..

        • Reply
          Sean November 1, 2012

          “Rand got on stage and told Marty people were confused.” I would have loved to see him explain this! Great story.

        • Reply
          Neal Dougan November 2, 2012

          I’d love to see that preso! The photo is hillarious! Marty looks like he’s going to fuck him up any minute.

          Talking of SearchLove, I’ve watched the videos (I didn’t pay BTW) and I got nothing from it. All regurgitated fluff. Glad I didn’t go to be honest with you. I’m too busy anyway eating chicken wraps and building model ships.

      • Reply
        Wayne Barker November 1, 2012

        Looks like I should have gone to thinkvis then Patrick 😉

        • Reply
          Wayne Barker November 1, 2012

          I would have left a longer comment but I’m on my way out…

  7. Reply
    Jonathan November 1, 2012

    7.30pm Redacted. Enter: Elite Courtesans

    They deleted the tweet strangely. Hired help doing real escorting shit.

    • Reply
      Sean November 1, 2012

      Haha, I noticed that along the #searchlove timeline. #RES (pect) wins business, yeah?

      • Reply
        Jonathan November 2, 2012

        I’d need to see some kind of presentation called “How we get laid at *insert company name here* to be totally convinced.

        • Reply
          Patrick November 2, 2012

          They were there, I can confirm. I…erm…a friend told me.

  8. Reply
    Gisele Navarro Mendez November 2, 2012

    Nobody pays for my tickets to these conferences, and maybe that’s the reason why I haven’t attended any of them. That and the fact that I live in Germany.

    I was planning on going to SMX München but now I’m having second thoughts… Should I wait until the next SearchLove London? Should I go to BrightonSEO because it’s free? Should I go to Think Vis because Wayne is going to be there?

    Or maybe I will just stick to the good old webinars + keep following hashtags for a short period of time during conferences (there’s only a certain amount of #ConferenceHashtag spam a human can take), and then read 3 or 4 roundup posts only to realize that I didn’t miss that much, and whatever it was that I did miss, I will have the chance to watch or read later.

    Oh, so frugal of me.

  9. Reply
    IrishWonder November 2, 2012

    You live tweeted, I did better – that’s me summarising the event I have not attended to help out the industry brothers: https://twitter.com/IrishWonder/status/263259317980000256 😀

    • Reply
      Patrick November 2, 2012

      Man, you nailed it! Sure you didn’t go? Although you missed #RCS

  10. Reply
    IrishWonder November 2, 2012

    Would a Distilled event bear two spammers at once? Paul Madden was bad enough 😀

    • Reply
      Sean November 2, 2012

      I’m sure there was a few more in the room than that…

      • Reply
        Patrick November 2, 2012

        Paul’s talk was brilliant by the way. Question from one audience member:

        ‘So how do you ensure that the quality stays high?’

        ‘We don’t. We just throw enough shit at the wall that some of it sticks.’

        • Reply
          IrishWonder November 2, 2012

          Hahaha that’s an old blackhat rule of course 😀 Key to the whole business model 😀 And Paul does rock whatever he speaks of, one thing I’m really gutted about is missing his talk.

  11. Reply
    dan barker November 2, 2012

    It may just be me, but this feels like a post about sneery, ‘better than thou’ people, that falls into the trap of being a bit sneery & ‘better than thou’.

    sorry for the sneery, ‘better than thou’ comment. (and all the ‘quotes’).


  12. Reply
    Gareth November 2, 2012

    @Patrick Would you go next year if you had to pay out of your own pocket (not sure if you did this time)?

    • Reply
      Patrick November 2, 2012

      @Gareth that is a GREAT question. I don’t really know is the answer, it entirely depends on my situation. My company paid this year, and I was a little unsure how much value we’d get from it. But it was great because I got a load of ideas that we could put into effect for our company (B2B lead gen) – both short term and long term.

      If I was paying out of my pocket I would presumably no longer be working for this company and be freelancing instead. If my freelance clients didn’t have the budget for lots of content then I probably wouldn’t go. But as with anything I think it’s probably horses for courses.

      What a cop out answer.

      • Reply
        Sean November 2, 2012

        Sure was. I think Gareth is trying to work out whether he should shell out next year or not. What were the pro’s and cons of #searchlove ?

        • Reply
          Patrick November 2, 2012

          – Awesome networking. Getting pissed at a free bar is always a massive PRO.
          – Useful ideas and perspectives that are not shared by blog and that in-houses like me don’t naturally stumble across.
          – Lots of quick wins we can apply now (SEO and CRO).
          – Good cakes. Bacon sandwiches on day 2 as well. That was good.
          – Exposure to some totally different concepts (Paul Madden & Dave Peiris specifically) and different niches.
          – 2 days not at work.
          – Forces you to sit and THINK about ideas/strategies for 2 days solid (as opposed to being bogged down with work).

          – Expensive.
          – All the way down in London.
          – Too much preaching of ‘content/inbound’ marketing.

          • Reply
            Sean November 2, 2012

            Free bar? Really? I didn’t know about this! That is a definite pro.

            Quick wins are always awesome. You’re not based that far away from London are you?

            I must be missing something, where’s the hate? I think people are probably more sceptical, no? Particularly if you are paying £500+?

            • Reply
              Patrick November 3, 2012

              Well maybe skepticism is a better phrase. We’re all allowed to make mistakes.

              Quick wins are definitely awesome, as it means you come back and go ‘look what I did’ and someone puts a hero hat on your head.

              Sheffield – 2 hours away – not that far away but I think us non-Londoners get pissed off that every fucking everything is based in London.

              Which is why ThinkVis is the conference to go to. And yes free bar Sean. In fact, if you don’t go to the next one I will punch you right in the face.

  13. Reply

    […]  For a laugh (if you are a cynical SEO who’s been doing it for way too long, that is), you should check this article out.  If they can consistently churn masterpieces like this, I may just cancel my Netflix account and […]

  14. Reply
    Michael November 2, 2012

    Great post Patrick! You killed it!

    Wait, we aren’t supposed to leave comments like that here… Oops. My bad.

    Decided to come back after reading this yesterday. So far, I’m really impressed with the amount of conversation happening. Glad so many are enjoying a seat at the saloon. Now, if you never live blog again, we will all be much happier.

    • Reply
      Patrick November 2, 2012

      I promise I will never live blog again. I treasure your friendship!

  15. Reply
    Patrick November 2, 2012

    So there is a bit of conference hating around – awesome, that is what the Saloon is for. Although a few people have also mentioned that they have been to 0/1 conferences, so to pass judgement seems a bit hypocritical in my opinion.

    I am certainly not arrogant enough to think that I know everything. Some presentations do nothing for me, but others with open up new angles or interpretations and really get me thinking. I don’t really get why people would be scornful about that.

    • Reply
      Michael November 2, 2012

      I agree somewhat. I don’t necessarily think it is the conference people are hating or scornful about. Merely a lot of it has to do with the hype that we all see from live blogging and hashtagged tweets. In a way, that hype can have a negative effect on the entire experience. Along with that, many of the presentations are just plain bollocks. Thought leaders striking keynotes. Then the flock of sheep who can’t think for themselves latches on to many of these ridiculous concepts.

      On the other hand, I find conferences rewarding when it comes to being able to make new acquaintances or friends and network with those you know(much like Anthony mentioned). I don’t take a lot of the presentations to heart. Although, some definitely can open up your mind to spark creativity.

      • Reply
        Patrick November 3, 2012

        Yes, I think you have summarised it well there Michael. The problem with live tweeting/blogging is that they can’t offer the crucial part – which is the context in which the comments were made. So instead you see tweets like ‘Don’t send outreach emails from your client account #conference’. Hang on a sec – in which scenario, and why not?

        It isn’t really the conferences themselves (which as I stated, can have a lot of value), but the bullshit that comes along with the conferences. Hopefully the secret inbounder managed to get that across through the medium of sarcasm. QED.

  16. Reply
    Sean November 6, 2012

    Big thanks to all the cats that upvoted the post on inbound. 25 upvotes for a 1st post aint too shabby 🙂

    • Reply
      Patrick Hathaway November 6, 2012

      Sean that was just me from 25 different IP addresses. Can’t believe we didn’t even get 1 natural vote.

      Thanks for the support guys.

  17. Reply
    Chris Countey November 6, 2012

    I was enjoying this until I realized I was the douche you were describing. Sigh…

    • Reply
      Patrick Hathaway November 6, 2012

      Shit, Chris. Mate. Sorry, you weren’t meant to see this. I don’t really know how this happened.

  18. Reply

    […] my first post about SEO conferences, a few people pointed out that the most valuable part of conferences was in the […]

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