Or, how some of the people who live inside my computer are real people
Last weekend, I attended #FinCon12. I hemmed and hawed beforehand — was I serious? Is this something I want to put my whole self behind? — but I realized very quickly that it was the right decision.
Here are some of my takeaways:
- “To a third grader, a fourth grader is a genius.” Meaning, just because I’m not actually an expert (by any means!) in personal finance, I’m able to keep on keepin’ on.
- There’s no need to post six times a week. And if I do want to keep writing that much, I can staff write for other sites.
- There’s a real difference between famous and famous-on-the-internet. Those who are in the latter category know that, and remain fairly normal, despite having made a comfortable living through their blogs.
- Blog years are like dog years. A six-month old blog is a baby, and an 18-month old blog is an old salt.
- Pictures in my head very rarely matched what actual bloggers looked like; even, oddly, for those people who have pictures posted on their sites.
- It’s important to have focus when writing.
- Remember, other bloggers are not the majority of your audience.
- There’s a lot in my URL that I can expand upon.
What about the bloggers I met?
- Michelle was smart and funny and an instant buddy.
- Average Joe was hilarious, and what made him even more funny was that someone pointed out Joe Taxpayer to me, whom I mistakenly thought was Average Joe. Joe Taxpayer has a HUGE mustache and that really surprised me. Thankfully, Average Joe found me before I embarrassed myself by teasing a stranger about his mustache.
- J.D. (who I’d met briefly before) was remarkably one-of-the people. It’s almost like he doesn’t know that he’s famous-on-the-internet.
- Marissa looked a little different than I expected, so I word-vomited, and got teased on Twitter:
- (She still talked to me after that, so hopefully she wasn’t too pissed!)
- Shannyn is a great speaker, a great person, and she’s very good at mitigating potentially awkward situations. How? She gives someone an out when a conversation reaches a lull. “Well, I’ll let you get back to…” or, “I don’t want to take up all of your time…” which people responded to quite well. She also took an amazing picture of me. I’m excited, can’t you tell?
- Joe at Retire by 40 (and Mrs. RB-40!) were awesome, of course.
- Cait at Blonde on a Budget is funny, intelligent and exudes wisdom beyond her years.
- Andrea is at least as funny as she is smart.
- I was sitting next to Eric from Narrow Bridge when he wrote his 12,000th tweet. That man does not shut up, not even on the computer! He was a great Denver ambassador.
- Don from Money Reasons wasn’t super thrilled with my early morning enthusiasm, but he put up with me nonetheless.
- Avrom is indeed a ninja, and was helping me with Adsense with a cocktail in his hand. Really only ninjas can do that.
- Sam was one person I was exceptionally curious to meet. What would he look like? Will he be nice in person or have a too-cool-for-school famous-on-the-internet vibe? I’m happy to note that he looks just about like I expected (for one!) and is very, very nice. He presents himself with humility, and I wasn’t expecting this, as his writing has strong opinions, which he defends with clarity. But in real life, he’s a nice guy who can’t stop smiling.
And the sponsors?
- I expected the sponsors to be sort of like the in-person versions of scammy advertisers that want to post links from my site to theirs “at no cost” to me! So, I went there with my guard up. That proved entirely unnecessary.
- Janet from Bankrate was really nice, and I thought she was even before I won a Nexus 7!
- I played a bit of the blind-date what are you wearing, where are you sitting game with Julie from Tech Bargains. We hit it off immediately, and she’s super nice. I even shared a cab back from one of the parties with her and her colleague Whit.
- The guy at Fidelity listened to my complaints and promised that the new version of their software would be easier to navigate.
- The women at Ally bank just kept giving me stuff — here, want a water glass? How about a mouse?
- There was a photo booth at NEFE, where I posted my spending confession. Hopefully I’ll be getting a copy of that, because I bet it was great!
- I told Lending Club that one of my medium-term goals was to qualify as a lender. You have to have 70K in net worth to qualify, which is an admirable goal and one that’ll be exciting to reach, especially if I can do it before owning a house.
- I learned about the Life Line, which is a somewhat morbid, but actually useful tool where the company buys back life insurance policies and gives the old person cash. Their PR rep was as entrepreneurial as everyone else there, and told me that the only reason a single person without kids (me!) should get life insurance now is because it’s as cheap as it’s going to be, and once I get married and have kids that the premium would go up.
Overall, it was wonderful. I’m certain I would have skipped it if it were somewhere else, but I stayed with my cousin who made me feel welcome and loved, and did a lot of dropping me off! I was trying to decide if it was worth it, when writing this up. And it was, absolutely. Especially if we’re talking about worth from a non-monetary point of view. It made me feel like I wasn’t so silly, and that this blog is more than just a fun hobby. Also I made friends who I can introduce to other people by saying, “these are my friends from the internet.” That’s priceless.