Thinking about attending a conference for the first time?
Can going to conferences really make a difference for your business?
In this very special podcast episode, I’m actually broadcasting direct from FinCon with some special guests. We are broadcasting live from the TradeKing Podcasting Stage right outside the expo hall, and will be talking about how to maximize your success by attending conferences. I’m here with three other members of the Become a Blogger coaching club that decided to come all the way down to San Diego, California to attend this event. They’re here to connect with other bloggers, learn lots of valuable information, and take their blogging businesses to the next level. We’re going to be talking about our FinCon experiences so far, what we’re getting out of it, and how it’s going affect our businesses.
I’ve never had this many guests on a podcast before, so this will be fun!
FinCon is a financial bloggers conference. It’s the world’s largest financial content expo, but it’s open to anyone who wants to attend. It’s a great place to be if you have any kind of financial component to your blog. You can find more information on their website.
I was speaking at FinCon this year, so I got the chance to give away a few tickets to members of my Become a Blogger Coaching Club. With me in San Diego were: Serena Appiah from ThriftDiving.com, John Jefferson from FreeFinLit101.com, and Traci Antonovich from TheKitchenGirl.com.
All three of these bloggers are interested in finance in one way or another: Serena is all about helping you decorate your house on a budget; John wants to build your financial fitness and literacy at any age; and Traci makes great recipes that are easy on your wallet. So FinCon is the perfect place for all of us to be!
Traci specifically says she’s been wanting to come to FinCon for about 3 years now. What’s great about FinCon for her is that it’s a convergence of the “technical, geeky, nerdy financial people,” so you can ask any question and there’s someone around who can answer it. Plus, everyone’s got common ground in terms of being content creators who need to market and grow their businesses.
John says he’s amazed at how friendly everyone is. You can just walk up to anyone, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.
Plus, says Serena, it’s a whole different level of blogging. There’s fantastic content, and we’re all actually learning a lot in the sessions. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to blogging or if you’re really experienced: there’s something for everyone.
It was hard to pick just one thing! Especially for Traci.
Serena said it’s the people and the new connections she has made. She sees a real benefit in going slightly outside of her niche. You never know where those new relationships will lead!
John was really impressed by how honest and open the different speakers were. He felt that he had an instant connection with them because they shared their vulnerabilities. We all agreed that to have a place like FinCon where people are comfortable being vulnerable is really important.
For Traci, the most valuable part of the experience was getting some validation for her ideas about how to focus content. She’s looking to work budget and finance into her blogging more explicitly, so it was a great opportunity for her to test out some new ideas. Coming to a conference like FinCon can really help spur on new ideas because it gets you out of your comfort zone. Traci felt like she had been stuck in a rut of just generating content before coming to FinCon, but she’s leaving re-energized to try out some new stuff!
For me, the #1 best thing about FinCon is just connecting with people. The sessions and the information are great, and San Diego is an amazing location, and the food was really good, too. But what really makes the trip worthwhile are the conversations you have with other people. It might be just 2 or 3 conversations that really stand out and stay with you, but when you cultivate those relationships you never know what can happen.
Serena learned the most from a short session she attended on public speaking. The presenter had a goal of mastering public speaking, and so he recorded himself every time he gave a talk. And in the car on the way home, he listened to himself and thought about how he could improve the next time. He said that the best thing you can do if you’re looking to improve as a public speaker is to invest in a small recording device so that you can listen to yourself and figure what’s working and what’s not.
He also had some advice for watching things like TEDTalks. It’s a three-step process:
Serena felt that this was really actionable advice. Plus, it applies to more than just live public speaking. You could use the same tips to improve your podcasts or your videos, too. Instead of just putting content out there and moving on, it’s really important to look at where you can improve. And believe me, everybody has something they can improve on, no matter how experienced they are!
For John, the most valuable thing he learned at FinCon was about using video on his blog. So far, he hasn’t really used much video, but he is inspired to do more after attending the conference. He learned a lot about putting videos together and about where they should go on the blog. His favorite tip actually came from Serena, who often embeds a video within her blog posts. This keeps readers engaged longer and gives them another way to access the content.
Serena also suggested repurposing old content by adding video, especially if it’s a popular post that consistently performs well. You can re-energize it really easily by just adding in a video.
Traci’s biggest takeaway from FinCon was about connecting to her audience. She attended a session that focused on gearing content towards what your audience wants and needs. Traci felt that she hadn’t been connecting to her audience in a meaningful way because she had been so focused on just creating new content all the time. For example, she hasn’t built a Facebook group for her business yet. So attending FinCon has given her lots of ideas about how to deepen her connection to her audience.
Again, it was really hard for everyone to pick just one extremely valuable piece of information! All three of my special guests are hoping to come back to FinCon in the future.
A conference can feel like a really big commitment of time and resources. They can be expensive, and they might be held in cities far from home. You’ve got to cover accommodation, food, the conference fee…it’s a lot!
But John says that you’ve got to place the value in the information you’ll get back and in the friendships you’ll establish at the conference. What you’ll see and learn while you’re there far outweighs the financial investment you’ll make in it.
Traci agrees: “Where else in the world can you go and be in a room full of like-minded content-creators” and have the opportunity to meet and talk to complete strangers? At FinCon, you can just go up to someone and say, “Hi, I’m Traci”, and they’ll want to talk to you. You can’t do that on the street. Well you could, but people might not respond as well. There’s so much potential value in the relationships you’ll build at a conference.
Serena points out that it’s important to know why you’re going, though. Let yourself be vulnerable, but also have a goal in mind in order to get the most out of attending a conference.
I can say pretty confidently that more opportunities have come my way through conferences than any other way. In fact, if I wasn’t going to conferences, I’m pretty sure I’d still be working at my job. That’s how valuable events like FinCon have been for me.