You may have been living vicariously through my last two weeks as I hopped a plane to the Big Apple. I had the amazing opportunity to attend TechMunch, thanks to National Wheat Foundation. This was my first time in NYC and it is safe to say I was pretty intimidated about attending. But I pulled on my “big girl” boots (my Sunflower cowboy boots) in the Big Apple to attend.
TechMunch was created to help food bloggers learn the skills they need to suceed and take their blogs to the next level. The conference is a hands-on format designed to share with attendees the latest tools for creating great content, working with brands, growing audiences, and profiting from their hard work! TechMunch is a very fast-paced format with lots of short panel discussions as well as presentations emcompassed all into one day.
To say that my brain nearly exploded after the day is an understatement. I will be honest when I first sat down, I felt completely out of my element. I was in a huge city, bustling with energy, and sitting in a room full of presitigous food bloggers. I mean, I didn’t even plan on becoming a food blogger. But after many, many requests to share my recipes on my blog, I bit the bullet and started blogging about food. And now here I was, at a conference for food bloggers!
Luckily, I made some lovely friends who literally couldn’t believe my story when we shared the same ole “where are you from, what do you do”. I was so surprised that most people took the statement, “well I’m a farmer’s wife from North Dakota” with such delight. They instantly wanted to know more. I had fears I would be met with questions regarding GMO technologies or organics or pesticide use on our farm. Instead, we connected on a more personal level, which is ultimately what I aim to do here on this blog. I may wear many titles, but I am a human first. So it made my heart swell to find those types of connections right off the bat!
So what did I take away from TechMunch?
There were three main takeaways for me. First dealt with telling your story and building your brand, second dealt with working with brands, and third was the more technical aspects of blogging.
How to Tell Your Story & Build Your Brand
The event kicked off with Babette, the founder of Bakespace and the TechMunch conference, sharing with us stories of not only her polished successes, but mainly her failures. And the many lessons she’s learned throughout her time as a blogger and entrepenuer. I loved this perspective because more often than not, we only see that polished, perfection behind blogs and bloggers. We don’t often expose ourselves and get real with all the struggles we share, regardless of how large of an audience we reach.
Some of my favorite
- “There is no crying in tech! Take out the emotion and look for the good advice.” In regards to being receptive and productive towards negative feedback.
- “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
- “The idea that food connects people and great conversations happen around the dinner table really resonated with me.”
- “Listen to Nike and just do it (create your own space). Don’t over complicate. Don’t overthink. Don’t wait.”
The How to Tell Your Story Panel and Building Your Own Brand panel were also fantastic. I also fan girl’ed out when I saw Punk Domestics was going to be there. He is pretty much a genius when it comes to canning and preserving!
Most of what resonated with me during both of these panels was how important authenticity is. Anyone can start a blog and post, but not everyone has the ability to authentically tell their story. And if that isn’t you, maybe blogging isn’t for you.
Some of my favorite panel quotes:
- “In order to tell your story, you have to ask yourself, what is my story?” –
- “Love what you do and if you don’t love it, find something else.” –
- “Build an army of stealth advisors. If you don’t have those people, find those people.” –
- “Surround yourself with people who are going to be honest with you.” –
- “Every day may not be joyful but you should get joy out of what you do. Reflect on what you do.” –
- “As long as you’re relatable and share your voice, your audience will find you.” –
- “The thing that’s always attracted me to cooking is that I can work really hard and still not know everything.”-
- “Make sure what you post is true to your brand.” –
- “Punk Domestics branded me. I became an expert before I really was.” –
- “Take time to comment on the blogs you like and inspire you.” –
Working with Brands
The crew from Laughing Cow joined us (along with their fabulous cheese) and another one of my fan-girl moments, Iowa Girl Eats was there!! They sat on a panel discussing working with brands, which was super helpful as brands aren’t something I have had much experience with, but would love to tap into.
Some of my favorite panel quotes:
- “When working with brands, authenticity matters more than blog size and metrics” –
- “If you’re using a product consistently, reach out to them!” –
- “If you work with a brand, you really have to believe in that brand.” –
- Easy tip Bloggers forget: include contact info & location on your blog so brands can find you!
- “What drives purchasing power is authenticity, and bloggers can provide that to brands.” –
- “Act like a brand. Think like a blogger. Position yourself as both”. –
Technical Aspect of Blogging
We literally got a semester of SEO in 30 minutes from Matthew Capala of
@SearchDecoder. Thankfully, I won a copy of his book, SEO like I’m 5, so I can take the time to really study it and make SEO work for me and my blog.
Here are a few nuggets from Matthew:
- Show up on competitive keywords by guest blogging for a site that owns that keyword.
- The object of SEO is to act like a healthy heartbeat.
- SEO tip: Hit the bullseye with original content, then engineer a ripple effect.
- Only 15% of Google search results are your owned content. 85% are from scaled & distributed content!
A few other helpful resources I jotted down for Bloggers:
- Tailwind – For scheduling
- Social Rank – Find your top followers
- SumoMe – Scroll Bars, Email Sign ups, etc.
- Share on Medium.com
- Utilize Slideshare
Is your head spinning yet? Mine sure was.
The TechMunch Food Blogger’s conference was a great conference for someone like me, new to food blogging, to attend. It gave me helpful information without digging too far into any one topic. It was a smaller, more casual group versus a larger event like say, BlogHer Food which helped keep it intimate but yet super informative. I highly recommend anyone who blogs about food to attend!
Lucky for you, there will be several more TechMunch conferences in 2015! The next slated one will be in October in L.A. You can find out more about TechMunch or register to attend over at their website.
Also a huge thanks to National Wheat Foundation for making this conference possible for me to attend. It makes me so happy to see Agriculture wanting a seat at these types of conversations!