I had the pleasure of attending the Food Bloggers of Canada (FBC) Conference this past weekend in Vancouver, thanks to the Manitoba Canola Growers (MCG). Being the introvert that I’ve turned into over the last decade, I was nervous to go to my very first conference, but my excitement outweighed my nerves. I would also be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous to be around “foodies”! I love food, but I don’t really know how to use chopsticks, I don’t have quinoa in my pantry and I figured I likely have very different views on food than a lot of my fellow attendees!
I knew a lot of people who were going but had not met any in person. I was super happy to meet one of my best blogging buddies I’ve made over the last many years Alisha from Alisha Enid. I hung out with her all day Saturday, we walked around Vancouver and it felt like we’d known each other IRL forever and we were old friends just hanging out. Never ran out of anything to say!
I also met Edmonton food blogger The Kitchen Magpie whose recipes I use a lot, fellow farm wife Stacey from This Lil Piglet, a lady I’ve adored for years for her openness about her recovery and sobriety Sober Julie, a Calgary blogger that was as sweet as I knew she’d be Jo-Anna from A Pretty Life, and Angie from Echoes of Laughter, among many many more.
This is something I’ve been straying away from more and more on this blog unless it’s something that’s a good fit for me and my family. I used to apply for every and any blogging campaign to share with you here, but it doesn’t “fit” always, and trust me, it’s sometimes hard to turn down that extra money, but being true to myself and what this blog has become means more to me now. The sponsored content I love most are the cooking campaigns. I cook every day, so why not supplement my income and get paid to do it?
Make sponsored content mutually beneficial—for you and the sponsor. Whenever possible I always strive to create my sponsored content as personal as product so as not to try and “sell” you said product, but to show you how it affects me in my daily living. Don’t be afraid to talk to sponsors and say you don’t want to come off like an infomercial, work together and push each other. One thing I didn’t like about this session was that I felt like there are very specific rules for bloggers to follow. I’m not a fan of people telling me about anything in life that there’s “only one way” or the best way to do something…I personalize things to meet my needs and goals.
To Niche or Not to Niche?
One session that made me feel like I have this blogging thing all wrong, was a session about finding your niche and putting a twist on it to help you stand out. There’s blogs just for making green smoothies, just raw vegans, etc. There’s thousands of blogs, so what are you writing about to make yourself stand out?
For me, I’m not a one-trick pony, and this session encouraged “find out what your readers want and give it to them”. But the thing is, I can’t just write about my family. I can’t just write about agriculture. I love photography and recipes and parenting issues…I can’t pick just one unique topic. I love love love that I have readers and friends through this space of mine, but I journal my children’s growth and milestones for me, even if you don’t read them. This is also an online journal of our life.
The speakers were great, but I resonated more with the last session of the day when Ashley of Not Without Salt said “To be vulnerable is about fear. Fear is a good thing.” Guys, I am scared with EVERY post about agriculture I publish and that’s a good thing. Ashley also encouraged us to be true to who we are on our blogs, and this blog is me to my core.
You Never Know Who’s Reading Your Blog
“You could be one day away from a life-changing experience” said Michelle of Thug Kitchen. These words came up again and again. Keep writing, keep pouring out content because you never know if a “big break” is around the corner from a media representative or a publisher that could stumble upon our blog and fall in love with you and your writing. This happened with me on Twitter, it’s how I got interviewed for the Calgary Herald article which lead to my CBC radio interview which lead to my 770 AM Talk Radio interview which leads to my meeting with The Western Producer I’m having next week!
Get To Know Farmers
Yes times 1 million. It came up again and again: get to know your farmers and where your food comes from. Four Seasons executive chef Ned Bell “encourages food bloggers to keep up the good fight champion the terrific food produced here in Canada“. I know for sure the MCG have been big proponents for the #FarmToFood movement which I was happy to be a part of and to share my story with as many people as I could. There were definitely some people in attendance that didn’t agree with some modern agriculture practices and that had some myths I tried my best to dispel, but I also really enjoyed conversing with everyone and learning how farming fits into their lives.
Next year’s conference is in Montreal…a bit out of the way, but we’ll see what the year brings!