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Wow, #FinCon13 was the Best Yet!

I’m going to be a little different this time for my Financial Blogger Conference 2013 breakdown.  Usually I go day by day with everyone I met and what we did.  Very few of you seemed to really care if you weren’t there, because why would you?So this time around, I’ll do a day by day breakdown that also includes blogging lessons learned to help those of you that have a blog or would like to start.  I’ll also do a cost summary so you know what to expect for next year.

Tuesday Evening – Arrival

Like last year, I hung out with my FinCon core group a lot this past week.  It started with Tuesday.  I met Jason from Live Real, Now, Shane from Beating Broke, and Jesse Michelsen at the airport.  We grabbed the Metrolink to the stop near our Hyatt Hotel.  We were all starving, grabbed dinner, headed back, met up with the rest of the early arrivers (like Ashley at Money Talks and Sherrian and Khaleef from KNS Financial), and decided to go to dinner with them too.  Yay for Vietnamese followed by chocolate cake!

Blogger Lesson #1 - Never skip an opportunity to network.  Especially when it only costs you about $5 and you get to eat cake.

Wednesday – Bootcamp Day 1

This is when things really got rolling for me.  I helped plan this Bootcamp, so I had butterflies on how it would turn out.  I did not want to disappoint Phil Taylor, the man behind the conference (PT Money).  His staff, like Jessica and Ryan, worked so hard that I wanted everything to just go off without a hitch.

The St. Louis Arch

Here was the view of the Arch from the Terrace at the Hyatt. It was amazing. The scratches and stuff are on the window…so just imagine it all clear. :-)

IT WAS FANTASTIC!  The sessions went well, the side discussions went well, the site teardowns and suggestion groups went well…it just all worked!  Veteran bloggers answered the more advanced questions, all of the bloggers helped and learned from each other in whatever area they chose to be, and we got some very helpful feedback for next year!

At the end of the day, we headed to karaoke.  Let me just say that karaoke rocked!  Just please try to picture JD Roth and Kraig singing “Thrift Shop” with me, or Jason from LRN tackling songs about the human anatomy and “The Asshole Song”.  Oh, and a bunch of people really enjoyed watching me do “Amish Paradise” – it’s been a while but I still remembered 75% of it.  :-)  It was a hilarious night and will be logged away in my head forever!!!

By the end of the night, about 20 different people had sung a total of more than 40 songs.  It was a very memorable night.  Here’s my official shout out to Tom at the Canadian Finance Blog and Phil Taylor – Tom brought the karaoke paraphernalia and Phil sponsored the event himself.  We would not have been able to rock out without those two!

I think my roommate that night, Kim at Eyes on the Dollar, only had to even see me for about 5 hours while we shared the room for one day.

Blogger Lesson #2 – In one of the sessions, I learned that broken backlinks and bogus redirects can kill your site with search engine rankings.  I am in the midst of installing a Broken Link Checker plugin so I can perform a proper check of my site.

Blogger Lesson #3 – I need to install Yoast to help me with post search engine optimization (SEO).

Blogger Lesson #4 – 15-30 minutes brain storming with other bloggers that just want to help can help you more than hours and hours and hours trying to figure things out on your own. 

Thursday - Bootcamp Ends and FinCon13 Started

Thursday morning through lunch, we finished up the Bootcamp.  We used the feedback from the day before to actually revamp the schedule and give way more time to teardowns and small discussion groups.  It finished just as good as it started.  :-)

Thursday afternoon was spent practicing for hosting for the Plutus Awards (Jason and I were presenting three awards).  The ceremony was outrageously cool – very fancy, posh, and humorous as usual.  Our one-liners while we were on stage got a few laughs, which made us extremely proud.  Jason successfully humorously zinged every Canadian with “America’s Little Brother Award” (aka, the Canadian Blogger Award), I poked at the winning retirement blogger with a walker joke, and we played off the “secret” part of the “Best Kept Secret” award.

Thursday evening was going to be spent at a bar for the Plutus After Party, but we just used our free drink tickets and escaped from the loud.  It was so loud!  We ended up enjoying a very cool dinner including Duck Fat Fries down the street.

I got to know my core group and Alex Conde from the TSI Network way better.  It was truly fun.  Then we ended up in the hotel lobby as usual – hanging out until the wee hours of the morning.

I accidentally woke up my new roommate, Barbara at Upside of Money, when I went to bed that night.  I pretty much accidentally woke her up every night for the rest of the conference.  Lucky for me, she is the only person I have ever met that actually gets her sleep disturbed and wakes up alert and perky!  Some of our best conversations happened at 3am…

Blogger Lesson #5 – A little practice and a sense of humor will go a long way.

Friday – FinCon13 Day 2

With Bootcamp and the Plutus Awards all done, I was done with my FinCon responsibilities.  I let my hair down, met as many people as I could, made it to a grand total of two sessions, and generally just hung out.  I visited all of the sponsors booths that afternoon during the Expo and then we attended the Ignite FinCon event in the evening.  It was best to travel in groups, so we walked back about halfway through.

Ignite FinCon was fun, but we had an even better time when we got back and bumped into Joe from Stacking Benjamins (remember my podcast last week – How Do You Break Out From the 9 – 5 Grind?).  Joe, Len Penzo, his wife Mia, Jason, Ashley, Travis, Vonnie, Luke (Consumerism Commentary), and me (plus and minus others as they popped up and left), had a grand ol’ time playing Cards Against Humanity for hours!  It made me laugh several times until my sides hurt.  That was a true highlight.

Blogger Lesson #6 – Keep your eye out for opportunities.  You can leave one thing and find another if you keep a lookout.

Jesse at Ignite FinCon 2013

Jesse either lost a bet or was trying to complete a dare with that sweater…no, for real. He borrowed it for one of those reasons…

Saturday – FinCon13 Day 3

Saturday was my last real day to network.  I did my best to meet absolutely everybody I could, and I know that I probably still missed about half of the attendees.  I attended a few sessions (shout outs to Jeff Rose and Marie at Family Money Values)!  I also watched a very male chin up competition that inspired a female push-up competition a few hours later.  Yep, that’s me in light blue below.

Pushups

Mary Beth at Workable Wealth and I joined in on a friendly push up competition after Derek left the stage Saturday afternoon. I only got to 26 before getting pooped out, but Mary Beth made it to 27. :-D

 

At the end of the day, we listened to the closing key note speaker, Derek Halpern from Social Triggers.  I learned a bunch about blogging psychology and he even used a few tips on us as an audience that he was suggesting as he went – savvy, smart, and subtle.  Pretty cool.  He sponsored an open bar after party that evening that I enjoyed tremendously as well.  Got to really talk to Teresa Mears, Donna Freedman, and Maggie at Square Pennies.

Between Derek’s talk and the party, I grabbed dinner with Joe Taxpayer.  This is the second FinCon that I really got to know him – I think he is a cool cat.  Realistic, optimistic, and genuinely kind.  I headed back from dinner to go to the party.  After the party, I hung out in the lobby for hours again.

Blogger Lesson #7 – Guest post.  And when you forget that lesson, start again.

Blogger Lesson #8 – Systems (like templates for general replies to emails) can save you a ton of time.

Blogger Lesson #9 – Friends kick butt.

Blogger Lesson #10 – Give value to your readers.

Blogger Lesson #11 – Listen more than you talk.  I suck at this one.

Our FinCon Crew

From left to right: Shane, Jesse, Me, Khaleef, Ashley, Jason, and Sherrian. We were missing Suba, but maybe next year! Thank you guys for being my blogging buddies!!!

Sunday – FinCon13 Day 4

Sunday is always a dead day at FinCon.  I woke up late, grabbed some breakfast, and got packed to go.  Then I hung out in the lobby even more with the core group and got to know a blogger named Thursday at Hyper Modern Consulting that fit right in.  Thursday, Amanda from Frugal Confessions, and I even talked about having kids.  It was deep.  :-)

On the way back to the airport, I started talking to someone else I didn’t know well already too.  Here’s a big hi to Joel from Save Outside the Box.  I really enjoyed our chat!  Had lunch before our flights left with Shane and Sandy from Yes, I Am Cheap (heya!).  Also, a big hi to Derek at Free At 33 and Mandy from Money Master Mom.  Thanks for chatting with me before my flight – I learned a lot!

Blogger Lesson #12 – Communicate outside of your comfort zone.  You could be making a new friend.

Cost Summary

  • Ticket to FinCon13 - $0 for helping to organize the Bootcamp (regularly $99 – $150 depending on the time you buy)
  • Ticket to FinCon13 Bootcamp – $0 for helping ($99 normally)
  • Hotel – $0 for helping (ran $135 with taxes per night or you could split it with a roommate)
  • Plane Ticket – $347.00
  • Food - $87.21
  • Transportation (Metrolink and Taxis) – $20.00
  • Tips – $15.00
  • Total = $469.71 (would have been around $1000 if I hadn’t had anything comped and shared a room)

Hope you enjoyed this run through and the blogger lessons!  Did you attend?  Anything to add?

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14 comments to Wow, #FinCon13 was the Best Yet!

  • Lefty

    Wow! Sounds like you proved the adage, “You get out what you put in”.

    While you keep in touch with so many bloggers, I can only imagine how much fun it is to get to hang out together with people who truly “get” what you do.

    Thanks for the write-up.

  • Fincon was a great learning experience, and I agree that some of the best parts were outside of scheduled sessions. I feel like you did mostly see me in my pajamas. You were a crazy lady with all that stuff to do, but everyone I talked to who went to boot camp said it was great. I hope you are caught up on sleep now!

  • Great recap. I’m so sad that we didn’t meet! I saw you plenty of times but you were always a little further away. That probably made me sound creepy…

  • Sounds like a great time. I haven’t been able to attend yet. My fear now is that so many people seem to have established their network, that I would probably be hanging out on my own a lot

  • Such good memories! ;)

    P.S. Thursday’s site is: http://www.hypermodernwriting.com/

    I’m not sure why I remembered that, as I didn’t get her card, and didn’t write it down. Maybe it was because it didn’t have anything to do with finances?

  • Valerie Rind

    26 push-ups? You rock!

  • @Lefty, it really is super fun to meet everyone. It’s like a candy store for an extrovert like me!

    @Kim, I’m almost caught up. I feel like one more night is needed, lol. Yeah, I spend about 6 hours a day in the hotel room, so I’m just glad that we got to meet! :-D

    @Michelle, I was looking for you! Next time, tackle me so I don’t miss you. A lot of people mention that they usually saw my back as I flitted around…

    @Money Beagle, nah! You can join our crew – the self-dubbed Lounge Lizards. :-D

    @Shane, thanks!!!

    @Valerie, awww, thanks! I did 31-32 at a time a couple of months ago, but I think the cough and lack of sleep took its toll. Next year I’ll be in the chin up competition too!

  • I’m so glad that I finally got the chance to meet you in person after all those years reading your blog! It was great getting to know you and your crew better!

    You blew me away with your energy and your ability to function on virtually no sleep, and that’s when you’re sick! If you weren’t sick you’d have won the chin up contest on top of everything else too! :D

  • Three years in a row! Are you still learning new tips and tricks? Sounds like you were a big part of the whole conference. You really do get what you put into it. Love your recaps. Almost feels like I’m there. Hopefully catch next year’s!

  • That sounds like so much fun! I can’t imagine going to a conference and just meeting people.. It sounds so much more productive than all the running around I do at the teaching conferences. I need to take that in mind next year.

  • Um.. Do I not matter? That was me in the karaoke vid with JD and you chatted with me at the airport. Sheesh….

    J/k. No big deal. Thanks for helping make bootcamp awesome. I’ll be back for it next year so you better have it! Talk to you soon.

  • @Alex, it was great meeting you too! And LOL, I felt the no sleep in my bones, I just refused to show it too often since I already whine enough. :-)

    @Buck Inspire, yes, I am still learning. This time around, I learned to add Yoast (still need to do that) and to correct misdirected and broken backlinks (still need to do that too). Hopefully I’ll meet you at Bootcamp next year!

    @some art teacher, hopefully it works well at teaching conferences too!

    @Kraig, THANK YOU! Seriously, I asked 3 people Sunday morning, “Who’s on stage with JD?” The shadows and pixels hid you well in the video, and the rum and orange juice made the whole evening a bit fuzzy for me. No worries about remembering you. First, you helped me with the SEO session at bootcamp. And then, when that woman freaked out about her pizza slice and you offered to pay for it without missing a beat, I knew you were a great guy to hang out with. We just had different hang out groups. :-)

  • Great write-up, Crystal.

    I’m glad we got a change to know each other better this time around…even though it was at the expense of my drunken stupor. :-)

  • Great recap, love the videos from karoake… I wish I went a day early just for that. :)