#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!

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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 shit 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 things out a little better, specifically my plane ticket and alcohol spending, but it was truly worth every penny.

Who is going to #FinCon14? What city are you hoping it will be in next year?

[Image from Buzzfeed]

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Comments

  1. Every time I read someone’s recap of FinCon it almost makes me want to start a blog… almost. I’m pretty lazy and have trouble formulating complete thoughts. Throw in a severe case on engineer’s disease (i.e. can’t spell) and it is a recipe for disaster. Anyways, FinCon always sounds like a blast and a great place to learn new things. I know I don’t get a vote for these things but I would vote for Baltimore or somewhere warm.

  2. Michelle A says:

    Erin, sounds like you had an amazing time!!! Talk about a lot of fun and having a great time to network!!!! Such a wonderful recap of it.

  3. SO glad you decided to go to FinCon at the last minute. Even though conferences in general are expensive, they are totally worth it! It was great getting to see you and hang out more.

  4. I’ve been spending about 80% of my time promoting and 20% creating and while it has helped my blog grow, I find myself short on content and writing in the last minute which I don’t love. I think there’s a better balance to be had.

    • I have to work on finding the right balance. I’m terrible with promoting but I can write all day. And this is why I freelance…

    • I have to agree. The idea of only spending 20% of your time on content makes me feel a little queasy. Then again, two journalist parents = writing snob. I think that quality counts for far more than promotion (Which may be why I only have 500 readers.) But seriously, write well and people will spread the word for you. But still tweet a bit for the love of god.

  5. This is a super helpful post, Erin! Wow, 80% promoting? I do spend probably 90% creating, so I need to focus on streamlining that process and focusing on promotion. I definitely want to go next year, and should start saving now!

    • I’m TERRIBLE with promoting but I need to get better at it. Carrie (Careful Cents) used this 80/20 technique and tripled her views so there is definitely something to it!

  6. WEll, that’s the quote of the day:

    “”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.”

    :-D

  7. Love your recap Erin. I’m glad that we could be in a posse together :) I’m also glad that you included all of your expenses, as it will give me a good idea of what I should expect to pay next year. Since I didn’t stay at the hotel, I didn’t spend much. I think I paid $100 for my ticket, $22 for valet one day, may $50 on food for all days altogether, and then gas to and from each day. It was so cheap for me!

  8. After hearing so many positive reviews of FinCon13, there is no way I’m missing FinCon14! I might even set aside money now so that I have no excuse.

    I really like this -> “Collaboration, instead of competition, is the key to blogging success.” Definitely something to keep in mind.

  9. Great post. It looks and sounds like everyone had an amazing time. This is the first post of seen about the cost though. This is interesting given that the majority of the blogs are about saving and spending. It seems like this was expensive for everyone. However, no one has broken down the cost (investment) in detail. Good to know – thanks.

  10. I’m so glad you went, Erin! I loved meeting you, birthday twin! Hopefully, I’ll get out to Portland next summer and we’ll get to hang out before Fincon14!

    I realize that was a lot of exclamation points. I have no good reason for why.

  11. I’m so glad we got to hang out as much as we did. I’m STILL recovering. I haven’t had an sugar or alcohol since Sat night and I still feel hungover. WTF? :) Can’t wait for next year!

  12. It was great to meet you as well. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who only saw their roomie for like 20 mins. I felt so bad!

    A great time had by all, that’s for sure. Mostly because it was pretty much a 4-day party with people you feel like you’ve known FOREVER!

  13. I was hoping to run into you, but I didn’t. Things were crazy, since I was tagging along after my mom. (And don’t worry, I spent Friday morning not feeling so well. I made it downstairs shortly before lunch. I gotta start remembering that extra free drink tickets do not have to be used.) I’m hoping to actually comingle with more people next year, like I did last year.

    Mom and I both indulged in Panera too much. The only one I’ve been able to find in Phoenix is at the airport, and there aren’t any in Alaska yet. So I guess we’d best hope PT finds another city graced with Panera. Or Phoenix so I don’t have to fly anywhere. I’m not picky.

    • I can’t wait to see where it is next year! Portland or Seattle would be convenient for me, but way too far for East Coasters. Austin would be great and so would New Orleans. Already pumped for #fincon14 :)

  14. C The Writer says:

    You didn’t meet me. Considering that you don’t consider me a PF blogger, I suppose that’s no great loss. Would also explain why I was not there. I was too busy working at Walmart and having no money. Wonderful.

  15. Best. Simile. Ever.
    I will never spam my blogging idols. Especially now that I know how bad that is.

  16. Great write-up and summary.

    It’s too bad we didn’t get to chat much. Can’t wait until next year.

  17. ERIN!! It was awesome meeting and hanging out. I think all of us need to do a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway or to Miami. Bwahaha. I liked Derek’s keynote as well and I tend to like brash out going types (Ramit/Derek). What’s wrong with being convinced that you’re awesome??

    • You know, my first boss told me something that has stuck with me for years when I jokingly called him cocky. He said “I’m not cocky, I’m convinced. If you don’t think you’re the shit, who will?” It quickly became my motto for life :).

  18. I am SO going next year and I hope I run into you :)

  19. It was so great meeting and hanging out with you, Erin! Sorry about the bruising hahah… guess City Museum is one place where being short is an advantage hehe. Now on to more important matters… how do I get in on this free-steak-dinner business? :P

    • Haha, it is not a great place for tall people :).

      A bunch of us (like 25) went to get a steak dinner on Saturday night and a blogger named Romeo surprised us by paying the whole thing! It was very generous.

  20. It was great to meet you too. Sadly, since returning home, NOT A SINGLE PERSON has said to me how much they like my accent. I was so spoilt at FinCon! See you at #Fincon14… ;)

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