10 Takeaways from BlogHerFood16

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What a fantastic #BlogHerFood16! I recuperated from the conference by carrying on the tradition of digging through the swag bag with my teenage daughter, who quickly scooped up the cool yogurt container from conference sponsor Lentils (a conference favorite! I loved the Lentil Ladies!), while I fought hard to keep the Heluva Good selfie stick. Y'all, their dips are so great! What a fun company!

My other post-conference tradition is to reflect on the top lessons I learned. As this was my first #BlogHerFood conference and I attended as a volunteer, I picked up so much more than new recipes and fun sponsor giveaways. I also picked up a wealth of great advice (all documented on Twitter @theamysituation). #BlogHerFood16 truly delivered an unforgettable, valuable experience. Huge shout out to the sponsors and coordinators for a stellar event.

1. Success doesn't come overnight. You have to be willing to work hard and stay focused. This was a common theme during #BlogHerFood16. HungryGirl Lisa Lillien is working on her twelfth cookbook (yes, twelfth!), and though she's experienced tremendous career success, she noted it doesn't get easier. "It gets harder and harder as the competition gets stiffer and stiffer," said Lillien.

Lisa Lillien, Freddie Prinze, Jr., and Carla Hall at #BlogHerFood16 in Austin, TX, October 8, 2016Lisa, Freddie Prinze, Jr., and Carla Hall.

2. Whatever you do, stay authentic. SheKnows Executive Editor Julie Ross Godar kicked off the opening keynote with the theme of authenticity. "Speak from the heart," said Godar. Award-winning chef and "The Chew" co-host Carla Hall echoed that sentiment at the closing keynote, confessing that fame wasn't on her radar, and that now that she's achieved success and notoriety, "My prayer every day is authenticity." said Hall, "It's so much easier to be yourself."

3. Don't take "no" for an answer. Actor and cookbook author Freddie Prinze, Jr. could easily moonlight as a motivational speaker. At the closing keynote, Prinze offered terrific nuggets of advice, with a primary message of perseverance and facing your fears. "Allow the word 'no' to be something that pushes you forward."

4. To be a pro, you have to adopt pro habits. Fact check. Give proper attributions, especially where sponsors are concerned. Need an amazing resource to learn more? Check out SheKnows Media's SVP of Influencer Marketing Susan Getgood's Lightning Lesson on FTC disclosure.

5. Be thoughtful when considering which partners you select. This was a key theme in several sessions, where speakers cautioned against taking sponsorships without considering why. (Are you a vegan food blogger? Might not want to partner with a cheese company. You get the idea.) Chief Community Officer of SheKnows Media and overall Energizer Bunny Elisa Camahort Page said it best: "You don't need THE A-list, you need YOUR A-list."

6. Healthful eating doesn't have to be costly. In the #EatCookHealthy session on The Latest in Healthy Eating , Cooking, and Recipe Development, registered dietitian and health advocate Ashley Koff offered valuable tips to reducing food waste ("All hail the freezer!") and reducing food costs. "You can reduce the price in your food system when you buy things in their most simple form," said Koff. Coolinary Kitchen's Natalie Cruz noted that organic isn't for everyone. "Health means trying to improve one's life, not necessarily eating organic," said Cruz. "Eat within your means."

7. Don't miss The Pitch. Hands-down, my favorite sessions at BlogHer16 was The Pitch. The energy and enthusiasm of the four amazing contestants was infectious, and I don't know about you, but I had a hard time figuring out who would earn my vote. In the end, I voted for the winner, Martha Pincoffs of The Hot Dang, an Austin-based company that makes grain burgers. Her vibe was so positive, and I love that she committed to eating locally-sourced foods at home for an entire year, something we all know comes with a ton of hard work but priceless benefits.

Jennifer Denton of SheKnows and Martha Pincoffs of the Hot Dang at The Pitch: Food Edition at #BlogHerFood16Jennifer Denton with Martha at The Pitch: Food Edition

8. Network, network, network! Of course I'm happy that I scooped up more Twitter followers and blog subscribers during the conference, but even more, I loved getting to know so many interesting people who have such a wide variety of passions. A few of my favorites:

  • Her Modern Kitchen. Alyssa is an Austin-based blogger with gorgeous photos and recipes. Check her out!
  • Ayinde Howell: I'm so glad I was assigned to live tweet "The Lusty Vegan" author Ayinde's session, and that I arrived early to see what a true professional he is. I observed him setting up early, treating the hotel food staff with kindness, and making everyone feel at ease. He's also hilarious, and his vegan crab cake with hearts of palm was so good I can't wait to try making it at home myself.
  • Karyn Martin of 451 Marketing. I'm a huge fan already. She spoke in the session Working With Brands, and gave really great advice on authenticity: "Know who you are, know who you aren't, and don't deviate from that." After her session, I asked for 5 minutes with Karyn to ask about building an audience, and not only did she give me terrific advice, she gave me twice the time I asked for. (Note: Asking for a speaker's time is a delicate art; be sure not to be pushy and respect their time).

9. Live is everything. At the session on Live Broadcasting: New Ways to Create a Cooking Show, Ayinde Howell taught great tips on how to use Facebook Live to reach a larger audience. A few of his key tips: Create a schedule and stick to it. Do what your viewers ask. Start on time. (And dance!)

10. "You all, the bloggers, are the influencers." Carla Hall reminded us at the closing keynote that we, the bloggers, have the influence on the audiences that make a difference. (Then she told a hilarious story and slid right out of her chair.) By keeping this in mind, we should push ourselves to provide the highest quality work we can offer. It's an exciting responsibility, isn't it?

Until next year, bloggers!



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