I (@RenBehan) attended Food Blogger Connect for the first time last year in 2011 and I had been blogging for less than a year at that time. As a ‘newbie’ to the world of food blogging, I remember being very nervous and since this was my first blogging conference of any kind, I had no idea what to expect. Although I had booked my place quite early on, I was lucky enough to win a pass to Food Blogger Connect last year by entering a competition via Twitter through Olives from Spain. I was ecstatic to have won and winning my place made me even more eager to count down the weeks and days until the conference began.
I think I had only met two other food bloggers in person before actually attending Food Blogger Connect, but there were lots of bloggers I was keen to meet up with socially and everybody was extremely friendly and welcoming.
I had expected other bloggers attending to be mainly UK-based, but in fact, I made friends with bloggers from all around the world. The connections and friends I made over the course of the weekend continue to inspire me. It is wonderful to watch many of my close food blogger friends embark on journeys that we had only ever dreamt would happen. At least two of the bloggers who attended last year have gone on to write cookery books this year, and many have taken on professional work in writing, recipe development, food styling and food photography; boosted I am sure by some of the skills we gained over the weekend.
A lot of things fell into place for me after FBC11. I had always considered blogging to be just a hobby; I had wanted to improve my writing skills and I thought the best way of doing that would be to take an online journalism course and start a food blog. Having given up an intense career in criminal law, as a stay-at-home mother to two young children, I was also keen to find some creative space and a little ‘me-time’ away from nappy changing and toddler groups. I listened intently to all the advice given by the speakers at last year’s conference. I remember being very inspired by Fiona Beckett’s workshop on Writing Style, particularly as Fiona had swapped her career in politics for food writing, having also taken a Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism.
I was so taken by the food styling work shop led by Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande, that following Food Blogger Connect, I went on to take a six-week food styling course at Leith’s School of Food and Wine with BBC Good Food’s Sarah Cook.
I was also hugely inspired by the keynote speaker, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen based in Florida. Her confidence was sky-high! She shared every detail of her rise as one of America’s top food bloggers and made each and every delegate in the room think that we could go out there and do it, too. Alongside finishing my own Diploma in Food Journalism, I have spent the last year putting into place almost all the advice given to us by Jaden, from hiring a professional designer, to working out our own personal value when it comes to accepting work and promoting brands on our blog. Above all, Jaden was proof that even with three kids, a husband and home to keep, blogging can be your platform onto bigger and better things as long as you value your own worth.
Although it feels as though it has been much longer than a year since so much has happened, this year’s FBC12 comes at exactly the right time for me. I am very much looking forward to taking it all in; I know, having attended last year, that FBC12 will offer me a big boost in terms of confidence, knowledge, skills and networking opportunities.
If I have learnt one thing since starting my food blog, it is that the right people and the right things come along at the right time. I have recently been taken on by a literary agent and have pulled together a proposal that is now being considered by Commissioning Agents. I have had one of my Polish inheritance recipes featured in Delicious Magazine. I have also maintained a weekly slot on a BBC radio food show and I have started to write recipes and features for a variety of online magazines. My blog Fabulicious Food! has continued to grow from strength to strength and I am very excited about what the future holds. Not bad for a project that started off as just a hobby!
At Food Blogger Connect 2012, as well as catching up with friends and making new ones, I am most looking forward to meeting Dianne Jacob. I read her book ‘Will Write For Food’ during the very early days of my blogging journey and her own blog continues to inspire me as each brilliantly written and well-crafted post goes live. I am also looking forward to hearing Silvana de Soissons share the story of The Foodie Bugle, as that is one of the online publications that I write for and take great inspiration from daily. As winner of the New Media award by The Guild of Food Writers this year, Silvana is perfectly placed to speak about the new world of e-publishing. I am also looking forward to all the social time, food and cooking demonstrations and to hearing all the stories of all those coming to the conference, whether for the first time, or the fourth!
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