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. Did I make some excellent contacts with Brands? Yes.
I, also, won the Wells Fargo Blog Contest. 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 like Dan Bortolotti (CanadianCouchPotato.com), Jonathan Chevreau (Editor of MoneySense Magazine), Vikram Barhat (Content Editor at Advisor.ca) 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.