Money Nerds Unite

What I Learned at FinCon21

In-Person and In Texas!

Another FinCon in the books!  Excitement and energy were in the air at the Austin Convention Center as Money Nerds united in the great state of Texas.  FinCon is where money and media meet. It’s a conference with sessions, panels, conversations and keynote speakers that help personal finance content creators and brands create better content, reach their audience, and make more money. In this post, we’ll look at What I Learned at FinCon21!

The personal finance community is a collaborative and passionate group of podcasters, bloggers, YouTubers, and other creators who cover the broad landscape of personal finance.  Many then have their own niche or specialty. These can be areas of focus such as paying off student debt, investing, real estate, budgeting, and frugality, how to save, spend, or financial literacy. 

This year was exciting as we returned, not only in-person but also virtual as well. This was to accommodate many that were still uncomfortable traveling or mingling with groups of people amongst the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

With over dozens of vendors in what was called FinCon Central, essentially the marketplace to find affiliate partners for a wide variety of financial products, partnerships and deals were being made throughout the three-day event. 

The Power of Meeting Face-to-Face

We have all had such a challenging last year and a half.  It was fun to have met many of our online friends In Real Life. I’d like to also share my opinion. While I had read stories or heard from others that they are done with shaking hands, there is an affirming and connecting feeling with shaking hands with an introduction, hello, goodbye, thank you, or otherwise engaging with another individual.  There is something special about it.  I had many hallway conversations and impromptu discussions that never would’ve happened if I had attended this conference remotely. 

Let’s take a look at some of my takeaways and experiences of mine while attending FinCon21.

Arriving in Austin, TX around Noon on Wednesday, I made it over to the Hilton Austin that was just a block away from the convention center. Already I was feeling a bit excited, nervous, or anxious. I wasn’t sure.  I was seeing many people hustling around the hotel lobby, meeting up in sitting areas while conducting business, recording interviews, or busily creating content, updating blogs, or posting to social media.  

Seeing many that are, let us say, “internet royalty” in the personal finance and FIRE (Financial Independent/Retire Early) space was a bit intimidating. Feeling a bit of imposter syndrome and wondering “why would I be here?” “Who am I, to talk about personal finance?”  

Mask Up!

Many were wearing masks, and some were not.  Thinking to myself, would I recognize people? I don’t always know the real names of individuals. I typically associate them with their online screen name or handle, or the name of their blog or podcast.  I’m horrible at remembering people’s names.  I think this was what was causing a little anxiety. 

I check into the hotel, drop my bag, and head over to the venue for check-in. Of course, I had to make a call to Hilton Honors to find out why my Charge and check-in were dramatically higher than when I booked in June. My per night charge was $189/night or $567.  I get the text saying that $813 was charged to my Credit Card… say what?!?!  I learned… I didn’t read the fine print of a whopping 17% taxes were charged, and an over $200 incidentals charge that will be refunded upon checkout… 

Re-Connecting

It was a quick 5-minute walk to the convention center and a smooth process of getting my badge and then getting my bearings of where the exhibit halls were in relation to meeting rooms.   It was shortly after I bump into Christopher from Refined By Fire. We reintroduce ourselves and get caught up, and review what we are the main focus on what we’d like to gain from this year’s FinCon.  Then come to find that Christopher hadn’t yet found a place to stay.  I offer happy to have him crash in my hotel room.  Great! this worked out great we now split the cost of the room. Saving money is rad 🙂 

One of the sessions I attended was on day one was a panel discussion on learning how to build, maintain and monetize a podcast.  How to get yours to one million downloads and beyond. I quickly realized these panelists Andy Hill from Marriage Kids & Money, Jen Smith from Frugal Friends and Rich Jones from Paychecks & Balances are what we call  “The Shit”  They are the real deal, and a big takeaway is much of the tasks and production is outsourced.  In order for my podcasts to scale is to delegate those things others can do.  It’s a chicken and egg conundrum. I need to monetize, to pay people in order to scale. Yet, do we need to scale to better monetize?

Mix and Mingle

On Wednesday afternoon we attended the Speaker Mixer. This is a chance to mix and mingle with other speakers, and those Pro Pass holders.  I used my drink ticket to snag a Diet Coke and then began to move around the convention center rotunda.  It was kinda surreal to be amongst podcast, YouTube, and Blogger celebrities if you will.  These are people that I’ve never actually met in person, and knew them through their online presence.  

As I mentioned, recognizing people was kinda challenging, but I was able to have wonderful and fun conversations. A few standouts were with David and John, The Debt Free Guys, Joe Saul-Sehy and OG from Stacking BenjaminsAllison Baggerly from Inspired Budget, as well as Diania Merriam from Optimum Finance Daily and The mastermind behind the EconoMe conference! It was great to just have a real, in-person, conversation. 

Tradeshow Vibes

FinCon Central opened up, and people were navigating from vendor to vendor looking for affiliate programs, or solutions to manage SEO, capture and monetize mailing lists, publish a book, and so many other financial products in the marketplace.  One of the most important things about trade shows is all the freebies and swag to be given away.  It’s always fun to see what creative and practical items will be handed out to passers-by.  As I discussed in my post about decluttering, I’m a fan of those things that I’ll use, and give me value. I know this is free crap. But I don’t need to bring any more ‘crap’ into my home. Some went over and above, like Ally Bank that basically transformed a trade show booth into a coffee shop handing out branded coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos. 

I was able to make a couple of rounds, gather information, and meet with a couple of solution providers that I was aiming to connect with.  I’m now trying to take Heavy Metal Money to the next level. How to grow my mailing list, offer more value to my readers in delivering an informative and impactful newsletter.  Another thing that I’ve been attempting to understand is how to leverage some of the other platforms like TikTok, and Instagram, and Instagram Reels.  I had a good discussion Repurpose House.  They can take my written content, and break out key areas into motion graphics in short-form videos for these other platforms.  I’m reviewing if this is a step I take. 

Video Is The Future

My main takeaway and a common theme across the panels, sessions, hallway conversations, and round tables discussions is that video is where we engage. It is clear that If I really want to grow, I need to use and embrace YouTube and video content.  This has always scared me, and thus why I’m slow to adopt the platform. I mean I don’t even like taking a selfie of myself, let alone a video of myself for the world to see. An interesting take on this, that I learned, is that it doesn’t have to be me. There are many ways to leverage YouTube. I can hire on-screen talent, I can use a combination of animations, motion graphic libraries, and similar methods to deliver my content or messages to my audience. I haven’t determined exactly my approach yet, but one thing is certain. Heavy Metal Money will be on YouTube. 

The Plutus Award Goes To…

I attended the Plutus Awards hosted by Joe Saul-Sehy & Natalie Torres-Haddad This year’s awards ceremony felt very different. Only a fraction of the overall winners were here in person. There wasn’t the excitement I had witnessed at the 2019 Award Ceremony.  Where people were all in person, and many groups cheering from the crowd. The energy and excitement were electrifying last year. Understandably, we are in a pandemic. Winners would be announced followed by an awkward delay as someone would quickly come and claim the award on behalf of the recipient. I feel that some of the humor and jokes were a bit forced.  I think providing some levity and humor to these events is great, but it can be a bit more natural. Don’t get me wrong. I feel that organizers and hosts of the event made the best of a situation that we are all trying to navigate.

Big Ideas & Keynotes

We kick off the day with a Big Idea and a Keynote speaker. This year we had the opportunity to listen to Jaspreet Singh of the Minority Mindset. I like Jaspreet’s story as he started his YouTube channel as a hobby and now the Minority Mindset channel has grown to over one million subscribers and is now a full-blown media company.  There were some great lessons from Julien & Kiersten from Rich & Regular, as well as Jamila Souffrant from Journey to Launch

What I really liked was the closing Keynote by Vanessa Van Edwards. It was all about the Science of People. Why do we do the things we do, What makes someone have charisma?  Or, What makes us trust one another? Or, things like how to make a great impression. I immediately went and snagged her book, Captivate The Science of Succeeding with People.  I’ve already started implementing some principles on building connections and getting people to feel at ease and like me while in meetings. 

For example, that awkward time when you are joining a Zoom meeting, and are waiting for another attendee or two. Break down the barrier by being inviting. Have a video on, and use warm hand gestures with a smile to invite people in. Then, rather than sitting in silence while we all wait. Open up a fun discussion. It doesn’t take much to just say, “while we wait for the others to join, did anyone do anything fun over the weekend?” This is a great example of how a small thing can go a long way in building a rapport with people. 

Looking into 2022

I look forward to next year’s FinCon22, wherever that may be held.  At this time we don’t really know?  Maybe Long Beach, CA? I plan to have built and to have been providing video content.

Field Trip to the Bat Bridge!