I have heard a lot about FinCon since I started this personal finance blog. Every blogger I have talked to or exchanged email with had nothing but positive things to say about FinCon. Last year I considered going to San Diego to attend FinCon16. But my poor planning meant purchasing the conference ticket at the normal price of over $450 US. Given the poor USD to CAD exchange rate, I decided to save the money and went to the Canadian Personal Finance Conference instead.
After connecting with more fellow personal finance bloggers, especially with those in the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) community, I decided that I must attend FinCon17 in Dallas this year. I planned ahead and purchased the an advanced ticket for $189 USD.
FinCon was started by a small group of personal finance bloggers back in 2011 and has grown since. This year, close to 1,700 attended.
Before going to FinCon17, I asked a number of bloggers for their FinCon tips. Everyone told me to focus on networking rather than attending the sessions. I thought this was an excellent tip since sessions would be recorded and can be watched later. With this useful tip in mind, I wanted to connect with bloggers that I have exchanged emails with or talked on Twitter over the last number of years. I wanted to put faces & voices behind their Twitter handles & their blogs, and of course, build relationships.
Canadians Stick Together…eh?
A number of Canadian personal finance bloggers made the trek down to Dallas this year. It was a little bit weird because we definitely gravitated toward each other throughout the conference. Whenever I saw a couple of Canadians, I would go and hang out with them. The vice versa happened too.
Repeating my fanfare with Kerry from Squawkfox, I was so delighted to sit next to her a number of times during FinCon17 and had one-on-one conversations with her. I am a big fan of her because both Mrs. T and I have read many of her great and helpful articles before I started this blog.
It was also great to reconnect with other Canadians bloggers that I met at CPFC last year. People like Des from Half Banked, Andrew from Family Money Plan, Kyle from Yong and Thrifty, Jess from Jessica Moorhouse, Tom from Maple Money, Hélène from Free to Pursue, Alyssa from Mixed Up Money, and Cait from Cait Flanders. I also met a few new Canadian bloggers.
Thanks to Jess, I recorded my very first podcast. Before the podcast recording, Jess didn’t tell Des, Andrew, and I what we would be talking about. I was slightly worried, especially after having a beer tasting event into the early morning the night before and my head was still a bit fuzzy. Fortunately we ended up having very candid conversations about what we write about on our blogs and our experience with FinCon17. My first podcast was overwhelmingly positive and I felt that I need to connect with other PF podcasters to appear on their shows.
The FIRE community is strong
Throughout FinCon17, I often hung out with bloggers within the FIRE community. FIRE was a small sub-group within FinCon17 and I was told that the number of FIRE bloggers have been growing steady over the past few years.
I was really glad to finally meet many of the FIRE bloggers in person, people like Carl from 1500 Days, PoF from Physician on Fire, Chris from Apathy Ends, ESI from ESI Money, Chris from Keep Thrifty, Fritz from The Retire Manifesto, Mr. SSC from Slowly Sipping Coffee, Mr. PIE from Plan.Invest.Escape, Steve from Think Save Retire, C from Retire Before Dad, Mark aka the other half of Our Next Life, Mrs. Adventure Rich from Adventure Rich, Jim from Route to Retire, Brendon from Mad Fientist, Gwan from Fiery Millenial, and many many more.
Some of the bloggers I have met have reached financial independence but still working, some have retired early, some, like me, are still on the path to FI. We all brought different perspectives to the FIRE community and it was cool that everyone was giving friendly advice all around.
While talking to a few American FIRE bloggers, I felt pretty fortunate that we live in Canada and therefore don’t have to deal with health care. Health Care in the US is something I don’t understand and have not spent much time learning (because I don’t have to). I really hope my American friends will have be able to predict their healthcare cost easier moving forward.
It was also interesting to see that majority of the people in the FIRE community are using or planning to use the 4% withdrawal rule. Given that we plan to fund our post FI days with mostly dividend income, our FIRE outlook might be slightly different.
I have to say, everyone was super friendly at FinCon. In addition to all the handshakes, a lot of hugs were given out as well. Because we all share the same interest (i.e. money), it was super easy to start a meaningful conversation with a completely stranger.
Hanging out with cool peeps
Outside of hanging out with bloggers in the FIRE community, I found myself spending a lot of time chatting and hanging out with people that started blogging about the same time as me and people that I interact A LOT on Twitter. It was a lot of fun to finally meet the following bloggers in person. Here are a few pictures from FinCon.
— Jim – Route To Retire (@RouteToRetire) October 27, 2017
— FIREcracker (@FIRECracker_Rev) October 27, 2017
The friendly & approachable internet celebrities
Since 1,700 people attended FinCon17, a number of so-called “internet celebrities” were in attendance, too. Ok, maybe “internet celebrities” isn’t the right term to use. What I mean are bloggers that have made it big and have been features in major media outlets.
J. Money, for example, was super friendly & approachable. I “accidentally” sat beside him a couple of times and got to talk to him for a bit about blogging and everything else. Hopefully I’ll be able to guest blog for him in the near future.
Other big time bloggers like Carl, Steve, Tanja & Mark (Out Next Life), Liz (Frugalwoods), JD Roth (Money Boss), Jim (Wallet Hacks), and Grant (Millennial Money) were also very down to earth and easy to strike a conversation with and to discuss money related topics.
On the last night of FinCon, Tom from Maple Money gathered a few Canadians for dinner. Somehow we ended up having dinner with Philip Taylor, the founder & CEO of FinCon. It was super neat to talk to PT and hear about his vision on FinCon and the community.
What I learned at FinCon
It was fun hanging out and connecting with other bloggers but I went to Fincon to learn and I sure learned a lot about blogging.
- Revealing my identity earlier this year and using my headshot picture as my Twitter profile made me very easy to spot during FinCon17. Many people pulled me aside to say hi because they recognized me. My name “Tawcan” is also very unique so people tend to remember the name.
- There are a number of bloggers making TONS of money via their blogs. My mind was completely blown when I saw their revenue numbers. On the other hand, there are bloggers that use their blogs to express their voices and to connect with other like-minded people. There is nothing wrong with either of these two approaches (you can also fall somewhere in the middle too). What I have confirmed again at FinCon17 is that I did not create this blog to make money. I started this blog to record my financial independence journey and things that I am learning along the way. I am also writing posts about self-improvement and life philosophy. I enjoy writing these types of articles. Monetizing this blog is not the focus. It is perhaps why I seem to connect better with bloggers that are writing because they love writing and not focusing on monetizing their blogs.
- Take SEO more seriously. I need to spend some time updating this site to improve SEO. There are tons of people in the community that I can ask for SEO help. This, however, does not mean I will start publishing “How to” and “Top 10” posts all the time. SEO means writing high quality and engaging posts that can be easily searched on Google and other search engines.
- Be willing to ask for help. There are tons of experts in the FinCon community. There are experts in SEO, brand promoting, podcast, coding, website design, marketing, email list, etc. I need to be open to ask for help rather than trying to do everything myself.
- On the last day of FinCon, some of us were paired us with a mentor. I was paired up with Erin from Broke Millennial. She suggested exploring my immigrant/culture background to make this blog more unique. She also suggested writing more about growing up in a FIRE household and how that has affected my uprising. Great suggestions!
- Readers want to connect with me. So be honest, be vulnerable, radically transparent, and memorable. Share personal stories. Think about things that make me different from other bloggers and expand on these differences to create my own voice & brand
- People have many different interests outside of personal finance. I ended up talking to a few people about climbing, skiing, and other outdoor activities. We aren’t just money nerds, we have many interests outside of money.
- I need to spend more time thinking about blog post titles so they can be more interesting and more intriguing.
- Write what makes me happy. Don’t write for the sake of pleasing someone else.
FinCon18 – Orlando
FinCon17 in Dallas was a ton of fun. I am really glad that I went and had the opportunity to connect with so many people. Looking back, perhaps it would have been great to focusing on building deeper relationship with a select few people, but that’s something I can do in future FinCon.
FinCon18 will be in Orlando in late September next year. Orlando is a long way to go from Vancouver. Furthermore, I typically end up traveling to Asia for work in late September. Therefore, I have not completely decided whether I am going to FinCon18 or not. If I don’t go, there’s always FinCon19 right?