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Is spending $1162.52 on a conference worth it?

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Now most of you know that I am frugal to a fault. So why would I spend $1162.52 to attend the Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon) in Denver? Isn’t that going against my frugal nature?

Flight (2) $461.20

Conference Ticket (just me)

$149.00
Hotel $340.80
Transportation $67.00
Food $144.52
Total $1162.52

Investment

It’s good to be frugal, but more importantly, you need to invest in yourself and your business to grow your income. FinCon cost over $1000, but I learned many things that I can incorporate into Retire By 40 and any future online businesses. It was the right time for me to attend because I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years and I need to figure out where to go next. Many successful bloggers attended and the opportunity pick their brains was worth the price of admission.

30 million dollars

Our field reporter/chief editor went out to see what $30,000,000 looks like at the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Personal Connections

A personal connection is priceless in today’s online world. A blog is an online venture and you might think that an online connection is enough, but this is 100% FALSE. It is priceless to meet other bloggers and corporate representatives face to face for that personal connection. In truth, it was a bit overwhelming to meet so many people in such a short time. By the 3rd day, I was tuckered out. I’ll be more prepared for the experience next year now that I know what to expect.

Colleagues

I know many bloggers through their sites and I converse with them through email frequently. It’s great to be able to put a face and voice behind the email. We are human and making a face to face connection is essential. When you make a personal connection, the level of trust goes way higher than by just talking online. I met up with Sam @ Financial Samurai, Don @ Money Reasons, Corey @ 20s Finances and many other blogger friends. The most common comment was – “I thought you’d be taller.” I would love to be about 4 inches taller, but I’ll make do with what I have. Besides, I don’t think I’d look good in heels anyway. Making a personal impression is the key to future collaboration with your online colleagues. I highly recommend meeting with other local bloggers.

Corporate representatives

It was nice to meet the corporate reps too. I met quite a few reps and will follow up on a few of the opportunities presented. Blogging is a lot of fun, but we need to think about monetizing as well. Bloggers need to be able to at least pay for the domain name, hosting fee, and the annual FinCon trip. Think of it as incentive to bring better materials to readers. A little monetary reward goes a long way and frankly, we have a lot to learn because we are not doing a great job at monetization currently.

Experienced bloggers

Like I alluded to above, it was great to meet successful bloggers and see what they are like in real life. All of them have different approaches to blogging. JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly is a master story teller and he doesn’t care much about SEO or the other technical details. Jim Wang of Bargaineering is more technical. He loves to do split tests and those behind the scenes tasks. Mr. Money Mustache is a great guy who built a huge following by being a cult figure. There are many successful bloggers out there and you can probably find one who has a similar style and personality as you. Meeting them face to face and asking them questions was a great way to connect and learn how to improve Retire By 40.

Here are just a few of the successful bloggers I met and what I learned from them.

  • Pete of Mr. Money Mustache – Read a lot. It will help your writing and improve your Financial foundation. Every advertisement you add to the site will have a negative impact on the reader experience.
  • Sam of Financial Samurai – Sam is my hero. He can get along with anyone and talk about anything. He is hands down the best networker I’ve ever known.
  • Jim Yih of Retire Happy Blog – If your blog is a business, you must treat it like a business to be successful.
  • J Money of Budgets are Sexy – J Money is so genuine and an all around awesome guy. It was great to meet him in person. He is just like I imagined him to be.
  • JD Roth of More Than Money (He’s leaving Get Rich Slowly.) – Focus on the narrative and tell a story. JD is such a nice guy and it gives hope to nice guys everywhere that they can win it too.
  • Len Penzo dot Com– Reach out to successful bloggers. They are great people and many are willing to help.  Write a headline that pulls readers in. The $ sign attracts readers.
  • Jim Wang of Bargaineering – Do split tests to maximize your monetization.
  • Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents – if you have a winning personality and good looks, use videos to your advantage.
  • David Ning of MoneyNing – Hire a quality freelancer if you need help.
  • Will Chen of Wise Bread – Blogging is a business and finding the right hired help is the key to growth.
  • Greg Go of Wise Bread – Bloggers need to do better in Facebook.
  • Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers – Face to face meetings can facilitate online conversations. Andrew is a great guy and I’m looking forward to future collaborations with Money Crasher.
  • Eric of Narrow Bridge Finance – Take advantage of your location and get your name out there. Eric lives in Denver and by the end of the conference, everyone knew him.
  • Steve Chou of my wife Quit her job – Shouldn’t have quit my job until my site makes six figures/year…
  • Kylie Ofiu – Make a media kit and reach out to sponsors.
  • Kathleen of Frugal Portland – High energy and sparkle is a winning combination.
  • Kim Olson of Kim Olson Photography– Stick with the 50mm prime lens until you are comfortable with composition.

It was worth it

Both my chief editor (Mrs. RB40) and I went to Denver so the cost is actually closer to $600 per person. Grandma came by to take care of baby RB40 and this was the first time we’ve been away from the little guy. Both of us needed a little vacation from baby RB40. Lately he has been developing a personality and throwing a lot of tantrums. Hopefully, he’ll get over this phase soon.

All in all, I had a great time at FinCon and would recommend it to someone who has been blogging for about a year. If you are new, there are a lot of things you can learn online that will keep you busy. It wasn’t cheap to attend, but it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run.

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