Last month I attended the BlogHer Food Conference in Austin Texas. I’ve not been to a blogging conference before- I did get one day squeezed in last summer in NYC at BlogHer but honestly, there wasn’t much “conference” in my day and it was such a blur I don’t remember. This year, Avocados from Mexico asked me to be part of their Pit Crew Team and were nice enough to fly me down the day before the conference started, and home the day after it ended so that I could enjoy the full experience of the conference.
The BlogHer Food conference was held at the Austin Hilton, a quick (and hot!) ride from the airport. Great accommodations, friendly, helpful staff and really nice sheets (I have this thing about hotel sheets and I love them). Of course, I didn’t get to spend much time in my room but that’s ok. The time I did spend, I was able to get some sound sleep (no noise from adjoining rooms), enjoy the views of Austin at night (so pretty) and even make myself some coffee in the morning while getting ready. Definitely recommend visiting them!
I was really excited about the conference because I got to see a blogging friend I’ve met a few times on trips, and also meet several bloggers I’ve been friends with online for a while but since we live all over, never met in person before! It was awesome. I also met some of the PR folks I’ve worked with in different ways over the years…as well as many new ones. This was a really nicely sized conference so I was able to visit booths and actually have meaningful conversations with people and chat with them about their brands, their products, and get to know them a bit in person. Of course, being a food blogging conference, there were also many delightfully delicious snacks, beverages and goodies to sample at almost every booth and- well, if you go to a food blogging conference, wear loose fitting pants.
While in Austin, I got to enjoy some amazing Italian food at The Backspace with Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods- we actually got to meet and chat with Michael and his mom, who create each recipe for their brand themselves. It’s a very family oriented business and they are really quite dedicated to what their product is and how they produce it.
I should also mention here, since the above photo was taken with my iPhone, that two of the sessions I attended at BlogHer Food were about mobile photography and also editing with a smartphone. The above photo was taken with my iPhone 5 and edited with the Snapseed app (avail. at the app store). Not too shabby for a mobile phone pic, right? In all seriousness, learning more about mobile photography and how it can really work and be used as a real tool for photography was really interesting and I loved learning more about it.
Brew Over Ice with Keurig- this was a booth I visited time and time again. We’ve loved our Keurig for a while now, but it never even occurred to me that I could put ice in a cup and have fresh brewed lemonade, iced tea, iced coffee, energy drinks and more…it’s marvelous. Plus, they gave out bendy straws with the cups….which had lids. I was carrying many things and this was helpful to clumsy me. I can’t even explain how I have brewed over ice since June. Nor can I admit to you how many packages of the Snapple Lemon Iced Tea K-cups I’ve purchased.
(Food) Photography- learned a whole lot about food photography, photography editing, and mobile photograph and editing. I can’t believe I’m admitting this but I had the Snapseed app for almost 2 full years and kind of hated it, and then sat in a session where they showed us step by step what they did to edit a few photos on a screen and oh my gosh. What a whole new world! I’m loving Snapseed. (There really are a lot of great apps out there to help you edit photos on the go with your phone or tablet if you aren’t able to sit down and access your full editing software….and if you don’t have the budget for a fancy camera or fancy editing software, this is a really affordable alternative).
Parties- Apparently, blogging conferences include many parties. Fun parties. Parties in different places- I think I got to visit at least 10 different restaurants in Austin- something I’d never have done otherwise- and walking from location to location gave us a chance to really see how vibrant and fun the city is- always moving, and music everywhere you turn. I’ve never been to Texas before, so every single part of this trip was new, fun and exciting to me.
Food- Big name brands, smaller brands, vegan, gourmet, mainstream, all kinds of brands and products were represented at BlogHer Food. You will not walk far at a conference like this without some tempting food morsels calling out to you. From basic to gourmet and everything in between, we were able to sample things like Lentil Burritos (with bacon), Greek Yogurt Dips, Breakfast Sandwiches, Parfait desserts, main dishes, side dishes, hors d’oeuvres and more.
Live music is everywhere in Austin. You can literally walk up and down a street and hear about 10 genres of live music playing. For this not-very-well-traveled girl from Connecticut, this was just really awesome and so enjoyable. I wish I’d gotten a photo of a guy we saw playing drums on 5 gallon buckets- it was amazing. Just a ton of fun. I could spend a few weeks just wandering around enjoying the sights and eats of this city!
I also got to sit in on a session about blogger-brand-pr relationships which was just a really great conversation for ALL sides to have. I think for those of us who are a blogger, a brand who works with bloggers, or a pr rep working with bloggers, it’s a good idea to hear the perspective from the others’ sides, and not just that of our peers. I think we all often forget in this day and age of email and digital media that there are actual people on the other end of the communication- people who may have some amazing ideas and suggestions to offer.
BlogHer Food is also where I took the #bingiton challenge and, I won’t lie, shockingly preferred Bing OVER Google 4/5 times…. and started my journey of breaking up with Google for my search engine. If you hear me tell you to “Just Bing It,” now you know why. (If you take it, I’m curious to know what your result is- so please drop a note and let me know!)
I got to experience so many wonderful sights, sounds, dishes and interact with some amazing people thanks to my sponsor, Avocados from Mexico- and also got some ideas on different ways to incorporate avocado into my own dishes here at home- one particular recipe is coming next week, so be on the lookout!
Have you attended any blogging conferences? Which ones? How was your experience?