I fell in love in L.A. Well, with the city.
The reception to my first time visit was so warm and exciting that I couldn’t believe it’s taken my entire life to take a trip to Southern Cali. I’ve been to other cities and loved them just as much, but there was something special about L.A. that resonated with my spirit. You can see my excitement in this video I shot the 2nd night I was there.
I’ve been told my whole life by friends that have either lived there or spent significant time there that I’d fall in love and would consider moving there…
I did not think however, that my first visit would be to co-host a panel on food blogging during the 4th annual Blogging While Brown conference hosted at the Marriott LAX.
Chrystal Baker of The Duo Dishes and I have successfully worked together on blogging matters, specifically food. But, this collaborative effort was our first in person venture and it was more than we projected.
After our long and wildly successful (and sexy) rooftop party in Beverly Hills (ensued by non-stop dancing in Culver City into the wee hours of morning), we reconvened on early Friday to finalize our presentation. Our panel, Food Blogging 101, was the only niche session, so we wanted to ensure a succinct and effective panel that would be engaging and more importantly, informative.
We left my hotel room really confident with our presentation and headed to the conference site and registered. My young niece was in tow as my assistance. She was great and sharp. I see a real personal assistance in the works for her.
Chrystal and I quickly made our way to the kick-off session where we learned about branding and connecting to the blogoshpere. When we realized the panelists had a presentation replete with slides, something we were told we couldn’t do, we observed the reaction and the effectiveness of their style, looked at each other and instantly knew we had to go back to the drawing board.
This less than 24 hours before our panel the following day.
But, before we pulled an all-nighter tweaking our presentation and putting together a colorful, vivid and pictoral slideshow, we mingled with some fellow bloggers, introduced ourselves, pimped ourselves and our panel, convincing anyone and everyone to attend our session, and stood in line to get a bit of our grub on.
Going to bed at 4 am local time wasn’t so bad, especially since we were utterly geeked at our final product, but getting up and mustering energy to put on my expert face and trek back to the hotel was not compelling in the least.
I was late, as per usual and joined the lunch crowd. Though it was the my 1st time attending a blogger conference as a speaker, the vibe of the attendees was not very different from other conferences. Very full of comraderie, excitement and eagerness to network. I met a slew of new bloggers but couldn’t find another single food blogger.
No food bloggers at a blogging conference?! What! “Where am I?”
Well, thankfully, I met actress Kim Coles the day before, whose charm and big laughter (though coy) while sharing a hysterical story on a recent work proposition, was inviting and helped pacify the unrest of being the only food bloggers. When she asked what I did, the conversation got exciting. We sat with Renee Syler and chatted in some depth about blogging, food, health, nutrition, making an impact with our voice in our blogs and brand connection.
Bingo! My exact highlight in our presentation.
I continued to share a lot of info with them on how I got started, what I look for in working with brands (something Renee was particularly curious about) and they asked a lot of follow-up questions. After an hour-long convo, Kim and I tweeted each other our fave perfume, exchanged some Spanish words and agreed to meet up the following day.
Connections were made and ideas were generated. This is the essence of these lifestyle conferences.
Our panel started promptly and Chrystal and I hit it running. We strategically split up our talking points — ones where we are strongest in. Among them were food blogger statistics, the importance of branding and how to go about establishing a look that mirrors your personality among other things, writing style, editing, consistency (I think I must have said that word 40 times in the 75 minutes we had), photography, community outreach and support, integrity in your work and finally on my agenda, how to successfully connect with reputable brands and agencies.
I used POM Wonderful as my case study since I’ve been lucky enough to do some incredible work with them here and here and more recently in my Nudie Foodie cookbook involvement. I emphasized diligence in researching brands that parallel your blog’s theme, point of view and overall approach to food. POM is one of those brands where our messaging and aesthetic compliment each other and I can speak about their product with authenticity and genuineness.
While we spoke and live tweeted our conversation in a chat room (a great tool for engaging outsiders) our attendees sipped on POM Wonderful LITE juice (which Imma have to get into in more detail in a later post) and hosted a fabulous and ultra generous giveaway of in-kind prods.
Our allotted 60 minutes was extended by 15 because I couldn’t shut my trap and kept inviting questions from the crowd. They were all great questions so the time-keeper was okay with it. I’m a chatterbox if you haven’t noticed. Any platform to speak, entertain and impart knowledge, makes me one happy chica… I’m all in my element!
Far less stressful than live cooking demo’s, anyway.
(Jamsine Powers, PR for BWB, Chrystal and me after our panel)
Our session wrapped on a high and hungry note. I laid my eyes on a cutie patootie sitting in the audience, sipped more POM Lite and high-fived Chrystal for a job well done. For a 1st time speaker, I was excited at the excellent feedback we received, especially from one young man who noted my energy and passion in speaking about what I love.
Tired as all get out, we went back to my hotel to change up and head back for the webblog awards…. if I may… I’ll take one quick issue I hope the conference takes note of: Chrystal and I were the only niche panel presenting. We talked about food blogging. In fact, we were the only food bloggers in attendance (from what we gathered in our unscientific research). We put on a strong, informative, engaging and delicious presentation. However, 5 other food bloggers were nominated for awards, none of which were even present.
Yeah, a bit baffling and bizarre. But, I suppose there are politics in everything.
On to the next conference in just a few weeks!
While this post is not sponsored, I definitely have to thank POM for their support of my work and blog… especially during Blogging While Brown.
(pictures not stamped courtesy of SkyLyfe Photography)
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.