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Blogging and life lessons from the financial blogger conference

As many of you know, I was at the first annual financial blogger conference last weekend. I wanted to do a recap as soon as I got back, but I wanted to take a step back, digest everything and write a post that will not only be useful for bloggers but also for readers without a blog. Most of the words of wisdom I gleaned from FINCON11 (financial blogger conference 2011) are not just for blogging.  So here goes – what I learned from FINCON11.

 

There were 8 general sessions and 6 break out sessions.  Each breakout session had 2 tracks running in parallel and addressed different areas of blogging.

 

Note: For bloggers who are interested in learning more about each of these sessions from a blogging perspective, Khaleef @ Faithful with a few has an extremely detailed post on how to take your blog to the next level.

Key messages from the general sessions

 

 Ramit Sethi Ramit Sethi gave a really energetic and inspiring talk about the Psychology of thinking big. When we start a new business we tend to throw some ideas (awesome ideas according to us) together and wait for our customers to come to us. When we fail, we wonder why no one realizes how useful our product will be to them. We fail because we forget to understand our audience before we venture out to do big things. We don’t understand what their problems are or how they think.This doesn’t apply only to bloggers/entrepreneurs. Even those of us with regular jobs should try to think like this. We put a ton of hours into our job and wonder why we are passed on for promotion. It’s because we didn’t understand the higher ups; we concentrated on what we “thought” was important to them – working hard.
J.D.Roth is one of my favorite writers. He is one the people I want to be like when I grow up :) He gave an amazing talk, more like showed us the message he wanted to give instead of just giving.During his talk, Benny Lewis from FluentInThreeMonths.com  jumped out of the crowd screaming in Klingon and waving a Klingon b’ahtleth – sword of honor.  He showed us the power of story.Now if he had just given a talk I might have forgotten the message after a few months, but I will never forget the Klingon. That is the power of engaging the audience. 
 Will Chen Will Chen from Wise Bread talked about how to get 1 million page views. But his way of achieving success, using 4 C’s, applies to everyone – Clock management, Community building, Content, Confidence.Managing our time better is a crucial element to success whatever field we are in. So is networking. We have to be good at what we do and have self-confidence.
 Adam Baker Adam Baker from Man Vs Debt showed us the power of thinking beyond blogging. He used his blog as a launching platform for a range of products that he has developed. We should think out of the box to be successful.Thinking just in one dimension might make us an expert in just one narrow aspect. But extraordinary people think out of the box and push themselves beyond their comfort zone.
 Lynn Truong Lynn Truong from Wise Bread presented on Advanced monetization strategies. All of us want to make money, with a blog, without a blog, business, career… There is more than one way to make money in any business/career.Here again, the message was to think outside the box.
 Kelly Whalen Kelly Whalen talked about her success story beyond blogging. She started with her blog, but now is featured in tons of mainstream media – TV, radio, newspapers, magazines… How did she do it? She reached out to other people and offered to help them.Networking is a very powerful concept. If you give people what they want, they won’t hesitate to help you back and utilize every opportunity big or small.
 Pat Flynn Pat Flynn’s talk was one of the most powerful talks in the conference. One thing stuck me the most. He asked us to raise our right hands as high as possible. We did. Then he asked us to raise it an inch higher. We all did.You can always do more than you think you can do! 
 PT MOney Finally, Phil Taylor didn’t really give a talk but he was the man behind the conference. We all talked about putting something together at one point or the other. He was the one who had a solid idea and made it happen.Ideas are worth nothing unless executed.

 

Key messages in 10 words

I took notes diligently during all the talks. Even during the ones I didn’t personally attend (break out sessions that ran in parallel, I made my husband take notes :) I compiled all of them. I analyzed the transcript from the entire conference and this is what I got

 

 

It should be obvious to know what makes a blog successful from this analysis. The top 10 words of wisdom are applicable to not just blogs  but to any business, any career, any relationship…

1. Reader:  Know why you are writing, know why you are working, know what matters in all you do.
2. Write :  Give your best in whatever you do, whether respecting your blog reader’s time, your career or relationships.
3. Passion :    Without passion we will always be an also-ran.
4. Story :     Talk to people in the language they understand.
5. Message :  What are you trying to accomplish?
6. Provide :  More begets more.
7. Think Big :  The only thing that distinguishes ordinary and extraordinary is the little extra.
8. Goal :  Personal finance or career, to be successful we need to know what we want and have goals.
9. People/Network :  Networking is powerful. Relationships are powerful. Enough said.
10. Focus :  A focused mind is a great source for awesome ideas.

 

I also met several of my favorite bloggers, who I have been reading for the last 2 years – Crystal @ Budgeting in the fun stuff (one of my closest online buddies), Kris @ Everyday Tips and Thoughts, Ashley @ Money Talks Coaching, Jeffrey @ Money Spruce, Jesse @ PFFirewall (who has helped me with technical difficulties more than once), Donna Freedman @ Surviving and Thriving (one of my favorite writers), J Money from Budgets Are Sexy, Kevin @ Thousandaire (his personal finance music videos are awesome! Check out his blog if you have not already), Khaleef & his wife Sherian from Faithful with a few, Ben from  Money Smart Life, Don @ Money Reasons, Ray from Squirrelers and Hunter from Financially Consumed.

 

Finally, the highlight of the conference personally for me was the community service project that was part of the conference. On the first day of the conference, we boarded a bus to do a community event to benefit  a Schaumberg area cancer support organization Phil’s Friends.  They help families that are blighted by cancer and send care packages and encouraging letters every week while the person is hospitalized. This was organized by Love Drop, which is a micro-giving network of people who unite as a community to help one person or family a month. J Money from Budgets are Sexy is one of the founders of Love Drop.

Love Drop and Phil's Friends

Financial Blogger Conference Community Event

We give money to charities, but always felt bad that we didn’t have enough time to volunteer. This organization, Phil’s friends taught me that I don’t need a lot of time to volunteer or start to help out. Even taking 2 minutes to write a letter or put together a care package will make someone’s day. I signed up to check up on some retired seniors in our area. All I have to do is make a phone call every week to see if they are doing ok. That won’t take me a lot of time, but will make them feel wanted.

 

Overall, this conference was a great experience for me. I learned a lot, now the onus is on me to implement all those ideas and take my blog to the next level!

 

Note : If you want to read the recaps from different bloggers who attended the conference, Free from broke put together a round up of everyone’s experience here – Financial Blogger Conference 2011 – Meeting the PF Blogger World and More

 

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