I haven’t felt this giddy since my first day of school circa 1990.
I went to TECHmunch today, a day-long food blogging conference care of the Bakespace. This was my first time attending a food blogging conference, and I felt very much like a kindergartner: anxious about making friends, excited for snack time and recess the open bar, and ready to learn.
The panels and speakers were professionals from all walks of the industry: photography, publishing, marketing, blogging (duh), and more. I scrawled pages of notes, sounding out words when necessary (“What did she say? Quant cast?”), and learned something from everyone who spoke. The full agenda can be found here.
Listening to these speakers was way more fun than an engineering conference, but you could have guessed that.
These are the key concepts I got from today’s discussions:
Almost every panel touched upon consistency in some way, e.g. posting daily to your blog, maintaining good relationships with advertisers or sponsors, being true to yourself. It is also important to be consistent with the quality of content and how you structure it. There is work I need to do in order to optimize my online recipes. Simple things like always putting my ingredients in a bulleted list, or making the URL and title of the post the same thing, can make all the difference in where my page turns up in Google.
They say you can tell a lot about someone by looking at their friends. This is true in the food blogging community, too. Social media came up in most panels as important tool for marketing, expanding your audience, and creating new opportunities.
Many of the speakers suggested following your favorite brands and companies on Facebook or Twitter. Possible sponsorships, advertising, and work could come from the relationships you build via social media. Marketing reps might look at your blog, as well as the people you follow, as a way to assess your ‘fit’ with their brand. In the same respect, if there are conflicting interests, a brand might be less likely to reach out. It is important to pursue relationships that are genuine, and build some offline i.e. in real life, to best represent yourself and your community.
Definitely, the best advice today is the most obvious of all. Be sincere. Almost everyone who spoke today said in some way that devotion or passion is the ticket to success. The quality of character behind the blog is ultimately what keeps readers coming back, and draws in new opportunities. If you dedicate yourself, without sleep, to improving and growing your blog, you might wind up like Tina of Carrots ‘n Cake. If you really, really believe in something, and stay in touch with PR reps like Jessica, she will go to the moon for you. Generally, if you stand behind your message, and keep at it, people will take notice.
I met Janice Bissex, author of No Whine with Dinner, blogger, mom + more. She even did all the photography for her book, amazing. Somehow, my table was composed of moms at lunch but still participated in the conversation.
I met lots of young on-the-rise bloggers, hobbyists, and food enthusiasts just like myself.
A Plum By Any Other Name and I matched each other on glasses of grigio.
Can you believe how many KitchenAid appliances they gave away today?! And none to me.
No one went home empty-handed though. Goodie bags for all, including the beloved ‘free’ t-shirt.
Who really could wish for a better first day at school first blogging conference? I came home with stories to tell, new friends, and I can’t wait to go back again!
Fortunately, it isn’t long until the Healthy Living Summit in Philadelphia, and the Boston Food Bloggers Boston Harbor cruise next month. Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at these events from now on.