I’m a conference person. In fact, they’re my jam.
There is nothing more exciting than finding a bunch of people who all have the same passion for a subject that I do.
We can spitball ideas, learn from each other, and more importantly, build our motivation to reach the next level.
The Lola Retreat for Bold Women
When I heard that Melanie of Dear Debt and Emma of EmmaLincoln.com were hosting a “bold event for bold women,” I knew that I was going to it.
The event is the Lola Retreat and it’s August 18th through 21st in Portland, Oregon.
I’m a bold woman and I love Portland so buying my ticket was a no-brainer.
My husband and I actually just went on a road trip to Portland for our honeymoon and it was a really cool city. We loved it and I’m excited to go back.
Related: Portland Trip Report for Nerdy Tourists and Grimm Lovers
Here is what you get when you book your ticket to the Lola Retreat, according to their website:
- Exclusive pass to the Lola Retreat, a weekend retreat in Portland, Oregon
- 2 days of handcrafted locally-sourced food from one of Portland’s hippest restaurants, Clyde Common. You’ll get to enjoy beautiful breakfast spreads, Stumptown coffee and Smith artisan teas, delicious small bites as snacks, lunch at one of Portland’s famous food cart blocks, and so much more!
- Your ticket to an intimate cocktail reception on Friday, August 18th to kick-off your weekend in style
- Discounted room rates at the Ace Hotel and the Crystal Ballroom
- Your own copy of the Lola Roadmap, your custom plan to leading an empowered, wealthy life
- Access to an invite-only Lola Retreat Facebook group
Tickets are $299 with this Lola Retreat Promo Code
It costs $399 for the ticket but I used the code “LOLAWANTS” when I booked my ticket to get $100 off.
The code is still active for another month (expires mid-April)
If you’re interested, check out the Lola Retreat.
I hope to see some of you there!
(By the way – I have no affiliate relationship with the Lola Retreat. I just think it’s a cool event so I’m promoting it).
Stop Worrying About the ROI of Conferences
Now to the purpose of this post – how to assess the value of a conference ahead of time.
Whenever I mention a conference in a post, I typically get a few emails asking me to outline the exact ROI of the conference.
I totally get why. These events are expensive!
Some conferences are hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
I was nervous too when I initially booked the ticket to attend my first conference.
It was an investment and I wanted a guaranteed return.
What I’ve realized though is that conferences don’t have a specific monetary return on investment (ROI).
The ability to spend time with other like-minded people is the ROI
Yes, you can learn some “off the blog” nuggets of information, which will have a monetary impact but it’s not the reason you should go.
The value of a conference is the ability to hang out with cool people killing it in their respective spheres (and getting subsequently jazzed up to achieve big things yourself).
Even that ROI isn’t guaranteed since it’s entirely dependent on you to put yourself out there and meet people.
Choose the Conference For the People
My point is that you should choose the conference for the people *and not* for the information.
If you choose conferences where you’ll meet other people who are crazy about the same thing you’re crazy about, you’ll be happy with the money you spent.
Below are a list of the conferences I’ve been to over the years and recommend.
I Had A Thing for Travel and Blogging
My first conference ever was the Travel Blogging Exchange Conference (TBEX), which brings together travel bloggers from all over the globe. I had a small travel blog at the time and was hired on by a startup to help them design and launch their new site.
I dragged two friends to the conference (who were interested in internet marketing but didn’t have blogs) and WE ALL LOVED IT. We had such a good time.
Some of the bloggers that we talked to, have since made it super huge in the blogging world (this was 5 years ago).
We talked briefly with The Blonde Abroad for example, and now she is a huge name not only in the travel blogging world but the world. Her instagram has 350,000 followers.
I remember the tourism organization “Visit Jordan” being at the conference and then later saw that The Blonde Abroad posted about a sponsored trip to Jordan. I bet she made that connection at the conference!
There were a bunch of other tourism companies and travel tech companies attending the conference who were looking to work with bloggers. And there were plenty of inspiring travel bloggers who were living the dream and sharing their stories too.
I now know that if I ever want to seriously explore travel blogging, I should go back to TBEX and start making connections.
TBEX was my first conference though and I did a poor job of keeping in touch with other bloggers after the conference.
I Had A Thing For Travel But Was Broke
My husband (then new boyfriend) and I were long-distance for a summer and I was making a standard entry level salary at a non-profit.
I somehow stumbled upon travel rewards(maybe someone mentioned it to me at TBEX?) and I got super hooked. I visited him across the country 3 or 4 times that summer and then I flew him to visit my parents in another state – all of this FOR FREE, because of travel rewards.
Travel rewards might be the reason we are married today!
Later that year, I went to Frequent Traveler University (FTU) which brings together travel rewards seekers from all over the globe.
That conference was awesome too. I brought my husband with me and we took pages upon pages of notes. We also met other travel rewards enthusiasts who shared their tips and tricks.
I started a small travel rewards blog prior to the conference and wrote for a year or two about how we saved money on our vacations. I was super jazzed up and now I know who to reach out to, should I need travel rewards advice.
Again, I was really crappy about keeping up with connections after conferences, so I would have to go back a second time to really build relationships.
(If you don’t know much about travel rewards, check out my post on how I travel the world for free).
I Started to Like Money and Still Love Blogging
In 2015, I started the paying down debt phase of my life, so naturally I was drawn to money conferences.
I went to the Chautauqua in 2015 and met up with a group of strangers in Ecuador to discuss financial independence and early retirement.
(For those of you new here, financial independence is the term used to describe the moment when you’ve reached a level of savings that you can live off forever. For a more detailed description, check out my post about the FIRE movement).
I met some of my favorite bloggers at the Chautauqua including Mr. Money Mustache, The Mad Fientist, Go Curry Cracker, and Jim Collins.
The conference wasn’t just for bloggers though. I met non-blogging friends through Chautauqua as well and we still keep in touch today.
Here is my review of the Chautauqua.
I also went to FinCon San Diego in 2016, where I met a bunch of other amazing and inspirational financial mavens.
I made more blog friends and was further motivated to achieve my financial and blogging goals.
All of the sessions at FinCon were taped and I can’t wait to go back and watch all of them again when I have more time.
I didn’t get a chance to attend every single session since I was spending time with inspiring people and having fun!
I’ve been better about staying in contact with some of my FinCon friends since the conference.
I can’t wait for Dallas later this year!
Do I Need A Blog to Go To Conferences?
You don’t need a blog to go to any of these conferences, although it’s definitely fun to blog about your favorite hobbies.
I’ve been blogging for over 5 years on 7 different sites. I started this blog in early 2015 and it was my fourth blog. (Yes, I have a short blog attention span).
My other blogs no longer exist, mostly because I no longer wanted to pay the hosting cost for blogs that I wasn’t actively using. (Even though I did host all of those blogs on Bluehost which is really cheap and a good hosting provider for new bloggers).
If you’re interested in starting a blog of your own, I wrote a tutorial and took screenshots as I was setting up my latest site.
Blogging does suck up a lot of your free time (I probably spend a few hours per week on this blog).
It’s totally worth it though in my opinion. I only started making money blogging just a few months ago.
So for the last 4 out of 5 years I was blogging just because I loved it.
So How Do You Assess the Value Of A Conference?
Overall, I encourage you to just book your ticket (if you can afford it) and go to the conference you have your eye on!
Interesting topic + Interesting people + Motivated you = Great time
Hope to see you at some of these events this year.
How do you assess the value of a conference prior to booking?
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Felicity (@FelicityFFF) says
FinCon will be my first conference not for work! 😀
If I had more vacation time and lived closer to Portland I’d sign up in a heartbeat to Lola Retreat. I might still…it is very tempting!
So tempting! I also can relate on the limited vacation days. Bummer.
NZ Muse says
I can’t say I’ve ever been to a conference for personal reasons! I have been to countless ones for free with a media pass to cover them for publications I worked for. I’ve also been to a couple for professional development purposes, I guess, as an employee. If I did live in the US, Lola would definitely pique my interest for sure though.
Ooh great perk to the job although I doubt it’s as fun when you go with your employer! Yeah, I wish you lived in the US so we could hang out at the conference!
Colin @ rebelwithaplan says
I always assess the value of a conference by how previous attendees talked about it and how people talk about it on social media. FinCon was almost always talked about very glowingly on social media so that’s how I knew I wanted to go.
I’m thinking about going to World Domination Summit this year!
World Domination Summit is one I have my eye on but have never seriously considered. I’ll need to do more research. Thanks for reminding me about it!
This has convinced me to go to Create and Cultivate this year. Thank you. Any chance you want to fly to NYC and join me?! 🙂
Hope you’re well,
I wish! I will have to look into it though and keep it on my list for next year! Have fun!
I’ve found it strange that people except to receive a ROI on conferences because it was never that type of motivator for me. When I went to Bloggers in Sin City and Camp Mustache, it was entirely for the purpose of meeting internet friends in real life. When people say they want to go to these types of things to attend sessions, that seems strange to me, because I feel like they’d be better off saving their $$$ and learning from the wealth of information on the internet, whether for free or behind a paywall. Some of the camp mustache sessions were fun, but I wouldn’t pay for that sort of thing. Thankfully there were zero sessions at BiSC, it was literally ice breakers, hanging out by the pool with new friends and Vegas nightlife with new friends.
Certainly if you have a business to promote, networking at any of those types of events is not a bad idea, but I think it’s obvious when someone is just shilling their business vs. genuinely wanting to get to know likeminded people.
Yeah I was just talking about this with a friend and we were comparing the different approaches to conferences when you blog for a living and when you blog on the side. I guess I wrote this post with the perspective that a side-hustler blogger has versus a full-time blogger. If it was my livelihood, I would probably pick and choose conferences more carefully.
Mr. Groovy says
Hey J. Conferences are cool as long as you approach them with the right mindset. If you’re looking for ROI, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re looking to bond with likeminded people, you’re going to have a blast. Have fun in Portland. And don’t eat too many Voodoo donuts.
The value of a conference must be understood before hand. Many a times conferences lead to zero output and more confusion leading to a delay in the proceedings. Sometimes people are so busy in life that they keep attending conferences and have zero growth overall.
This is a great counterpoint. I think it really depends on the person to make the most out of the conference and to know when to stop attending a conference that is no longer providing value.