I just got back from Denver where I attended the second annual Financial Blogger Conference , known as FINCON (you probably saw #fincon2012 blowing up over the weekend if you follow twitter and any personal finance bloggers), and it was a lot of fun. I missed the inaugural event last year but I’m happy I was able to attend this year because I was able to meet up with some familiar faces and get to meet a lot of new ones. There were over four hundred attendees this year, which is amazing when you think about how many bloggers existed when I started Bargaineering so many years ago (there were about a dozen bloggers eight years ago).
Hats off to Phil  and his crew because they put on a great weekend. I don’t know what it takes to throw a convention that had 400+ attendees with three speaker tracks but I imagine it’s very difficult and the whole operation was streamlined. When I was tired, I’d just sit at the registration table and chat with Jessica and Joan and it was amazing how efficient they were at doing basically everything, even with me getting in the way. 🙂
Denver: Great Venue
I’d been to Denver before, once with my wife while she was at a conference, and I loved the area. I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which is where the conference was held, and that’s a few short blocks over to 16th Street. 16th Street is billed as a pedestrian mall, so it’s not open to cars (watch out for the trams!), filled with shops and restaurants. It’s also home to many a public house, which sponsoring companies threw happy hours and dinners.
Now that we’ve had two of these, it’s an annual thing. There has to be a FinCon2013… hopefully it’s an east coast thing so it’s a shorter flight. 🙂
Meeting Old Friends, Making New Ones
The best part about going to a conference like this is being able to meet people that you talk to all the time on instant messenger or email. Most of us work on our own, going to day jobs and then pounding the keys hard once we get home – never meeting people who talk to all the time. For example, I instant message Ryan at Cash Money Life  and Jeremy at GenXFinance  all the time. As in almost daily. I’d never met Ryan before and only met Jeremy once, again at a conference in Florida, so it was great to spend some time chatting with them.
It’s also fun to be able to put faces to the names of blogs you see in the blogosphere. It’s funny but sometimes people don’t look like their picture. Prime example was Jon at Free Money Wisdom. So if you look at any photo of him on his site, the camera is usually at eye level or a little higher. Jon’s probably close to or a little over six feet tall, I’m around 5’9″ – so when we shook hands I didn’t immediately recognize him (or his sister haha). It happened a bunch of times… but usually because people like to use pictures from five years ago. 🙂
Lastly, it’s fun to make new friends, especially when they aren’t necessarily personal finance bloggers. For example, I randomly met Josh from Bigger Pockets  and we hit it off. I’d been a fan of Bigger Pockets for a couple months (another friend of mine is big into real estate and told me about it) so it was fun to see the man behind the magic. He just cross the 100,000 member mark… absolutely stunning stuff. I also met Steve from My Wife Quit Her Job  and we hit it off immediately, found out he grew up not far from where I live now, and we had a lot in common. I’d known, and been impressed, with what he’s been doing but unless you meet face to face, it’s hard to form that connection.
Our Q&A Session
So I was part of a fun little Q&A panel with JD Roth , Will Chen , and Flexo  on Saturday. It was about blogging and building it as a business. I had “put it together” (in the sense that I called them up and then asked Phil if we could do it) and so I felt responsible and was nervous about how it would turn out … but it turned out great (I think anyway!). I want to thank JD, Will, and Flexo for doing it, I know getting on stage for anything, let alone a free wheeling Q&A session where you don’t know what will be asked, is tough and I appreciate it.
I also wanted to say thank you to the folks who asked questions – thank you Adam , Jeff , Ginger , Shawanda , Lindsey , Kelly , Lynnae, David  and about ten more. I know there were more of you, some I didn’t recognize or you didn’t introduce yourself (or I forgot, sorry!), so let me know. Thanking you is the least I can do, you folks made that session interesting.
Finally, thanks to all the sponsors and great companies there, especially GoBankingRates  and Bankrate  for sponsoring the happy hours that made everyone more relaxed in a roomful of near strangers. And Baker for the “after party” Saturday night.
Fun times and I look forward to next year!