Yesterday, I attended TECHmunch Boston, a one-day conference for food bloggers to bring them up-to-speed on all the latest tools and tactics for building buzz, improving SEO, growing their audience, and helping them turn their passion into profit.
TECHmunch was founded in 2010 by BakeSpace.com founder Babette Pepaj. (I first met Babette in April 2010 at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. She’s awesome, and I’m so honored that she asked me to participate in TECHmunch.) TECHmunch was born out of Babette’s desire to create something inherently more valuable to both established and aspiring food bloggers.
Our goal is to give local food bloggers a fun, affordable conference where they get the ingredients they need to succeed. We focus on practical information that attendees can use immediately to take their blogs to the next level.
– Babette Pepaj, TECHmunch Founder
While other food blogger conferences tend to focus on promoting food-related brands to attendees, TECHmunch has a grassroots-style and fast-paced format that’s focused entirely on providing useful information.
It was actually kind of nice seeing a mostly brand-free event that simply focused on providing attendees with helpful, pertinent information. At times, it felt a little rapid-fire, but I’d rather get too much info from conference than not enough. I also liked the size of TECHmunch Boston. It was an intimate group with just a big lecture hall full of people.
The agenda for the day was packed full of interesting sessions:
- What’s New in Food: Understanding Trends to Enrich Your Content
- Being Relevant: What’s your Story
- Syndicating Content: Picking the right audience and the right message.
- Tips on Creating and Distributing Mouthwatering Multimedia Content
- SEO for Food Writing
- How to Get on a Food Editor’s Radars
- How to Market your Blog and Turn it into a Brand/Business
- How to Attract Awesome Brands and Build Partnerships
Even as a more experienced blogger, I got a lot out of this conference. Here are some of my takeaways and tips:
- When blogging about recipes, consistency is key. Geoff Allen from ZipList gave a great presentation about SEO for Food Writing. He suggested a ton of useful tips and tricks for making it easier for Google to find your recipes. The one that seemed most important was making sure that your recipe title matches your post url and title tags. For instance, if you’re publishing a recipe called “Apricot Pistachio Bars,” the url should be http://carrotsncake.com/2011/06/apricot-pistachio-bars.html and the tags should be Apricot Pistachio Bars. Doing this also keeps things simple for your readers.
- Become an expert in your micro-niche. If you want to get on a food editor’s radar, become an expert in your micro-niche. Editors always need information and quotes from experts, so their job is to find the best sources and, in some cases, it’s food bloggers (example: home canning). J.M. Hirsch, Food Editor for The Associated Press, said bloggers should blog well, become an expert, and when the time is right, the food editors will find you.
- Make your contact info EASY to find. Ok, this one might seem like a duh tip, but adding a Contact page to your blog is essential so readers and brands can easily get in touch with you. I had my email address on my About page, but it wasn’t super easy to find. I’d hate to think that I was passed up for an amazing opportunity because someone couldn’t figure out how to contact me.
- Brands want to build lasting relationships with bloggers. The panelists from the “How to Attract Awesome Brands and Build Partnerships” session said they want to build lasting relationships with bloggers instead of just doing a simple giveaway or product review. What gets a brand’s attention: the blogger’s passion, comments on their posts, Twitter activity, and other established brand relationships. Surprisingly, the traffic that the blogger receives is typically secondary.
- Google SEO-friendly titles. If you want to give your post a search-friendly title, try Googling possible keywords to see which ones are most popular. This will give your post the best possible chance to be found in a Google search!
Midway through the day, we broke for lunch.
There were lots of healthy and delicious options available.
I loaded up my plate with a chicken wrap, salad, pasta, and a couple of cookies.
After lunch, the sessions continued into the late afternoon. I participated in a panel about How to Market your Blog and Turn it into a Brand/Business with these incredible folks:
- Adam Salomone (@HCPdishes), Associate Publisher, The Harvard Common Press
- Sarah Dussault (@dietsarah), Publisher and Video Blogger at Sarahfit.com
- BÃ©atrice Peltre (@tartinegourmand), Food writer, stylist and photographer, La Tartine Gourmande and author of “La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life” (presale starting in September 2011)
- Moderator: Maggie Battista (@mizmaggieb), Founder Eatboutique.com
Sadly, I wasn’t able to take notes during the panel, but a lot of what was said is similar to what’s included on my blogging page.
Once the sessions ended for the day, we enjoyed a cocktail hour with passed appetizers. It was a nice way to network with other bloggers (aka a GREAT way to market your blog).
All in all, a fabulous event. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to attend. Thanks, Babette!
FYI: The next TECHmunch is in Los Angeles in September!