Why hello, dear reader!
I know my posts have been a little random as of late, but I am working on trying to change that. This blog has been kind of a ball of malleable goo ever since I first posted about how weird I thought Taco Bell salsa packets were. (You can read that gem of a post right here!) The FFK blog has gone from obscure to food journal to posts about running to periods of silence to serious posts about issues like binging. I have to admit, I have been in a bit of a funk when it comes to blogging. In fact, my life has been in kind of a funk for a while. I have been frustrated with my lack of progress and frankly I have had really bad body image issues. Thankfully, I have been blessed with a wife who has been there for me through better and worse. Yesterday, I realized that I really have come a long way and I shouldn’t let myself get in the way of my own success. After I came to that realization, I felt free of that burden and frustration that I have been towing around for the past couple of months. I’m ready to make some serious progress with my health and to look to more than the scale for milestones of success. The Kid is back!
So you’re probably wondering what any of that has to do with the title of this post. Well, the impetus of this revelation started when I went to the Florida Blogger & Social Media Conference in late September in Orlando at Full Sail University. I didn’t know much about FLBlogCon before I signed up, but I knew some of my blogging heroes were going to be there and I knew that I wanted to take my blogging to the next level. The one-day conference was absolutely phenomenal and I can’t wait to go back and back and back and…well, you get the idea. So without further adieu, here are my top favorite things about FLBlogCon13!
No. 1 The Surprises
So yeah, I won a trip to the Bahamas in the first 30 minutes of the conference. Not a bad way to get things going.
Before Pat Williams, the opening keynote, took to the stage, Bahama Breeze spoke about their upcoming #Rumtoberfest extravaganza along with their other specials going on. Growing up, Bahama Breeze was always a must-eat wherever we were. My mom was kinda obsessed. Anyway, so then they were giving away three trips to the Breezes Bahamas resort right then and to look under our seat for a lizard. Well look what I found…
I kind of lost it. I was ridiculously shocked. I tried to take a picture of the audience when I got up there, but I was too shaky for me to even take it. The craziest part about it was that I was sitting a row back before the conference started, but then I thought “I should sit a little closer to the stage.” And I did. And I won a trip to the Bahamas. Megan and I are looking at going in May. I can’t wait. Thanks for the awesome trip, Bahama Breeze!
No. 2 The Friends
Like I said before, there were a few bloggers there that I have been digital friends with for a long time. One of the first blogs I came across when I first started my weight loss journey was Katy Widrick’s blog. For a long time, especially in my formative weight loss years, Katy was the facilitator of Fitblog Chat, an Twitter chat where weight loss/health bloggers like me could talk about everything from eating issues to what kind of running shoes to buy. It got me through some pretty hard times. Anyway, I went to Katy’s session and then I went to talk to her, not 100% sure if she knew who I was. After she was done talking to someone, she turned to me a screamed “AAAAAHHHH YOU’RE HERE!!!” It was pretty awesome. We talked for a while about pretty much everything. It was just awesome to see one of my online buddies in real life!
Then later on, I saw another online buddy!
When I was waiting in line for lunch, I turned back and saw my friend Nanci Cernak from This Crazy Life of Mine! Nanci and I are online running buddies who always like each other’s running pics on Instagram. I ate an awesome lunch of shrimp and grits from Bahama Breeze with her and her husband Mike. It was awesome to catch up with her! It was so exciting to see familiar faces. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to handle Fitbloggin’ next June in Savannah. I might just pass out from being completely starblogshocked.
No. 3 The Swag
One thing I didn’t was how much swag we were going to get! I came home with two bags full of stuff from a shirt from Ford to a spatula from Florida Dairy Farmers! I paid to get a swanky new head shot from Macbeth Photography! (I know, I know, I should have worn a bow tie…)
No. 4 The Food
Let me tell you about the food!!! IT WAS AWESOME! When I first walked in, there was a yogurt bar provided by the Florida Dairy Farmers (well, I mean they’re weren’t actual farmers there…but you get the idea.) Anyway, I made a serious parfait with chocolate chip and raspberries. It was epic and filling. Later on in the day, they brought out a freezer full of Blue Bell ice cream bars. It was magical.
Then, I went over to the coffee station of deliciousness. They were making coffee about a million different ways. Each one more delicious than the next. I became close friends with them and their Kenya AA blend. They were also giving away they brew to go packs that you just add to water and ice iced coffee packs. I can’t wait to try it out! Thanks Barnie’s for some legend-wait for it-dary coffee!
Oh yeah, Ford put on an amazing after party in the back lot area of Full Sail. One of the many stations involved mini cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes. After the Banana’s Foster and the S’mores cupcakes, I went in to a sugar coma. They were that awesome.
No. 5 The Sessions
Now for the reason I went: the sessions! I have been blessed that my passions and my job almost completely align with one another. While I did go to this conference for my blog, there were a couple of sessions that bled that applied both to my academic interests and what I do at the Center.
The first session was “Media Kits: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” by my friend Katy! She provided some great examples of how to, and how not to, put together a media kit for your blog, which essential for the business side of blogging. I knew how to do this from my PR classes in undergrad, but it was awesome to see it in action. Katy is also a producer so she has experience from both sides of the process. Can’t wait to put mine together!
The second session was about the communication law side of blogging and the important of being upfront and honest about when you are advertising with a post. If you do that, be sure to use a hashtag like #ad or #sponsored so the reader is aware. This is also important in blog posts too!
After lunch, there was a bonus session. I was planning on yoga outside, but it was ridiculously hot and I was full of delicious food from Bahama Breeze (that was not an ad. It’s just a fact that Bahama Breeze has delicious food.) so I went in to the Google Glass sessions. One of the session leaders actually worked for Disney. He said that he had been on all the rides and had recorded the ride with his Google Glass. I left early, but they evidently let people try them out. Easily the only fail of the day. But I figured one day Google will take over the earth like Skynet and I’ll be forced to wear them at that point anyway since we will all be half cyborg half slave to the almighty Google Master. (I guess that’s one way to look at it…)
Anyway, the third session was one that you would usually have to pay a lot of money to go to: “Social Media Tips From A Ford Brand Strategist.” Karen Untereker is the U.S. Social Media Manager from Ford aka the ultimate social media job. She explained Ford’s grassroot/user-content driven campaign for the new Ford Fiesta. Ford gave the Fiesta to about 100 Gen Y’s and had them document their experience socially while completing certain “missions.” She showed some of the user-generated content that, according to here, was better than anything they could have come with on their own. It was amazing that Ford gave the users so much control. But they knew that letting go of control in this realm would have positive outcomes. The one thing that surprised me the most about this case study was that the corporate executives were on board throughout the whole process. They were willing to give this a go and it paid off. I was incredibly impressed with this session and how Ford is such an innovator in the social realm. I guess the only criticism I would have is that I was the target market for this campaign and I didn’t know about it. Now, just because I didn’t know about it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t effective. But it emphasizes the important for the integrated marketing model where different methods and channels are being used to create awareness. An example of this would be an engaging TV ad that encourages me to get online and check out the campaign. Ford has done their research, so they would know that I have multiple screens at my disposal while I’m seeing this TV ad. Anyway, I just completely nerded out on you. All in all, it was a pretty freakin’ awesome session that made me miss my ’73 Ford truck “Ol’ Red” that sounded like the apocalypse. I miss that beast of a thing…
After a session about how Full Sail University uses their social media, which was applicable to every job I’ve had at FSU, I went to this amazing session called “The Business of Blogging: Building Relationships With Brands” which was presented by three very successful Latina bloggers including Yadira Ambert of El Club de las Divas. They talked about how to reach out to brands by utilizing the strengths of your blog. Their case studies involved International Delights coffee and a blogging event for the Hispanic community for McDonald’s. They went through the process step-by-step. They had some great suggestions that I hadn’t thought of like quantifying your outreach and then creating a presentation to send to the brand. Since my focus in grad school was multicultural marketing and I did a paper analyzing the potential to market to Hispanics through social media, I nerded out again with some questions about Latina bloggers and the use of Spanish, code switching and Spanglish in blogs and how brands react to that. It was a great final session!
So this conference pretty much knocked my socks off. Bess Auer and her team put on an amazing conference that completely recharged me. I can’t wait to go back next year. I laid out some personal blogging goals for myself after the conference that I want to achieved before FLBlogCon14.
Also during that trip, I hung out with my awesome sister Brittany and I stayed with my friend Alex! Thanks for an awesome time too!