I just got back from FoodBlogSouth 2013 in Birmingham, AL, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I learned some really good stuff about optimizing my blog, working on TV and in radio, how to take great food shots with my smartphone, strategies for creating a brand, and using video content. Plus, I met some really nice people.
The most informative and helpful (to me) session was the optional one I took on Friday, called Honing Your Edge (which was a great play on words). We got a detailed lesson on using various media outlets—TV, social networking sites, print, and radio—to market ourselves and increase our visibility. It was a really useful session. So, a big thank-you to Lisa Ekus, Virginia Wills, and Tamie Cook for the information and help on my personal marketing material.
I got to meet Dianne Jacobs, author of Will Write for Food, which is a necessary book to have if you’re a food writer. She was not only very nice but funny and witty, too. She did a seminar about the ethics of food blogging. Most of what she said I knew already because I follow her blog (also called Will Write for Food) and she talks about this stuff regularly. But seeing her talk about this stuff in person brought her points home and clarified a couple of things.
The pre-party was catered by Jim & Nick’s BBQ and the afterparty was at Good People Brewing Co. and sponsored by Visit Baton Rouge. BBQ before and Bayou cuisine after. (If you’re wondering what Bayou cuisine entailed, let’s just say that along with crawfish, I was looking at alligator meat and frogs’ legs. The alligator tasted rather bland, but I couldn’t bring myself to try the frogs’ legs.)
The thing about creative conferences (i.e., writing, cooking, etc. versus business/work-related) is that I often go feeling discouraged and depressed. The reason for that is twofold: 1) By the time the conference rolls around, I’ve reached a level of frustration over the fact that I’m still not doing what I want to do (for a living); and 2) knowing that at the conference I will be meeting people who ARE working in the field I want to be in, if not full time, then at least part time successfully. And seeing other people enjoying their work and being paid for it gets me a little crazy. I become quite envious.
Envy is a horrible thing. It eats you up and makes you unhealthy, and karmically, it’s bad too. There’s a reason why envy is one of the 7 deadly sins. It’s just bad. Very bad. But I digress.
So, I go to these conferences with those factors bringing me down. On the plane, I sit there and wonder just how many of those people I will meet and hate. When I shake someone’s hand and say, “Nice to meet you,” will I really be thinking “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you?”
But something happens while I’m at the sessions. I find myself getting inspired. I mean, that’s the whole purpose of going there—to learn new things and get inspired—but because I’m so low from my screwed head, I just don’t expect it.
But when the sessions are interesting, informative, and fun, it sparks the ambitious part of me that was dampened. Then I start meeting people and I discover that they’re a lot nicer than I thought they would be. I manage to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people (a few) and exchange a few business cards and that makes me feel good.
I don’t expect anything to change right away, but I feel more positive about my possibilities. And that alone makes it worth the trip.