The idea for this blog has been floating in my head for over a year now. Due to a crazy schedule and just not being able to devote the time to it that I would have liked, it got tossed to the back burner of life. As ironic as it sounds, despite my son starting school and having a baby on the way, I have found some me-time. Time to divulge in a passion of mine – food. Hence, my life in food blogging has begun. Over the past year I have done some recipe writing and taken pictures along the way, however, I did not want to jump into this blindly. There are so many food blogs I love to read and look at – much to aspire to. So, on one of my many web surfing trips, I came across the Camp Blogaway website and noticed that they were offering a day camp in Southern California, a ‘boot camp’ for food bloggers. What a great way to get my feet wet and jump in, right? Mr. Foodie was totally supportive of me attending – whether this is because he got a nice relaxing trip out of it or because he is really on board with my food blogging vision remains to be seen. So we jumped in the car and headed to Baldwin. Baldwin Park, that is…
I must admit, I was a little nervous at first. I had no idea if the attendees were brand new to food blogging or if I was going to land in a sea of super experienced food bloggers. I would say that there was a pretty good mix and that put me at ease quickly. The agenda of the meeting was jam-packed with a lot of informative speakers:
- Food Photography and Lighting – Danny Jauregui from Food Bloggers Unite! gave an excellent talk about food photography and lighting, something I’ve been struggling with, despite having some background in photography (waaaaaayyyyy back when we were still using film!) His talk was very straight forward and so insightful for me as a beginner, I can’t sing enough praises about how helpful this was for me. Now, hopefully, I carry out his message successfully in my future food photos!
- How Bloggers Score Great Gigs – This was a discussion presentation hosted by a panel of food bloggers and Brona Cosgrave, the VP of Lewis and Neale, a nationally recognized food PR agency. Erika Kerekes from In Erika’s Kitchen and L.A. Cooking Examiner, Rachael Hutchings of La Fuji Mama, and Jennie Flake of Picky Palate all gave some insight on how to use your blog to score some great gigs and shared their experiences of several trips with us. It’s helpful to know that food bloggers do not always get overlooked and are appreciated by many of the food companies out there. Although I had not originally given thought to hosting contests, giveaways or even participating in any via my own blog, it definitely gave me something to think about.
- The Cookbook Process – Kristine Kidd, food editor of Bon Appetit for two decades and a Williams Sonoma cookbook author, gave us the inside look at how to go about getting a cookbook published. I think a lot of foodies dream about having their own cookbook and have the idea that it is the end-all, be-all. Kristine gave a no-nonsense picture of the hard work and process involved in this path and I really think it was eye-opening for some.
- Email Marketing – Kelly Flint from Constant Contact presented about getting your email newsletter going. She made something daunting sound so simple and really took the guess work out of it for anyone who had no idea how to get a newsletter started and out to the masses.
Like any good foodie gathering, there was food. An optional contest where attendees could bring a dish to share and be voted on was a good highlight in the afternoon. The table was definitely crowded! In a funny turn of events, everyone ran to the table with their cameras to photograph the dishes before tasting – only at a food blogger event, right? I think I took a few elbows trying to sneak some pictures! I’ve included some of my pictures in this post. Although there were so many good dishes, my favorite was the Salted Caramel Chocolate Bars submitted by Kitchen Runway, which took 3rd place in the contest, I believe. I don’t know if it is my chocoholic tendency or what but they were a simple, yummy bite of heaven and ridiculously good. It was hard not to run home and try to make them right away – darn this gestational diabetes!
The event was hosted in the Viking showroom and really, who doesn’t love a good Viking product? Speaking of products, there was swag. I think everyone enjoys getting some swag. On top of my bag-o-swag, I was lucky enough to win one of the drawings for a Viking gift basket. I was pretty happy because there were a few things in there I really needed, now they are off my shopping list!
All in all, it was a great experience and gave me a lot to think about. So much information to overload my foodie brain! As I continue to plug away and build this blog, the information I gathered is going to be helpful every step of the way. I am glad I went as I was merely getting my feet wet with this experience because it was really worth the time and money (a bargain, I might add!) If you are a food blogger and have not attended something like this, I really encourage you to do so. Patti Londre of Worth the Whisk works really hard to put on a fabulous event and it is very obvious she cares about her food blogging community. A big thank you to her and the sponsors for hosting such a great day!