Last Friday, I flew down to Atlanta for the Food Blog Forum “Build Your Best Blog” Seminar.
I had no idea what to expect: I’ve never been to a blogging conference, so I was more than a teeny bit nervous. I’m kind of a “homebody”…and shy around people I don’t know.
But I turned 40 this summer. And with that event came the realization that I need to get out more. Do stuff that’s fun. Challenge myself. Step out of my comfort zone. Plus when I read about everything this seminar was going to cover, it really appealed to me…I’m always interested in information about monetizing my blog, social media and food photography. Steamy Kitchen and White on Rice Couple are two of my very favorite blogs, so I figured a seminar put on by these folks would be great.
And it was really great. The only problem with the trip ended up being my decision to rent a car. Remember how I told you I just turned 40? Well, somehow, I managed to get to 40 without ever renting a car on my own. So I don’t know why I couldn’t just leave it that way. Atlanta traffic sucks. And the GPS I paid for didn’t work. So after a super stressful ride from the airport to the hotel, I parked my car for the rest of the weekend and was very thankful there were generous folks like Robyn and Beth to drive me around.
(I’m going to apologize in advance for the pictures. I haven’t come close to figuring out how to take good photos inside, when the lighting is either inadequate or crazy bright/unfiltered…but I tried, so here you go.)
The seminar kicked off with a party at The Viking Store. I have to admit to feeling kind of “star struck” when I walked in and was greeted by Diane. She’s so down to earth that I was immediately put at ease, though. Same with Jaden.
Before I go on, allow me to introduce you to Gwen. Gwen put the entire weekend together, and she did a terrific job with every detail.
The Viking Store was beautiful, and the food was fantastic. The highlight of the evening (in addition to meeting Alison, Lindsay and Taylor, Beth, and Debra and Rod, Megan, and Wendy, was a pork cooking demonstration by Chef Kevin Rathbun.
He made the most incredible spiced pork belly (served on skewers with watermelon), and some fabulous tacos, as well. Yum.
…while Diane and Todd took loads of photos that are way better than mine…
The next morning, we met bright and early at The Shed At Glenwood, another lovely venue.
Lindsay, Beth, and I snagged some super comfy seats in the back of the room and checked out our swag bags. They were pretty awesome, thanks to sponsors including Chefs Catalog, Kitchen Aid, Whole Foods, Bella Cucina, Calpahalon, and Showcase Photo & Video
Jaden and her husband Scott got the morning started. Scott is an experienced motivational speaker. He advised us that we’d get more out of the day if we didn’t sit like this…
…and he gave us lots to ponder on the subject of “Building Your Dream Career”.
These folks talked about Working with Media Outlets and Brands, something I know very little about…I found this talk very interesting. There was also a discussion about proper disclosure to meet FTC guidelines when working with brands.
…and here’s Wanda from The Teacher Cooks)…
…thank you KitchenAid for my new mixer!!!
Then it was back to “work” for the afternoon.
(psst…that’s Angie from Bakerella below on the right)
First, Jaden led a great panel with Alisa Barry and Virginia Willis. The women spoke about what it means to create a personal brand (a defined niche that allows you to stand out from the crowd) and how each of them has done just that.
Next up was Diane and Todd.
They talked about that all-important element when it comes to photography: light.
They had numerous (incredibly helpful) visual aids to help us understand how to make the most of available lighting when we photograph food.
They also set up a demonstration of their workflow when it comes to food styling (to help us get more efficient with taking beautiful shots) and Diane showed how she’d photograph food in a restaurant.
In the last session of the day, Jaden offered up some of her favorite blogging tips, including how she builds traffic to and monetizes her blog.
She’s achieved tremendous success in her fairly short blogging career and isn’t afraid to share how she got to where she is today…I love this about her and learned a lot.
The day closed out with a party at The Spice Market, where we had the most delicious cocktail ever: the Passion Fruit Whiskey Fizz. There was more tasty food and a last opportunity to converse with fellow seminar attendees: I met Mandy, Rhonni, Andrea and Carolyn. I wish I could have gotten to know everyone, so if I didn’t get to meet you this time around, I hope to see you at another blogging event in the future ;)