15 Conferences for Freelance Creatives in 2017

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming conferences for creative small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Attending a conference is a great way for freelancers to find their tribe, connect with like-minded professionals, hone their craft and pick up new business strategies. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of upcoming conferences for creative solopreneurs.

But before we dive into the list of conferences, here are a few suggestions for making the most of this networking and skills-boosting opportunity:

  • Research the conference and speakers in advance. Conferences can be expensive but you have plenty of options, so choose wisely. Before signing up, talk to other attendees to find out who attends and what they got out of it. Look at the schedule and speakers to see if there are sessions relevant to your interests and speakers you’d want to meet. This research is also helpful as you’re preparing for the conference so you can strategize about who you want to meet and where you want to spend your time.
  • Bring business cards. At most conferences, you’ll be handing out oodles of business cards, so pack extras! I forgot to pack them for one conference, so I ordered more from a local print shop that offered same-day printing. You don’t want to risk a bad impression or miss out on a valuable connection because you’re not preparing. Also pack layers of clothing, as conference rooms are sometimes over air-conditioned, and a portable phone charger if you have one.
  • Get involved. Volunteering to help check people in or moderate a panel are great ways to connect with others. Most conferences have a special hashtag, so using that hashtag on social media is a great way to share useful tidbits from the conference or network with other attendees.

General Freelance Conferences

FreshBooks #imakealiving events

FreshBooks is on the road in 2017 – we’ve already hit L.A. and are on our way to New York next. Follow @freshbookslive to learn about events in your city! Our goal is to motivate and empower you to break out of your comfort zone and take some chances with your career and marketing. Plus, the events are free some come out and mingle!

FreshBooks is on the road in 2017. Follow @freshbookslive to learn about events in your city!


June 23 Hustle Con is a one-day startup event where the world’s most successful non-technical founders share their origin stories and teach the practical tactics they used to start and grow their startup.

99U Conference

The 2017 99U conference in New York City is already sold out, but keep an eye out for future conferences. This year’s program includes sessions on reinventing oneself, navigating the unknown and fixing design.

The Freelance Conference

Billed as the “premiere industry agnostic conference for freelancers,” The Freelance Conference is slated for September 7-9, 2017 in Austin, Texas. Sessions cover topics like improving focus and productivity, selling for introverts and finding (or firing) clients.

Conferences for Writers

ASJA Annual Conference

The American Society of Journalists and Authors holds the annual ASJA conference each May in New York City, with smaller regional conferences in outside of New York at other times of year (full disclosure: I’m co-chairing one in Austin early next year!). Members Day includes speed dating with editors and book agents.


Run by the Out of the Binders, an organization for women and gender non-conforming writers, BinderCon features networking lunches, speed pitching sessions with literary agents and magazine editors and sessions on writing careers. BinderCon LA occurred in April, and 2017 dates for BinderCon NYC have yet to be announced.

Excellence in Journalism Conference

September 7-9, 2017, journalists will flock to Anaheim, California for the Excellence in Journalism Conference presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society for Professional Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in cooperation with the Native American Journalists Association.


Those who write, blog or otherwise produce content around financial topics might be interested in FinCon, a multi-day conference devoted to all things personal finance. Darren Rowse of Problogger is keynoting this year’s conference, which takes place October 25-27, 2017 in Dallas.

For more options, check out The Write Life’s list of conferences for writers.

Conferences for Web Developers

Mobile + Web Devcon

In March 2018, mobile and web developers will descend on San Francisco for the Mobile + Web Devcon conference that combines content on iOS, Android, IoT, cross-platform, web development and UX.


PyCon conferences held around the world gather users of the open-source programming language Python for tutorials, talks and developer sprints. The next PyCon in the U.S. is scheduled for May 17-25 in Portland, Oregon. There’s also a PyCon in Montreal, Canada in early November 2017.

Smashing Conference

Smashing Conference takes place June 13-14, 2017 in New York. Front-end and UX developers can learn from industry leaders, network and attend optional workshops the day before and after the conference. Other conferences are held in Europe late this year.

Looking for even more? Check out Quartz’s comprehensive list of web developer conferences around the world.

Conferences for Designers & Illustrators

AIGA Design Conference

October 12-14, design professionals will congregate in Minneapolis for this annual design conference, which includes symposia on design for cities, UX/UI, building a design practice and more.

HOW Design Live

Details are still to be announced, but HOW Design Live‘s annual design conference is planned April 30-May 4, 2018 in Boston.

SCBWI Conferences

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators holds annual conferences in New York City (winter) and Los Angeles (summer) where authors and illustrators of children’s books can get critiqued by editors or agents, learn about publishing trends and network with others in the industry. The society also hosts smaller regional conferences throughout the year.

Want even more inspiration? Here’s a month-by-month list of design conferences around the world this year.

Conferences for Marketers & Social Media Consultants

Content Marketing World

Scheduled for September 5-8, 2017 in Cleveland, #CMWorld17 features 120+ sessions and workshops on influencer marketing, interactive content, B2B content marketing, data-driven email marketing, social media, personal branding and more.


Seattle will be home to this year’s MozCon SEO and marketing conference July 17-19. Social events and workshops on topics like SEO-focused content and keyword targeting round out this year’s program.

Social Media Strategies Summit

#SMSummit is held in several U.S. cities and features senior-level marketing executives sharing strategies on social media, digital marketing and more. Upcoming summits include SMSS East in New York City October 17-19, 2017 and Higher Education November 2-3, 2017 in Boston.

Forbes lists 32 marketing conferences for those who want even more options.

Have you attended any of these? If so, what did you learn? Or did we miss your favorite creative conference? Leave a comment and let us know!

about the author

Freelance Contributor Freelance journalist Susan Johnston Taylor covers entrepreneurship, small business and lifestyle for publications including The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. Follow her on Twitter.