The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

How to hustle your way into conferences for free — December 27, 2013

How to hustle your way into conferences for free


Conferences can be expensive – especially if your work isn’t covering the ticket. That doesn’t mean you should miss out some of the networking and learning opportunities. In this guide, we will share our favorite hacks to attend conferences for free.


This is the most rewarding and arguably easiest way to get free entry. You get direct experience and useful connections, even at the smaller conferences. Even better: organizers, and other volunteers, can give you behind-the-scenes advice about the best speakers or private events.

The amount of time you spend helping the organizers depends on the cost of the initial ticket and whether they cover additional expenses.

You may miss out on learning opportunities though. As Thursday Bram noted:

“You may have a much harder time attending the parts of the conference you’re interested in because you may not have a lot of freedom in setting your own schedule.”

Many conferences offer online recordings of sessions for those that were unable to attend for those that don’t want to miss anything.

If you’re interested in volunteering and there’s no formal information present on the website, reach out to conference organizers directly (if you can’t find their details, check them out on LinkedIn on Twitter) and pitch them your involvement.

Borrow a badge

Writer Sarah Lacy borrowed a speaker’s badge for the Web 2.0 conference from Marc Andreessen. She wrote about it in Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good, the book she talked about at this Mixergy interview. (More tips from Mixergy here.)

We don’t advocate this technique but it can work. Many badges aren’t checked at smaller conferences, especially on the second day.

[Editor’s note: someone recently told me they even mocked up their own badge using Photoshop, which they used to successfully gain entry to a large annual conference. Obviously this isn’t ethical but it does shine light on the lengths people will go to!]


Usually, I just set up a Google Alert for the name of the conference and the phrase, “free ticket”. I seem to get most of the contests and giveaways that way. (More on 6 Ways to Attend Awesome Conferences for Free.)

This is not a guaranteed-to-work strategy but your odds are increased for smaller events or ones where the organizers are doing a lot of giveaways.

[Editor’s note: we have done ticket giveaways on The Fetch and a lot of these are been on a first-come, first-serve basis. So speediness is your friend here.]

Review for a publication

Sometimes you can get free entry if you agree to review a conference for a high profile blog or publication. It creates a win/win situation, as they get to increase their exposure and credibility. The media get preferred seats, access to the speakers one-on-one and invites to special events.

An alternative is preview the conference in the lead up to it. This is when organizers are looking to do publicity and get the word out there to pump up ticket sales. You can always interview a speaker or write about what this year’s event will hold in exchange for a pass on the day.

Become an affiliate

Many conferences have affiliate programs that will pay you a percentage of the ticket price for each ticket sold via a referral link. Technically, this isn’t a free but it can be a useful way to get reimbursed for the costs.

Offer to help before the conference

Organizers often need help in the lead-up to the conference. This is different from volunteering as it frees you up to attend all sessions and networking opportunities. We recommend contacting an organizer 2-3 months before the conference and ask if you can trade services.


Crowdfunding is when you ask your audience to cover the costs of attendance. Those that do this often promise that they will report on the conference in return for financial support. Alternately, some people host sales to raise funds.

This can be risky. It can be perceived as begging and impact on your credibility. Some conference organizers actively discourage people to raise money this way.


This one is relevant for the entrepreneurs out there… for tech- or startup-related conferences, another way to get into conferences is to demo your product. These can range from competitive pitches like Launch Festival and TechCrunch Disrupt where the winner gets funded, to gender-specific ones like Women 2.0.


Some of the social impact geared conferences, like TED, Skoll World Forum or The Feast, have fellowships that will sponsor your ticket. Make sure you check out the application processes well in advance.

The Fetch Ambassador Program

We also run a local City Ambassador Program, where we send people to report on cool events. It’s a smart way to build your personal portfolio, reach speakers and organizers, and connect with other people in the community. Click here to learn more.

About our contributor // Jade Craven is a blogger and social marketing specialist. Follow her on Twitter @jadecraven.

Image credit: Web Directions South 2012

8 ways to quit your job in style featuring the best public resignations ever — December 1, 2013

8 ways to quit your job in style featuring the best public resignations ever


Want to quit your job? Can’t stand another year doing the same thing? Jade Craven brings you some tips inspired by the best public resignations we could find on the web.

In January 2007, YouTuber Jo Low uploaded a video titled ‘My Manager Quits‘, in which a Moe’s restaurant employee wears an “I Quit” t-shirt while dancing to ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice. The video sparked a trend and ultimately a public resignation meme aka “the act of quitting one’s job in front of an audience in real life or on the internet, which is usually manifested in the form of an open letter or video recording of a speech.” Source: Know Your Meme.

So without ado, here’s how to follow suit and quit your job in style:

1. Do an interpretive dance

When Marina Shifrin decided to quit her job at a Taiwanese viral news video company, she did so through a video of her own.

You’ve likely seen it. The clip, best known on the internet as the ‘I Quit’ video, has racked up 15 million views (and counting) since its original posting on September 28 and has rocketed Shifrin to stardom. It generated a lot of discussion – and also gave savvy brands the opportunity to be part of the conversation. Her former employers created a video announcing that they were hiring. Queen Latifah offered her a job as a digital content producer.

The video was, most likely, an attempt to launch her comedy career. It’s certainly working. Source: Mashable.

2. Write a hashtag-filled email

Fast Company said “The internet is great because it can elevate complaining into an art form”. Enter Glory, a disgruntled auditor from Texas. She sent her entire team an ‘I quit’ email full of hashtags that accused her coworkers of being fake.

Glory told her PricewaterhouseCoopers colleagues auditing is ‘for people who truly don’t have any other options’ and followed up with a two-part Q&A in response to the questions surrounding the incident. You can see the first of them hereSource: The Daily Mail.

3. Take the inflatable slide out of a plane


When Steven Slater snapped at work he made sure that everyone knew how upset he was. Unfortunately for his employers, he was a flight attendant on a JetBlue flight.

He furiously argued with a passenger and hurled obscenities over the plane’s public address system – before grabbing two beers and making an astonishing escape via an inflatable emergency slide. Talk about an exit strategy! It was reported that he was being pursued for a reality series. You can find out everything about the incident at a dedicated Wikipedia page. Source:

4. Publish an op-ed in a major newspaper

Greg Smith famously resigned from Goldman Sachs with a damning op-ed in The New York Times. The publicity led to a book deal and multiple opportunistic parodies, as well as responses from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Like other examples, many viewed his resignation as a publicity stunt.

William Cohan, author of the definitive Goldman Sachs history Money and Power, has blasted Smith as a “hypocrite”, his facts are being questioned and the bank has cast Smith as a disgruntled one percenter who turned nasty after his bosses turned down his call for a $1m bonus. Source: The Guardian.

5. Go all out with a marching band

Most of us have dreamed of telling our bosses what they can do with this stupid job, perhaps with the help of a marching band.

So what happens to the guy who actually does it and lives to post a video of the stunt on YouTube? Joey DeFrancesco has become a veritable internet celebrity, a hero and a viral video sensation. The original YouTube video of “Joey Quits” earned more than two million views a week, which includes 18,092 likes and 438 dislikes and counting.

He ended up creating a Tumblr for hotel and restaurant workers to talk about abuse. Not everyone agreed with his methods. Dan Schawbel wrote about Why the ‘Joey Quits’ Video Is A Seriously Bad Career Move at Source: CNN.

6. Or an a capella group

This example is reportedly fake but who cares? It’s still pretty fun.

7. Bake a cake

Not all resignations are laced with drama. Sometimes, the departure is circumstantial.

Meet Chris Holmes. Instead of sending a regular resignation letter or email, he iced his message on the top of a cake in a two-hour marathon effort.


After posting the image on his personal Facebook page and was picked up and posted on Reddit, quickly going viral. Source: Daily Mirror. He was also later interviewed by The Guardian.

Want more? Check out 6 Spectacular Resignation Cakes.

8. Create a game

Jarrad Farbs decided to leave his position as a developer at 2K Australia in order to take up independent game development full-time.

He stayed up all night working on his resignation, a short, playable flash game featuring Mario delivering the news along with a very nice farewell message. “Thank you 2K Australia!” the game says at its conclusion. “You gave me a paycheck, an incredible project and a world-class team to learn from. But my princess is in another castle.” Source: The Escapist.

Find more:

About our contributor // Jade Craven is a blogger and social marketing specialist. Follow her on Twitter @jadecraven.

Image credit: Lauren M Wong

Interview: Melbourne local, Justine Bloome — November 26, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Justine Bloome

Melbourne Community Ambassador Jade Craven kicks off her first interview with Justine Bloome – an entrepreneur, creative strategist, mother and lover of behavioural psychology.

Name: Justine Bloome
Twitter: @inBloome
Works: Founder and Chief Strategist of The Village Agency

You are the founder and chief strategist of a virtual marketing agency. Why did you decide to leverage this model?

I was working in a globally-recognised agency that, despite its specialisation in experiential, was still very traditional in its structure and approach with clients. That was great for me because I got to see from the inside what worked about that, and what didn’t.

Then the GFC hit and a huge chunk of our team was ‘made redundant’ and hired back as freelancers… just to reduce the head-count on the balance sheet, not because we didn’t have the work to sustain that level of resource! It seemed utterly crazy to me that these fantastic, talented and creative individuals were now ‘free agents’, that could work with any agency in town.

As an agency, your primary assets are the skills and the creativity of the individuals that come together to collaborate on your clients’ projects. So it seemed ludicrous to me that we’d allow those assets to enter the broader market, in favour of reducing other overheads.

I have always been called a Closet Geek. I was the first of all my friends and family to get a Hotmail address, and I’m about to celebrate my fifth birthday on Twitter. I think I’ve always just been interested in how digital can help people connect, communication and collaborate.

The idea of a virtual agency wasn’t necessarily a new one. But The Village Agency has only come about because the advances in technology and digital have allowed me to rethink how I could gather the most creative minds around a project.

For me, the virtual model allowed me to focus the agency’s energies in the right place – the creativity, the client’s brief, the client’s outcomes – in favour of servicing overheads like a big fancy office for us all to sit in. Or, indeed, a massive team of full time staff. For many clients, they are happy just to have a small piece of the very best person in their field working on their business. A virtual, freelance collaborative like The Village allows them to have that, without the price tag that would go with it from a traditionally structured agency.

Justine speaking at Creative3 in Brisbane earlier this year

You have a strong interest in behavioural change. How has this impacted on your work?

To be honest, keeping this at the forefront of my approach to marketing is what keeps me in this industry.

About once a year, I have an existential crisis. I look at the larger marketing landscape and feel a little sick in my stomach. There are so many people that work in this industry for the money, or the awards, or for the ‘perks’.

I have always struggled, (and now as my own operation, I often refuse) to work with businesses and brands that aren’t giving anything of true value to their end customer, who expect their agency to help them manufacture the demand for their product, or make the customer feel unworthy without that product or service.

I’ve always been fascinated by human behaviour. What makes us tick? What makes us choose what we do? Why are some people happy to just cruise and others are always striving for excellence. In general, I am someone who loves change. I embrace it and often invent change in my life, just to mix things up and keep progressing.

So in my work as a creative strategist, this means I am always focused on the audience. Whether they are a consumer, a trade audience or an internal audience, I always start with what their existing behaviour is. Researching this is often the birthplace of the most creative ideas. Understanding whether you need them to change their behaviour – a little, or a lot – in order for your clients’ objectives to be achieved, can often be the biggest difference in delivering an outcome for a client.

Who else do you think is doing good work at the moment, both locally and globally?

I really enjoy watching the work that agencies like Naked and FRANk, but to be honest, most of the really innovative stuff is coming out of the little players. Check out the work of Hunter, for example. Or TheSumOf in Brisbane. It’s these smaller players that I enjoy watching the most!

What do you have planned for The Village in the future?

We’re in our third year now and the model is continually evolving. I’ve observed so much of the behaviour of the freelance teams we assemble. The way they integrate and the way they engage with clients. I’m always thinking about ‘how can we make this better?’ and ‘how can we make this bigger?’

We have some really big things planned for 2013. The freelancer marketplace is exploding. I get approached daily by freelancers wanting to know how they can join. And, for now, we’ve put all business development on hold because we are getting approached by clients on a regular basis also.

The plans include an evolution of the model, we want to scale to connect more freelancers and more clients through our community. We want to shift slightly from being a “full-service agency” with a virtual model, to become the easiest way for clients to navigate the freelancer landscape, to find the best resources to help grow their businesses. We’ll do this while still giving personalised service, remaining the curator of creative teams, assembling the highest calibre individuals for a given brief. It will involve creating our own digital platform, and partnering with some too. Watch this space!

What stands out about the Melbourne creative and digital community?

If I’m honest, I think some of the best creative in Australia comes out of Melbourne.

Not because they are any more skilled than other cities, but because of their attitudes to collaboration. Melbourne creatives seem to me, to be really open-minded and generally tend to understand that the best creative outcomes are drawn out through collaborative thinking and working. I think this is what often gives them a point of difference when working with a client as well – particularly Melbourne-based clients, who are more likely than the clients we have in other states to have multiple stakeholders involved in the decisions around their marketing. Collaboration on both sides is what makes creativity in Melbourne unique, in my experience.

The group at a Meet&Eat event

Tell us more about the Meet&Eat concept…

Ahhh I love my little Meet&Eat side project! While The Village may work with seven of the best restaurants in Melbourne, I have always been a massive foodie. I also love meeting new people, particularly likeminded people. But I am not a big fan of traditional ‘networking events’. I’ve always enjoyed a more relaxed style, without the nametags or the whip around the room for the five-minute “who am I” sell. The events where people gather around a common interest and just chat, connect and, if you’re really lucky, create.

So Meet&Eat is about offering a relaxed networking environment, with likeminds. We give two degrees of likemindedness though; generally the attendees to the events I host are also foodies, and we give each event a ‘theme’ – such as Creative Minds, Fabulous & Freelance, Business Babes, or Get Your Geek On. This seems to ensure there is always something to kick off the conversation, and I am yet to host one where there has been any kind of uncomfortable silence! I enjoy watching the connections and collaborations happen between attendees off the back of an event. I guess it’s fair to say that connecting people to create outcomes is a little bit of an obsession for me, and Meet&Eat is another dimension to that.

What trends and innovations are exciting you at the moment?

I am loving the trends in health and wellbeing. It seems that our infolust (facilitated by the interweb) is translating into greater self-awareness, particularly as a generation who were raised to believe that our GP had all the answers! The public’s awareness of the relationships between pharmaceutical companies and the medical fraternity, a growing acceptance for alternative health practices, coupled with an explosion of apps available to consumers is now facilitating increased awareness of what it takes to be truly healthy and well. That ‘health’ is not the absence of illness and that preventative health is the key to wellness, not a bottle of pills.

This probably seems like a totally off topic trend to be talking about! But it’s one that inspires me personally. Food, fitness, health and wellbeing are the four industries I most enjoy working with, because I am personally passionate about them and what businesses in these industries can deliver to their customers.

It’s also an industry that will boom in the next few years. The number of consumer health apps has grown from 3,000 in Feb 2010 to over 13,000 earlier this year*! The global mobile health apps market is tipped to be triple the size it was in 2010 – from USD 1.7 billion to USD 4.1 billion by 2014**.

I’m not about to launch another health app, in what will be a cluttered marketplace in no time! But I am keeping a close eye on the developments, trends and innovations in this space, because I’m planning to launch a new health and wellbeing business in 2013.

* Source: MobiHealthNews, Jul 2012 /
** Source: Technavio, Feb 2012 /

About our Ambassador // Jade Craven is a blogger and social marketing intern who’s obsessed with digital, startups, and publishing. She helps microbusiness owners become famous in their industry. Follow her on Twitter @jadecraven.

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