Five Reasons to Go to a Food Blogging Conference

May 172011
 

I’m packing for BlogHer Food in Atlanta this weekend. Going to conferences always energizes me. I get new ideas for posts, learn from the best, reconnect with old friends and make new ones. And I always have a blast.

Jackie Garvin of Syrup and Biscuits asked how to pick the best food blogging conference to attend. Each is a little different, but basically, all give you the opportunity to hang with other bloggers and get crushes on a select few. You’ll also learn about SEO, branding, writing, photography, marketing…all the stuff you’re trying to master.

Best of all, blogging conferences are fun. This is critical if you’ve been writing alone in your bedroom. You need to get out! I say pick a conference and get involved with a smart, energetic group of (mostly) women who are going through the same things. You’ll get inspired, refreshed, and energized. Even if you don’t have a blog because you’ve been focusing on other kinds of writing, it’s worth a look to understand the blogging phenomenon.

BlogHer Food 2009, in front of the bookstore.

This year I’ll be taking about recipe etiquette on a panel with David Leite, moderated by attorney Lisa Barry-Kessler. At BlogHer, the moderator and audience have as much to say as the speakers, so I look forward to discussing adapting, copyright, and other issues I write about on this blog.

Please come say hello if you’re attending, and tell me about your blog. I like to know who’s reading Will Write for Food so I can say thank you. (I’ll be one of the senior people there among the 30-somethings. That’s my photo in the right-hand corner. )

No matter which food blogging conference you choose (including Food Blogger Camp; Eat, Write, Retreat; International Food Blogger Conference [two locations this year]; Camp BlogawayFood Buzz [if you're a member]; and Food Blog South), there are valuable reasons to go:

  1. Become part of a community of hardworking, intelligent writers. This includes meeting bloggers you admire, bloggers you can relate to, and bloggers who become friends
  2. Learn how to make your blog more successful and meaningful through the workshops and classes. You’ll get tons of new ideas and feel energized about your blog
  3. Increase your skill level as a photographer, sometimes with hands-on classes
  4. Party at evening events where you have to wear something other than sweats and pajamas, and
  5. Collect swag. Some people leave room in their suitcases for freebies they want to lug home.

If you’ve already been to a few blogging conferences, maybe you have your own list of benefits. Tell me whether you think it’s valuable, and what you enjoyed most.

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For more on attending food blogging conferences, see:

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  59 Responses to “Five Reasons to Go to a Food Blogging Conference”

  1. Hi Dianne,

    Thanks so much for including Eat Write Retreat in your round-up. We are very excited about this year’s event (taking place this weekend, in Washington DC), and agree that rubbing elbows with your fellow food enthusiasts can reignite culinary passions and refresh one’s perspective. All the fabulous food and drink helps make for a great time as well. Keep your eye out for recaps of the fun from our attendees!

    Best of luck to you in Atlanta.

    Best,
    Casey Benedict
    Robyn Webb
    Co-Founders

  2. Have fun! We’ve had plenty of blogging conferences here in the Philippines but never specifically one about food. I’m wondering if it would be a feasible idea since there are quite a few food bloggers around. I would like to attend one of those set there, just to see how it goes. There’s a lot we can learn. :)

  3. Have a safe trip. Looking forward to meeting you at Blogher Food.

  4. Dianne,
    I wish I was going to BlogHer Food so we could meet in person but I know it will happen one of these days. I just got back from Camp Blogaway and couldn’t agree with you more. It was very different from Food Blogger Camp… different and both were great in so many ways. I met a whole new batch of bloggers, many from SoCal and San Diego, met possible sponsors, heard about the business from their perspective, heard from PR reps, etc. etc. It was so valuable in my professional development as a food blogger. And, the swag was excellent! I took home a few too many avocados to actually cook and eat in their ripeness window. :)

    • Hi Stephanie, I heard that Camp Blogaway was different – a little more rustic than Food Blogger Camp, and it sounds like there was more focus on p.r. and sponsorship than other conferences. Thanks for letting me know.

      • Dianne, yes, the two venues could not have been more different. Both excellent at the opposite ends of the scale. I’m more of a rustic-cabin-in-the-woods gal, so that worked for me. Food Blogger Camp in Cancun offered amazing opportunities for shooting with some of the best in the biz. Camp Blogaway offered many chances to talk in depth with potential sponsors and PR reps, as well as an interview with Sarah from Tastespotting. Both were outstanding.

        • That’s serious bang for your buck, that you can go to two different conferences and not feel like they offered the same thing. I’ve heard that complaint from some.

          • Hi Diane and Camper Stephanie, saw the thread and thought I’d jump in. The focus at Camp was pretty much the full blog picture, not just PR and sponsorships. BUT perhaps because we made PR and sponsor peeps so accessible to bloggers, it was unique and that caught a lot of extra attention. I continue to receive emails from attendees telling me about the new projects and opps they’ve scored since Camp, directly from those contacts. And others updating me on how they’re taking their blogs to the next level. My advice to any blogger who really wants to drill down to the finer points of how to make their blogs their very best is to attend a blog conference – whichever one matches your style. Camp really IS camp, and how that played out for some who didn’t consider themselves the “camper type” are definitely covered in their post-Camp posts. A long list is on our home page. (make SURE and read FoodBlogga’s, we now call her Sous Vide Susan!) Thanks, Diane, for the great insights.

          • Hi Patti, good to get more info about Camp Blogaway. We will have to explore that in more depth soon, about bloggers and sponsorships. I missed the session on thatsubject at BlogHer Food, as I was attending on on writing. I have read Susan Russo’s post and find her delightful.

  5. I’ll be the mic wrangler for your session at blogher, my first food blogging conference. I am looking forward to meeting you!

    • Hey Rachel, that’s great! Someone who was a wrangler at a previous session of mine is a speaker this time.

    • Hi Rachel,

      I was wondering if you had volunteered as a mic wrangler in the past? I will be a mic wrangler this year (first time) and just wanted to know if you had anything to share about the experience? I’m really excited but must admit: a bit nervous as well…

      Cynthia

      • I have not done so, but the mic wranglers I worked with were terrific. It’s easy. Just look for people all over the room and run around a lot. Try not to give the same person the mic more than twice because otherwise s/he will dominate. I had that experience earlier this year.

  6. I am packing for BlogHer Food as we speak! Speaking as a bit of an introvert and as someone who’s guilty of wearing her pajamas during the day far too often, I have to psyche myself up to go to conferences, but it’s always worthwhile. I am really looking forward to connecting with blogging friends I’ve never met, and I am really looking forward to meeting you.

    • Me too, Winnie. I hope we’ll get some time together. I’m used to being alone at the computer too. But we’ll be so excited it will be fine.

  7. I’ll be there, Dianne, but I’m moderating a panel on picky eaters at the same time as yours. Wonder if there’s a way for me to sneak out of mine for a few minutes to check yours out ;)

    • Yes I saw that, Debbie! Such bad luck. But we’ll see each other anyway, I’m sure of it. I had fun with you at BlogHer in New York last year.

  8. BlogHer Food will be the first blogging conference I’ve attended. It’s time to step out of my office and meet some fellow bloggers. I’m excited and ready to absorb all that I can in the very short time we’re all together. I really look forward to meeting you and hope that I can get through the crowd of people who will be wanting to do the same!

    • Hey Lori, good for you for taking the leap. It’s a little overwhelming to be with so many excited people, I have to warn you. Can’t wait to say hi.

  9. My first (and so far only) food blog conference was IFBC last fall when I met you! If I wasn’t with a newborn, I would be getting my bags ready for BlogHer Food this weekend too. Connecting with bloggers in person was a real treat, and oh. I really really loved the food. I don’t know how other food conferences do it, but the food truck lunch was my favorite.

  10. “You’ll get inspired, refreshed, and energized. ” Yes yes yes!

    I was at Camp Blogaway with Stephanie, and that was my first blogging conference. Technically it’s “networking,” but really it’s having a ball talking to and learning from other people who are passionate about the same things you are. Building a community is why we blog, and meeting face-to-face doesn’t make it a different community.

    • “Having a ball” is a big part of it for me. Other bloggers comprise part of the readership of food blogs. They’re definitely part of your community.

  11. I am a new follower and I just purchased Will Write for Food; it is so very interesting. I am a food blogger and trying to make it more interesting even though I am older than the average. It must be a so much fun attending a blog conference and meeting others in the same field. I love in norhern Ontario Canada, so not many food bloggers my way.
    Enjoy.
    Rita

  12. As a relatively new blogger, attending IFBC’s conference in Seattle last August was a turning point: it inspired me, allowed me to meet fellow bloggers, share my passion for food and writing (a subject my friends back home are sometimes sick of hearing about), and meet the inspiring speakers, which are generally very accessible. It also expanded my readership significantly because I handed out many business cards and people at those conferences really do go and check your blog after meeting you. It was an all positive experience that I also recommend to any blogger but particularly to those who are starting out or are in a motivation slump.

    I am attending the yearly International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference in Austin June 1-4 and I’m very excited. I’ve had tons of great feedback about this incredible event that spans over 4 full days! I’m lucky enough to be an IACP “emerging member”, but anyone can attend (although the registration price is a bit higher when you’re not a member). This year, an incredible lineup of food writing and photography conferences and workshops has been put together – I’m sure I’ll come back fueled for the year! And – how else could I get the chance to meet incredible people like Deborah Madison, Kim Severson, Amanda Hesser, Jacques Pépin, Dorie Greenspan, to name a few? I will also happily see some of my favorite speakers again, like Shauna James Ahern, Penny De Los Santos, Kathleen Flinn, Amy Sherman and Stephanie Stiavetti.

    Sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch but I just can’t wait to fly to Austin. My only regret is that it doesn’t look like you’ll be there, Dianne! Would have loved to get the chance to chat with you in person. I’ll consider attending BlogHer Food next year.

    • I was there at IFBC last year and I’m sure we met. I agree that other bloggers really do check out your site afterwards, so get more business cards ready.

      I didn’t mention IACP because I was writing about blogging conferences only, but yes, I’ll be there, selling my book at the Culinary Expo. I’ve been a member for more than 10 years and I think I have only missed 1 conference. It is an excellent conference for food writers, and food blogging is beginning to take on increased importance there. I loved the buzz last year from new bloggers and a younger audience.

  13. I can’t wait to meet you this week at Blogher Food. I will be at your talk, and I think I’m speaking right after you. Can’t wait to meet you!

    • Hey Alison, let’s find each other and say hi. Looking forward to your talk on recipe development and planning to attend.

  14. I’ve been last year to the Food Blogger Conference in London. For me the most relevant part – besides making good friends and bringing home tons of advices, tips and goodie bags – was meeting foreign fellow foodbloggers.
    I’m an Italian foodblogger and sometimes I feel that our blogosphere is not completely developed and lacks of something, sometimes enthusiasm, sometimes freshness and new ideas, sometimes generosity. This was definitely the best part of the experience!

    • I’m hoping to go to that conference one day. It’s so satisfying to meet people in your same line of work — so much enthusiasm and energy, everyone obsessed with food as we all are. It can be isolating to just be in front of your computer. Congrats on getting out.

  15. If they allowed dogs, I’d definitely be there. Until they change the rules, though, I’ll have to languish at home – chewing on bones, perusing the canine culinary canon and dreaming of swag. If they hand out biscuits or Kong toys with blog logos, please bring me some. Have a great time, DJ! Woof.

    • Okay, Chester, I will look for dog treats. Meanwhile, enjoy Doof at Jack London Square in Oakand. I know you’ll be there. I put flyers for the event at Market Hall yesterday.

      • Actually, they don’t allow dogs at DooF-a-Palooza either. However, the Head Doofuses are making an exception for me, as I will be there as my DooFian space alien alter ego.

        If any of your loyal followers who are not attending BlogHer Food would like to come (with their actual kids or inner kids), they can check out the festival here: http://bit.ly/gUZGLW

        It’s coming up this Sunday, May 22nd at Jack London Square!

        And now, back to Dianne’s regularly scheduled programming…

  16. I’m looking forward to attending my first conference this weekend at Eat, Write, Retreat in DC. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know it’ll be a great experience. I’m not in the habit of leaving links in the comment section (actually I never do), but I also wrote about this upcoming weekend of food blog conferences and came up with a checklist of things to pack and remember. Thought you’d enjoy it. Some serious, some silly. Have a great weekend in Atlanta!
    http://tastesbetterwithfriends.com/2011/05/15/my-food-blogger-conference-checklist/

    • Love it, Ethan. And thanks for the list, there were a few on there that I didn’t mention, particularly the BlogHer Food Pity Party — a classic.

  17. Diane,
    Thanks so much for the shout out! I really appreciate it. I’m sorry I’ll be missing you at Blogher this year, but I’ll be sure to tune in to find out what I missed and what you learned.
    xoxo,
    Brooke

    • You deserved it. That is a stellar post, so thoughtful, honest, and well thought out. Take care.

  18. Senior? Ha. ;)

  19. Diane,

    Thank you for this most splendid response to my question! I have decided that I will make Food Blog South my inaugural blogging conference. Geographically, it makes sense for me. The conference is in Alabama (my home state) and I live in Florida. From the standpoint of genre, it makes sense for me. I’m a Southern writer. ( I was trying to make “genre-lly” become a word to keep tempo with geographically, but I just couldn’t do it!) I’m already looking forward to meeting writers with whom I’ve previously communicated as well writers who are unknown to me. I have first-hand experience from my life in Corporate America with the rejuvenating powers of a conference. Will you be attending Food Blog South, Diane?

    • I will be a speaker there, Jackie, so I look forward to seeing you. Thanks for giving me the inspiration for the post.

  20. Ah really wish I was going to be at Blogher Food… have a great time!

  21. I am going to my first conference, Food Blogger Connect in London, this August. I have already ‘met’ other attendees online and am thrilled that I’ve got the chance to go. This post reinforced all the reasons I decided to book and made me even more determined to make the most of every single second of my time there.
    I will certainly ditch the sweat pants and pyjamas!

    • Terrific! You will have a great time. I forgot to list that one and hope to get to it someday.

  22. As someone who comes from the bottom of the earth. Literally. I really wish I could come to Blogher. Maybe one day I will get that chance? For now though, I will live vicariously through the blogs of those attending ;-) Have the best time!

    • Thank you! The party’s already starting here at SFO, where I am stuck, with several bloggers, on a flight that won’t get off the ground. I think there’s a BlogHer Pity Party and a #BlogHerEnvy on Twitter, but don’t follow it too much. I really don’t like the whole cycle of “We’re having fun here and you’re not.” Go for a hike instead.

  23. Hope you have a great time Dianne. I’m so sad to miss this, but there are just too many conflicts at home. I was really looking forward to meeting some of my favorite bloggers.
    Can’t wait to hear all about it.

    • Thanks Karen. Lots of other conferences to go to, so don’t worry about missing this one.

  24. I envy you your choice of bloggers conferences over there in the US. We are still getting this sort of thing off the ground here in Oz.

    • We’ve got so many here — maybe too many. Anytime you need an extra speaker, I’d love to join you all, Amanda.

  25. Dianne, I went to EatWrite Retreat and although I only stayed for one day (I wish I could have stayed for all three) it was fabulous. I loved the sessions but for me the best part is mingling during the social/food events. Not only do you get to bond with other bloggers (fast friendships are made), experience fantastic food and take great photos but you also get a chance to talk to the speakers and sponsors on a more personal level. This conference was small so it was easy to talk to people who you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to meet. It’s during these social events where I usually find my most precious jewels of information. FYI, I do love your book Will Write For Food — it’s like the bible for food writers.

    • Thank you so much, Diane. This the first thing I’ve read about EWR and it sounds like yet another terrific conference. You mentioned the community aspect — at BlogHer Food the founders said it is the number one reason people go to their conferences. I also love that the speakers are available and hanging out. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to them, but they seem receptive at these events.

  26. Thanks for the post, Dianne. Sometimes I feel like one of the few who always get something out of attending these conferences. I really think it’s because of a lesson I learned long ago – I always keep my expectations low and I’m never disappointed. I love the connections I make at these conferences, regardless of how fleeting. The twitter & food blog community is a wonderful one to be a part of, and these conferences usually reaffirm that for me.

    • Glad to hear that, Merry. That’s funny about keeping expectations low. I have met some good friends as a result of going to conferences, something I didn’t even mention, and should have.

      I hope you enjoy my next post on this subject, just posted now.

  27. Hope I can jump in and mention our own From Plate to Page which is an exclusive (no more than 12 participants) intensive, hands-on writing, styling and photography weekend workshop for the time being held in Europe. We just returned from our first workshop weekend and our second is scheduled for Tuscany, Italy last weekend in October. Our workshop, although loads of fun and a fabulous social event, is exclusively focused on the craft of food writing, styling and photography, not the whole marketing, SEO, etc side of blogging (although we do discuss how to adapt the writing, photo, ect to professional work as well as working for or with an editor/publication). Each activity, even cooking and eating, are sources of exercises. The feedback from our first group of attendees, many who had attended one or more bigger blogging conferences, was so positive and they were all thrilled to be able to solely concentrate on working on these skills and having one-on-one instruction and guidance.

    That said, I am planning on attending IFBC NOLA! I am curious as well as intrigued to finally be able to attend one of the bigger conferences. Sorry i always miss your presentations, Dianne!

    • Yeah, it’s tough when you live in France, to get to these things. Hard to feel sorry for you though! :-) And I’m so glad you have your own events over there, so there’s no reason to be jealous of ours. Glad you’re finally getting over here, though, and hope to meet you.

  28. I think I’m caught up now…
    I wish someone would come up with the grand idea of having a blogging conference in Honolulu! There’s a destination conference. Especially for me.

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