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JENNA KUTCHER

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This or That? Taking an Online Course vs. Going to a Conference

Okay okay, today we’re going in on a couple of *THE* most popular self-educational tools. If you’re considering taking the plunge this year and taking control of your education, each of these have their own perks in giving you the kick in the pants you need to begin knocking out your goals and taking control of your life. That’s right, we’re getting into allll the pros and cons of investing in and taking an online course vs. investing in going to a conference.

I’m sorta the self-proclaimed course queen, yes, but did you know I also have a soft spot in my heart for conferences, too? Live, in-person events just take ahold of you and rattle you to your core, if it’s a good one, and can ignite all kinds of inner power and go-get-em attitudes in attendees. I’ve spoken at, been a guest at, and remotely watched dozens of conferences throughout my career, from photography events to powerhouse entrepreneurial masterclasses. So I like to think I know what I’m talkin’ about when it comes to both courses and conferences!

I’m going to treat this blog post sort of like a written venn diagram — do you remember those from school?! It’s the two overlapping circles, one circle for courses, one for conferences, and the overlapping portion of the circles is what they have in common. Because for how entirely different the two experiences are, they do have some incredible commonalities, too!

First up, let’s chat about what makes these self-education experiences amazing in similar ways.

What courses and conferences have in common

Good courses and good conferences share a few mega-inspirational qualities, so let’s get into what those look like!

  • Education: Of course, most courses and conferences were created in order to efficiently teach all kinds of people, from all over the world, something new, valuable, and impactful. It’s delivering this new information to the masses for students/attendees to take and implement into their own lives or businesses. Both should have tangible takeaways, action steps, and support (whether it’s a workbook, activities, online community, or check-ins) as you apply the learning materials to your life.
  • Purpose: Both courses and conferences should deliver a deeper purpose for you to walk away with beyond just learning something new. Depending on the speakers or educators, you likely won’t just walk away from a course or conference with new knowledge under your belt. You should feel a little more equipped to reach your dreams and go after the things that make your heart soar. Purpose-driven educational experiences will push you from just learning new stuff to actually want to implement it and see how it can shift your journey to something more meaningful and fulfilling.
  • Community: While they look a little different, with both courses and conferences you often gain a new community of likeminded goal chasers and big dreamers. Courses often offer digital spaces like Facebook groups to find support and answers to questions, while at conferences you’ll have more of the human-to-human connection opportunities.

The pros and cons of digital courses

If you’re leaning toward investing in a digital course to take the reigns of your education, you’ve got a LOT of good things going for you! Whether you’re looking to up-level your business, learn a new skill, streamline some area of your life, or just find more joy, there are courses on literally everything you can imagine learning about. I’m talking about new hobbies, business tactics, parenting, social media, and so. much. more.

It’s honestly a little wild for me to think about it because as a pioneer of digital courses (check out the first one I ever took here), I have absolutely loved seeing how this arena has expanded and shifted to include everything imaginable to learn about. And one of my personal favorite things about courses is that most offer access for a lifetime, meaning you can jump back in later on and learn something new or experience fresh takeaways as your life and directions pivot through the years.

This also means you’ll be privy to new updates and changes to courses as the materials get refreshed, so you’ll always have access to the most up-to-date processes and systems that the course tackles. I’ve taken the same course numerous times and each time I take it, I glean new insight. You have that information at your fingertips whenever you need to reference it or need a refresher and that’s something I love about online courses.

Really, the only downside to courses that I’ve seen is when people can’t seem to push past life and dig into the materials to really integrate the knowledge into their lives. And trust me, I GET IT. Life is cray and follow-through isn’t always easy, but the truth is, most courses work if you do the work. They’re not a magic wand offering to fix your biz or life once you hand over your credit card, but they can seriously improve a LOT if you choose to take the knowledge, do the work, and run with it!

The pros and cons of conferences

As for conferences, there are SO many good ones out there that are transformational and unbelievably jam-packed with the best information and strategies from powerful, smart as heck speakers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and beyond. So many conferences almost give you this thrill, like a high from being in the environment and feeding off of the energy of so many other jazzed, hyped-up people, both on stage and in the crowd. If you’ve ever been to an inspirational event, you know what I’m talkin’ about!

You get to shake hands with these badass hustlers and meet people whose stories are exceptional and only make you all the more eager to chase down everything you’ve ever wanted, and then some. It’s buzzy and inspirational and full of good energy, on top of equipping you with all sorts of new information to take home and hopefully run with.

But that’s the downside, too, if you ask me — because conferences are normally a one, two, or three-day event with these mega-feel-good-boosting vibes, when you leave, it’s all the more challenging to keep that buzz going on your own. To continue generating the energy and stick with all the ideas and intentions you came up with while attending a conference, it can be difficult once you’re not in that environment anymore and back into your own life, which can be full and fast and distracting.

I’m entirely guilty of taking pages of notes that never got implemented when I got back into the office (let alone read again!) so I get it! That’s why some of the best conferences send you home with a plan in your back pocket to get the work done. But not all of them!

How to choose which is right for you

It’s tough to know which investment will pay off the biggest dividends for you, right? Here’s what I’d say: if you’re looking for a blueprint that you can actually implement or a system to put into place in your business and you need a step-by-step model that allows you to work at your own pace? Hands down, choose a course. If you’ve been at it for awhile and feel confident in your systems but you’re looking for community and inspiration to take things to the next level? An event might be a great opportunity for you.

My advice is to do your research — for conferences AND courses alike. Look into the speakers, the educators, the leaders, and make sure they are names that you trust and that you know will deliver on the value they promise. Have they gotten themselves and others results? Is the promise they are painting the end result that you’re seeking? After all, you’re the one investing your hard-earned money in this experience to learn something new that hopefully rocks your world!

When it comes to taking a digital course vs. going to a conference, the decision is yours and both can be exceptional, transformative experiences. Just make sure whichever you choose, you jump in with both feet and commit to making it well worth your time and investment — because you ARE worthy of that!


Speaking of learning something new…

Want to know my 3 most MAJOR takeaways from my $100k a day biz coach? Head here.

by Jenna Kutcher 

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  1. Misty Nelson says:

    Great advice! I love conferences but it’s truly important to weigh the benefits at some point. They can get pricey and you have to be sure the information is valuable and worth the investment. Love this article Jenna!

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