IFBC 2010 – Seattle

This year I have been asking myself one question over and over – why do I blog.  I know why I started the blog but what keeps me doing it three years later?  What is my ultimate goal for this and how do I define my success as a blogger?  Ok, so maybe not just one question.  But all the same, I’ve been looking for answers.  I went to Big Summer Potluck looking for answers, and instead found a community.  And when I went to IFBC, not knowing what to expect, I found ways to define myself by what I am not.

I am not looking for a book deal.  I am not interested in playing the SEO game.  I am not a recipe developer.  I am not educated on the needs of specialized diets.  I am not interested in paying to attend a conference and sitting through infomercials for websites or cooking encyclopedias.  Ultimately, the message I took away from the Big Summer Potluck was indirectly reinforced at IFBC – blog for myself, be authentic, and define my own success.

There were good moments at IFBC.  There were bad moments.  There were events I was excited about which provided huge disappointments.  And there were unexpected moments of powerful validation.  So instead of focusing on the parts of IFBC that made me question whether it was the best use of my time and money, the message I have decided to hold onto is that I decide my legitimacy as a blogger.

So, what did I learn at IFBC 2010?  I learned that I really don’t need to spend $$$ to attend a blogging conference.  Many of the best moments, the ones that really resonated with me, mostly occurred outside of the conference.  To me, the journey is where I get my inspiration and excitement.  The opportunity to meet new people and expand my food world can happen anytime, anywhere.  Next year, instead of sitting in a venue for 8 to 12 hours a day over the course of a weekend, I can pack up the car and see where the road takes me.  Someone else can have my seat at IFBC 2011.

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32 Responses to IFBC 2010 – Seattle

  1. Well, I think we’re kindred spirits in that department!

    • Wendi says:

      Kitch, it was definitely a learning experience. But like I said I think I would be better off getting in the car and having a food adventure. You could drive east, I could drive west, and we could meet in the middle.

  2. Lan says:

    Wendi, i really enjoyed today’s post. thanks. too often i get asked by my friends why i don’t do ads, or how come i don’t save any recipes i come up with for a possible book… it’s just not me, it would end up being like a job and seriously, i already have one that already kicks my butt.

    • Wendi says:

      Lan, amen. The moment that this becomes something I have to do, or do in a way that isn’t true to who I am, that’s when I need to find a new outlet.  

  3. emily says:

    BUT……you got to ee Seattle! And everything is some kind of earnig experience. How do you know if you like something unless you try it? Of course that is also how you learn what you do NOT like.

    Part of growing and expanding into the universe.

    why do you blog???? because it is FUN! and because it gives you the chance to share and give to others. Do what you love. the rest follows naturally

    • Wendi says:

      Emily, I think I’ve figured out that I blog because it does connect me to a community.  Every individual that I have met or connected with because of the blog is the reason why. It may not pay the bills or bring me fame and fortune but it is rewarding in a completely different sense.

  4. Wendi–It’s a hard question to answer, and I know I struggle with it. Why do I spend so much time making noise that no one listens to? I’m not exactly sure anymore.

  5. Miss G says:

    Great food for thought. I have a conference coming up in November. I want to go to be inspired. If I leave feeling uninspired, I’ll be deeply disappointed. However, this is a good reminder to look for inspiration everywhere, even in the places I haven’t paid for.

    PS: I love your blog. Sounds like you’ve found the key to success 🙂

    • Wendi says:

      Miss G, you nailed it – look for inspiration everywhere, especially the places you don’t have to pay for it. Case in point, I walked out of one of the IFBC presentations {the one that I was MOST looking forward to and most disappointed by} and instead took 90 minutes to explore the Sunday Market, support local vendors, and be inspired by the world around me. I also enjoyed an order of bacon and got to check out the food trucks setting up while everyone else was listening to a glorified infomercial for the publication who shall never be named by me here. Bitterness aside, I was more inspired by the market than I was the presenter and I honor that choice as being right for me.

      Thanks for the kind words. Blogging is kind of like adolescence. We want to stand out but at the same time we really just want to fit in and make friends. It is too often a popularity contest and we forget to be true to ourselves in the name of being accepted. Once we accept who we are and embrace all that makes us unique then all the other stuff isn’t as influential. I hope that I am coming into my own here at BAH and that somehow that message comes through.

  6. I couldn’t agree more! I have almost no desire to do the conference thing anymore… I’d much rather spend the money on trips to visit with new friends and explore! Great post!

    • Wendi says:

      Jen, I will be much more mindful of how much an event costs before registering. Because I completely agree that my money can be better spent experiencing life then to pay to have someone tell me how to work the SEO system. I did enjoy meeting new folks at IFBC and if I hadn’t gone I would probably think that by not going to these conferences I am missing out. Who know, maybe learning that’s not the case for me was the reason for me to be there.

  7. Paula says:

    I have never been to a conference, they have grown too large for me and I suspect too commercialized. Through my blogging/twitter I have met some of the most wonderful, inspiring and supportive people that I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to. I have yet to met any of them in person but I don’t need to attend a conference to feel connected to them in some way.
    If I ever do attend a conference, it will definitely be a small one where you have the chance to truly share with one another. I loved reading about The Big Summer Pot Luck and really hope it stays small and intimate.
    Just subscribed to your blog and looking forward to getting to know you more 🙂

    • Wendi says:

      Paula, I don’t want to make a blanket statement that conferences don’t have any value or aren’t useful to others. For me, big conferences just aren’t the right fit. I prefer smaller, intimate opportunities to make meaningful connections with other people. I have been amazed by the sense of community on Twitter. I was VERY anti twitter for a long time but have changed my attitude on that. If it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t known about Big Summer Potluck, met the incredible bloggers who attended, or made these connections to other folks who I know by their @ name.

      Have you signed up for the BHF Pity Party? I think it’s going to be a fabulous event.

  8. I was glad to read that at the least you took something from IFBC; even if it meant it was not for you!

    If I’m honest…I wondered why all of the people so unhappy with IFBC went to it. The agenda was published and yet several complained of it afterwards. Maybe it takes going to a conference to really know what they’re like; shame to have to spend so much money on that learning experience.

    It seems to me that a conference of this natures assumes you want to make your blog a business. Though I’ve got a strong entrepreneurial spirit and own two different companies, I started blogging just because. Because I had been putting recipes online for 15 years on an html website without comment capabilities and wanted to update it to a blog. Because my family and friends that are out of state still want my recipes. Because I like knowing there is one place where I put everything I love! But I’ve also found that I am vested in making it something a bit more commercial.

    My professional experience as a web developer does make this more relevant, easier and yes, cheaper and I do get a crazy, stupid thrill each time I break another barrier in Alexa…yet I don’t have huge dreams of this becoming much more than it is…my own personal efforts to share what I love, it’s just that I’m now sharing it with more than just family and friends! I have absolutely no interest in a book deal…go figure!

    I’ve watched friends attend a couple of conferences from afar…a serious leg injury has kept me from wanting to travel or hop around venues. But no matter the venue, no matter the speakers, no matter the food prepared, the one thing I envy and see as the single most amazing part everyone takes away from every get together is the sense of community, of finding our pack…that I would still pay for. Next year.

    • Wendi says:

      Barbara, I can’t speak for anyone else who left feeling underwhelmed by the conference. But for me, yes I made a decision based on the agenda that was available at the time. It wasn’t until the week before the event that all details of the agenda had been finalized and published. When I registered, the session topics were listed but not the specifics. I made assumptions about the content and context that turned out to not be correct. And yes it was a shame that this experience had such a high price tag but it’s not as though I came away from this with nothing. I met new people, had my vision of the food world broaden, and saw people who are able to share their passion for what they do on a daily basis. That’s a lot of learning in three days. It just wasn’t the lesson I had expected to come away with.

      I love how you defined your blog, “my own personal efforts to share what I love, it’s just that I’m now sharing it with more than just family and friends”. It’s that sense of passion and desire to share that I really respect among the bloggers I’ve gotten to know. I hope you are able to get back to attending some events so that you can reconnect in the real world with other members of this pack of ours.

  9. Adam says:

    Great post and so true. I know I definitely learned more from all of the combined experiences at the conference than all of the sessions combined. Meeting with all of the other bloggers, especially you, was inspiring enough. Even though Joanne and I would love to have a book deal it will come with time if it is meant to be. We might even decide to self-publish and just enjoy working on it together. As far as advertising is concerned we only run ads to help us afford ingredients for the recipes that we would have done with or without Inspired Taste. The journey and the unexpected is most of the fun.

    • Wendi says:

      Hey Adam, you know how I feel about the Universe and blazing your own trail. If you and Joanne have the urge to self publish, then honor that. Love your philosophy on the “journey”. And I need to be more open to the unexpected lessons along the way. Too often I’m so fixated on looking for what I think I should see that I don’t bother to see anything else and miss out on some spectacular scenery.

  10. Brooke says:

    It’s a community. It’s a hobby. You get to eat what you write about – smartest idea EVER by the way. I think anyone who does blogging for fun will take more away from a community gathering than workshops – putting faces with names, meeting news folks, eating good food… it makes sense to me.

    • Wendi says:

      Boo, all true. But I have to admit that you have a pretty sweet thing with your photog and knitting posts. And I’m determined to find a way for you and I to be in the same place at the same time (maybe with some smores ice cream so I can see what all the dang fuss is about). Because I can’t believe the Universe would bring us together in virtual life and not give us an opportunity to get together in real life. And if we could get that Katie O. to join us? Hooooey, it would be spectacular.

      • katie o. says:

        guys, you can count me in. just say when and where. and i love this post wendi. i did a blogging workshop once and i walked away poorer and just frustrated. but like you, i got more out of the people there than i did the actual workshop. so in a way, maybe we did learn a few things, right? i guess it’s good to experience things otherwise you’d just spend your time wondering what if…
        and now you know.
        and now you, boo and i can finally plan a get together. 🙂

        • Wendi says:

          I hate the what if’s and would rather learn from an experience that it’s not right for me than to sit and wonder what if. I’ve done that and it doesn’t result in anything positive.

          So we just need to figure out what’s the center of our KY,GA,MD triangle (and whether they have smores ice cream there).

          • Brooke says:

            That would be fantastic. My two favorite foodies… in the same place… I think I’d be beside myself… and possibly pee my pants.

  11. liz2024 says:

    Beth and Wendi – I listen too! I love blogging because its a way to spread the joy I have in my life to people around me. My aunt, cousins, friends read it and I like being an outlet for people who are interested in what I make and places I go. See if I had never mentioned black hog, you would have never tried it?? ladies I love reading what you write, but if it ever gets to be too much, just stop! don’t do it for any other reason than you want to do it.

    • Wendi says:

      I love the dialog that this post has prompted. People sharing their “why” or even saying they don’t know. And validating that the best reason to do it is because you WANT to, this is why I connect to this community.

      Elizabeth, we’re so glad you introduced us to Black Hog. Next time, I know to order the big girl sides!

  12. Jen W. says:

    Wendi, it was interesting to read about your experience at IFBC. I don’t have much to add except that I also go through phases when I’m not sure why I blog either. Sometimes my posts aren’t as well-written or interesting as I’d like them to be because I run out of time. But for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re back on Bon Appetit Hon – I always enjoy reading your posts. Now I’m off to read about s’mores…

  13. Tracy says:

    A thousand times yes…which is why the Big Summer Potluck was so amazing!!

    • Wendi says:

      Tracy, Potluck was amazing for so many reasons and that just set the bar so high for me. I think the only thing that might come close to BSP is BSP Part II, which I do hope there will be.

  14. I still consider myself a bit of a blog “n00bie” so naturally, when I hear about those types of conferences, a part of me feels like I’m missing out (on what, I’m not sure) by not attending. It was really interesting to see the contrast between your experiences at the Summer Potluck and IFBC. I now know that the latter just isn’t my cup of tea.

    Great post, Wendi. Your passion is contagious.

    • Wendi says:

      Ali, I’m inclined to think that our fear of missing out on some unknown is human nature. I always felt like I heard about these great events after they happened so now I try and keep my eyes open to twitter chat and pay attention to what upcoming events people are talking about on their blogs. That’s how I found out about the Summer Potluck.

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