21 Things I Learned at BlogHer Food 2013

I had such a great time at BlogHer Food in Austin last weekend. It was almost an overwhelming few days. There was so much to say, do, see, and hear that I found myself a little insane and brain dead by my Monday morning flight.

I learned so much at this conference – but not all of it are blogging tips. Sure, I learned a lot of those, and I’m sharing some with you right here today. But I also learned a lot about networking, bloggers, and how to attend a conference, so I thought I’d share some of them with you!

1. Make sure you have a posse at the conference. Even if it’s just one other blogger you know well from online, even if you don’t room together. Have someone you know you can hang with, unless you’re one of those super outgoing people. Otherwise, the conference will seem very cliquey. It is anyway, but if you have your own people to hang with, who cares?

Aimee, Trish, Sarah, Hayley, me, Jocelyn, Ashton, Ashley, Chandra

2. Create Twitter lists (either through Twitter or Hootsuite) of brands that you work with (so you can reply or RT them) and for brands you want to work with. If you want to work for a brand, you need to reply and RT them to get them to know who you are.

3. Pinterest: if you want your pin description to auto-populate for people, add the description to the Title AND Alt Title (and description, if you have it – I don’t) fields. In WordPress,  you do this by clicking on the photo in your post and filling in the boxes. It used to work for just the title, which has been my problem recently. Now I know it needs to be both Title and Alt title!

4. You’re gonna need a tote to carry your chargers, phone, notepad, and essentials. I used my I Heart KICMount tote bag. I also used my KICMount water bottle throughout the conference. I’ve been talking about KICMount for awhile now, and I really, really love the product. The company is family owned and you really need to love them too! Check out KICMount for their magical ability to make an iPad magnetic!

5. Avocados are everywhere in Austin. On food, and on me. As you know, I was part of the AFM Pit Crew, refueling and resupplying bloggers as needed. It was fun to talk to people even more about my love of all things Avocado…and eat as many of them as I could. Check out Avocados from Mexico for all sorts of avocado info!

6. Never put your iPhone in a tote bag with a bottle of water.

7. If you ever happen to be in Austin and need an Apple Store, may I suggest the one at the Barton Creek Mall just a few miles outside of downtown? Matt can help you get a new iPhone so fast, you’ll be back in time for the afternoon sessions.

8. Have an awesome travel partner and roomie.

That’s Hayley, but you already knew that. 🙂

9. Bringing a tote bag for swag is not necessary. You’ll leave with approximately 1,234 of them from sponsors.

10. Those super comfortable shoes? After three days of standing and walking, they won’t be so comfy anymore. Bring bandaids to cover the blisters, bruises, and cuts.

11. Bring your media kit, and staple a business card to each one. Hand them out like candy in sponsor alley.

12. Get the business cards of the sponsors you give your media cards too. Write them an email when you get home if you really are interested in working with them.

13. When posting to your Facebook page, don’t just post links. Ask questions, share funny sayings or other photos. Try to get a feel for what your followers want. If you post too much – your reach will actually go down.

14. When you do post a link to your Facebook page, post a vertical photo and use a shortlink (like bitly) so you can track clicks.

15. Learn to schmooze before you go. *This is something I need to learn.* My interactions went something like this: I hand media kit, say a little spiel, they accept it say thanks, and then there’s this horrible awkward silence where I assume jokes are not appropriate, so I just smiled and waved.

16. Yes, you really can fit 9 people in a minivan. I got to get really cozy with Kristin, Camille, and Elyse of the Six Sisters.

16. Reorganize your pinboards on your pinterest profile. But your boards, and the ones you want people to see, up front. Put seasonal boards first, and make sure your photo is the cover photo of the board.

17. Not all bloggers are as they seem. Don’t go into it with any preconceived notions about anyone. I like to think I’m pretty true to how I am online – quirky but shy. In fact, I often wonder if my shyness comes off badly – because I am SO bad at small talk. But just because you’ve emailed/FB’d/Tweeted with someone online, do not assume they will know who you are. Also, the people you may think aren’t going to be receptive to hanging out might be. The ones you thought would be…might not.

One blogger who is amazing? Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

She was being mobbed for photos and being talked to left and right. But she still was so gracious, sweet, and actually talked to people. As in looked at them while talking, not the whole glance-over-your-shoulder thing to see if someone better is coming. I have a total newfound respect for her, and her shoes. They were amazing.

This is a text conversation I had with my husband after meeting her:

Just like a husband to actually ask if she knew me. 😉

18. Bring a duffel bag or a second suitcase in your luggage. I did carry-on on the way to Austin. I had to buy a duffel bag to get all my swag home. My entire roller bag was filled.

19. Instagram and tweet as much as possible. You never know who you meet that will start following you. And brands ARE watching that hashtag, you can bet on it.

20. The Whole Foods store in Austin is amazing. It’s the flagship store and now when I go to my local Whole Foods, it just won’t be the same. It’s actually got restaurants inside. I bought dinner there and it was seriously the best meal I had in Austin.

Then I spent $19.82 on dessert. I’m not kidding.

And Whole Foods? DOES tweet back. So tag them when you talk about them.

21. If you go, have fun. Don’t stress. Soak up every minute. Then come home ready to implement all you’ve learned!

I’d like to say a special thanks to KICMount and Avocados from Mexico for making my trip to BlogHer Food 2013 possible.

And to Hayley, for putting up with my travel…issues. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

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69 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. Such a great overview of the conference and love your tips too. I loved all the sway too and had I not driven I would have had to BUY a new suitcase because mine was packed tight otherwise. Bummed that we were not able to connect in person but perhaps it will happen again someday!

  2. What a wonderful post…I learned many of the same things at FBF and just wrote a post on how I stink at schmoozing, too. Hope to meet you in person one day!!

  3. what an awesome recap!! It was great to meet you, hopefully the whole ‘posse’ will be reunited at another conference soon! 🙂

  4. What great advice, thank you! Sounds like it was awesome! I had no idea about it, wish I had! Maybe next year 🙂

  5. I loved reading all you wrote, I wanted to go SOOO Bad!
    It is a goal of mine to make it there next year! I would love to find out
    just how you went about getting sponsors for the Conference.?~ That way I can
    implement them now for next year! 🙂

    1. Thanks Lark! To find sponsors, you just need to pick some companies that would work best for your blog. Put together a letter introducing yourself and the conference, and why you should be sponsored. Include what you would do for them (posts, logos on business cards, etc.) Once they come back for some discussion, have packages ready (cost/what they get for the money). I need to get started for BYBC next February!

  6. Sounds like a blast! I’d love to go to a blog conference someday and I’m sure Austin was wonderful…

    Some people you can just tell are sweethearts. Like Ree. Never met her, but I just know! You know?

  7. Dorothy, thanks for this post. I’m bookmarking it for when I go to my next event. I love the way you integrated the fun and biz stuff in your post…and the pictures! Fun! Glad you went and thank you for sharing! It makes me hungry for my next event 🙂

  8. Thanks for the tips- very useful and things I didn’t know before. Hopefully the next blogherfood will be a bit closer.