I just got back from a whirlwind weekend at Hockley Valley for the 1st annual Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. Over the past few years, I’ve read about food blogging conferences in the US and always thought it would be something I’d like to go to, but I wasn’t sure if it was really for me. I waffled a bit on this one too, but ultimately decided that I didn’t want to miss out. It was 100% the right decision. It’s one thing to comment on other blogs, and tweet back and forth with other bloggers, but until I spent this entire weekend connecting with bloggers in real life, talking about why I love blogging, and why I love food and baking, I didn’t really realize what I was missing out on. The sense of community was unreal, and I came home with so many new friends and blogs to follow. I’m inspired, motivated and energized, but first need to recap the conference in detail so I won’t forget everything I learned, and to record some action items and goals for my blog.
One other thing before I get going. I’ve also been at a bit of a crossroads here on Planet Byn. I’ve just moved off wordpress.com, had a re-design, and am currently trying to decide what direction I want my blog to go in. Do I want to run ads? Work with brands? Write sponsored posts? How does all that work? Or do I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, which is essentially use my blog as my online recipe book, and document my various baking projects. All of this stuff was floating around in my head as I packed for the conference after work last Thursday.
Alright, so first a shout out to the lovely Sandra from Dairy Farmers of Canada, who gave me a ride up to Hockley Valley, as I wasn’t interested in driving in the aftermath of an ice storm. We had a great discussion on the way up north regarding brands working with bloggers, a hot topic that would be the first panel of Day 2. But we’ll get there.
Dinner on Friday night was sponsored by Canada Beef, with matched wine pairings from Wine Country Ontario. It’s pretty hilarious to have dinner with a table of food bloggers – nobody takes a bite before a picture is taken, tweeted or instagramed. We were assigned tables, so I met an amazing group of bloggers from all across Canada: Redawna (Grande Prairie, Alberta), Marlene (London, Ontario), Jen (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Helene (Victoria, BC), Christelle (Montreal, Quebec), Kathryne (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and FBC co-founder Ethan.
Our keynote speaker was David Leite (just check out his blog for more on him), and he gave an insightful and inspiring keynote address on blogging. We’re gonna go at this bullet style, because I was taking notes on my phone, and I couldn’t type fast enough to capture every great piece of advice:
- Be authentic – no one can tell your particular story – through this, you’ll find your voice
- You have to let people in
- You have to be ethical to each other – don’t rip off others (this got a big round of applause)
- Be ethical to the people you write about, especially kids
- Unshackle yourself from your desk and your stove – something magical happens when you’re not trying to be a blogger
- Find your community
- Get a point of view and don’t waver – find out what you stand for
- Think long-term – what do you want to be known for in 5 years
- Don’t be afraid to belly flop
- Never put out a recipe that doesn’t work
- Keep your eyes on your own paper – the better and further down your OWN path you’ll go
- Never stop learning
I love these points, in particular focusing on what you’re doing, and not worrying about everyone else (although obviously it’s hard not to compare yourself to other bloggers).
After dinner, the ballroom was turned into a movie theatre sponsored by KitchenAid (check out these cookies), with made-to-order milk shakes. We watched Back to the Future…well tried to…I made it until 11:30pm where there were about 7 people left, and then headed up to bed to rest up for Day 2, which was insane. Get ready!