Musselman’s sponsored my trip to Camp Blogaway and provided sample items to giveaway to attendees. All opinions remain solely that of the author.
Five years in any industry is monumental. In social media, it’s almost prehistoric. I started blogging at a time when Facebook was still primarily used by college students, Twitter was just getting “noticed” and Pinterest, Instagram, Google + and Vine were nonexistent When I set out to start writing our story nearly six years ago, it looked very different than it does now. Through this blog, I’ve refined some of my interests and discovered passions I might not have never pursued.
From my nursing days, I recognized the value in conferences, specifically professional development, education, and networking. The same holds true in social media. I remember coming away from those early conferences equipped and inspired to continue connecting, relating, and sharing my stories. For the past several years, I’ve been attending the same conferences. Don’t we always gravitate to what’s familiar? So this year, I decided to break the mold and do things I’ve never done before.
Since food is such an integral part of our lives and my passion for healthy eating has grown exponentially, I enjoy attending at least one food blog conference each year. After hearing and reading about how incredible Camp Blogaway is, I decided that being disconnected for 3 days to learn, eat, connect, and be inspired was exactly what I needed.
Patti Londre, who is insanely talented and has achieved much success in marketing and PR, hosted this “un” conference for the fifth year. The gorgeous, serene setting, the intimate nature of the conference (there are only around 100 attendees), and the thought-provoking sessions continue to resonate with bloggers, many of which have personally told me that this is the best food blog conference to date.
After a leisurely ride up to the San Bernardino mountains, we settled in for a series of evening sessions and immersive, hands-on culinary experiences with the sponsors. Some of the highlights include drinking a virgin Bloody Mary from a celery straw (available only in Canada from Duda Farm Fresh Foods), slicing potatoes for the first time with an OXO Chef’s Mandoline Slicer (and then eating those same potatoes at our next meal), and creating my very own fries concoction with CravOn Fries and The Lime Truck.
The sessions were some of the most informative to date. I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a book and after hearing from cookbook authors George Geary and Nancie McDermott, I’ve decided that beginning with an E-book is optimal for me personally. Culinary Consultant Denise Vivaldo hosted a lively session on food photography and included some of the most common reasons for photo rejection. A panel of sponsors and PR representatives shared their perspectives on working with bloggers including successes and pitfalls and I had an opportunity to host a break-out session on monetization and the work I am doing with brands. Some of the most inspirational content came from a session led by Jessica Fisher and Stephanie O’Dea about burnout, self-care, and striving for balance.
While I honestly wasn’t sure how I could disconnect for 3 days, it was vital to me soaking in all that camp had to offer. There really wasn’t much time to spend chatting on Facebook or perusing Pinterest for ideas. The amount of content was rich, diverse, and extensive, so I thought I’d share my 10 takeaways from Camp Blogaway (many of these came from Jessica and Stephanie, but these themes were consistent throughout the conference):
1. Have a set list of measurable goals with short and long-term time frames
2. Be authentic and consistent
3. Under-promise and over-deliver, as appropriate
4. Know your audience
5. Sit down and evaluate what your time is worth so that you are not wasting it
6. Schedule specific time for social media since time engaging or promoting is time away from creating
7. Remember the “social” in social media
8. Be ok with making mistakes…just remember to learn from them and not repeat them
9. Tie all campaigns to your core mission
10. Continually be looking for ways to build your community
Unlike many conferences, Patti made it very easy for bloggers in attendance to support their sponsors. They set up a large networking table which made it possible to see what other brands were working on. Musselman’s sent me a TON of snack packs to giveaway and they were so popular, I had to remember to save a few for my kids. A HUGE thank you to Musselman’s who made it possible for me to attend Camp Blogaway!
Images: Rockin’ Mama unless otherwise noted.