As you may have seen, I posted part 1 of this series on Friday, talking only about the food that I experienced while in Portland for Vida Vegan Con. In this recap, I’ll be going over some of the classes that I went to, what I’ve learned and what we discussed. This one is going to be a little word-heavy.
Before leaving home and heading out to Portland, I had already written down a rough outline of the classes that I planned on attending. I thankful that I did, because I probably would have been pretty overwhelmed once I showed up, trying to figure out which classes to take and where they would be (some classes were in different buildings). You can find a complete list of the classes offered on the VVC website.
After the brief welcoming speech, people went around and got samples from the exhibitor booths. Some of the brands showcased were So Delicious Dairy Free, Wayfare Foods, Teese, Go Veggie! and Missionary Chocolates. Lucky for me, I had tried most of these products out at Expo West in March, so I could just chill out before the first string of classes.
Hannah Kaminsky’s class on Food Styling, was definitely on my list of must-sees; if you have never been to her site, Bitter Sweet Blog, you must! She has beautiful photos and imaginative recipes and her writing is a great read. We had a printout on each of our seats, once we entered the room, which had a list of items for a styling kit, plus some miscellaneous supplies. I felt pretty good about having 99% of the items on the list! Overall, her class was very informative and great for people wanting to know more about Food Styling. She even did a hands-on demo with a very brown-looking vegan Pad Thai, and turned it into a gorgeous and appetizing dish. She has some cliff notes of her class on her site!
Next, I was trying to go to the Monetizing Your Blog class, but the room filled and over-flowed into the hallway. So, I made my way over to the Library for Jess Scone’s discussion on Attention Spans, Social Media, & the State of Blogging. I feel as though I was meant to miss the other class, because this was a great discussion. Jess would present statistics and points on various types of social media and the pros and cons of each, then have us talk about our personal experiences and thoughts on each. Overall, I really enjoyed the class, and it may or may not have turned into a social media support group. (Ha!)
The Art of Writing Recipes class sounded promising, so I went to that after my social media therapy session. We learned about tips and tricks to become inspired, how to list ingredients and steps, appealing to different markets, organization tips and how to make sure that your recipes work. I had fun listening to Terry Hope Romero, Dreena Burton and Nava Atlas talk about their personal blunders and experiences writing recipes for years.
Of course, I had to go to the class “Path to Cookbook Author” which had an amazing panel, made up of Bianca Phillips, Julie Hasson and Joni Marie Newman. They went through the process of what happens when you want to put a cookbook of your own out into the world; from writing a proposal, testing recipes, with an emphasis on just how much work goes into a cookbook (spoiler: A hell of a lot). To get an agent or not? How do you protect yourself when it comes to contracts and legal stuff? Why is this book marketable? All of these questions were asked and answered thoroughly.
Saturday morning started off with a solid breakfast, as I said before, then it was off to “Developing & Teaching Kick-Ass Vegan Cooking Classes for Everyone” with Fran Costigan. If you’re not familiar with Fran, she is the vegan dessert queen with a whole lotta ‘tude, and she’s hilarious. I took two whole pages of notes on her class and came away from it feeling a little more sure of myself, if I ever decided to offer classes in the future.
After Fran’s class, I went to “Cookbook & Product Reviews” taught by Hannah Kaminsky, John McDevitt and Lisa Pitman. I’ve done a few reviews on my site, so I thought it would be interesting to see what experience and info they had to offer. Lisa went first and talked about Cookbook reviews, as her site used to be solely compromised of such. She had great advice about how to pick which books suit you and your readers, the moral dilemma of putting up a bad review or not, and how many recipes you should test from the book (at least 5). John’s blog is the Laziest Vegans, so he’s definitely knowledgeable on the topic of product reviews. He went through his process of documenting, tasting, and writing reviews in a way that was very easy to understand. Hannah added some of her personal insight to each category and answered some questions.
If you know me personally, you know that I have a slight issue when it comes to dedicating specific amounts of time to blogging and social media. So, I decide that the class on “Finding Balance: Blogging & Personal Life” sounded like a great fit for me. There were some good tips given, but the panel was made up of people that have careers aside from blogging, so I found the class not so relatable. Tips on how to take time out for yourself were great, but I was looking for more tips on optimizing my time.
The class that I went to after that was “The Other Side: A Reader’s Perspective”. I knew that this might end up being more of a discussion class judging by the panel of Maeve Connor, Gabrielle Pope and Jess Scone; so, I was looking forward to it. While they did offer some good tips on how to not come off as narcissistic or fake, most of the class seemed like nit-picking different things from different blogs without solutions to solve what they took issue with. All in all, I feel like there are many different types of blogs and the readers who love them; so this class ended up being kind of “meh” for me.
I had a really late night on Saturday, so I missed the first class that I wanted to go to on Sunday, which was Susan Voisin’s “Advanced Photography”. She has the presentation on her site, and I heard that it was very cool to watch her process some of her pictures as a demo. When I finally got to the Museum, I went to Terry Hope Romero’s class on “Recipe Creation & Testing” (shocker!), it’s like I’m a food blogger or something. I absolutely loved this class and basically wrote down her entire PowerPoint presentation into my notebook, not to mention that I could probably listen to her talk all day because she’s SO funny. If I have some time, or find her presentation online, I’ll come back to this post and share it with you! Thank you, Terry for an awesome class!
Last, but certainly not least, I went to Isa Chandra’s “Writer’s Block” workshop that was almost two hours long. It was very intimate, with only 10 people in the library circled around one table. She shared some insight on how to filter yourself less, finding focus, and the editing process. We did a few free writing exercises, starting with 1 minute, then going on to 2 minutes, and 5. I learned a lot, but that class could’ve gone on forever and I wouldn’t have minded. I didn’t get to read my last edit aloud, but I may send it over to Isa to look over soon.
For the next part in this series of three, I’ve saved the best for last. I’ll be talking about all of the awesome bloggers that I met and how the conference affected me.