September 24, 2012

A few weeks ago I mentioned investing in yourself and going to conferences to learn and soak in the energy of others around. There are moments in your (blogging) career where you need a jolt of inspiration. I tend to go to a lot of conferences; either as an attendee, organizer, speaker, or on behalf of a company. My all-time favorite one is SXSW, but I digress.

I’ve been to 3 blogging related conferences in the last 2 months; BlogHer, FINCON12, and finally CPFC12. I walked away from each one with different goals.

BlogHer12 was a very interesting experience. I mean it had 5000 women, most of whom were either fashion or lifestyle/mommy/review/coupon bloggers. I’m pretty sure that there might have been around 4 personal finance bloggers there. Did I enjoy the experience? Yes. Can I say that I got the most of it? NO. Β Did I make some excellent contacts with Brands? Yes.

I, also, won the Wells Fargo Blog Contest. Β So I can’t really complain.

Best feature of BlogHer? The sessions. They have their sh*t together. They have different tracks for different skill levels, and interests. I don’t need to know how to set-up WordPress, but I do want to learn about doing podcasts on the go. This, by far, was the best way to organize it.

Personal Finance Conferences: FINCON12 vs CPFC12

If you’re a personal finance blogger, chances that you’ve heard of either one or both of these.

FINCON12 was amazing, but it was amazing because on the people that I met. I had the pleasure of working with some lovely people, like Flexo, on the Plutus Award Committee, and I was happy to find that people were a lot more approachable in person that one would expect. I have a lot of respect for what PT has done over the last 2 years. Putting on a 3 day conference for 400 people is not an easy feat, especially when those 400 are out spoken bloggers. I can honestly say that I walked away from FINCON having made friends, and not just online ones. These are people that I can/will call when I travel. I know I talked a few people into visiting me here. The weekend was filled with dry skin, and lack of sleep. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

That being said, there are a few things that I would do differently. I can only assume that this conference will grow, and with that comes the task of finding enough relevant content that everyone can partake in. I would recommend that FINCON’s sessions be modeled after BlogHer. Having a Beginner, Intermediate, and an Advanced stream will allow attendees to get the most bang for their buck/time. Having someone like Andrea host a hands-on clinic/tutorial/workshop can be really rewarding as well. I attended quite a few sessions, but I don’t think I walked away with earth shattering info. If you want more info about FINCON12, see here.

CPFC12 was a lot smaller, and by default a lot easier to navigate. Keep in mind that I attended the sessions sunday and I showed up at the social last night. Compared to our American counterparts, the Canadian personal finance community is quite a bit smaller, and we’re nicer people( kidding). The size was definitely a benefit to the speakers since it allowed them to cater their content to a more curated audience. With the exception of 1 person, I’m pretty sure everyone had been blogging for a while. I took notes. I almost never take notes at conferences. Having people likeΒ Dan Bortolotti (, Jonathan Chevreau (Editor of MoneySense Magazine), Vikram Barhat (Content Editor at sit on a panel and answer questions for an hour in a small group setting is worth the price of admission.

That aside, I met some of my favorite online friends. People like Simon, and Nelson are friends now, and having 7 of us share a massive inside joke helps with the bonding process.

Obviously CPFC12 was a lot cheaper for me since it was in my backyard, so by default it provided the most value for my money. In the end it comes down to what the reason behind attending a conference is. My reasons have never been to earn a living doing this. I do this as a hobby. I can’t, however, deny the perks that come with being good at something and having people notice.

Would I attend all 3 next year? Yes, but there is a plan for each one, and thats what I was lacking this year.



You Might Also Like

  • Lance @ Money Life and More September 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Interesting! I plan to attend Fincon next year and really want to meet a bunch of people. Seems like a great opportunity to do so!

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

      You’ll have a blast!

  • Kathleen @ Frugal Portland September 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Love it — and Canadians are nicer than Americans. πŸ™‚

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 1:27 am


  • Suba September 24, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for the comparison. I attended BlogHer last year, I didn’t get much (educational) value from that, but the parties were fun. I was curious about the CPFC12.. One of these years I would like to attend them all. I have heard so much about SXSW, but I never “got” what it was about. I was told it is a music festival? What exactly is SXSW about?

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 1:25 am

      SXSW interactive is mostly about social media, marketing, and online culture in general. Think Ramit’s talk, but on steroids. Also, your skill level far surpasses everyone else’s.

  • Michelle September 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    This is all very good to know! Jealous that you went to three πŸ™‚

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

      I’m pretty sure I’m still tired from all the partying.

  • Bridget September 25, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I’m so bummed I couldn’t make it to either FINCON or CPFC =( Looks like they were both great events. Maybe next year!

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

      Start saving now!

  • Promod Sharma || actuary | advocate | blogger September 25, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I only attended CPFC12. It’s too bad that you missed the Saturday sessions. The feel was different because there were more people and more energy.

    I don’t attend conferences with an agenda beyond learning and mingling. I usually take notes since I want content for at least one blog post.

    If you’re interested in general blogging, Toronto hosted the world’s first 24-hour blogging festival, Word11 ( I was afraid I’d get slotted at 3 AM but got a morning session πŸ™‚

    For podcasting, you may want to attend the annual Podcamp Toronto ( As an unconference, you never know quote what you’ll experience, which is part of the magic.

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 1:26 am

      I attend Podcamp every year along with the smaller meetups that happen in the city. There are a ton of really great events that go on all the time in Toronto. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Preet September 25, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Hi Marissa, sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet (I had to miss Sunday at CPFC12). Thanks for including us in your round-up!

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 3:24 am

      OMG! I was sad about that, too. I’m a huge fan.

      • Preet September 25, 2012 at 3:29 am

        Well then maybe we should organize a GTA blogger happy hour one night πŸ™‚

        Doesn’t have to wait until CPFBC13 <- Yes, I'm considering rebranding it with the extra B to indicate it's for bloggers. Just bought the domain. πŸ˜‰

        • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

          I’ll be there!

  • Jason @ WSL September 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I wouldn’t be shocked if Canadians are nicer than Americans…we’re kind of rude so I can easily see that. I hope to make it to FinCon13 and I’m sure I’ll love it as I’m a newbie and a pretty ignorant blogger. I have TONS to learn. πŸ™‚

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Haha! Thats not what I meant. All of the Americans I know are super awesome.

  • Canadianbudgetbinder September 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the conferences. Although I didn’t get a chance to go this year I may have to make it a goal to get out to the 2013 conferences. Cheers Mr.CBB

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Would love to meet you in real life!

  • Kyle September 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Maybe Canadians are nicer than northern Americans, but you know us southern gentlemen can’t be beat! Would you like some tea?

    • Marissa September 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      That explains why Tushar bought me Starbucks everyday!

      • Kyle September 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm

        Haha, either that or you just looked like you could REALLY use some coffee. I know I did.

        Totally agree with the beginner/intermediate/advanced tracks. I want a session on how to use advanced analytic split testing to rank for head keywords in local search environments in order to boost mailing list conversions to internal landing pages.

        • Marissa September 26, 2012 at 4:02 am

          How many other people do you think want that?

          PS. I was not the one who looked like they needed coffee everyday.

  • Sustainable Living Blog (Jeff) September 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    It was great to meet you at fincon and it is awesome that you get to go to 3 blog conferences. I’ve considered going to the savvy blogging summit since they have typically had it within a few hour drive of my house, but i’ve never actually gotten up the stones to go – I figure I’d be pretty out of place, and even more so than I was at fincon.

    • Marissa September 26, 2012 at 4:05 am

      You were not out of place. The bigger the conference, the more interesting you become when you write about something different. The savvy blogging summit sounds interesting. You should totally check it out.

  • Andy Hough September 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    It was interesting to see the comparison of the conferences. I attended FinCon its first year and I plan to attend it next year.

    • Marissa September 26, 2012 at 4:02 am

      I look forward to meeting you.

  • Jacob @ iheartbudgets September 25, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Sounds like they all filled a need and have their place for inspiration. I’ll be at FINCON (God-willing), but will probably skip out on BlogHer and CPFC πŸ˜‰

    I like the idea of different levels for breakout sessions at FinCon, as there are definitely people who would be overwhelemd at a presentation that others might also yawn at.

    • Marissa September 26, 2012 at 4:03 am

      Thats my thinking, too. I think it will the job easier for the speakers, too.

  • Martin September 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Hey Marissa, maybe next year you can actually show up for the day full of events? Lol just kidding.

    It was cool to see that a handful of us Canadians (and Money Crashers) hit up both conferences.

    I really enjoyed the discussions and free flow of conversations.

    FinCon in Denver was just a colossal event. You can’t even compare the two.

    I give huge props to Preet and Krystal for stepping up!

    • Marissa September 26, 2012 at 4:06 am

      Maybe you should show for the second day of activities… not kidding πŸ™‚

      Krystal and Preet did a fantastic job.

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses September 26, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Great post! I always wondered if anyone went to both FinCon and CPFC and would write a comparison between the two. Thanks for writing one!

    • Marissa September 26, 2012 at 4:04 am

      I’m not sure if I explained it as thoroughly as possible, but I hope you got the idea.

  • My Own Advisor September 29, 2012 at 12:49 am


    It was great to meet you @ CPFC12. Overall, I thought the conference was a great time and very well organized. Maybe the bloggers just need more nights out to have some beers and socialize? πŸ™‚

    I will try and check in with you more.


  • AverageJoe October 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Wow! Great comparisons. I walked away from FinCon with tons of notes, so clearly I’m WAY behind you in terms of knowledge…sounds like some of the others would have blown my head clean off. πŸ˜‰

    I love your idea for “tracks” at the next FinCon. Fantastic idea, and I’m not sure it would be difficult to implement (said as a guy who would never try to organize anything….).

    • Marissa October 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Tracks are surprisingly easy to implement as long as a survey of the attendees is done in advance.

  • Crystal October 4, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Jealous. I would love the chance to attend one let alone three. Good variety that dn sonds like you learned a bit from each one. Someday I will be there!!