Last week I was in Washington DC for five days and attended the annual personal finance conference – FinCon. I went to FinCon 2017 in Dallas but missed last year’s event in Orlando. This year, I knew I must attend to learn more about blogging and most importantly, connect with fellow money nerds. Two years ago, I wrote a FinCon recap to share my first FinCon experience. This year I originally had no plans to write a recap. When Ms. OYP and Mr. OYP from Own Your Profession, fellow Canadians and first-time FinConers, told me that my recap post had inspired them to come to FinCon19, I knew I had to write a recap. Here’s my FinCon 2019 recap from a Canadian’s point of view.
So… you’re a Canadian too?
Prior to the conference, Mark from My Own Advisor and I decided to room together to reduce accommodation cost. Saving some money aside, it was great to have a conference buddy. We were able to share knowledge and many tips throughout the conference. We also had great conversations about dividend and index ETF investing, financial independence in Canada, and numbers that we haven’t shared on our blogs.
The so-called “Canadians-stick-together symptom” that I observed two years ago continued throughout FinCon19. Although FinCon19 had over 2,500 attendees, Canadians seemed to gravitate toward each other. We often stayed in small groups and sat together. I quickly met other Canadian bloggers that I have not met like Sarah from Smile and Conquer and Ms. Mod from Modest Millionaire. A few Americans often ended up hanging out with one of us Canadians and were always surprised to find out that others in the group were Canadians too. They quickly became the honorary Canadians.
My “Aha” moments!
For me, while FinCon was very much about meeting and connecting with fellow bloggers and money nerds, each day there were many excellent sessions. Before the conference, I used the FinCon app to mark down sessions I wanted to attend. Although I did not attend all the sessions, I still had a few “aha” moments. Here are some of those moments:
- Admit mistakes I have made and that I am making – Sharing financial and investing mistakes I have made in the past with readers is good but I am not perfect and never will be. I will continue to make mistakes. That’s life. It’s important to share mistakes I am making and the lessons I am learning from these mistakes. I will continue to show my vulnerabilities, be honest, and be personal.
- Have a point of view – Ramit Sethi, the author of I Will Teach You to be Rich, gave the opening keynote talk. He stressed the idea that each blogger must have a point of view and focus on delivering that message. For me, I realized that my point of view is about the save-spend balance – finding the right personal balance between saving for the future and spending for the present moment. I was very happy to hear Ramit promoting the idea of spending money on things that you enjoy, rather than cutting every expense possible to achieve financial independence retire early. The save-spend balance!
- Don’t be a superhero – Due to this blog’s tagline, I have written articles that covered a wide variety of topics ranging from financial independence retire early, dividend investing, index investing, self-improvement, happiness and joy, travels, etc. All of these topics are all very important to me and reflect who I am and where we are on the quest for financial independence. However, after attending a session by Tai and Talaat from His and Her Money, I realized that I can’t be a superhero and write every single topic related to personal finance. Tawcan.com needs to have a clear brand proposition. This is something I need to work on and figure out moving forward. How can I continue to write about topics that are important to me and my readers and/or tell a personal story all while having a clear brand proposition? If you have an idea, I’d love to hear from you.
- SEO is important – I will be the first one to admit that I have not paid a lot of attention to SEO. I want to focus on producing high quality articles that connect and resonate with readers, not these “how to” or “top 10” articles written specifically for SEO. During a session, JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly, reminded everyone that he called out SEO for being BS many years ago, but he now collaborates with Tom Drake from Maple Money on SEO. While JD continues to write engaging and great articles (I love his writing style!), even he has realized that SEO is important. As JD put it: “If you have great articles but nobody can find it, what’s the value of that?” Therefore, I plan to take a few SEO lessons and ask for help from people like Tom, Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks, and Pete from Do You Even Blog.
- Blogging is about building trust and relationships – I’ve known this important point for a long time, and throughout FinCon, I kept hearing this message from many people. Blogging is about building trust and relationships not just with your readers, but also with other bloggers. Be real, write from the heart, tell a story, and write for the people. When readers trust you, they will come back to read more articles. Overtime, the reader-blogger relationship will flourish. Similarly, as a blogger, I need to remember to continue building trust and relationships with my fellow bloggers. Other bloggers are not competitors. Rather, they are friends that can help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, provide a helping hand when someone needs help, collaborate with other bloggers on projects, and show that you care about them.
The amazing community
The personal finance community is an AMAZING community. I cannot stress this enough!!!
Throughout FinCon19, I reconnected with people that I’d met previously. I also met many people for the first time. Through it all, every interaction was as if I was talking to a friend that I have known for a very long time. I guess it is because we are passionate about personal finance so there is a deep level of personal connection between us. Furthermore, some of us have followed each other’s work, and have interacted with each other on social media. Therefore, in many ways, we already knew a lot about each other even before meeting in person for the very first time.
Thanks to the amazing community, everyone is so welcoming regardless of whether you are new to the personal finance scene, or you have been doing this for centuries. You are one of us, and that is all it matters.
There are no big egos in the personal finance community. So called “internet celebrity bloggers” are down to earth and approachable. They are just like you and me with the exception that they have many more eyeballs viewing the blog and they are making thousands of dollars (or in some cases, millions).
I had many great conversations over the hotel hallways or the hotel lobby throughout FinCon19. At the end of each night, many of us ended up talking and hanging out at the hotel lobby. I also ended up going to bed later and later as the conference went on – a reasonable 11 PM on the first night, 1 AM on the second night, 2:30 AM on the third night, and around 3:40 AM on the last night.
I think the best way to sum up the FinCon experience is from my tweet below. I quickly took a video on the last night of FinCon when many of us were hanging out in the hotel, just talking and having a great time.
Next year’s FinCon will be in Long Beach California, which is much closer to Vancouver than the last three FinCons. I have already purchased an early bird ticket and booked my accommodation. From now till FinCon 2020, it will be my goal to get some BC based bloggers like Chrissy from Eat Sleep Breathe FI, GYM from Gen Y Money, Liquid from Freedom 35, Chris from The Mindful Explorer, Phia from Freedom 101, The Economist, The Accountant, and The Mechanics from FI Garage to join me. I will also try my hardest to get Mr. Tako from Mr. Tako Escapes to come to FinCon 2020 too (He might be hard to convince though, probably will need to recruit some help from fellow Washington based bloggers too).