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These past two days I’ve gotten so much sleep and it’s been great. Last week I was in Dallas, Texas attending FinCon17. It was amazing, I learned a lot, I lost a lot of sleep, and all in all, it was a great experience.
This year’s conference was my second time attending, the first being last year’s FinCon16. Just like last year, the journey to get to the conference was hectic in the most pleasant way.
The last six months I have been living in Australia so my starting point to the conference happened in Perth, Western Australia. This time around, I tried to prepare against any jet lag that was bound to happen.
Last year when I came to FinCon, I didn’t prepare at all and ended up crashing for a long nap at around 3pm every day. Not the best way to spend a conference, eh? So this year, in preparation to beat jet lag, I stayed up for 30 hours while on my flight journey to FinCon.
This sounds as exciting as reading it. It mainly involved drinking excessive amounts of coffee and pacing around the airport endlessly. I loathe coffee but it was a necessary evil in this case. I ended up not falling asleep in the afternoon while at FinCon! Success!
Admittedly, I was tired during the afternoons, but maybe that had more to do that I didn’t get a lot of sleep while attending the conference. I don’t regret it one bit though, the four days of FinCon were great.
I came home full of inspiration. There was so much I learned and so many amazing people I got to talk with. The 4-hour Megabus journey back to Houston went by in a flash because my thoughts were filled with all the stuff I wanted to do going forward.
PREPARING FOR FINCON
My FinCon preparation extended beyond just staying up for 30 hours to beat jet lag. I actually formed some goals I wanted to achieve while there. This ended up making my experience so much more enjoyable.
My first FinCon experience (FinCon16) was great but it felt confusing as well. I hadn’t gone into the conference with an idea of what I wanted to get out of it so I ended up feeling conflicted about what to do with all the information I got.
I think part of it had to do with being a new blogger. My blog was seven months old when I went last year. I hadn’t really defined what my niche was within personal finance (budgeting, side hustling, frugality, debt, etc) so everything felt like a lot.
After seeing a thread in the FinCon Facebook group about everyone’s conference goals, I decided to make some.
- Meet fellow bloggers/FinMedia people
- Find new, higher-paying freelance clients
- Learn about the new FinTech services
- Learn about different ways to grow a brand
They were simple-ish and not a set “I want x number of this or that” type goals. Even so, having them gave me a good framework going into FinCon17. Having set goals may not work for everyone but with my love of organization and planning, they really helped me.
It was fun getting to meet all the different financial media people and bloggers I interact with online. There are so many people I wanted to meet and say hi to but I knew it was better to practice quality over quantity.
I reconnected with people from last year and got to connect with new people from this year. A lot of the interactions were so fun. I would spot someone while walking through the hotel, there would be a moment of hesitation wondering if it was really them, it really would be them, and cue the internal freak out as I got to talk with them.
In terms of finding freelance clients, there were two things that were very helpful: the freelancer’s marketplace and the one-on-one mentoring. I got to meet with several bloggers and companies at the marketplace and exchanged business cards.
I made it a point to sit down and really take the time to conversate with each of the companies. There was one company I really loved the mission and personality of. Hopefully the connections I made pay off!
The one-on-one mentoring was something I got to do for the first time. I signed up a few weeks before the conference when the email got sent out and hoped to pair with someone in the freelance writing space.
I got paired with the perfect person! It was with fellow personal finance blogger whose coaching program I had done just a few months ago. Perfect fit and I got to get some burning questions answered.
If there is an area you want to grow more in, definitely consider signing up for the one-on-one mentoring. It was worth it for me.
Meeting Other Bloggers
FinCon is like a family reunion. One that you actually want to go to
I think Pat Flynn said that. Not too sure, but it’s definitely true. The best part of FinCon is the people. Getting to hear their stories, their struggles, and their plans for the future. It’s great to be surrounded by like-minded people and have thoughtful conversations about money and beyond.
I got to see Cait Flanders again, who I met again while sitting in the hotel lobby at 10 pm. I can’t wait for her book The Year of Less to come out in January. She won best minimalism blog this year at the Plutus Awards!
Lauren from Financial Best Life. I’ve been following her blog forever and it was one of the first personal finance blogs I started reading. She has one of the funniest and relatable writing styles. I randomly met her while stuffing cookies into my swag bag in the expo hall, haha.
Gwen from Fiery Millennials I met again while volunteering on the first day. The F.I.R.E panel she was part of was one of my favorite sessions of the conference.
I immediately thought of Desirae from Half Banked when David Bach started to discuss his (controversial?) “Latte Factor” during a keynote. I got to meet Mixed Up Money, who probably has one of the funniest personal finance blogs around.
I went to lunch one day with several bloggers including Catherine from My Work Money Life who told everyone at the table their personality types. Apparently, I’m an INFJ. I also got to meet up with all the people I connected with through the conference app including Ashley from WiseBread and Liz from Kitchen Table Finances.
Allea from Ask Allea I bonded with over a love of gifs and Taylor Swift. Jen from Saving With Spunk who recently became debt-free! And a bunch of other people. So many awesome conversations.
The sessions at FinCon17 were top notch. There was a lot of variety including 20-minute sessions, hour-long sessions, workshops, and discussions. It felt like a good improvement from last year.
I liked that there were more sessions aside from just brand building and blog monetization. I loved the FIRE panel “What’s Wrong with Being on FI/RE?” with Our Next Life, Fiery Millennials, Bigger Pockets, and Military Guide.
I caught the first few minutes of Kylie Travers “How to Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities to Accelerate Your Business and Life”. She’s one of the Aussies I got to talk to while at FinCon and I love her story of growth.
I liked the session on growing a brand and making products, but it was nice to get to go to sessions about personal finance topics and discussions. The first-day workshops were so helpful. They included a lot of hands-on learning where you got to bring your laptop and follow along with the speaker.
FinCon is a conference geared mainly towards the marketing aspect of building a platform rather than general personal finance discussion. There have been some suggestions in the past for FinCon to have more panels centered on discussing topics within personal finance and I think they’ve really made an effort to improve in this area.
There will always be a main focus on the marketing aspect, but it was nice to see more variety in the panels, both in terms of the topics discussed as well as the speakers. I like that the team makes an effort to take into account all that the attendees recommend.
It’s been said so much it’s become a cliche that lifestyle coaches put on their Instagram captions. It’s on par with the sayings of ‘get enough sleep’ and ‘eat breakfast’. While I didn’t get enough of either of the latter two during FinCon, I did learn the value of being yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, the sessions this year were wicked awesome. Part of what came from the diversity of the sessions was a bigger emphasis on perspective. There were a lot of perspectives and over and over again I heard from people who talked about the different ways to go about growing a brand, reaching financial independence, and getting better with money.
There is a lot of talk about the “right” way to do something, but with the FinCon community, these are people who aren’t doing the conventional, and they’re rocking it.
Companies are creating new FinTech services that change the way we manage our money, people are approaching FIRE in different ways, everyone is using their own perspective to better the financial media community in a unique way.
FinCon felt different for me this year. When I first went last year, I still hadn’t found my blogging voice. I wasn’t sure exactly how to handle all the stuff I had learned. This year was better. I felt surer of myself and was able to focus better.
The conference was really big this year. There are always pros and cons when things get bigger. FinCon16 had 1200 people and this year it was 1700 people. While I can’t say too much about the cons, I can signal one big positive: more voices and more perspectives. And that’s really awesome in my book.
Did you attend FinCon17? Are you going to FinCon18 in Orlando, FL?
Colin // RebelwithaPlan
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