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#FinCon13 Recap & Spending

Last week, I spent a glorious long weekend in St. Louis at the 2013 Financial Blogger Conference. While I was originally on the fence about going because of the cost, I am SO glad I bought that last minute ticket on Twitter. I fully intend on attending next year as well and I better see you there! It was so much fun!

The Keynotes

One of my favorite things about the conference was the keynote speakers, specifically Pat Flynn and Derek Halpern. I had never read either of their sites before, but I was really digging what I heard from them.

Pat Flynn had possibly the best (albeit dorkiest) entrance ever. He talked about the importance of first impressions on our blogs — including the importance of having a clear starting point on your site, using social proof and herd mentality to get subscribers, and optimizing your 404 page. Pat gave me a lot to think about concerning my own site, I really need to clean up a bit around here.

Derek Halpern is an interesting character. I had heard a lot of things about him (mostly bad) going into his talk, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Apparently, the beef with him is that he is loud and obnoxious, kinda like a Ramit Sethi character. Different strokes for different folks I guess, because I really like Ramit. And it turns out, after seeing him speak and then going through several of his YouTube videos, I like Derek Halpern. This could be slightly biased as he turned down his speaking fee in order to give us an open bar after party. #ireallylikefreedrinks

Derek talked about the importance of promoting. Most of us spend 20% of our time promoting and 80% of our time creating. He believes we should flip that and spend 80% of our time on promotion. I really like creating, so I don’t think I’ll ever make it to 80% promoting, but it was interesting to hear his perspective.

He also discussed a type of promoting I never would have thought about — promoting to people outside of your niche. The great thing about personal finance is that everyone can relate to it, so writing articles that benefit those outside our primary audiences can increase our viewership tremendously.

The Sessions

I attended most of the break out sessions (spare a few on Saturday morning when I wasn’t um…feeling my best). The sessions I attended varied greatly in topic from collaboration to psychological biases to social media to tweetchats to receiving national media attention to designing a life/financial plan. I was able to learn something from each one.

A few nuggets included:

  • Look at your About page from a journalist’s POV. Why would they want to feature you?
  • Getting an EIN, separating your personal and business expenses entirely, and creating a business posse to do your bidding are super important when running your own business to keep everything legit.
  • Setting up detailed mission and vision statements to reach your life/financial goals help you visualize and work hard towards achieving those goals in a way that a simple goals list cannot.
  • Collaboration, instead of competition, is the key to blogging success.
  • Spamming your blogging idols is like asking a girl you just met if you can put your penis in her vagina.

Yes, that last one was actually part of a presentation. One of my favorites of the bunch.

I have terrible recall, but I took notes on the sessions I went to and I have access to the slides for those presentations I missed. Looking forward to implementing some positive changes around here…

The People

I would’ve paid for the trip just to hang out with the other bloggers. We have some incredible people in this little ol’ blogosphere of ours and I had the pleasure of meeting so many of them. I probably left a million people out. Don’t take it personally, seriously, my recall absolutely sucks. (Also, for privacy reasons, I didn’t name anyone I met who doesn’t blog.)

I had already met Carrie, Kathleen, and Tonya before FinCon, but it was great spending time with all of them again. The first night, I met Lindsay and Michelle (these two were my posse for the majority of FinCon, such awesome ladies!), as well as Athena, Jana, Jen, Sofia, and Kim at the hotel bar. Later that night, I also got to meet Lauren, Jim, and Adam (who I fangirled out on a little bit).

The next day, after a delicious brunch, I went to the City Museum with Tonya, Julie, Mario, and some cool ladies from Credit Karma. City Museum is not actually a museum at all, it’s more like a big jungle gym. And while I was a fan of all the slides, the climbing left me bruised and out of breath. Yikes!

After ambushing Shannyn while she was checking in, I grabbed a late lunch with the Moneyseeds and Mr. 1500 and then accompanied Sofia and Lindsay to a Women in Finance mixer on a rooftop bar. I met a bunch of people (couldn’t really tell you who) including Jean Chatzky, who delivered one of the keynotes. She’s absolutely gorgeous and seems like a genuinely awesome person.

At the opening ceremony (yes, this was all before the official start of FinCon), I met J. Money, who is just as awesome in real life as he is online. Then we all went to the Plutus Awards where Ashley turned Macklemore’s Thrift Shop into an amazing rap about blogging. I didn’t win a Plutus Award but *starts speaking in best humble celebrity voice* it was an honor just to be nominated. Thanks, guys!

In other news, my girl Erin DID win! She didn’t attend this year (she better be there next year!) but she was there in spirit. I would say we should room together for FinCon14, but we probably would spend the whole time watching TV together and never socialize with anyone else.

On the way to the after party, I met the oh-so-lovely Michelle. I got the chance to talk all aboot Canada (see what I did there?) with Cait and met Mrs. 1500. For anyone who is wondering, she sounds like a mouse. She claimed to be sick, but I’m not buying it ;).

How did that possibly only cover Wednesday and Thursday? Let’s speed things up.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in a nutshell: attending sessions, meeting a gazillion people, getting free stuff at the expo, free drinks, drinks that were not free, Betterment mixer, Panera one too many times, an unexpected free steak dinner, walking barefoot in a gross bar and outside, “dancing”, nights that ended at 2:30 AM, a ridiculously quick onset of severe allergies, wandering around St. Louis, a Vidal Sassoon party, Ignite, and a bunch of other stuff…

People I remember meeting at some point: Jacob, J.D., Eric, Miss Thrifty (best accent ever!), Agatha, Stephanie, Travis, Crystal (my roommate who I saw for about 20 minutes the whole weekend), and Mr. Money Mustache. Like I said, I’m leaving so many people out, but I tried. The point is, I met a bunch of truly amazing people.

I can honestly say I made some genuine friends this past week. Me. Friends. Crazy, right? I am so very glad I started this silly blog 6 months ago. It has introduced me to so many awesome people. That alone is worth the $10/month hosting fee.

As much as I liked Wednesday’s “potato” experiment, I won’t do that to you today. Anyone who made it this far is a peach. Thank you for sticking with me, I don’t deserve it.

The Cost

Spoiler alert: a lot.

Ticket: $89.00

Hotel: $347.89

4 nights at the Hyatt Regency, 3 nights split with a roommate and 1 night on my own

Flight: $470.60

Flight and bag check fees for the way back

Food & Drink: $157.36

Airport food there and back and all food/alcohol at the conference

Cabs & Shuttle: $37

Entertainment: $13.04

City Museum admission

TOTAL: $1,114.89, OUCH!

#FinCon13 was not a cheap trip but most of it was tax deductible. And I am determined to use the contacts made to make up the cost. Next year, I’ll plan ways to save money on the trip, specifically my plane ticket and alcohol spending, but it was truly worth every penny.

[Image from Buzzfeed]

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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