Financial Blogger Conference 2012 Wrap-Up

The Financial Blogger Conference was held this past weekend in Denver, Colorado, spearheaded by Phil Taylor and his team. The event was fantastic, even more impressive than last year, and I’m thankful to have been and to continue to be a small part of it. Kudos to everyone involved with the planning of what is most definitely the most useful conference I’ve ever attended. It was fun, too, and the location was perfect.

Since this is a website were I talk about my appearances, I’m going to start with that in this recap, but by the end of this post I hope you’ll see there’s so much more to the experience than that.

The Plutus Awards

The conference opened on Thursday with a welcome reception and a the ceremony for the Third Annual Plutus Awards, hosted by Kevin McKee of Thousandaire. Assisted by a planning committee consisting of a small number of bloggers and a group of volunteers, the ceremony, designed as a way to celebrate the bloggers who put their hearts and souls into the work they do, was a resounding success. Winners in attendance received backpacks full of gifts from the conference’s sponsors in addition to engraved trophies.

Thanks particularly to the planning committee, Kevin and the award presenters, Tom Drake from Canadian Finance Blog, and the volunteers who helped make the Plutus Awards a success and a significant improvement over last year’s ceremony.

The new retirement

Photo: marubozo

On Friday, I moderated a panel about “the new retirement” — defined by the members of the panel as putting “work work” behind as early as possible to focus on the things that really matter for as long as possible without the need for monetary motivation. The panel featured Todd Tresidder from Financial Mentor, Rob Bennett from Passion Saving, and Mike Piper from Oblivious Investor. These three individuals each have their own perspectives and experiences related to financial independence, and having them in one room together was a joy for those in attendance.

How I built my “million dollar blog”

Photo: marubozo

Let me be clear: I didn’t name this session. I appeared on a panel with Jim Wang from Bargaineering, J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly, and Will Chen from Wise Bread. The session was in the style of a question-and-answer panel, and we each fielded questions about our experiences and our opinions about building communities and taking websites to the next level.

Thank you to everyone who was brave enough to ask questions. Questions don’t need to be limited to sessions, however. I’m happy to answer questions, brainstorm, or just chat with anyone who’s interested. Reach out to me any time.

Closing keynote

During the closing keynote address, several writers with successful blogs to share their thoughts on how personal finance blogging has changed over the past few years and what we might expect in the future, and I was included among the group for this “fireside chat” despite my voice being practically non-existent by the end of the event. It’s impossible to foresee the future in specific detail, but I am convinced that personal finance blogging in some form will still be relevant for a long time to come.

Videos of all the above, in addition to all the other sessions, will soon be available for conference attendees.

Sessions comprise only a small piece of the conference experience

More important than the sessions in which I participated or attended are the opportunities to make personal connections. I had a great time getting to know more colleagues and new friends than I would have imagined. I brainstormed with other bloggers and financial professionals about possible future projects, and I enjoyed time off the clock dining, dancing, and extending discussions far beyond personal finance and blogging.

It was equally valuable and rewarding for me to make or deepen connections with my writing idols, as it was connecting with people I’ve talked to and worked with over the years, as it was getting to know company representatives who are fantastically — or fanatically — passionate about what they do (particularly to help the world), as it was getting to know wonderful people I must spend more time with. I couldn’t name everyone I was so happy to see; the list would number at least a hundred. Networking has never been my strength, but I plan to work hard to maintain as many connections as I can. I left the conference renewed and motivated to bring some new projects to life — not just related to finance.

More important than all of this, though, are real friendships. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when the public relations folks are nice because it’s their job or are genuinely nice, but I try to get past that. Making and maintaining a personal connection with people is what’s most exciting for me.

Sessions are good. But great people make great conferences, and the personal finance blogging world is full of fantastic people.

About Luke Landes

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary, the premier personal finance blog, and has been building online communities since 1990. Luke has contributed to PC World Magazine, US News, Forbes, and other publications, and appears on radio and television to discuss personal finance issues.