Justin with Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction

I just got back from the Everything Food Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was my first blogger conference; more specifically, food blogger conference. I was so excited for it, yet a little nervous at the same time. The feeling of being such a small blogger going to where big time successful bloggers made me wonder if I would be able to connect with them. As soon as I met the first person in the registration line, that fear was immediately rejected. I immediately started to meet people who I could connect with and that probably felt the same way I did. Kami Kilgore, the Owner and Founder of Everything Food Conference checked me in and she was so warm and welcoming. She made you feel like she already knew you and cared.

The conference itself was life changing, inspiring and I can’t wait to take action on what I have learned.

 

Some Thoughts and Takeaways from the Everything Food Conference

 

  1. Video, video, video! Did I mention video?
    I feel like I am the last person to start producing video. I know the importance of it, or thought I did before it was even more clear at the conference. Live video is another huge thing to be doing and it is only going to get more important. Doing live Instagram video makes you show up first on everyone’s list. Don’t be afraid to start livestream yourself today.
  2. Teach everything you know
    You know more than you think.You will benefit way more from sharing. There are no secrets.
  3. Photography first
    Focus on the quality of your photography first. I heard this from brands, agencies, bloggers and photographers. The importance of stunning, high-quality photography is more important than ever.
  4. You don’t have to have a big following to work with brands
    There are other ways and things that they need. It was said over and over that brands need high quality content. There are lots of opportunities to work with brands to help them create content that they can use (video, photos, recipes, etc.)
  5. Big influencers/bloggers are just like you
    They have just been working at it this for longer and harder. They don’t give up and are consistent over the long haul. You can do it too if you stick with it.
  6. Ask anyone anything and they will help you
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They want to help and there’s a good chance you will have value to add to them too.
  7. Face-to-face time is invaluable
    We are usually stuck behind our screens everyday and often forget that there are people just like us struggling along. Not all of our family or friends understand what we do, so it’s great to get time with people who do to remind you that you aren’t alone in this.
  8. The food blogging community is amazing
    You will make amazing new friends in new cities.
  9. You must have a support team
    Everyone who is “doing it” has a team behind them. They hired help as soon as they could. Delegate out what you don’t like doing as soon as you can. Whether it is their husband/wife, a VA (Virtual Assistant), friend, etc. There is just too much to do on your own, it is not possible to do it all yourself.
  10. Brands are there to connect with you
    Take advantage of the opportunity to meet and talk with the brands who are there because they want to talk to YOU.
  11. Don’t forget to follow your own path
    You will meet a lot of successful people who you admire. Everyone you meet has their way that they have achieved success (or are working towards it), and it’s probably not for you. It’s so easy to see what someone you admire has done and to want to follow in their path, but you need to follow your own path because they aren’t you.
  12. End each day of a conference with only ONE takeaway
    Ali from Gimme Some Oven had some amazing advice; end each day of a conference with only one takeaway. You learn so much in a short amount of time that it is easy to be overwhelmed by all the new knowledge. Ending each day with one overall takeaway is such a mindset changer.
  13. Photography and editing techniques
    There is no “right” way to do it. I had the opportunity to watch two of my favorite food photographers go through their process (Gerry Speirs from Foodness Gracious and Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest). They do things much differently and both have stunning results. It was a reminder that there isn’t always a “right way” to do things.
  14. Your personal brand matters more than ever and you must have one
    Phil Palin gave an excellent talk on your personal brand and how important it is to share the “you,” and not to hide it. Sharing your personality on your blog is what people want and what they connect with. Be able to define your brand in one sentence.
  15. Google Featured Snippets are something you want to know about
    Casey Markee of MediaWyse gave an eye opening talk on Google Featured Snippets (the search results that appear before any other results). He showed us strategies and tactics for our content to appear as a featured snippet. I will be digging into this soon and it’s something you should be looking into. Anyone can appear in a featured snippet, it is different than other SEO.
  16. I went to the conference not wanting to use Facebook as part of my channel; I left not wanting to have Facebook as part of my channel
    A lot of bloggers use Facebook to help build and communicate with their audience; including i am baker who has been hugely successful with it. I have always felt that it isn’t for me, and am happy that I still feel that way. We can’t go all in on each social channel unless we have a team. I was excited and relieved to see plenty of examples of building a successful brand without Facebook being a big part of it.
  17. Introduce yourself to everyone and meet as many people as you can
    I arrived knowing one person and left feeling like I knew almost everyone.
  18. Snapchat wasn’t mentioned, but Instagram stories was talked about in almost every presentation
    I havne’t been much of a Snapchatter, but I thought it was really interesting that no one was talking about SnapChat and everyone was talking about Instagram Stories.
  19. You can win awesome prizes
    There were lots of amazing giveaways and prizes. I went home with a beautiful De’Longhi Espresso Machine.
  20. You MUST take action
    None of it means anything if you don’t take action on it. It is so easy to return home and slip back into our busy routine. We must set aside time to take action on what we have learned.
Justin with Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction

Cooking class with Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Justin Willman and Justin McChesney

Justin and Justin: my doppelganger, Justin Willman

Tulips from Salt Lake City

Beautiful Tulips everywhere in Salt Lake City

Gerry Speirs giving a photography workshop at the Everything Food Conference

Gerry Speirs photography workshop

Justin with espresso machine he just won

Won a De’Longhi espresso machine in the raffle

Justin with the Jet Puffed marshmello man

With the Jet-Puffed giant Marshmallows

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