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Blogging While Brown. My 1st Panel Experience & A Convo W/ Actress Kim Coles

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.

Mission accomplished.

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.

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Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!

26 thoughts on “Blogging While Brown. My 1st Panel Experience & A Convo W/ Actress Kim Coles

  1. FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!!!! sounds like you had a blast and what an excellent event to be a part of! As always you look fabulous! 🙂 Must run in the family.. lol j/k Glad you had a great time and a wonderful experience!! How fun was it to meet and chat with Kim Coles! She seems so down to earth 🙂

  2. As always, we rocked out as a food blogging pair. Lucky me to get to work with you again. Let’s keep the collabos going! It is a bummer that we were two of three food bloggers there, but we definitely opened more eyes to that side of the online world. Maybe next year, more folks will attend!

  3. Kudos to you and fellow food bloggers. I hope to attend next year as a yes, “food blogger”. You know I’m working on that…ha. Wish I could have heard your presentation so I could get some “free” tips. I’m surprised too, that you two were the only food bloggers with so many out there (brown) that is. Well, looking forward to learning more about POM myself and will do some research. Looks like another great time/event you shared. Kudos again to last min presentation pulled together.

  4. Oh Bren I bet you rocked the session, love all the pics. would have loved to heard your session!! POM is awesome with food bloggers!

  5. Again, so jealous! I totally wish I was able to attend. I’m sure I coul’ve learned a lot form you and C. And, hopefully next year there will be more food bloggers! Thanks for sharing xoxo

  6. Ok so this comment is totally not relevant to your post but your skin is freaking flawless!! Wow!! great post, btw too 😉 You’re on my top list of bloggers/latinas/People to meet in person, just so you know!!! LOL

  7. Amazing, Bren! I like Los Angeles too. Glad you enjoyed the conference. Something about traveling and being on panels excites me! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Lil B: aww, thanks sissy! i do get it from you, you know! ha. Kim Coles was so much fun… got some catching up with her to do! 🙂

    DuoDishes: BOOM! that’s all imma say! 🙂

    Joi: Girl, that presentation was no joke! We rocked it out for sure but it came as a result of no sleep (or very little I should say!). POM is great so you should def look into their lines…

    Bonnie: Gracias, amiga. They sure are.

    Emme: You should def come out if you can… i’m next yr promises to be much bigger and better. don’t things get finer w/age?

    Lisa: oh wow! i love it. thanks, hun. not what i was expecting to read but i sooo appreciate it. it’s taken me some serious lifestyle changes to get to that point… much agua! 🙂

    Mercedes: Thanks for reading. I love me some L.A., chica. And, I think it loved me, too! 🙂

  9. What a great experience!!! I’m so glad you love LA! Come back and visit more often! There are tons of places to eat and have fun like culver city as you mentioned. This looks like so much fun!

  10. An exciting read Bren! Your such a big “blog-fish” here in Atlanta, I would be kinda sad if you left for L.A.:/
    But if you did, I’m sure it would just be yet another addition to the the awesomeness that is you chica!
    The world is your oyster my dear…(No really IT IS!)

  11. Fun Times in Los Angeles? Of course! Bren, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and love this city. I’m glad to read your visit here was a success…. sorry you didn’t get much sleep, but I’m sure it was all worth it in the end. Till your next visit to sunny LA!

  12. Jessica: I will def come back and visit LA more often. I just loooved it!

    Marcie: Next time, ok!?!

    Carla: It was great and event and grateful we were able to share great info!

    Uchi: gracias, amiga

    Aurelia: Thanks, woman. Next time for sure.

    Anarnia: ooh, do not be said if I move to LA… it had my name was written all over it. 😉

    Presley’s Pantry: oh yeah! I can’t imagine having been born there and raised there. As much as I love DC, LA, just offers something different. Any good men out there!?! Like non-Hollywood types??! 😉

  13. Bren, congratulations on your first blog conference speaking engagement! You will get addicted, trust me. So glad to read about the wonderful experience you had!

  14. Your an excellent speaker so I know you did well at the conference. Also, it sounds like you got a lot accomplished and your friends now with Kim Coles (cool!). I’m glad that you had a good time in L.A.

  15. I love POM products and glad to see a new Lite variety.. and your hair color looks great! Oh yeah, I did it! LOL! Glad you were able to enjoy L.A. and that your speaking experience went well. I’m sure you were dynamic.

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