As mentioned in my post Friday, the inaugural Techmunch Atlanta food blogger conference was a surprising and refreshing event to be at. Not only did close to 100 attendees get to discus some very relevant topics but also heard from the pros and had some time to network to hear from colleagues. I am sharing here some of my lessons learned at the conference. A lot of what was said seemed to be stuff I already knew but then there were equally useful tips and tricks as well that I noted and do plan to implement over the next few days so here goes...
Session1 - Leveraging your social brand
This somehow turned into more of a talk on book publishing than the branding session it was supposed to be, primarily because the speakers were authors I guess. We heard a bit about writing books and focussing on a niche. I do have a couple book ideas in the works but none to do with food and much as I have wanted to focus on a niche in my writing, I have found being a features generalist has worked more to my advantage.
Session2 - How the pros review
I liked the diversity on this panel - AJC's Kessler was one and they also had Zagat's Hassiotis, PR person Debbie Rosen and a food blogger so the different perspectives were a fresh take. There was reference to the FTC regulation on bloggers disclosing their relationship with brands and here is a link to that information on the Atlanta Food Blogger Society website.
Session3 - Getting organized:Editorial calendar
Probably one of the more informative sessions hosted, and a shame it was on Google hangouts since the connectivity was an issue so a lot was lost in translation for sure. Two very insightful topics touched upon were the need to publish your calendar online to be able to share with not just your readers but also possibly brands and advertisers for your marketing as well as sharing your editorial plans with other bloggers for possible guest posting and cross promotion. As a magazine writer and someone who ghost blogs for corporate clients, editcals have been the boon of my existence but I never expected that to be applicable to a blog site by itself.
Session4 - Leveraging social media
This was one of the sessions that needed much more time allotted to the discussion than the few minutes we had, especially given the fact that each of the speakers was an expert on one particular channel. I can't say that there was sufficient meaningful discussion here for me to have had any big takeaways or aha moments but I did find out that Facebook owns Instagram so posting from there to FB would be okay, much as previous attempts to do that form third party sites might have been advised again. However, this is only valid until FB decides to do another algorithm tweaking exercise. I don't use Instagram much currently and FB is more of a personal forum than professional so this wasn't a terribly useful tip really.
Session5 - Food photography
Another session that was held on Google hangouts but this time with slightly better connectivity. I do take professional style photos when I am doing magazine stories so this as somewhat helpful for me. Of course, none of the calibre of the presenter but it was nice of her to share. Photos tell a story so take action pictures instead of just the food sitting there. Ingredient shots are a nice diversion from the typical pictures of the completed meal. And lastly, images of people with the food are also a nice twist to the usual.
Session6 - Monetizing your content
The one term that caught my attention on this was 'influencer networks' and quite frankly I knew nothing about it so my head was bursting with curiosity to head home and learn more. I promise you will be intrigued as well once you look it up online. I probably had no clue about this because I don't have a foodie blog and did not find a need to monetize but this might just get me motivated! If you are already onto this or have any tips about influencer networks, I would love your feedback here.
In between all of this there was a cookbook pitch where some of the attendees provided their ideas and a winner was chased by end of day. The event was hosted by Babette Pepaj of BakeSpace.com and assisted by Nichelle Stephens (Cupcakes take the cake) and Denise Romeo (Atlanta Food Blogger Society).
I chanced upon Techmunch through Twitter I believe and proceeded to play the raffle for free tickets to their inaugural Atlanta event. They had great feedback from other locations and years but this being their first in Atlanta, I wasn't too sure what the takeaways would be and how useful it would be, especially for me since it seemed to be heavily geared onwards food bloggers. I did win a ticket and also got to have a friend along! It was a day packed with sessions one after the other. The good part was it was just a day and very convenient for many who have families or jobs and needed to be there just for the Friday of the event The bad part was it was just a day and many sessions, if not all, did require much more time for discussion than was allotted. I hope they do consider that for next year. The venue was great (Monday Night Brewing), the food and sampling stations were nice - they were very thoughtful to have us well-fed and hydrated for the seated conference. I don't think I came away thinking any of the sessions were a waste of time. There was something I learned from each session that I thought I would be able to utilize in my writing and work so watch out for the next blog post with my notes. I can't say everyone came away with the same pointers but these are what struck me as particularly useful or interesting and I am happy to share. If you have been to a Techmunch event before (different location or year) or even attended the conference in Atlanta, I would love to hear back from you and your thoughts on the event/what helpful pointers you walked away with. Unfortunately prior engagements ensured I could not stay for the mixer afterward or the after-party but I did meet a lot of fun people and hope to connect with them soon.