International Food Blogger Conference: Organize a confab, and they will come
About 250 food bloggers from 27 states descended on Seattle over the weekend to attend this year's International Food Blogger Conference -- more than double the number at last year's inaugural IFBC. It's an indicator of the growth and evolution of food blogs. According to search engine Technorati, there are now 11,427 food blogs. And the number of conferences is growing too, capitalizing on the ever-increasing interest in producing one's own food blog.
BlogHer Food '10 takes place next month in San Francisco (it is already sold out). This summer, Internet Week in New York included TechMunch, a series of day-long conferences "to provide food bloggers with all the ingredients they need to succeed." Big Summer Potluck took place in Bucks County, Pa., last month. There's also Camp Blogaway and Food Blogger Camp (not to mention the South African Food Bloggers Conference, the Australian Food Bloggers Conference and Food Blogger Connect in London).
"There were no food blog conferences at the the time" of the first IFBC, says Barnaby Dorfman, founder of Foodista, the Wikipedia-style cooking site that hosts the event (held this year at the Theo chocolate factory). "But we sold out within days. This year we increased the number of tickets, sold out two months before the conference and had a sizable waiting list before we had to cut that off.
"When we did the first conference it was mostly grassroots bloggers, people who came to it out of personal interest and passion. This year there was a much higher representation of two other categories of food bloggers – more traditional food journalists, food writers, authors and cookbook authors who now have food blogs.... And marketers who see this as a corporate communications tool."
Highlights of the IFBC included panels on recipe writing, building traffic, pitching to print media, and blogging for specialized diets. Saveur editor James Oseland was a keynote speaker at a winemaker dinner on Saturday evening. Nathan Myhrvold discussed his forthcoming cooking tome "Modernist Cuisine." And Penny De Los Santos, a photographer for Saveur, received a standing ovation for her presentation about food photography.
Some participants, admittedly, were there to schmooze. "There seem to be more and more of these conferences and workshops," said Alice Currah, of local Seattle blog Savory Sweet Life, whose eponymous cookbook will be published in spring 2012 by HarperCollins/William Morrow. "I'm here to see friends."
That is all right by the conference's organizers. "As much as I love tech, there’s really no substitute for people meeting each other face to face," Foodista's Dorfman says. "Many, many people had met each other online but not face to face. Out of that only comes more connections and opportunity."
For more information about the third annual International Food Bloggers Conference, watch www.foodista.com/ifbc.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo credit: Flickr/Foodistablog