How Attending Blog Conferences Can Actually Make You Money

Last year I attended my first ever blog conference when I drove to Chicago to attend the first ever Financial Blogger Conference.   One of the main reasons that I wanted to attend the conference was to meet and hang out with a group of bloggers that I had come to know over the past 4 years.  Despite having never met them, I had come to consider many of them as good friends.  I also thought it would be fun to get together with a big group of others who shared my love of blogging and personal finance, because quite frankly – my wife doesn’t get it!

Over the 4 days that I was in Chicago I had a great time with my blogging colleagues. We got together and learned so much from a wide range of amazing speakers, and we sat around the lounge after hours sharing stories.  It was amazing to be sitting around with some of my blogging idols, people whose blogs I had read on a daily basis for years before starting my own site. I was starstruck!

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Despite the fact that I had such a great time at the conference, I’ll be the first to admit that going isn’t a cheap proposition. FINCON is by far one of the most affordable and high quality conferences that you could attend, however,  it’s still going to be hundreds of dollars to attend for most people.  I think I spent somewhere in the range of $6-700 last year.  So how do you turn a large business expense like FINCON into a money maker?  Stay tuned..

Making Money From Blog Conferences

Keeping Conference Costs Down

There are ways that you can keep your costs for attending a blog conference down.   The less you spend, the easier it is to recoup your investment. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure to keep track and claim tax deductions:  As a blogger  you can deduct certain expenses on your taxes associated with attending the conference, including your hotel, travel, and conference tickets.  For a full list of things to track and deduct see this post: Blog Conference Tax Deductions.
  • Take advantage of conference freebies:  I don’t think I bought more than 1 or two meals for myself over the 4 days I was in Chicago for FINCON11.  The rest of my meals and drinks were either included with the conference registration, or were bought for me by companies and sponsors who offered to take me out to dinner.
  • Don’t get a rental car, use shuttles or public transportation:  I didn’t need a rental car last year as I drove to the conference location, but this year I won’t be as you won’t really need to leave the hotel. Everything that matters happens at the conference, otherwise they’re easy transportation usually to get around.
  • Share costs:  A lot of people last year shared the cost of a hotel room, essentially cutting their lodging costs in half.  You could do the same thing for gas if you drive with someone. Also make sure to take advantage of reduced conference rates.
  • Bring your own snacks:  While FINCON was overly generous with goodies to eat and drink, at some conferences it may not be a bad idea to bring some of your own snacks. Otherwise you’ll be stuck paying outrageous hotel costs for a bag of chips.

How To Save Money When Attending A Blog Conference

Turning Your Blog Conference Into A Money Maker

Now that you’ve done your best to keep your costs down, it’s time to start turning the conference from a monetary loss into a positive money maker. So how do you do that?

Meeting With Conference Sponsors

Make sure to take advantage of the many networking opportunities at the conference, and don’t shy away from meeting with conference sponsor companies.

Meeting with conference sponsors while at the conference can be a great way to get an in with affiliate companies (and sometimes get preferred rates), or to get sponsorship deals with financial companies.  They’re much more willing to work with you when they’ve got a face to go with your site.

While at FINCON11 I had quite a few quick meetings with sponsors, and got taken out to dinner by a couple of them. While it didn’t take a ton of my time, the relationships I started building at the conference with those companies eventually lead to affiliate and sponsorship deals that earned me thousands of dollars last year.

Networking With Other Bloggers

Networking with other bloggers is another great way to come up with ideas for ways to make money. Bloggers can give you leads for people to talk to at affiliate companies, and help to put you in touch with financial companies who may want to work with you and your site.  Other bloggers are a wealth of information, so find a few in the know and buy them a drink!

If you provide services of any kind to other bloggers (freelance writing, graphic design, carnival submission services, etc), a blog conference is a great place to pick up leads and new customers. I got quite a few new customers for my graphic design side business via FINCON, and I know quite a few freelance writers who picked up gigs there as well.

Conference Sessions Give Great Money Making Ideas

The sessions at the conference are also great places to pick up ideas for ways to make money with your blog.  You’ll hear plenty of tips on how to increase your traffic, engage with your readers and new ways to make money with your site and email list.  If you don’t come away with at least a few new ideas of things you can do to make money, you’re probably not paying very close attention – or you stayed up to late at one of the sponsor parties.

Those are just a few ways you can turn your blog conference getaway into a big money maker.  So book your ticket now! It could lead to thousands more in your bank account next year!

Have your own ideas for ways you can make a blog conference profitable instead of a negative expense?  Tell us in the comments!

Blog Conference Expenses Are Tax Deductible. Claim Them.

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Last Edited: 10th February 2014

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Comments

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  1. says

    I want to attend but was disappointed when I saw what days of the month the conference landed on. As an accountant in corporate finance the first six work days of the month are very important (and especially the first four). Needless to say, I won’t be there. Hopefully I can make the 2013 conference work.

    • says

      We’re going to have to do the Minneapolis personal finance bloggers meetup sometime soon here. I know we’ve got a group of probably 6-10 of us at least, maybe more. I’ll try and put together a twitter list soon and put together something. Maybe we can all meet downtown some night for drinks or something.

  2. says

    Good post and I think your ideas apply to many other types of professional and industry conferences. Hoping to make it to Denver this year, September is a busy month for me personally and professionally, still trying to juggle. Spoiled last year with the conference being 10 minutes from my home.

    • says

      Yeah, I don’t envy PT who puts the conference together as far as picking a date, it seems like no matter what date gets picked, some people aren’t able to make it. Hopefully you can come!

  3. says

    Great post – any idea if Denver has public transportation? I was thinking about splitting a cab from the airport… not sure if there are any shuttles or other forms of transportation.

    • says

      My understanding is that the FINCON folks have booked a deal with a company called SuperShuttle.com for a cheaper way to get to the hotel from the airport, although details are still pending. Stay tuned to the conference site for that. Apparently the cab to downtown is pretty far, and can get pricey.

      • says

        I’ve used the SuperShuttle in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix and it is generally reliable and a cheaper alternative to a cab. I was only in Denver one time, but I recall the airport is a bit of a hike from the Downtown area (I’m presuming that is where the conference is).

  4. says

    FINCON sounds like a fascinating conference for personal finance bloggers. I’ll have to check it out. The piece about sponsors surprised me somewhat. For some reason I had a picture of just a bunch of bloggers getting together and sharing ideas. Interesting.

    • says

      I think originally PT and a small group of bloggers were just planning on getting together to hang out like you say, but he took it on himself to turn it into something bigger and more useful for everyone involved. It is definitely now one of the best conferences out there for financial folks..

  5. says

    I really want to attend FinCon but I just don’t know if I can justify it right now. I do believe I could turn it into a financial gain if I was able to go…the challenge is just coming up with the money initially.

  6. says

    My first blogger conference was Texas Style Council. It was a conference for fashion bloggers. I went because the price and location were right, not because I’m a fashion blogger. I was really impressed with all the tips I learned. It’s what motivated me to start thinking of my blog as a business.

  7. says

    I wanted to attend FINCON12 something bad! But I couldn’t imagine leaving my 4 month old behind for that many days (and leave my husband to tend to him plus two other young ones!). I considered bringing everyone along, but that wouldn’t be my idea of a relaxing conference. :) I’m already planning on coming next year. Do we know when/where it will be yet? I figured that would be announced at or after this year’s conference.

    Thanks for all of the ideas on how to make the most of your conference attendance. I hadn’t even thought of sponsorships…I mainly want to go for the networking. It’s nice to get out from behind the screen sometimes! :)

    • says

      I don’t think a location for next year’s conference has been announced yet. I totally understand not wanting to leave home for too long with a little one, family comes first!

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