In episode 288, Megan shares important takeaways from Tastemaker, the first in-person conference for food bloggers she’s attended since the pandemic.
We cover information about how connecting with real people, in real life is so important, why investments in yourself and your business need to be a priority and remembering do things scared, because its valuable and you’ll grow and achieve goals you want for yourself.
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Community and people are EVERYTHING.
Investing in yourself and your business is extremely important If you wish to continue growing.
As a collective whole, I feel like we’re doing a really great job of self-educating.
Collaboration is way cooler than competition.
Doing scary things is very rewarding.
Specific Takeaways From Sessions Attended
Abi Shamji session – If I want to be able to give back to people in the way that I know I desire, I need to start accumulating a little more wealth.
Rachel Gainer session – Two quotes that stuck out. “Fear’s goal is always to keep you from taking action.” and “take deliberate actions even when fear is present.”
Paul from Google session – Try out building your authority with the Google question hub. Also, there’s a forum to get help on web stories available through the plug in.
Emily Perron session – You might need to outsource some things that you have been sitting on for a long time. Now is the time.
Julie Tran Deily session – Think through your notes you took throughout the entire conference and make a plan for all the things that you wanted to do.
Click for full script.
288 Conference Takeaways
Megan Porta: Food bloggers. What’s up? Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in your business. I am your host, Megan Porta and you’re listening to episode number 288. We’re getting close to 300. This episode is sponsored by the amazing RankIQ. Today I am going to talk through my 10 takeaways from my first in-person conference since the pandemic. That was the amazing tastemaker conference that happened in Chicago in March.
Sponsor: First, I would love to talk through a few things. There are some resources available here at Eat Blog Talk that give you a chance to connect, gain competence, dig into food blogging in a whole new way, and just massively level up in your business growth and with your networking. One of those ways is through retreats. So I hosted a retreat with the lovely Mama Gourmand Melissa Erdelac last October 2021. It was a wild success. I cannot even tell you. I’m grinning from ear to ear right now because so many valuable connections were made. We learned so much that I can’t even describe it in words. We are going to record an episode coming up on this. So we’ll get more specific, but if you’re interested in this sort of thing and doing an in-person retreat, Eat Blog Talk is starting to host them in 2022. The first one we are hosting is here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It will be taking place May 19th through the 22nd. So the bulk of it will be taking place on the 20th, Friday and the 21st, Saturday. During this retreat, we will be staying in a rental property together and we will just learn from each other. We’re going to collaborate. We’re going to share all of our knowledge. If you have a specialized area of expertise or a specialized skill, bring it to the table. We’re all just going to learn from each other and form amazing connections with each other. Go to eatblogtalk.com/spring2022retreat to join the waitlist. I will tell you that as of recording this, there are only a few spots left. So if you’re interested, I would say, go get on that list ASAP.
The next thing is the mastermind program. We are filling the second group in May. So May 5th will be the first date of our second group. The first group has been filled since the end of 2021. Again, I can’t even describe in words how amazing it is. The connections that are being made, the transformations that are already happening in such a short time are absolutely mind blowing. The information that we share with each other is extremely powerful and valuable. You are not going to want to miss the second group. I already have a few people who have committed to being in it and they are incredible food bloggers. So go to eatblogtalk.com and follow the buttons for the mastermind to join that waitlist.
Last but not least I have to mention RankIQ because they are the premier sponsor for Eat Blog Talk. I was just looking at my analytics this morning, comparing 2022 so far compared to 2021 up to this point in March. I’m holding steady at an 18% increase in page views. The number one reason for this is the RankIQ posts that I’m running through the optimizer and publishing on a thrice weekly basis. I don’t know if thrice is actually a word, but you know what I’m talking about. First of all, how in the world can I publish three new posts a week? Because they’re not all, actually, none of them right now are recipe posts. So I’m publishing all non recipe posts. So they’re either roundups or they are informational posts that support my other content. Because there’s supportive content, I already have a lot of information about each topic. I’ll quickly run through an example so you know what I’m talking about. I recently published a post titled How To Reheat Fettuccine Alfredo. I just ran this key phrase through an incognito window just to see how I was doing with it. I’m on the first page of Google and looking at my Air Table database here, I’m going to tell you when I posted it. I posted that on February 7th. Today is March 9th. So just over a month ago. It is already on page one in Google and the reason this particular post was so easy to write was because I already had all the information written about Alfredo. I already had a recipe post for chicken alfredo. I have other posts, such as an Alfredo sauce recipe. So I had those two for recipe posts. Then I had some other supporting content that I had written about Alfredo.
So I combined all of the information, wrote some new content, and put some FAQs in there. Really got it up probably within an hour. Took me one hour to write it and it’s already on page one on Google. So that is just one example of so many posts that I’ve run through RankIQ that are doing really well. This is working for me, so I’m going to keep doing it and I hope you will give it a try too. Go to Rankiq.com to check it out for yourself.
Just a really quick reminder. Please go to your favorite podcast player and go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll to the bottom, click that five star rating if you love Eat Blog Talk and then leave a review if you like it and tell people why you love the podcast. Thank you so much for that.
Megan Porta: I’m really excited about this episode because. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for awhile, you know how I feel about the Tastemaker conference. It is the conference that really invigorated my passion for food blogging in 2018 after having been blogging for eight years, by that point. It is what set the ball in motion for really leveling up and figuring out what I needed to do to just massively grow and improve my business and start networking and connecting with other people. This was my third Tastemakers. I’ve been to all of them. I have some takeaways that I would love to share with you and this goes for both people who were there. Because you might like to compare your takeaways and also people who are not there. I’m not rubbing it in your face, look what you missed. But I want you to know what was there so that you can make a decision about whether or not you would like to come to a conference like this in the future.
I divided my 10 takeaways into two sections. So the first section is more overarching takeaways. So takeaways that I pondered and landed upon after a few days of being there. Then my second category of takeaways is specific takeaways from the sessions that I went to at the conference.
Number one, under overarching takeaways is the most important, and that is community and people are everything. Everything in all caps. There is nothing that compares to connecting with people in person. There’s something so special about seeing an actual human face and being able to hug someone in person versus even seeing someone on a Zoom call. There’s so much difference. If I was blessed enough to meet you in person, you may have noticed that I hugged you fiercely and instantly. I did that to pretty much every person I met, unless they gave me the I’m not a hugger sign, which is totally fine too. I respect that. So if I hugged you, that was 100% authentic love oozing out of me to you. I was so freaking happy to be able to do that. I can hardly contain myself about it now, and I could hardly contain myself then. I would have gladly paid for the price of admission times five, just to be able to see you guys, all in person and hug you in person and just talk to you and collaborate and learn about you and your business and your life. That in itself was worth every penny plus way, way more.
During the actual conference, I felt just excited. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time. I was invigorated. I was so happy and filled with joy just to be surrounded by all of you amazing people. That turned into exhaustion when I got back home, because I’m not used to being around that many people. I heard a lot of other people say the same thing that it was particularly draining because we’re used to being at home. If we do see people, we don’t see many people. So it was a lot. It was really tiring, but it was 100% worthwhile. I would do it again and again and again.
My second overarching takeaway was that investing in yourself and your business is extremely important. If you wish to continue growing. Now, if you are happy where you’re at and you want to stay at the same spot, then this is not a point for you. But if you want to keep on that growth curve and level up, then you must invest in yourself. The investment included in going to this conference, so purchasing airfare, buying the conference ticket, finding lodging, all of that is minuscule compared to what you get once you go to the actual conference. The ROI is indescribable and massive. I talked to a few friends who had breakthroughs during the conference, and I won’t get into the details, but the bottom line is that we need to keep investing in ourselves if we wish to continue leveling up. So if you have a breakthrough about needing help in a certain area, maybe it’s something dealing with your money mindset, or maybe you have been resisting outsourcing a certain project or task or job, and you realize that you just need to do it. You need to invest in that. There are certain places you come to where you realize that you need to break down a wall and invest in yourself in order to create that upward trend in your business and grow like you want to grow. I’m not just talking about in-person conferences here. I’m talking about things like hiring a business coach or hiring a mindset coach. Finding a coach who really aligns with your values and your goals and hiring them. Investing money in that arena so that you can grow. It is an investment.
Other options for investing would be joining a great mastermind group. I believe that there are so many good mastermind groups out there that can help you not only grow, but really accelerate your growth on a really big scale.
If there’s a course or something similar that would help you level up in your business, invest in that if it aligns with your values and your goals. There are many ways to invest in yourself and your business, so I just encourage you to find those ways and just do it. Especially if you’ve been sitting on something that you can’t ignore anymore, take the leap.
My third overarching takeaway is that as a collective whole, I feel like we’re doing a really great job of self-educating. So after other conferences that I’ve attended, including past Tastemaker conferences, I’d always come home with this massive list, like literally pages and pages in my notebook, filled with to-do list items that just completely overwhelmed me, but then I knew I needed to do. Things like, I don’t know, you need to reorder your blog posts like this on all of them. Or you need to resize your images this way. Or you need to create web stories this way, or like very specific, tangible tasks. This time around was completely different. At first I couldn’t figure out why. It took me a while to process this and figure out why it was so different. Because this time I took notes, but not very many. Only when something really struck me. It just wasn’t the same. The notes that I took, where specific tasks that I needed to do necessarily on my blog, were more like overarching principles or ideas that I wanted to implement and that I wanted to keep in mind for myself. I think part of the reason for this is that I’m evolving as a food blogger and an individual. So I maybe don’t need as much direct hand holding as I used to. But I felt like there was something much more than that. The conclusion I came to was that collectively speaking to you, to all of us, food bloggers are doing such an incredible job of self-educating ourselves right now. I believe that COVID played a major role in this because when the pandemic hit, we were forced to communicate with each other via zoom meetings, zoom calls, virtual summits, virtual conferences, podcasts, audio books. So we have been doing such a good job of that for the past two years, that we’ve really educated ourselves in ways that we relied on previously from conferences like this. From in-person conferences.
So we can think of the pandemic for one thing, because we are smarter as a bunch. We don’t need as much direct hand holding anymore. I think that we really know the ins and outs of what we need to do. Thanks to all the self-educating. Now we need more of a broader scope. Like where are we in this bigger picture? What do we need to focus on? What do we need to ignore? What do we need to outsource? How do we go about that? Things like that. Looking at the bigger picture is more of a focus for us at this point. Now I know there are going to be some exceptions. Some of you might be listening and thinking that is not me. I have a huge list of to-do items here, and that is fine. That’s totally fine. But the more you immerse yourself in this education outside of in-person conferences, the more you will learn about those littler quote littler tasks that you need to do on a day to day, week to week and month to month basis. The gist of that whole point is basically to give all of you a high five, because we’re doing such a great job of staying informed and connecting in what ways we can. So good job on all of that.
My fourth overarching takeaway was that collaboration is way cooler than competition. I never felt one single ounce of competition while I was at the conference. I loved that. My heart felt so full after realizing that was the theme. Nobody was competing. We were all there on a joint mission to learn and collaborate and grow. There was this vibe that every person that I talked to knew there was space for everybody. I just got this feeling like everyone accepted that. There is room for everyone to shine in their own way. That was so obvious. Just looking around the room when I was there, I just had this really strong feeling like everyone here has their unique contribution, their unique voice, their unique way to show up and provide value to their audience. It was commonly accepted and I just loved that so much. If you weren’t there at the conference, I want to say to every single set of ears listening to this episode, there’s room for you. There’s room for everyone here. So keep showing up. In your own awesomely unique way.
My fifth takeaway, which was an overarching takeaway, is that doing scary things is very rewarding. If you were there and you came to my session about the power of audio, or I guess I called it the future of audio, you will have heard my story about how scary public speaking was for me, my entire life up until recently. Now I’m like, oh, that wasn’t so bad. This conference was really the first time I had spoken in public. I’d done it before, but not anything so planned out. So it really was like my first formal speaking gig where I put a presentation together and I practiced my talk multiple times and then I got up in front of people and I gave the talk. Spoiler! It went really well. I did have a few minutes in the beginning where I got really nervous. But I turned around and I took a big gulp of water and I took a really deep breath and I said to myself, dude, you’ve got to do this. You’re going to do this. When I turned back around, everything was fine for the next 50 minutes.
So I got back home and I was thinking about all of this and how it went down and the fact that I didn’t die or pass out. Oh, my gosh. I have spent so many years freaking out about public speaking. I have no idea what I was so worried about. It was great. It was exciting. It was fulfilling. I actually really enjoyed it. So the moral of the story is doing things that you think are scary, might end up not actually being scary. They might end up being really rewarding. I’m hoping that my presentation helped people to sort through whether or not they wanted to start a podcast. I’m really hoping to start a food blogger podcast movement. I declared that during my presentation. For that, I’m just so grateful that I was willing to face those fears and get up on stage and say the words I felt needed to be heard and share the value that I had in my heart. So I’m just encouraging you today. If there’s a scary thing that you’ve been putting off, just because it’s scary, do it anyway. Remember my words, I’m talking 40 plus years of being terrified of public speaking, and now it’s not a big deal. You’ve got this.
Now I will talk through my five specific takeaways from the actual sessions that I went to. This is no particular order.
The first session I absolutely loved was a session put on by, I think her name is Abi. She talked about the five secrets to building wealth. She has so much knowledge about things like real estate and cryptocurrency and stock markets that I just don’t have. So I found it fascinating to learn what she has dug into in her life and how much wealth that she has been able to build by learning about these things. So my takeaway here is just that if I want to be able to give back to people in the way that I know I desire, I need to start accumulating a little more wealth. I don’t want to build wealth by working harder because I’m at a spot now where I’ve really streamlined my businesses. I’m working efficiently and I’m doing a lot, but I’m doing a lot in a short amount of time. I don’t want to add any hours to my week. So if I want to build this wealth, I need to think through other avenues. Real estate is really intriguing to me and I’ve been thinking about real estate for the past year or so, but I have absolutely no idea where to start with it.
This session really encouraged me to figure it out and just find someone who can teach me about this so that I can start building that wealth. In one of the takeaways that Abi said was to create a plan, create a money plan and start with the end in mind. So what do you want in the end? So whether that’s 10 years, five years, 20 years, whatever, look at that plan and then work backwards to figure out what you need to do. This is really the way that I run my business. I don’t do this necessarily with money, but I do it with projects and goals so it’s the same thing. I really love that approach.
My second specific takeaway was from a session called shift your mindset from scarcity and fear to abundance and confidence and that was with Rachel Gainer. There were so many breakthroughs I could see just looking around the room that were taking place in that session because she really encouraged us to dig into what our fears were and why we were feeling those and getting to the root of them, instead of just putting band-aids over them. She said so many good things, but there are a couple lines that I wrote down, which must mean they were good because I did not write down much from the entire conference. These two things I wrote down. So this is Rachel. She said, “fear’s goal is always to keep you from taking action.” Oh my gosh. I love that. The second thing I wrote down from her was, “take deliberate actions even when fear is present.” This aligns with exactly what I was saying from point five from my overarching takeaways. Facing fears, even when they’re so scary. So many good things await you on the other side of those fears. I know we’ve heard that in different ways over the past few years, because that’s a trendy thing to say. But there’s so much truth in it. Fear has kept me from taking action in so many areas of my life and now I’m starting to break those down. It feels so good. It’s so liberating. Good things, positive things await me on the other side of breaking down those walls of fear. I loved her encouragement just to take deliberate action, not just take action, but take deliberate action. Even if fear is there, knock it down anyway.
My third specific takeaway was from the session called Level Up With Google’s Web Tools with Paul from Google. He provided a lot of really great information and his presentation was super funny, but I will mention one thing that he said that was like, oh, I didn’t know about this. So I’ve been digging into it a little bit and it’s called the Google Question Hub. If you are not familiar with this, you need to go check it out. I believe you should go to questionhub.google.com. You have to sign in. I use whatever email account is aligned with your Google analytics. I don’t know if you for sure have to do that, but that’s what I did. There you will find the thing that’s called Question Hub. You can type in a topic or subject. It can be anything. Think anything you type into Google or anything that you are particularly knowledgeable about. So I typed in spaghetti sauce because I have a lot of sauce recipes on my blog. You’ll see a lot of questions pop up. So these are really random. So I’m looking at, does anyone have a Johnny manicotti recipe? I don’t know what that means. A lot of these, I have no idea. But some of them actually resonate and make sense. Here’s one that says too much tomato sauce in taco soup. Okay. I know I have a taco soup recipe and I know I addressed the tomato sauce issue.
So what you do is you click this little handy submit button. All I do is copy and paste my link for taco soup, press submit and then, I don’t know. I think Google then considers you to be an answer for this question or something along those lines. Clearly, I don’t have an end result from doing this, but I assume that only good things can come. There’s very little effort that you need to put in on the front end. So I say try a few and just see what happens. One other little thing that I’ll mention from Paul’s session is that there is a support form within the web stories plugin on your WordPress dashboard that I did not know about. So if you have problems with web stories, if you have a question or a bug or something that’s bothering you specifically about stories, use that support forum to get answers and feedback. I did not know about that so I thought that was a really helpful little point.
My next specific takeaway was from Emily Perron’s session, which was titled A Day In The Life of Seven Figure Food Bloggers. I loved the session. It was one of my favorites. I love Emily. She always comes prepared and with so much great information. My takeaway was that I need to outsource some things that I have been sitting on for a long time. Last summer I had Emily run through an organizational strategy with me and we came to the conclusion that I needed this person in my business. It was a very specific title with very specific tasks. While it made sense at the time, I was like, yes, I need this person in my life. I literally have just been sitting on it because I keep saying to myself but I can do these things. So why would I hire them out? I’m fine. I’ve got this process. It’s efficient and streamlined. So I don’t need to hire out. But her presentation gave me the permission to finally do it. I just need to do it. I’m so grateful I went to her session because now I’m going to do it.
The last specific takeaway that I’ll mention was from the very last session that I attended. It was presented by Julie Tran Deily. Her session was called Values and Goal Setting Workshop. It was really cool. She just encouraged us all to think through our notes we had taken throughout the entire conference and make a plan for all the things that we wanted to do. She had a little exercise prepared where we worked through defining what our values were. She led us to a site where there were a ton of words. From the database of words, we had to pick out a handful that really stood out to us, that we felt aligned with our businesses and our lives and who we are as people. I was really surprised to see that I picked out my words really fast, like within just a few minutes. There were a ton to choose from. When I first looked at the list, I was like, there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this. It really came to me really quickly. Within 10 minutes, I would say I had not only my words, but I had put action words along with them. I had a list of six values that completely defined what both sides of my business are and who I am as a human being.
So I’ll share those with you just because I want you to get an idea about what this looks like. So here are my values defined in short sentences. Develop and prioritize relationships. Show kindness first always. Rely on intuition. Show up consistently. Provide an abundance of value in service. Last but not least, face fears boldly.
Wow. I didn’t even intend for those to end on all of that, but I think this wraps up this entire episode perfectly. I wanted to give one honorable mention because I just thought of this. Jenny Melrose gave a great presentation on Scaling for Growth, I believe was her title. One of the takeaways I got from there was to create SOPs for my business. I’ve dabbled in this, but I’ve never really officially sat down and created SOP’s. So she really encouraged us to just do it. Oh my gosh, Jenny is so encouraging and uplifting. I love hearing her talk and her session pumped me up. I was ready to crush it in my business after listening to her. She’s amazing.
That wraps up my takeaways from Tastemaker. If you were there and I didn’t meet you, I’m really sad and sorry that I didn’t get to meet you. But next time, and if you were there and I met you, I’m so grateful I got to hug you and talk to you in person. I feel so blessed this week. My heart feels overflowing with all the good things because of getting to meet some of you in person.
I’d love to hear what your takeaways are if you did go to the conference. So email me. [email protected] and let me know what your takeaways were. Okay. I will see you in the next episode. Thank you so much for being here, awesome food bloggers. You guys are amazing. I’ll catch you next time.
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