Awesomeness and warmth: my take on FinCon13
About a year ago I realised three things:
- I may be a fairly decent thinker, researcher and writer but I have much to learn about blogging;
- In blogging, I’ve gone as far as one can go on her own; and
- The fastest way to learn and become part of ‘the family’ is to go to an event.
This is how I found myself on a flight to St. Louis last Tuesday to attend FinCon13 – an annual conference for personal finance bloggers and other wonderful geeks.
Thursday lunch time, I went for a run to the park around the arch – jetlag or not I do need my hour a day. On the run I met a lady who looked like she was a born long distance runner – lean, light and petite. We shyly smiled at each other as is the habit of runners and I continued on my way around. Then through the voice of the narrator of the book I was listening to, I heard:
Now this was something unexpected! Running on another continent, in a city where you don’t know anyone the best you could hope for is a shy smile and a hesitant wave.
It was Joe from Stacking Benjamins; a blogging friend and virtual running partner of mine.
We had a sweaty runner’s hug and couple of minutes later we were running with the ‘born long distance runner’ – she turned out to be Jean Chatszky. Okay, okay; I did manage to run with them for all of three minutes – I do a different kind of running, you see – but this is beyond the point.
What happened on my run around the Arch encapsulates the spirit of FinCon13: awesome, friendly, exciting, informative and buzzing with energy, and enthusiasm.
The Plutus Awards
The Money Principle was finalist for the Plutus Award in two categories: Best International Blog and Best Kept Secret Blog.
We didn’t win.
I am not going to bullshit you and say it doesn’t matter; it does! Just not in the way you think. Had I won I would have taken away the Plutus statuette and not much more.
Not winning reminded that if I am not enough without the award, I won’t be enough with it. Translated in the words of a friend:
‘You know your sh*t is good without the Plutus, don’t you?’
Now I do!
My take on Fincon13
I measure the quality of academic conferences by how quickly after the conference I start revising the paper.
The measure of the quality of Fincon is how many ideas I am taking away and how these relate to where The Money Principle will be going.
So here it is:
The first keynote was delivered by Pat Flynn: a blogging legend he has never shied away from sharing his insights.
The main message I am taking away are:
- People decide whether to stay on or leave your site in the blink of an eye; and no it is not 7 seconds. This means that the only way to keep them on, and reading, is visual.
- Design matters and it enable people to explore what is on your site. (Thanks for this one, Pat. Action: change the navigation on TMP so it is easy to find the content that really matters.)
- Your blog is not for you, it is for your readers. Get feedback and create a Mastermind group. (Action: Looking for members.)
- We live in a time of ‘person-to-person’ business. Put a picture of yourself on your site (Thank you Jay Money for convincing me to do this; but is the picture saying what I want it to say?)
- You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Jean’s presentation was less technical but no less valuable. By weaving stories about her career and the development of the personal finance industry in the keynote she managed to drive home the following messages:
- Follow your destiny and don’t let people who ‘know’ take you off course;
- Life is full of opportunities; have the wisdom to see them and the courage to take them up;
- Play on your strengths not on your weaknesses.
- Identify what you are good at and do it; do it very well.
But do you know what I liked most? Towards the end of her keynote, Jean said:
‘Many women, even women who are wealthy, feel very insecure about their future. I don’t! I don’t feel insecure not because I am convinced my wealth would last but because I can make a really good waitress.’
Very well said, Jean!
Stacy Johnson is the CEO and founder of Money Talks News, a consumer website and television news series. This session was…well, it was something else.
Key messages I am taking away:
- Traffic is not the main thing, traffic is THE THING.
- I want to be a destination.
- Get on the front page of something big.
- It doesn’t matter how well you write; if you haven’t got a publicist you won’t sell.
- If you can’t do something, don’t give up; find someone who can and partner with her.
Stacy had some advice how to grow your site:
- Start small;
- Figure out what do they need;
- Alcohol beats e-mail;
- Be a squeaky wheel.
I am wondering whether I could take some of this beyond theory.
Now we are moving to the grand finale: Derek Halpern is the creator of Social Triggers. This keynote was wonderful in the simplicity and sense of its message:
Most of us spend 80% of our time writing and 20% promoting our posts – this is a strategy that doesn’t grow your site much and gets you burned out.
This is a wasteful way to do things and a lot of the value is lost in a mountain of posts (remember Pat’s point about people being able to find things?).
A much more parsimonious and effective way to do things is to reverse the ratio and create 20% of the time and promote 80%. The equation is straight forward:
Less content + More promoting = Loads of traffic
It is important though to realise the importance of promoting to different people. Put simply, personal finance blogs shouldn’t promote to other PF bloggers; there are many people out there who can benefit from the knowledge and experience of PF bloggers and they have little to do with blogging and all to do with money troubles.
Derek went on to discuss the TAPP technique (Target, Appeal, Produce and Promote); and I suppose this will take some effort to master but I am determined to try.
You know, Derek, I am not one of those who think that they can write. I am a writer and I can write in certain styles but there is always place for learning.
I went to other sessions as well but these are the main message I am taking away.
And I have already been looking at The Money Principle thinking about the changes I’d have to make.
Very pleased to have attended FinCon13 and already looking forward to next year.