A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending FBC 2015, Food Bloggers of Canada’s (FBC) annual conference. This conference hosts the ‘who’s who’ of food blogging in Canada and as a lover of food I was pretty excited to learn from and collaborate with these individuals. It was such an educational experience to be a non-blogger among bloggers and I learned so much.
For example, the motivation behind every blog is different. Although they all feature food, the purpose behind each blog is very unique. One blogger told me she uses food as an avenue to blog about her everyday life experiences. She really wants to tell her readers about the lady that annoyed her at the grocery store so she will tell you this story while she simultaneously teaches you how to bake a batch of to-die-for peanut butter cookies. Another blogger revealed that her blog started as a means of trying to stay connected with her family in Canada while she studied abroad. Meeting the personalities behind the blogs in person, allowed me to identify the nuances of their character on-screen.
FBC 2015, to me, felt like a massive family gathering. There was AMAZING food, friends (new and familiar), outspoken members, shy members and a whole lot of laughter. I was extremely impressed with the calibre of the conference and I would strongly recommend all bloggers and brand representatives to attend in the future.
A theme that carried throughout the conference was the need for community, especially with fellow bloggers. Bloggers are all about community, from their online community of followers and friends to their offline community of fellow bloggers and business contacts. By the end of the conference, I was going on late-night trips for bagels and being invited to meet with some bloggers from the GTA for their sporadic get-togethers. Although I was intimidated at first, they proved to be a very friendly bunch.
Bloggers often made jokes about not leaving the house for days at a time and sometimes feeling disconnected from the real world because of the amount of time they needed to dedicate to their blog and social media. As much as some of them were over exaggerating, there must have been some truth to this because I heard this being expressed from more than a few people. I think this is part of the reason why they value community so much. They need a network of people who understand their #bloggerlife and #bloggerproblems.
Even though FBC’s conference has only been running for three years, you can see the deep-rooted friendships and connections that have developed in this network of people. And as a brand rep, these individuals can teach you a lot about what is happening in the digital space, trends and changes and how to bake the perfect pie. There is definitely much to be learned even as a non-blogger at this conference.
In terms of content, there were some excellent speakers at the conference with a variety of expertise. You could tell that the conference organizers (Ethan Adeland and Melissa Hartfiel) put a great amount of thought into creating awesome value for the attendees by recruiting high calibre speakers to talk about only the most applicable topics.
Some highlights for me included Andrew Scrivani, photographer for The New York Times Food Section. His work has been in other magazines and newspapers worldwide including, Eating Well Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Food Arts, Edible Manhattan and others. Learning about food photography from someone who shoots for The New York Times?! Come on! You don’t have to be a blogger to want to post the most delectable picture of the ramen you’re having for dinner on Instagram – you know the picture that makes everyone jealous.
Casey Markee, SEO Consultant, managed to pack an insane amount of information about SEO optimization for bloggers into an hour talk. I think a lot of people left feeling a bit overwhelmed but also extremely informed. The information he shared was applicable for anyone even if you weren’t a blogger and I ended up learning a lot about our company website through his talk. I think I might have learned too much, I can never look at any website the same way!
Last but definitely not least, Ayngelina Brogan and Davida Kugelmass gave a joint talk about turning your hobby blog into your full-time gig. These two individuals definitely have the network and following to show for their dedication, insight and vast amount of experience. One of the biggest themes of their talk? You guessed it: community.
I know you are all wondering, “what about the food?!” The food was amazing. Most of the meals were sponsored and they were beautifully presented. Here are some pictures, please don’t drool on your keyboards. But at the end of the day, the people I met stole the show for me. I met some wonderful people that I hope become a part of my community and I’m excited to create relationships with those contacts.
FBC is coming to Merkato’s neck of the woods next year – Toronto – and I can’t wait to see what amazing things are going to happen at FBC 2016.
(posted by Justine)