Reader Q&A: How Can I Finance SXSW (my big, scary goal)?

With South-by-Southwest panel submitters campaigning for the popular vote, SXSWi has definitely been a hot topic of conversation (at least among us online nerds) in recent weeks. A reader sent me an email asking if I had any ideas for how she could make her big goal of attending happen, and I thought others might benefit from the response (which could apply to all goals with a financial component). I also know that my readers (ahem, YOU) are some of the most encouraging, brilliant people I know. If you have extra ideas please share your two cents in the comments!

As a quick aside: please take a moment to support my Big, Scary, Hairy Goal of speaking at SXSW by voting for my panel, "Got 99 Problems But a Blog 'Aint One" (from blog-to-book: how to pursue a traditional publisher) by this Friday, August 27. You do need to create a free account to thank you in advance! I'll be so excited (albeit terrified) if the powers-that-be actually choose my panel...

Without further ado...StacyAnn's Question:

Hi Jenny,

I'm writing to ask about a goal that I have set for myself. I know you routinely give great advice on goal setting. My goal is to attend SXSW in 2011. However I fear this is not a practical goal and Suze Orman would probably deny me since I'm currently campaigning for a new job. How do balance an experience goal vs a stuff goal?  What about balancing feelings that you will have to push your goal back?  Finally do you have any tips on making SXSW more affordable?  I couldn't find any posts on this topic.

Thank you, Stacyann

My Response:

Hi Stacyann,

I think it's AWESOME that you've set a goal to attend SXSW in 2011, and you're not alone in needing to figure out how to raise the money for it (I have lots of blogger friends in the same boat). If you are excited and energized by the goal and it's important to you, Suze Orman would definitely give you the go-ahead, she would just tell you to make smart choices about how you get there (ie don't go into debt). When a goal is really "soul-stirring" (a term coined by Tim Gunn), you can almost always find a way to make it happen. That said, if you end up having to push it back, don't beat yourself up over it.

Here's what I would do:

  • Research: Figure out exactly how much money you would need to attend (hotel, conference pass and daily expenses)
  • Make your goal clear: Write it as a question at the top of a sheet of paper: "How can I raise $X between now and Y-DATE to attend SXSW 2011?" Then brainstorm for 30 minutes -- or until you reach 50 ideas.
  • Get motivated: Make a list of reasons that it's important to you to attend (just part of getting the motivation you'll need to pursue the goal)
  • Brainstorm ways to cut costs: See if you can stay with a friend or a friend-of-a-friend in Austin - that would cut costs way down. Brazen Careerist and 20-Something Bloggers also have sub-groups for SXSW - I'd join those and see if other bloggers are looking for roommates.
  • Cost-cutting part two: Look at your last two credit card statements (I use and see what you could cut between now and next March to save money. If you really want to get serious, set-up a side account and have money direct-deposited every month between now and then (I use INGDirect)
  • Brainstorm ways to raise money: Do you have any ways of making extra income between now and then? Babysitting, tutoring, consulting, etc.
  • Ask for help: Put out a call to your network - consider starting a Smarty Pig account to raise money. You might also ask for contributions for Christmas (or a birthday if you have one between now and then).

Good luck!! I know you can do this -- and you'll have such a blast. Austin is awesome, and the people who go are so smart and so much fun. You'll have to keep me posted on your big goal!



I'd love for you to chime in since nothing beats crowd-sourced wisdom: do you have any other ideas or words of encouragement for Stacyann (or others) raising money for a Big, Scary, Hairy Goal?