Have you heard about Financial Blogger Conference 2011? It’s happening October 1-2 in Chicago, where personal finance bloggers from all over will be coming together to talk about their trade – everything from trends in personal finance to how to better connect with readers to making a living with a blog. For me, the biggest thrill is meeting, in person, those people I’ve been “talking” to online all these years. I’m also excited to meet those bloggers who have influenced me (one being J.D. Roth, whose Get Rich Slowly was one of the first personal finance blogs I found and a primary influence for me starting Free From Broke). Seriously, check out who’s coming so far over at the Financial Blogger Conference Who’s Coming page.
I had the fortune of interviewing Philip Taylor, the organizer of Financial Blogger Conference 2011 (or for those cool kids, FinCon ’11). You may know Philip as he also runs the incredibly informative PT Money.
Glen (Free From Broke): The idea for a Financial Blogger idea is so great it’s like one of those “duh, why didn’t I think of that” type of things. What motivated you to do this now? Why do you think it’s taken so long for a big official get-together?
Philip Taylor (Financial Blogger Conference/PT Money): I love a good get together with other personal finance bloggers: they are my people. I really seek these opportunities out. I’ve done it locally and at some of the larger conferences (with you, in NYC!). There’s something special about meeting people in the personal finance space. At some point we all built our blogs the same way: one late night or weekend at a time. And we are in this subset of the online culture. When you finally meet face to face with these other exclusive members, there is a natural chemistry and energy. So that’s my natural motivation for wanting to do this.
What pushed me over the edge was that back in early February I stumbled upon an article that said 2011 would be the year of the niche blogger conference. Reading that article sort of gave me permission to actually consider doing this. I threw a quick budget together, tossed the idea out to a few friends and got a overwhelming “yes!” That was enough to get me going.
Not sure why it’s taken so long, but I do know that the timing feels right for doing it in 2011.
Glen: What should a blogger expect from attending the conference?
Phil: Expect to strengthen current relationships and build new ones. Expect to leave with a sense of what’s next for personal finance and blogging. Expect to learn specific information about how you can improve your blog. I’m big on creating valuable classroom time for new and experienced bloggers. I’m also aware that some of the best knowledge will be passed along in the networking opportunities. I’m leaving lots of room for both.
Glen: What would make the conference a success for you?
Phil: Obviously it would be a success if the expectations that I mentioned above are met. I know people are investing their hard-earned money to be a part of this conference, so I want to deliver the goods. I will deliver the goods. If folks leave happy and feel like it was worth it, then it will be a success.
But also, since this is my first time planning a conference, I would consider it a success if all of the logistical pieces fall into place and I don’t lose my shirt. I’ve discovered that conference planning is a full-time job, in and of itself. Luckily I have some experience in project management, so that should come in handy.
Glen: When I last looked, there were already over 60 people signed up to attend and the conference. Did you expect so many to sign up so soon? (I think it’s great that so many have already committed themselves to attend.) How many do you think is a good number?
Phil: I really didn’t have an idea of what to expect when I first kicked things off. I knew I could definitely get around 15 folks who live close to Chicago, but I wasn’t quite sure if I could get people to fly in. Putting the email list out there was helping in making some estimates. We have over 120 people on the email list. Once I saw that, I knew we could get 100 to the conference. Going forward, once I announce a few speakers and the hotel details we’ll get to 100 rather quickly I suspect. After that, I’ll shoot for another 50. Anything beyond 150 I think is getting outside of being a niche conference, based on my knowledge of the Personal Finance Blogosphere. Plus, the hotel I’m eying can’t handle more than 200.
Glen: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you, as well as some other bloggers and I can say personally it’s awesome meeting fellow bloggers like yourself face-to-face. For me, meeting everyone I have known online is one of the big reasons I’m attending. Who are you eager to meet?
Phil: Good question. I’m looking forward to meeting so many people. It will be cool to finally meet Flexo, the guy who inspired me to start blogging. One blogger who’s sort of come up the ranks with me is Pete from Bible Money Matters. I’m looking forward to shaking his hand and catching up. [Glen: I definitely want to meet Pete face-to-face as well!]
Glen: Are there any surprises in store for the conference?
Phil: I think people will be pleasantly surprised at some of the speakers we will have. I’m growing this conference organically. So as more attendees and sponsors come on board, the more “wow factor” I can add to the agenda. But I will do my best to add little nuances that make the conference great and worth attending.
Glen: Will there be karaoke?
Phil: Only if you promise to sing!?!
Glen: That sounds like a challenge! I think I’m up for it but I’m not sure if everyone is ready for my screeching. Thanks for the interview Phil!
The conference is about half a year away and I truly can’t wait to go!
A bit of an aside…
As Phil mentioned in the interview, I got to meet up with him and Ryan (Cash Money Life) back in August. Blogging can be such a solitary medium. Yes, I can email, Twitter, Skype, but at the end of the day it’s just me and my computer. It’s real easy to keep it that way too!
I’ve had a few opportunities to meet up with other bloggers in the past but I let shyness and confidence get the better of me. When the opportunity came up to meet Phil and Ryan I knew it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity that I had to act on (I’m glad FinCon ’11 proves me wrong and I get to see these guys again).
Meeting and talking with these two was truly a blast. I learned and confirmed so much I can’t tell you. And speaking with a couple of people who do what I do was just great. I love my wife but I can’t “talk shop” with her. I mean, I tell her about what I do, but she doesn’t quite get excited like I do when I find a way to speed up my site, if you know what I mean.
Meeting Phil and Ryan made me realize I need to get out from behind my computer more often. Shortly after, I was able to meet up with Evan of My Journey to Millions and meet Investor Junkie. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Andrew and Gyutae of Money Crashers and Flexo of Consumerism Commentary.
What’s the point of all my rambling? If you are a financial blogger you NEED to get to Financial Blogger Conference 2011!!
Seriously, Philip is putting together one hell of a conference. I’m going and will be bringing an empty notebook and a fresh pen so I can take notes at the conference. I know I’m coming out of there a better blogger and businessman.
But I’m also going to meet a LOT of great people who do what I do. I’m going to build and solidify relationships with people I’ve only known through their writing as well as some new people whose sites I’ve yet to discover. Oh yeah, and have a helluva time too!
Meeting these people and hearing what some of the top sites do can help you jump to the next level in your blogging. (And did I mention it will be fun?)
If you have a financial blog, you need to consider going. ‘Nuff said.
There’s still time to sign up for the “early bird special” price of $89. You have until April 15th or until 100 passes are sold. After that the price bumps up to $129.
Click here to purchase your pass for Financial Blogger Conference – October 1-2, 2011 and for more details. Also check out the conference site, Financial Blogger Conference, and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date with the conference.
I’ll see you there!