So this past weekend marked this year’s edition of the FinCon blogger conference. If you’re a fellow finance blogger, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not a blogger, let me fill you in a bit…
Basically it’s an annual conference that brings together a large number of financial bloggers as well as other industry professionals. It’s a chance to connect with bloggers that you communicate with all year long and also build connections with other bloggers that you might not have known as well. It’s a chance to gain valuable insight from established bloggers and share your knowledge with newer bloggers. It’s a chance to meet with some key advertisers in the finance niche and get plenty of branded swag.
Ok so maybe for some of you that sounds like a notch or two above a Star Trek convention. Now I don’t have any direct experience to compare the two, but I suspect this one was a little cooler. There was at least probably more open bars and social events. Think a 4 day wedding without the relatives and with a bunch of learning thrown in.
This year’s FinCon was held in St. Louis, which I admit is somewhere that I would probably never visit otherwise. Since we weren’t there specifically for sightseeing, I guess we’ll settle for a massive arch that is oddly reminiscent of McDonalds. One bright side of the location was that there happened to be a big baseball game there while we were in town. Even though baseball is one of my least favorite sports, it did make for a lively atmosphere. We got to watch that game at a sweet rooftop bar with a view directly into the baseball stadium. Almost made me a baseball far for the night
My FinCon Experience
I guess you probably get the gist of what the conference was about. It’s really a unique experience for everyone though. Each attendee has their own agenda, their own info sessions they want to see, their own group of contacts they gravitate towards and their own personalities.
The personalities part is where it was a bit challenging for me. I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being an extrovert. A one on one conversation is usually manageable, but for some reason any kind of group chat gets the old social anxiety going. Randomly starting conversations with people I don’t know isn’t exact a forte either. So yeah, I knew I’d be out of my element at this thing. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one dealing with that, but most seemed to be more on the chatty side.
I won’t deny that I was envious of the people who could just work a room and really get the most of the networking side of things. Those people would definitely get a lot more benefits from a conference like this. That’s not to say that I didn’t talk to a lot of people, but there were more people that I would’ve liked to meet. Some I just never managed to run into and some I might’ve missed them by not awkwardly staring at their stomach/crotch area to read their nametags. Yeah that was actually my own fault for holding back on the socializing.
Beyond connecting with fellow bloggers, there were a lot of other solid benefits to attending.
Info Sessions: The wide variety of topics covered was quite impressive. You do have to pick and choose which sessions you watch live, but I know I’ll be buying the virtual pass to catch up on all of the presentations I missed. Someone new to blogging would learn so much. Bloggers at other levels of experience could still pick up a lot of pointers. For me a lot of it was reinforcing things that I knew something about but either put it off or didn’t previously grasp the importance of it.
Motivation: Some of the presentations were more focused on a particular blogger’s success story and the basics of how they achieved that. These were especially inspiring because you got to hear what an average person could achieve by taking the right approach. Reading about those strategies without a story and a face to go with it simply wouldn’t drive it home the same way.
Advertiser Connections: With all the different advertisers attending, it was a pretty good opportunity to get to know what they’re all about and discuss potential strategy to make money. I felt that this area probably would’ve been a bit more beneficial to me if I had been further along with building up affiliate income. It makes sense that an advertiser is going to put a bit more effort into building connections with a well established blogger. As a result I didn’t get as many invites to company sponsored events as I could have. Totally understandable though and that gives me some extra motivation to build that all up a lot more before next year’s FinCon. I did get to finally meet my credit card affiliate rep from BankRate who has been helping me for years.
Free Stuff: It was a bit pricey for me to fly down to St. Louis and get a hotel room for 3 nights, despite finding a roommate. Luckily it was balanced out by a lot of free stuff provided by the conference organizers and individual finance companies that were taking part. I already touched on the open bars and free branded swag, but that was just scratching the surface. There were few meals we had to pay for on our own. I could see an established blogger not needing to buy a single meal the whole time. When there weren’t open bars, there were usually free drink tickets handed out or generous bloggers buying drinks.
I think Philip from PT Money and everyone else involved did an awesome job with the conference. If you’re a financial blogger, I’d definitely recommend checking out at least one FinCon conference. There’s just too many benefits to not attend, even if you’re an introvert like me. Thank you to everyone who helped put this event on.
I did face one other challenge. This was one of the longer stretches that me and my fiance have been away from each other. So we both ended up missing each other a lot. I’m lucky to have such an amazing woman in my life. Next year I’ll have to work harder at convincing her to attend FinCon too. Then the trip would’ve been truly complete.