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.

Everyone had a great time. Psst…that’s Lindsay and Taylor of Love and Olive Oil AND Purr Design on the far right- Lindsay recently redesigned my blog :)…

And here’s Robyn of Add a Pinch with Amy of She Wears Many Hats

…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”.

Next up was the social media panel starring John Kessler of Atlanta Journal-Constitution and James Andrews and Lauren Thomas of Everywhere.

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.

We took a break for lunch and there was more good food and some time for socializing and networking (here’s Beth, Alison, and Lindsay)…

…and here’s Wanda from The Teacher Cooks)…

and here’s Julie of The Little Kitchen and Kristina of Knuckle Salad.

I chatted with Monica and Elizabeth, and I even won one of the many terrific giveaways

…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 ;)

 

30 Comments

  1. 1

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  2. 2

    Sunchowder — September 14, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    Great recap Winnie! It sounds like you had a wonderful time, I am especially interested in blogging and photography to layer with my company as we are getting more establish. Nice to put faces to the twitter names too!

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 11:41 am

      There were lots of folks there who use blogging as a tool to build their offline businesses…it’s a great thing to do, Hope to meet YOU sometime soon…

  3. 3

    Kristina — September 14, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    Lovely recap. Your pictures turned out well! I have trouble in low/indoor light, too… I wonder how much of it I can blame on my camera’s sensor.

    Anyway, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you, and I’m looking forward to keeping up with your awesome blog! (I really like glutinous things, though. Don’t judge me.)

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 11:43 am

      It was great to meet you too! And I love gluttonous things…I just make them with healthy ingredients ;)

  4. 4

    Cookin' Canuck — September 14, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    It sounds like an amazing event, Winnie – plenty to learn and lots of people who love food all in one room!

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

      You said it!

  5. 5

    Kerry — September 14, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

    this looks like a hoot! so glad you were able to go. i want to see hotlanta.

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

      Ha ha Hotlanta. It really was fun.

  6. 6

    Megan — September 14, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

    What a terrific conference. Wish I could have been there!
    Love the new look!

  7. 7

    Nicole Detellis — September 14, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

    Hi Winnie!

    It looks like you had a GREAT time at your conference. I myself love to take photos of everything…including food! I just picked up a Nikon D90 and am having so much fun being creative with photos…!

    I’m sure you worked very hard on your new site….it’s nice…..ok….here’s the BUT…..I liked your old one better! Sorry :( ! Your old site was warmer and more inviting…this site is a bit sterile and comes across as commercial.

    And here’s another BUT….since I’m hooked on your blogging ANYWAY….I won’t be leaving you…nice work but I miss the old HGK!

    -Never hating….always loving…..

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

      Thanks for you feedback Nicole. It’s nice to hear you liked the old site, but I hated it, and that’s why it had to go ;)

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

      You know, Nicole, I hope that you’ll come to see it not as commercial, ’cause that’s not what I’m aiming for, but as more professional…better organized and more easy to navigate. The content is exactly the same, so I do hope you’ll stick around.

  8. 8

    Amanda — September 14, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

    This sounds like such a great trip, what fun! I am so glad you got out, sorry about your car rental disaster :-P The new design is wonderful by the way, stumbled!

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

      Thanks so much Amanda. And yes, the rental car was a bit of a disaster!

  9. 9

    Pure2raw twins — September 14, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

    Wow, looked like a great time!!

    • Winnie replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

      It really was!

  10. 10

    Monet — September 14, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

    I’ve been reading and seeing pictures of this event…and yours just added to my feelings of excitement and envy…I wish I could have been there. It sounds like a lovely event, and I’m happy that you were able to step out and enjoy it!

    • Winnie replied: — September 15th, 2010 @ 7:08 am

      Thanks Monet,
      I’m already thinking about my next conference. Which one will it be…

  11. 11

    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — September 15, 2010 @ 6:25 am

    Winnie it was so great to meet you! Loved your awesome recap and the pictures are great!! Thanks for including me-that was a funny picture. I hope that we can keep in touch. I really enjoyed talking to you!! Love your new site!

    • Winnie replied: — September 15th, 2010 @ 7:09 am

      I think it’s a great picture- looks like you three are having fun. Keep me posted on your book and your future endeavors ;)

  12. 12

    Phoo-d — September 15, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    I hate driving rental cars in unfamiliar cities. That is the worst! Glad you had a wonderful time. It looks like it was a great conference with fun people and lots of helpful information.

    • Winnie replied: — September 15th, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

      By husband warned me about the rental car- I should have listened!
      It was fun and very informational- I just have to find some time to actually study all the notes I took!

  13. 13

    bunkycooks — September 15, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Hi there Winnie!

    Thank you so much and I am so glad that you parked that silly ole’ car and had a great weekend! I am also very happy that you won that awesome big mixer! :)

    It was a pleasure meeting you and I hope to see you again soon! Thank you for making the trip to Atlanta!

    Gwen

    • Winnie replied: — September 15th, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

      Thanks so much for everything Gwen!

  14. 14

    Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free — September 15, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

    I love your new look, Winnie! It’s beautiful!! I am so glad that you has such a good time. :) Wish I would have gone!

    • Winnie replied: — September 15th, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

      Thanks Amy! Wish you could have gone too…I’d love to meet you ;)

  15. 15

    Carolyn Binder — September 18, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

    Hi Winnie: I enjoyed meeting you at the Spice Market and chatting about our gardens. The Food Blog Forum was such a special event, wasn’t it? But I totally identify with your fear of driving in Atlanta. I have panic attacks every time I drive up there! Take care.

  16. 16

    10 Tips From The Atlanta Food Blog Forum | Digital Aftershock — September 30, 2010 @ 7:18 am

    [...] Healthy Green Kitchen – Food Blog Forum Atlanta Recap [...]

  17. 17

    Oui, Chef — October 7, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

    I’ve yet to attend a blogger conference myself, but would love to soon. How did you hear about this one? Are there any others out there that look appealing to you? Glad you had a great time – S

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