“Great Start, Ramya”, ran through my head, “you cant even find where the conference room is!” I meandered, hurriedly through the Sacramento Convention Center, searching around each corner of the cavernous hallways, with a backpack, walk-running on really kick-ass heels (I needed them!), trying to find where the International Food Bloggers Conference 2017 (IFBC2017) was being held. I, as usual, did not check my email before I left my hotel room where there were clear instructions on where the entrance was.
I finally found the hall and clattered up the steps to the registration desk. There were a lot people, talking in groups, as if they had known each other for ages. I stopped, thoughts racing through my head. “Just because I wrote a few blog posts, I can call myself a blogger? Do I really belong here?”.
I took a deep breadth and told myself, “You can do this.” Let me give you some context here. You see, I am stepping out of comfort zone after a four year career break. Speaking to a room full of people, none of whom you know is extremely hard. And, I used to be in sales operations where my job was to collaborate with strangers, day in and day out. So, to say, that conflicting emotions were running through my head would barely scratch the surface.
I mustered up the courage, and searched for my name among the numerous ID cards attached to lanyards with names, blog names and twitter handles on them. I did not find mine. I panicked! I quickly pulled out my phone where I saw the email on where to find the entrance and searched for my conference registration confirmation.
“Can I help you?” I looked up to see the woman behind the registration desk, looking at me inquiringly with a smile on her face. “I am trying to find my name tag”, I told her. She asked for my name and said “Oh, it’s right here!”. I heaved a sigh of relief and thanked her, Kristy, who had been sending all the information about the conference.
I turned around and wondered what I should do. Should I gate crash one of the groups? Instead, I headed towards the corner where coffee was being served by the San Francisco Bay, a gourmet coffee company, a sponsor to the conference. I stood in line, listening to the chatter, the gentle drip of the coffee machine and bustling crowd surrounding me. I quickly picked a cup and poured coffee into it. Why this is significant? I don’t drink coffee!
I took a sip trying to calm my nerves. I know what you are thinking. “You drank coffee to calm your nerves??!!!” That’s an oxymoron if I have heard one. However, I felt like I needed to blend in and hold something in my hand. Plus, the coffee warmed my insides and was not half bad.
The two women in front of me were trying to get a good shot of the coffee to upload it on Instagram. “Try using the “chrome” setting. I think it will come out better”, I blurted out, my little knowledge of using the iPhone Camera. And, they did. And liked it. “Thank you!”, they said.
“What blog do you write?”, they asked. “I am a newbie”, I said. And I walked into conference talking to them.
Thus began my two days of endless fun of meeting and connecting with total strangers who shared a common love for food and writing, learning the techniques in blogging like Instagram Growth, Creating videos for under $100, How to make money from your blog, including the technical side like SEO and Google Analytics along with “How to write a scroll worthy blog”.
The International Food Blogger Conference 2017 was held in the “Farm to Fork” Capital of Sacramento, on September 29/30, 2017, generously sponsored by the city itself. The keynote speech was about how to tackle various challenges like food waste and the struggles of farmers by Nick “Nicky Bobby” Papadopoulos of CropMobster. It was informative and a great start.
There were numerous vendors, from the Original Balsamic Vinegar of Italy, who actually travelled all the way from Italy for this event, Avocados from Chile, Legendre Wine from the Amador Wine Region, Lindsay olives to name but a few. For a complete list, check out the sponsors page. We ate scrumptious samples and loaded our goodie bags.
Writing well is difficult and food writing even more so. I have written for advertisements and media kits, even white papers but writing about something that people all over the world do everyday and make it fresh and interesting every time is hard.
And, it’s not only about the writing or taking appealing pictures or the sheer amount of time spent in writing each blog page. Its also about being a digital marketer (SEO, web analytics, HTML, XML and Schema), social media planning guru (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and all the other new ones cropping up everyday), content manager, financial accountant, copywriter, work scheduler, and much, much more! These people at rockstars!
I went in nervous and unsure of what a blogger conference is and if want to be here. I left with the promise of becoming organized, write and experiment more, explore the overwhelming information that I now have access to, keep in touch with the new friends that I have made and see them all at the next IFBC 2018 conference in New Orleans. Plus a reminder to print business cards for the next conference (I was the only one without any among the people I met).
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List of awesome bloggers who I had an in-depth conversation with. Be sure to check them out.
- Anna and Kyle – www.great8friends.com (The first two people who I met at the conference)
- Anushree – http://simmertoslimmer.com/ (My dinner buddy.)
- Sri – http://www.vidhyashomecooking.com/ (My hometown girl)
- Jerald Herron – http://bowl-me-over.com/ (Thank you for telling me the tricks of the trade)
- Pat and Dahn – https://savorthebest.com/ (For reminding me that age is not a factor in success)
- Sharon Wong, M.Ed – http://www.nutfreewok.com/ (So friendly and helpful)
- Jennifer Bourn – https://inspiredimperfection.com/ (Jennifer’s workshop on “Why Bloggers should know SEO”).
- Chris and Jerald – http://www.foodiemadesimple.com/ (Thank you for your insights).
- Lennis Perez – https://cookdancelovelive.com/ (Thank you for asking relevant questions).
- Janice – http://gastronomama.com/ (Lovely talking to you and listening to your experiences)
- Chelsea Cole – http://www.aducksoven.com/ (A lovely conversation over a short walk through downtown Sacramento)