I recently attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC), held September 19-21, 2014 in Seattle. In exchange for registering for the conference at the discounted blogger rate, I agreed to write three posts about the conference. The content of this post and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.
For me, food blogging is all about the writing. I've wanted to be a writer since the first grade, and food is easy to write about: it's a huge topic, I'm passionate about it, and since I eat three meals a day, I have lots of material. But at the end of the day, if food blogging didn't exist as a medium, I would still find a way to write about something.
Blogging is a fairly solitary pursuit, and prior to my visit to Seattle last weekend for the International Food Blogger Conference, I had never met any other food bloggers in person. I think I subliminally expected everyone to have the same blogging motivation as me: a love of writing. But as I discovered in the space of the first 20 minutes, there are a myriad of other reasons people food blog: a passion for food photography, as a platform for corporate-sponsored recipe development, as a promotional tool for a food-related business, to generate income via ads and sponsored content, or a combination of a few or all of the above. It seemed like everyone I met at Friday's opening reception had an expensive camera, a branding scheme, or 2,000 Twitter followers. I was hoping to find some kindred bloggers; instead I went to bed feeling like I was doing it all wrong, and resolved to rectify the situation by signing up for a Twitter account (unfortunately, I discovered @mymixingbowl is already taken).
On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5 am thanks to the time difference and spent the next two hours lying sleepless in bed (albeit a very comfortable one), panicking about the fact that not only do I lack an Instragram account, I have a pretty vague idea what Instagram even is, as well as ruminating about the pathetic blandness of my blog's design. But as the day went on, as I walked along the waterfront over my lunch break and enjoyed a frozen yogurt at the Pike Place Market, I realized that my goal for this blog has never been to accrue a slew of "followers" or hawk products. What I want to do more than anything is to continue to develop as a writer, and a genuine compliment will always be worth more to me than a social media ranking. So I spent the rest of my time at the conference taking in the events that I thought would be helpful--the writing sessions with Dianne Jacob and Shauna James Ahern were both invaluable--and I skipped the promotional pitches. Instead, I experienced Seattle: riding to the top of the Space Needle (it may be a tourist trap, but it's still a great view), browsing the produce stalls at the Pike Place Market, and writing in a doughnut shop with coffee and pastries at my side. For me, that's what it's all about.