Figuring Out My Conference ROI-FinCon17 Was it Worth It?
It is a one week after FinCon17 and I have finally recovered. I know that I’ve shown up 100% for this conference when the following things happen:
- I meet a billion people. Seriously, a billion.
- I lose my voice. Every.Single.Time. I think I need a voice doctor to work on this.
- I leave with freelance writing clients (if I’m freelance writing at that time).
- I’ve deepened long-standing friendships.
- And, dance my a$$ off.
Mission accomplished. However, after every FinCon (and, every conference) that I attend-I spend time assessing my ROI. How do I do this? Let me walk you through how I figure this out.
FinCon14-New Orleans (that party was crazy)
FinCon12-Denver (we need to return to both Denver and Chicago) *this post-yikes*
If you are mindlessly going to conferences and not spending time figuring out what your ROI-you’re probably wasting time and money. This year I attended 6 conferences. Two of those conferences were in Denver, the rest were out of state. One conference, Denver StartUp week, was free. Yep, free. And, it is one of my top 3 events that I must attend each year.
What I’ve learned over the years is the following: not all conferences are equal. And, I’ve begun to really pay attention to that truth. And, saving my time and money.
The Conference ROI Components
- Calculate the overall cost. How much money did you end up spending in order to attend?
- How many business opportunities did you leave with?? Opportunities could include:
- Contracted work
- Product development
- New career opportunities
- Did you leave with a big idea that will transform your business?
- Was it easy to meet the attendees?
- Were there enough opportunities to share your expertise? Basically, were you able to speak or participate in a panel or some other activity that got you in front of attendees and positioned you as an authority?
- Were the opportunities that you were presented with actually legitimate? You know, how some opportunities are…ahem…bull?
- Does the conference provide tools that encourages attendee networking before, during, and after the conference?
These are the different aspects of a conference that I look at in order to decide if it was worth me attending. In fact, I’m going to get a little raw with those of you (including MYSELF) attending over 4 conferences a year. You’re wasting your money and time. Let’s be clear, every single conference you attend could be abso-freaking-amazing. BUT, people tend to forget the following:
Conferences are a huge TIME SUCK!
They are also FREAKING expensive!
This is why you need to figure out your conference ROI. Because, if it’s a good one, you may end up losing 2-3 weeks in productivity. This is why you hear of so many FinCon alums doing a ton of work before the conference.
We’re about to break down my personal Conference ROI and hope that it helps you as you plan out your 2018 conference season. Stop wasting time with conferences that waste your time and money.
Was my total out of pocket cost. I would have spent more, but I decided to have roommates and released my single room. That one change saved me around $900. Here’s the breakdown:
- $252-Airplane ticket. I don’t travel hack and I did pay to check in my piece of luggage.
- $195-Accommodation (Sheraton Conference Hotel)
- $19.95-Airbnb. I had a credit that I wanted to use, so I decided to use it on Monday (I spent a week in Dallas)
- $41-Mani/Pedi that a ridiculously hot guy gave me. With leg massage and, yes, I needed the complimentary drink.
- $25 light rail expenses (Denver and Dallas)
- $142.05-Groceries, BBQ, expensive delicious pie
- Free-Numerous meals, drinks, UBER rides (Thanks! Holly and Greg)
I moderated a panel, so I didn’t pay to attend the conference.
- Business opportunities-I connected with 12 potential freelancing clients via both the Freelancers’ Marketplace and friends who offered to connect me with potential clients. If I get one client I will zero out what I paid to attend FinCon. Winning! I’m speaking to a couple of the vendors about potential business opportunities this week.
- Big Ideas-YES! I left with two big ideas for my business. One, that I will keep underwraps as I work through the logistics. This idea happened very randomly at my Airbnb. The big idea is connected a strength that I have that my friends have been pushing me to share for awhile. I’ve already scheduled a workshop to test this idea and am working on building out a course as we speak.
- Meeting the Attendees-There were a TON of people at FinCon this year. And, if I were a first-time attendee, didn’t like people, or an introvert-I would have ran for the hills. But, think that P.T., Jessica, Sherrian, and the rest of the planning committee spent a lot of time focusing on creating opportunities to connect in smaller groups. I personally found it very easy to meet attendees and especially loved this year’s conference app.
- Sharing my expertise! One of my professional goals for 2017 was to speak at Podcast Movement in Anaheim and FinCon. I’m pleased to say that I was able to do both. I presented the following panel “How to Monetize Your Podcast With Blogger Skillz” Yep, with a “z.”
- My future business opportunities pass the “It’s real” test. One opportunity I will turn down though because it doesn’t pass the litmus test that I have for that specific opportunity.
- Ongoing Networking Opportunities-The FinCon community is great because we have opportunities to hangout throughout the year with the local chapters throughout the U.S. and it has a really active Facebook group. There are also very active subcommunities with the FinCon community that I belong to as well.
I should also mention that I spent a week in Dallas. I always add on at least one additional day at the beginning and end for every conference that I attend. This makes it easier for me to explore the town that is hosting the event, and more importantly, I’m able to network more effectively.
FinCon 2017 (Highlights)
Found me jetting across the United States going to different conferences, a retreat, and reunion for Up With People (an organization that I am an alumna of). Towards the end of the year I will admit that I was over travel. But, I knew that I would have an incredible time at FinCon-and I did. Some highlights include:
- Being a backup dancer for rapper Dee-1 (who crowd surfed during his performance-epic).
- Dining with an amazing group of women at the Fidelity Women and Money dinner at Mirador, one of the loveliest restaurants that I’ve eaten at. And, I’ve eaten at some gorgeous restaurants. #moneyfitwomen! Check out the shop that it is on top of: Forty-Five Ten. Gorgeous!
- All of the content that was shared. I’m looking forward to watching the different sessions that were presented (and, that I missed)
- Seeing all of my friends (many of whom I now see throughout the year!)
- Hanging out with Kylie Travers! Awesome roomie. I ate those Tim Tams like I was starving.
- Watching Greg Johnson from Club Thrifty ride the mechanical bull. His wife, Holly and I were cracking up.
- Swag! Thanks to Jason Steele for gifting CardCon volunteers with a Kindle. I’ve always wanted one…but, couldn’t justify buying one when I bought a new Mac. I also left with: 2 t-shirts, 6 journals, Ally Cookies, a Diva Ring for my cell phone, and The Millionaire Next Door Book (thanks David Bach!). A Starbucks card and a gorgeous skirt that my friend Crystal from Sophisticated Spender made via her Sip and Sew Old Town Side-Hustle.
- The Halloween party. That’s all she wrote.
I personally didn’t experience any negative moments at the conference. BUT, I do think that this is a good moment to mention the one thing in the personal finance community that drives me nuts: it’s my way or the highway-itus. How does this appear in the community? Typically in blog comments or off-hand comments in person that leave you thinking….well damn.
Basically, I find that sometimes people forget where they started. Or, they can be super judgey about how people: pay off debt, make money, or aren’t excited by F.I.R.E., or Minimalism.
Until you pay my bills-I could care less about what you think about my process. I talked about this in my post: When Your Personal Finance Story Isn’t Sexy Enough. I shared my frustration in knowing that there is value in my financial story-even though it’s messy and untidy. I’m still working on my finances every single day. And, one day I will write that I’ve finished that financial chapter in my life-but, my hard work should be valued not judged by what’s best for YOU.
In general, I’ve had a pretty amazing experience being a part of the personal finance community. But, I like to bring attention to this issue because it’s really annoying. And, I wish people would focus on how people are focusing on what makes them happy. I believe in a holistic financial model. I want people to do what makes them happy and healthy. And, grows their money in the way that is healthiest for them.
You guys. I’ve just spent this entire post telling you why FinCon (and conferences in general) are awesome. We worked through how to figure out your ROI and some of things you should be focusing on whenever you attend a conference.
I know that you’ve already gotten super excited about the upcoming 2018 conference season and have begun working on your list of conferences you would like to attend. Here are some conferences that keep coming up:
- Social Media Marketing World
- Content Marketing World
- Funnel Hacking Live
- Tony Robbins-Ignite!
And, the list goes on. I’m going to say something that will feel a bit…harsh. Stop attending conferences and work on getting results. Or, work on getting results and have the conference be the place where you “unveil” the results that you’ve worked on since the previous year’s conference.
At this point, I see people from the different conference communities that I belong to throughout the year. I no longer need to go to these conferences to reconnect with my friends. So, a conference has to be pretty awesome moving forward for me to go. Because, really, I want to go on overseas trips or live abroad for part of the year and attending conferences negatively affects my ability to do that.
So, I ask you:
- If you’re running a blog/podcast/YouTube channel for at least 2-years….are you generating. consistent income from those projects? Not via freelance writing. But, through sponsorships and affiliate sales.
- Have you focused on marketing the projects that you’ve been working on?
- Are you seeing growth in the following metrics:
- Blog readership
- Social media followers
- Podcast downloads
- Youtube subscribers
- Email subscribers
- Do you notice friends who started their online projects when you did-start focusing hard and getting results?
- Do you want to collaborate with friends…but, they hesitate because your brand hasn’t grown?
- You know you have great ideas but it has been hard to implement them because you’re constantly on the go (I may be projecting on this one).
How did I come up with these questions? Well, some of them I had to ask myself. And, I wasn’t satisfied with my answers or the results (or, lack thereof) that I’ve been achieving.
Do you want to know the biggest difference between you/me and people who had begun to pull away from where most people are at in terms of income and visibility? Well, I can tell you because I’ve observed the same five traits:
- A focus on marketing
- Successful implementation of processes that they are taught via other friends using the same skills or skills taught at conferences.
- Focus on email list building.
- Single-minded focus on gaining results. One skill at a time, then moving to the next one.
With the exception of travel to visit my Grandma, I will not be attending conferences in 2018 until July (Podcast Movement). And, if I haven’t achieved results-I won’t be going. Basically, before I arrived at FinCon17 I was just so annoyed with myself and I vowed that this would be the last year that I accept mediocre/meh results.
I’m not spending money on another event if I’m not implementing what I learned during the previous one.
As I work on my goals for 2018, I’m very aware how it easy it was for me to achieve the goals that I set for 2017. I have something to prove…to myself. Let’s see how it goes.
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