FoodBuzz Festival 2011

I’m ashamed to admit that prior to this weekend, I was in a bit of a food blogging rut. While I was happy with the food (not to brag, but there have been some real winners in my kitchen recently), the photos were unimpressive, the writing was too often hastily constructed and there was just a whole lot of ennui regarding this blog. Awful, I know. I’m embarrassed to admit it, especially when you all have always been so supportive.

Part of the problem was an extremely busy month at work, while another was the fact that I joined a gym — waking up at 6 a.m. to work out morning makes it really difficult to write cook think do anything other than veg out in front of the TV at night. Whatever the cause, I was in a rut.

Thankfully, the third annual FoodBuzz Festival in San Francisco was this weekend. While I love the city, getting away for a much-needed vacation, seeing Milan for the first time since May, and most of all, meeting/learning from some of the best food bloggers on the Interwebs provided the recharge I needed to (hopefully) kickstart this blog again.

 

A sampling of desserts from the Welcome Dinner

The festival, my first, featured a jam-packed schedule: a welcome dinner on Friday night, instructional sessions Saturday morning, a tasting pavilion in the afternoon, plus a gala dinner with Tyler Florence in the evening, and then Sunday brunch with a crazy-spicy Bloody Mary.

Meeting fellow food bloggers, many of whom have been doing this for much longer than I have, was so exciting — there was so much to learn from everyone! One of the hardest challenges for me was answering the question, “so what do you write about?” I’ve never thought of this blog as a brand, so being asked to boil it down to its essence was tough. That was one of the many questions swirling in my head as I flew back home.

Rather than going through everything I did and ate at the event, I’ll briefly mention the five most important things I took away from the festival. While some of these things pertain to food blogging specifically, there were some larger points about writing in general as well.

1) Find your own unique personal “brand” and stick to it — make your voice/writing style clear.

2) Carefully consider every single element of a post. Don’t slap together a few photos and a few words and call it a night ( … oops.)

3) Create a narrative when composing food shots. Tell a story and build a shot in which every element adds to that story.

4) Use social media to engage readers and find friends, not just followers. Truth be told, I seldom used Twitter for blog purposes before the conference, but inspired by what I’ve learned, I created a bites out of life Twitter account. If you tweet, let me know!

5) No personal story is off-limits. While in a panel featuring some of the most well-known/experienced bloggers out there (Kath Eats, Peas and Thank You, Joy the Baker, Shutterbean and How Sweet It Is), all of the ladies reinforced how important it is to talk about yourself and your life — those stories connect you to readers more than anything else.

Tyler Florence at the Tasting Pavilion

In a dream world, you’ll see the results of these lessons at some point in the very near future. To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed with how much I should be doing, and how little I’ve been doing thus far. Writing a blog started out as a personal pet project almost two (!!!) years ago, but now that I’m attending conferences and meeting bloggers and getting *gasp* swag bags, maybe it’s time to kick myself into gear. One of the most ridiculous things I learned this weekend was how so many bloggers juggle children and jobs and blogging. I’ll never say I was “too busy” again …

It will take me a few days to fully absorb everything that I experienced this weekend. But my hope that as the calendar inches closer to my favorite time of year, perhaps my new inspiration coupled with my love of the holidays will kick this rut to the curb and I’ll produce some of my best work yet!

Note: Don’t worry, I have plenty to say about actually being in San Francisco — I’ll share that soon.

Also, sorry for the lack of photos. I was too distracted by the amazing food to take photos. Bad blogger, bad!

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7 Thoughts on “FoodBuzz Festival 2011

  1. nice commentary on the festival! I look forward to reading more about your thoughts on the weekend with foodbuzz!

  2. I’m excited to here more! Esp. if you found any gems in the city :)

  3. Thanks for sharing what you learned! The two items in your list that are hard for me are Twitter and “no personal stories are off-limit.” I’m not a good tweeter. I sit in front of the computer enough with my blog and job that sitting on twitter for any length of time is too time consuming, so I have a very hard time keeping up since I only “stop by” for a couple of minutes a day. Any hints are how to successfully Tweet? As far as the personal stuff I do think there are limits. I won’t write about anything that I wouldn’t want to read. I am interested in the lives of my fellow bloggers but not the details of those lives, so I try to keep things short and sweet. Is that wrong? It’s what I’m comfortable with. Sounds like a very interesting event!

    • Ishita S. on November 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm said:

      Hi! I have a hard time with Twitter too — I’ve been using it almost exclusively on my phone, which often means that my tweets aren’t terribly well composed. It’s definitely something I need to set aside time for.

      And I think it’s definitely key to keep things short and sweet — not enough interesting things happen to me for routinely lengthy posts!

  4. Agreed, great commentary.
    And I’m so glad that we met.
    I think the balancing thing is tough and is made tougher when blogging isn’t your full time job (which I tend to think is a good thing as it provides more entertaining material when you are involved in things outside of your blog). I would love to have a beautifully designed blog, but I’m also a student, wife, etc. and the blog definitely takes a backseat, which is fine for the time being.

    • Ishita S. on November 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm said:

      Julia, it was so great to meet you too! I agree with you about blogging being more interesting when you have a full life outside of blogging as well. It’s hard not to put the blog in the backseat when there’s so many other things to do!

      Can’t wait to hear about your trip to China!

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