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Mental Strength and Crushing it at Conferences with Kami Kilgore - Podcast Interview

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In this episode, we are going to talk about what you can do to get the most out of conferences, how to approach and work with brands, and the importance of critically looking at the bad to move forward with the good.

There's no one I've met that went into food blogging already knowing all the answers. Whether it's food photography, SEO, or creating YouTube videos, there is always more to learn. And blogging conferences are a great way to learn from people like you, but who have already gone through the process.

But a lot of bloggers are introverts, and the prospect of attending a conference can be really intimidating. I know it was for me the first several times. And today's guest is the perfect person to help you get the most out of a conference.

Listen to or Watch the Interview

This episode from the Makin' Bacon Podcast podcast is available on all your favorite podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, and Google Podcasts.

The video of the interview is also available on the Makin' Bacon YouTube Channel.

About Kami Kilgore

In 2015, as a Registered Nurse with absolutely no business, sales or event planning experience, she founded Everything Food Conference, because she wanted to create a place where food, lifestyle, and chef influencers have a place to call home.

In 5 years, she built a brand and team around serving influencers, while turning Everything Food into the largest conference for professional food influencers. And if you attended the conference last year, you also know she is occasionally a dance super star.

She has an incredible story, and I'm so excited to talk to today's guest - the founder and CEO of Everything Food Conference, Kami Kilgore.

Key Takeaways

  • How to push through the doubt and roadblocks life throws at you.
  • How to develop mental strength
  • When to work on your mental strength strategies
  • What to expect when attending a conference
  • Why sponsors at blogging conferences are so much easier to work with than at trade shows
  • How the perception of influencer marketing has changed over the last few years
  • What is the most effective way to approach a brand
  • How to tweak your pitch to exactly match what a brand is looking for
  • What to effectively pitch yourself, even when you are small or just getting started
  • Why you SHOULD do work for free...sometimes
  • Why the value you receive can't just be weighed by a price tag
  • How you can turn free work into paid work
  • Why using free work can help you build up your resume and track record
  • How to use free work to make your paid work more effective
  • Why sometimes you DON'T want a great brand to work with you
  • How you can network...even as an introvert

Links and Mentions

If you want to read some more about this, here are a few helpful links.

Do you have some traffic and fans but you're not making as much money as you would like? It's time to take back control of your blog, diversify your income stream, and start moving forward again. And this FREE food blogging video course is exactly what you need to get you there.

How do you approach this? Let me know in the Makin Bacon Facebook Group or the comments below.

Transcription of Kami Kilgore Podcast

Today, we're going to talk about what you can do to get the most out of conferences, how to approach and work with brands, and why critically looking at the bad is a key to moving forward with the good. I know probably a few hundred bloggers I've met over the years and not a single one has had all the answers when they started blogging or even when they've been blogging for 5 or 10 years.

There's always something new to learn, whether it's SEO or how to use YouTube or just trying to get better at food photography. And one of the best places to do this is at a food conference. You can learn from people like yourself who have gone through the process. They've figured out what they need to know, and they can kind of show you and teach you how to do it.

A lot of bloggers are introverts, so it can be scary to go to a conference. I was really nervous the first few times I went, and I still get nervous when I go into a new room filled with strangers. I wanted to discuss some ways that you can get the most out of a conference and how you can feel more comfortable at one.

I think today's guest is the perfect person to help with that process. In 2015 as a registered nurse with absolutely no business, sales or event planning experience, she founded the Everything Food Conference. Because she wanted to create a place where food, lifestyle and chef influencers have a place to call home.

In 5 years, she built a brand and a team around serving influencers while turning Everything Food into the largest conference for professional food influencers. It just blows my mind. And if you attended the conference last year, you also know she is occasionally a dance superstar. She has an incredible story, and I'm so excited to talk to today's guest, the founder and CEO of Everything Food Conference, Kami Kilgore.

See What Kami Kilgore and I Talked About

Jason Logsdon: Kami, welcome to Makin' Bacon. I really appreciate you coming on. You've created Everything Food, which is an incredible conference. If anyone out there is on the fence about whether you should go or not, you should. It's great. You're going to learn a lot, meet a lot of wonderful people. It's a really welcoming environment. And through doing this, I think you have a wealth of information that you can share with my audience, many of which may have been to a conference or may just be thinking about going to one for the first time. I can't wait to dive in and learn from your expertise.

Kami Kilgore: Thank you all. I'm excited to be here.

Jason: One of the things I like to start with is what does it like around your dinner table on a typical day?

Kami: Oh, what an awesome question. So because of the growth of my business over a year and a half ago, almost 2 years ago, my husband was able to leave his corporate job. And we are working together now on this business that continues to grow and it is this living wonderful creature.

We also have 3 small children an 8, a 5 and an almost 2-year-old. We are just constantly juggling. So actually around our dinner table, we make sure all of our kids are there. We have learned a lot of things around growing a business which is all about the mind and the power strategy behind the way you think, because it impacts how you act. With my kids being really small, we really start with "what is the 1 positive thing that made you feel happy today?" We all take turns, sometimes it's a piece of candy or my son got a baseball bat yesterday, that was his positive thing. But we talk about it.

And then we also talk about "was there anything that made you feel sad today?" And then we all share things about with that.

And then we talk about, "well what are things that we can do? Like what are constructive things we can do?" It's okay that we feel sad or we feel disappointed, but then what are things we can do? And then it's so fun to start seeing my 8, 5. My 2-year-old, he's just busy usually just throwing food. He's so funny, he makes us all laugh.

But it's fun to start hearing my 8 and 5-year-old provide like suggestions for me and my husband. Because we'll ask them "what do you think mommy felt disappointed about this? What do you guys think?" And it's fun to hear them start. So really that's our dinner conversations. It's all about what was positive. What made you feel sad. And what can we do to like make tomorrow even better?

Jason: I feel like sometimes as sophisticated adults, we also overthink our problems and solutions. I can imagine sometimes the 8-year-old like, why don't you just do this? You're like, because, um, no, that, that makes perfect sense. I don't know why I'm not doing that.

Kami: And to me, I know there are so many things I wish we could just be like kids. Something happens, they let her roll off their back and they move on to the next thing. Yes, I do love the craziness of building and growing a business and our kids are so very little because it helps us really zone down on what is most important and like you said, bring perspective into this whole thing that we're doing.

Jason: I love the concept of looking at the good and looking at kind of the bad and trying to solve the bad. And I think a lot of people don't necessarily. Most of us are in a good situation compared to other people in the world, we have a lot of positives in our life and really acknowledging those and trying to make sure you are thankful for what is good is something that is always a valuable thing for keeping you motivated and happy and moving forward.

Kami: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's also very healthy for us to kind of pinpoint because I think sometimes at the end of the day or even beginning of the day, we wake up and we feel a heavy burden of stress or we're just kind of already on edge, or we just kind of feel often, I think a once a week and really like, what is it like, what is it that's making me feel this way and kind of pinpoint a feeling and that's what I want to pass off onto my children is that feeling stressed, feeling sad, feeling disappointed, frustrated all of those things are actually very, very normal and part of being a human.

But like what are constructive things we can do to move forward with these feelings and hit them straight on? And so, it's a practice me and my husband have been doing for a while and now we're really trying to incorporate it into our children because I'm hoping to teach them at a very young age.

Jason: I think that ties into something that's always impressed me about you. You run Everything Food, you built this thing from the ground up. And I think there's a lot of people in the audience who see you or see someone like Pat Flynn or even regular speakers like me, they think they have it together and I could never do what they do.

You know? I can't even get the sponsored posts, the act I want. I can't get the advertisers to write back to me. I don't have the traffic I want. I just don't know what I'm doing like Kami does. And I feel it'd be easy for you to play into that kind of facade "Oh yeah, no, I'm just always crushing it." But you own it. You don't do that. You've been very upfront and honest about the rejection you've received, the business challenges you've had to overcome and the struggles you've gone through.

What advice do you have for someone who might look at successful people like yourself and they don't believe in themselves quite as much as they could.

Kami: Yes, it is a great question because I am really, really passionate about this. I've read a lot of books and studied a lot of people, and mindset and mental strength strategies have become really, really important to me and something where I'm almost obsessed to learn. The reality is there's not a single successful person out there now or in the history who have not made some major mistakes, failures, wanting to quit, question why they're doing that, and guess what? I still have those days. But I have a strategy in place to be able to push through it because the only difference I really feel like it's the only difference between those who are successful and those who aren't.

It's not crazy talented, or they're more attractive, or they're the smartest, or they're most whatever. I sincerely feel like it comes down to the principle of not quitting and having grit. Because when we're entrepreneurs or building something, we have almost this vision, this idea, this place we want to go, and that is the driving factor.

So when these mistakes come, when these failures come, when these roadblocks come, you keep your eye on your goal. It may mean you need to pivot, it may mean you are going to do something you never thought you were going to end up doing, but you keep your eye on your goal and you just don't quit.

I want to be careful when I say that because I think what people mean is, "I have to work 20 hours a day, I'm killing myself and I'm burning the candle at both ends". Which yes, there is a component to that. For example, yesterday was a stressful day for me and my business. And so what I purposely chose to do was to take a break. I chose to step back and do things. I actually went and played basketball with my husband in the morning, which I'm not a basketball player at all. But it was something I purposely did to shake it up, do something different, and take a step back. So when I look at my day yesterday, I kind of quit for a day, but it was a very strategic around a purpose because I knew I needed to take a step back to kind of look over everything. And today I'm refreshed. I'm focused again. I'm now ready to put my shoulder down and do the work that I needed to do.

So when I say to not quit, I mean do not quit on your dream and your vision in your head. If you're making mistakes, if you're failing, if you're hitting roadblocks, that's when you look yourself in the mirror and you say, "awesome, good job, because I'm on the way to success."

Success comes at a price and that is through failure, mistakes and sometimes questioning if all of this craziness is even worth it. And that's when you put your shoulder down, you get resourceful. And that's why I've been very, very transparent is because when I started this, I legitimately had no experience in event planning and sponsor sales and I wasn't a big blogger. I didn't have any big name in the food influencer industry at all. But what I had was this vision and feeling in my gut, and I knew I was supposed to create this community that felt welcome and united and focused on just completely killing it and reaching our dreams and also a sense of community and I realized it relied on me.

So I look at my 5 year journey and I had to go through those rejections, those mistakes, because at this point now with the community I have been blessed to serve, I'd be in front of, they are experiencing those exact things. How can I truly serve a community if I myself have not gone through it.

And so I think that's where, in those really dark times. Because it is hard if you're right in the middle of those big mistakes and failures, it's a really hard to take a step back and have a moment of clarity. Because when you're in the thick of the emotion and the frustration and all the negative talk going on in your head, it's a really, really hard to take those steps back.

But it's where I teach a lot of mental strength strategies because in those deep, dark times when you just want to quit, you don't want to keep going, that's when those strategies kick in.

Jason: I feel like it's so important to develop those strategies when things are going well, when you can intellectually figure out what you're going to do and you're not in the kind of emotional state of panicking, and it's the worst time to try to figure out how you could cope with stuff you need to do it when things are well and you can try stuff out and get used to kind of make it a habit.

Kami: Yes, yes. You need to establish your base brain. So I was just at a conference and one of the biggest overall influencers was speaking at this conference and he made a comment that really kind of stuck with me. He said mental health issues among influencers are running rampant. So here we're really good on video and on social media and on our blogs, you know, bringing our best selves where we're happy, positive, and in all of those things behind the scenes. And he had a whole bunch of statistics to back how mental health among influencers are a really big problem. Which is so easy to understand, right?

You're putting yourself out there to be completely vulnerable to the entire world. And the world right now is kind of cranky. So if they make your recipe and it doesn't work out, then they want to like burn your house down. That's kind of the climate we're in and absolutely I have had many, many comments that have made me questioned about this whole thing.

That's where I focus on a daily basis. This isn't a, "Oh, hey, just think positive type of thing". No, I approach this as if, if you wanted to get better at food photography, there's a process you go to. You practice, you practice, practice, practice. If you want to get better at SEO, you practice and you learn and you practice and you learn. And mental health strategies, I don't know why. I think we're having a lot more life coaches and those things come out, but it is the most vital skill each of us will have for our business.

And that's exactly what it is. You learn and you practice, practice, practice. Eight months ago I went to another conference and I met an awesome person who I was talking about feeling stressed and f talking to him about my business egos.

He said, "tell me about your morning routine". The morning routine? This really doesn't have to do with the issue. And he's said, "no, let's talk about your morning routine. Because by the end of your morning routine, you should feel like you're ready to just take on the world." And so I started to reflect on my morning routine. It's hard and you have 3 kids, they're up, they want to eat breakfast, they want to be held. We have to get off to school, like it's pure chaos. We say I love you, we have a prayer, we have breakfast, but I mean, it's chaos. So I learned that the pattern I was doing in my morning really was not setting me up for success during the day.

And so my morning routine has changed. I've had to be very deliberate and purposeful, but it's been practice, practice, practice. Not every morning goes perfectly, but it is a drastic improvement from when I was just going through life and just handling the kids and the chaos. But now I approach my mornings with that goal in mind. By the end of my morning routine, I better be ready to just take on the world, whatever is going to come my way during the day.

So I offer that to anybody who is listening. Review your morning routine. So what adjustments I made to mine is now I am waking up a little bit earlier, not much earlier, just about 10 to 15 minutes earlier so I can have lunches packed and I can be ready to go. I'm already changed into my workout clothes. I know my kids are going to wake up and want to eat right that second. So I already make preparations because I know what's coming.

Then I get my daughter off to school and I immediately work out. Also, I made sure the music is my EFC playlist because in the morning I need music where you're pumped up. So I'm working out, I'm listening to this music, I'm like dancing with my kids. After that, drinking my protein drinks and stuff. I choose to listen to the scriptures, and I encourage people to listen to something that's really uplifting and something they can just shut out.

A very important thing that I forgot to say: I do not check my social media or my email until my morning routine is done because the stress of opening up your email, the stress of opening up your Facebook. There are many studies on the psychology behind that. So purposely choose to just postpone those because I know a lot of us would want to grab the phone and look at our emails and social, but when I do that, it does throw off my morning.

So just postponing it enough to where I'm focused on my kids. I'm focused on my family. I pump the house full of music while you work out with dancing. It is true, we really do work out dance parties in the morning and then I turn off the music. I will listen to something where I can be in tune, where I can build my relationship with God. If you don't believe in God then have some type of meditation, some type of quiet time or some type of a podcast or something to help you feel at peace. Whatever that is for you, invite that in. And then, I shower, get ready and go on with my day.

But that change in my morning routine where I've been very, very purposeful. It's been a game changer for me in addition to all the other things I do. Just even switching up; I'm attacking my day with purpose.

Jason: I think it's valuable to look at our days and figure out what is causing us to act in different ways. You were talking about food photography earlier. If you take a picture that's not quite right, you don't go, well, maybe next time. You try to analyze what went wrong and change stuff. And I feel like there are these kinds of things that can have huge impacts on our day from minor things. It's like in photography, if you get your lighting right and you've tweaked it, suddenly all of your pictures are better looking and just more vivid from one small change.

I feel like coming up with a morning routine, or if you work in the evening, like a pre-evening routine, whatever you need to do to get into the mindset of now it's time to work and this is my time. It can have a huge impact on your productivity and on your attitude towards the work you're putting out there.

Kami: Absolutely. Absolutely. Just with your references of photography, you look at the picture, "augh, whatever". But once you figure out natural light and your photos start getting better, it gets you more excited and you keep practicing and you keep practicing.

It is the same thing with a mental strategy. Once you make little tiny tweaks, you're like, "cool, hey, this is actually helping me". This enables you to want to do more and you keep practicing and everything. Sincerely, the most valuable thing any of this has for our business is these beautiful brains.

Jason: I think if you get nothing else from the rest of the podcast, I think this is what you should take away. Work on your mental strength and your strategies when things are going well. And push through when you're starting to feel those doubts. It doesn't mean you can't reassess your goals or reassess your direction or pivot, but don't do it just out of a fear for moving forward or because you're running into difficulty.

Do it from a place of trying to reach the goals you do want to reach and keep working and trying to improve on your strategies. You will get better, it takes time just like any other skill, but you will get better the more time you put into it.

Kami: Yes. Absolutely.

Jason: Okay, so I had you on to talk about conferences. I think what we just talked about is super valuable, but you are putting on Everything Food at the end of April. It's very exciting. If you don't have your tickets yet, go to EverythingFoodConference.com, and you can get your tickets there. It's going to be a great time.

And I wanted to kind of start with a focus on people who haven't been to conferences. So if someone hasn't been to a conference before, they don't even know what it means in a lot of cases. What can they expect when they come to something like Everything Food?

Kami: There's usually 3 main reasons why an attendee comes. They want to network with each other. Other attendees are mostly working at home behind their computers, very lonely. But this is a way for you to come and to network and find other people. A lot of masterminds, a lot of friendships, partnerships, and everything just even from networking with other attendees have come out of the conference.

So networking with each other, networking with brands. We have amazing brands, big brands who are coming this year. It makes me really excited to see the growth.

I do all of the education up front. They know they are coming specifically to meet food professional influencers who want to network and work with these brands. I educate them on strategies. I educate them on communication at the conference, what is the best way? Because the main goal for influencers to be there is to make relationships with these brands in order to form long-term partnerships.

Jason: So you've warmed them up a lot, they know what to expect and they know how to interact and deal with food bloggers.

Kami: Yes. So that's the benefit of coming to a specific food influencer conference for these brands because I've done so much prep versus if you go to just like a trade show or something where you're having to do all of the initial pitching and all of that type of stuff. At the Everything Food Conference me and my team have already done that.

I've truly educated them, the people who are in the room, and so they're ready to meet those partnerships.

Jason: None of the sponsors would be there if they didn't believe bloggers have value and they are interested in working with bloggers or they just wouldn't to be at the conference because they're paying money to be there to meet food bloggers.

Kami: Oh my goodness. Okay, let's, let's talk about this for a minute. I have gone to a million trade shows, so I walk the floors and talk with brands, because that's how I've made a lot of relationships and pitch some sponsorships for the conference. And so a couple of years ago when I was doing it, I was still having to explain what influencer marketing was, just the foundational concepts. But in the last 3 years, there has been a shift. Now they know they need to, I mean, there's a lot of big brands who have already figured out how to do it, but there is this shift in food brands that is going to come.

Budgeted budgets. There's a whole bunch of studies coming out showing people are shifting from their advertising budget into their marketing and influencer marketing budgets. In this next couple of years, there is this shift where brands are finally realizing, "Hey, the consumer is not shopping like it used to, going to retailer stores or just a reseller, the consumer is shopping a completely different way".

So now they realize bloggers and influencers and reviews, and all of those things are now a driving force when the consumer is making a decision to purchase a product. The brands now know they absolutely need to work with influencers. But, a lot of brands, they still don't know how. And so this is where the conference and I come in and educate.

And I also say it is also very valuable for you to come and talk with my attendees, to gain the education specifically from them so they can share with you, because each, each one is different in how they partner with brands. And you need to hear from them their experience on what was successful for their audience and what campaigns worked the best.

In addition to partnerships, they want to learn from bloggers and influencers because they absolutely know. So yes, if you're having trouble like getting brand partnerships and you feel discouraged about sponsored posts or any of that you should have your eye very much on the future. Be very encouraged and very excited because for some reason food brands have been a little bit behind but it's now on this upward trend and they absolutely need you. They need you, they need influencers.

Jason: So if an attendee goes to the conference and there's a sponsor or 2 there who they'd really like to work with. What is the best way for them to introduce themselves and start a conversation with them? I know you don't want to just walk up and say, "I want to do a sponsored post. Here's my card". What's a good way to open up that conversation?

Kami: Thank you for asking because this is really important. It's the same as you would with any relationship in any friendship, you want to think with their goals in mind. So whenever I am pitching a brand, my very first question is, "what would be your end goal when you participate in an event like mine?"

And then they tell me all their pain points. Well, we just haven't been able to make the right connections with influencers. Influencer marketing hasn't been working for us. We want to have better networking. We want to have better brand awareness. We want to...so they tell me what they need and then I'm like, great.

So I say, "within our conference, here's the best sponsorship package to help you meet your needs." When you are approaching a brand, it very much needs to be about them. So ask them, "how do you work with influencers? What is upcoming? What are you guys focused on as a company? Are there any upcoming products you were really wanting to market? Is there any mission or any brand awareness goals you guys are trying to work on?"

Once they tell you, if you're focused on them and their needs, as they're talking and having ideas, start thinking about your platforms and start thinking about what has been really successful for you, and then start the conversation. You just say, "Oh, you really wanted to market a product. Well, here's an example where I helped so-and-so be able to market their products. And you know, I'm really rocking it on Instagram stories. And I have found it's most successful on my platform with this, and here's data to do Y."

So even if you don't have any data, even if you are a beginner start thinking about how your platforms, right now in the places you thrive and you feel confident. Maybe it's your food photography and you initially offer "hey, you know my food photography has drastically improved n with this upcoming product that you have. I would love to shoot images for you that you can use across your social media platforms" or something to start getting in the door where, because.

Brands are getting bombarded with bloggers and influencers, and whether it's for free product, for discount, for brand partnerships. And where I think a lot of these approaches are going wrong is they're reaching out to the brand and only talking about themselves and what they can do. Which is not wrong, but that's a little bit farther down the conversation.

Absolutely. You need to sell yourself and what you can do, but when you first approach, it appears you're only in it for yourself. Whether that's the case or not, that's what you are saying, "here's me, here's this, and I charged this amount for post, work with me." Versus you reaching out and saying, "Hey, I really love your product." I use Bob's Red Mill for example. I sincerely use their whole wheat pastry flour all the time. It's my favorite. And I have good relationships with Bob's Red Mill, they've been a long-term sponsor.

So when I reach out to Bob's Red Mill, I say "I personally love your product, I recommend it to all my friends. My one recipe with my blueberry muffins where I really talk about your pastry flour and it's going through the roof. It's like one of my most popular posts. Because you know, in it, a lot of it has to do with your flour. And I like, I would love to see if there's a partnership there because my followers are really responding to this whole wheat pastry flour and this recipe that's all tied into this."

Again, it's about what they want and then tying in your unique offer, fitting into what they want and what they need.

Jason: I think that's so important approaching it from a, "what can I do for you" standpoint. It makes it so much easier and it's regardless of your size, which is a very, very valuable approach.

But especially when you're just getting started, a lot of people say, well, I only have 5,000 monthly visitors, or 1,000 or whatever the number is, it just seems too small. And they think, well, if I go to a brand and say, pay me money for a sponsored post, they're not going to do it. But if you go to them and say, what are you looking for? And then they just told you literally what you need to pitch back to them. And you can figure out from what you offer, what your skill set is, what can you offer them that's going to meet one of their goals in a unique way someone else can't. They're going to be much more likely to work with you than if you just come out and say, "Hey, I have 100,000 monthly visitors" it"s not nearly as valuable as hearing what they had to say and giving them a custom, "what if we did this to accomplish the goal you just said."

Like your example with doing photography they can use in social, they might not even care if you have any followers, if you have good photography,cbecause they're using it on their social anyway and they're not relying on you to get it to a big audience.

Kami: Yes and can I say something that's going to be really controversial? I know we absolutely should be paid for our work. Absolutely. Some of my biggest partnerships have come where I actually worked for free, because my eye has been on the long-term relationship. And so, my philosophy is I want to get in the door and then make them realize I bring so much value that they cannot help but work with me.

So, and I have done this with some really big brands who have now spent 10 times of what I would have gotten at the beginning. For the first 2 years of the conference I was still trying to prove it out, right? I was constantly trying to prove I had value and it was worth spending money on.

So my first two years, I had to be very, very resourceful and there was plenty of partnerships I had to get creative and do for product exchange for the event. Because I knew it would help me offset costs with like meals and stuff. I didn't have paying sponsors. So I don't want to negate but I think sometimes we tie so much our value into money in our pocket and I think we should do a little bit of separation.

Because the reality is all of our value, there's not enough money on this earth for us individually to measure our value. Like our value is completely independent of some price tag that comes with it. So I think sometimes with the community it gets really upset and then we're like, no, we need money, money, money, because it's going to diminish our value.

I currently view it a little bit different. I want my foot in the door, and then I want to make the brand so dependent on my value I bring them, that they're going to end up in the next year to 3 years spending 10 times to 20 times more than they initially paid me. We all have a massive amount of value. Again, it comes back to our beautiful brains, our beautiful brains that are creating our businesses and deriving our businesses and sometimes the long-term play means right now you provide value for no cash reward. But for the long-term play, you've seen this is a long-term partnership that will end up sincerely paying out.

And I did it from the very beginning. I had to prove to attendees and sponsors because I had not done it yet. I had not done any events. And so there was a lot of skepticism, but I knew in my heart I was going to create something so awesomely full of value that they would become dependent on me and in it has been the case. I know it's not the popular opinion, it's just a different viewpoint.

Have confidence in yourself. The price tag on your work does not diminish your value, at all. The money and the value are two very, very different things, and you make the brand so dependent on your value that in a year from now they're going to be paying you 10 times, 20 times more than you would have pitched for this initial foot in the door campaign.

Jason: It very much does, and I actually agree a lot with you. I feel some brands out there take advantage of food bloggers as a whole by always wanting free stuff. And I understand certain bloggers not wanting to work with them, especially after a certain point. But there's a lot of stuff you can do with low effort to get in the door with places.

Like you're saying, to either pitch them, or earlier you were talking about going to these people and saying, "with these stats or this campaign I ran in the past, here's how fits with your goals." But like you said, some people don't have those stats, or you could work with one of these places for free.

You can treat it like it was a paying job. You can blow it out of the water and then go to a brand you want to work with and say, "Oh, well, I ran this campaign with so-and-so and here's the results I had. I could do it with you because you're an even better fit than they are. Imagine what I can do with your goals."

Kami: Yes, 100%. This is what I have done. This is what I've learned with sales in doing sponsorships and with events. I am now solidifying sponsorships 20 to 30 times more than I did my first and second year, like drastically way more. You need to prove out a model and once it's proven out and then you have value, and it's such an easier sell. It's such an easier sell. And I love what you just said.

Jason: Yes. And from a selfish standpoint, you always want to do good work for your clients that are bringing you on. But if you want to try experimenting with how to promote something or try a new type of post and what may or may not work, you don't want to do it when you finally get Bob's Red Mill to give you 10 grand to do the campaign. Take one of these free ones. See, what you can do, compare the results to what you normally do, and hopefully it works out well. But they're not paying you, so if it backslides a little bit, it's not the end of the world. It's not this huge contract you just got now. Bob isn't going to work with you anymore.

Kami: You know what? It's funny you brought that up. Because I actually had the thought not too long ago. Because now the brands that are coming on and the amount of money I'm charging them, I 100% feel confident in what I'm doing because not only do I give them what they want, but then I made sure we over succeed.

I wanted to over exceed expectations and provide even more value than I promise. So now with the price tag I charge, I do not even bat an eye, and I feel completely confident. But looking back on my first and second year, I had the thought "oh my goodness, I'm so glad these big brands actually didn't sponsor my first and second years because now I really know what I'm actually doing. And so it was kind of funny looking back where at that time, my first and second year, I'm so wanted these big brands to come and sponsor my event. But now looking back I'm so grateful they didn't because I had so many mistakes and failures and things yet to make and learn for me to be out where I am now.

Now I'm 100% confident in what I have to provide and charging this price point. I still feel like I'm giving them a kill of a deal, even though it's coming at a bigger price tag.

Jason: Yeah. You know what you're doing a lot more. You're offering them a lot more in meeting their goals a lot better. So it keeps going, getting better and better.

Kami: Yes. And then they ended up thanking me. It's so rewarding because they're paying me for a service, but at the end, they will come and say, "Oh my goodness, thank you for this opportunity. This was amazing. Let's talk about next year." I would not be discouraged about those partnerships that are low paying or products.

Again, it comes back to those mental strategy health things, because being an entrepreneur, you have to listen to your gut. Yes. There are other bloggers out there. Yes. There are other events out there. But it comes down to you, yourself as an entrepreneur, building something uniquely on you. You need to be in tune with your guides and your feelings because you need to make those tough decisions on what is best for your business. And you can't do it when it's clouded with the chaos, you're not setting yourself up correctly for success.

Because when it comes to brands, you need to have clarity on what brands are going to be the ones long-term. You're willing to work the investment now for the long-term pay.

Jason: On the flip side of this, I think taking the same concept and looking at the deals and the offerings out there and see whether they not, they meet your goals. Like we're saying, a free one can very well meet the goals of what you're trying to do at thte time.

And on the other side of the coin is, there might be a brand out there willing to pay you 10 grand or 20 grand to do work for them but you're not personally aligned or your blog's not aligned with the brand. And taking on that deal, despite it being a lot of money might not be what's best for you or for your blog.

And so, like you said, your value and the money are very different things. And looking at it and saying, is this what I want and is this getting me and my blog to the point where I want to go long-term regardless of the pay.

Kami: Yes. I've had some opportunity come my way in the past that would have been a decent payout at the moment, but my gut would not let me make the decision.

It was not the right thing for my community and the people I've served. Everything on paper looked great, but the only thing telling me it wasn't was my gut. And that's where as entrepreneurs, you have to trust because we are forging something. We are creating something which does not exist in this world.

There's really no game plan or floor plan for what we're creating. And that's where you've got to really zone in on your mission and your focus and trust yourself. Just trust yourself.

Jason: It is so important to know where you want to go and to believe you're doing the right things to get there.

Going back a little bit to people who come to their conferences for the first time. I think you talked about how important networking is. I have some really good friends. One lives in Austin, who I met at the first Everything Food Conference, and we're still really good friends. And I'm in a mastermind group with a group of great people I met at Everything Food. You do meet all these great people.

As an introvert, it reminded me of high school, the first day of high school walking in and there's people at tables and you don't know anyone. What's your advice for someone who is not an outgoing person necessarily and is going to the conference where they don't know anyone. How can they set themselves up for success to meet people or really start interacting in a more comfortable way at a conference?

Kami: I think that's a great question. So, you know, I'm relatively extroverted. I have heard a lot of my introverted attendees and their concerns. I want to reassure everyone that the first thing I do is I 100% take on the responsibility of the feeling the vibe of those in the room. I know the feeling and vibe 100% relies on me. And I do everything possible with organizing behind the scenes to create a warm and welcoming and networking conducive environment.

And I feel like we've been very successful because it's my personality. I want everybody, no matter your background, no matter beliefs, no matter gender, every single person in the room is welcomed and valued and part of our community. We work really, really hard on it, so I just wanted to bring it up and on the back end be myself and I'm doing that.

Jason: I will say very quickly, you are succeeding very well. You do a great job doing that and it's a very, very welcoming environment.

Kami: Well, thank you. Thank you. That gives me chills because it was our ultimate mission. So thank you.

Also if you're an introvert, you need to come in with a plan. So let's say, you know your tendency is you want to sit in the very back table in the very last seat, and if anybody sits next to you, you're going to get up and move because you want to be by yourself. So reflecting on what you know you do, you've got to make a game plan. So when you come to Everything Food, you say, "Nope, I'm not going to do that. I'm actually going to sit right in the middle of the room. I'm going to sit at one of the most crowded tables, and I am going to have talking points. Prepare yourself, because I'm a big believer that if you say, "I don't want to ..." it means you've just got to do it. Right? You just have to make yourself do it.

And so coming in with a game plan though, I think has been really successful. I know a lot of introverted attendees, have done this and they have left with an amazing experience. But you need to come in with a game plan that you are going to eat every meal, you are going to talk with 3 new people, and at the end of those conversations, you're going to know their names, their blog, what they blog about, and their business goal or whenever it be. You make a game plan and then you just got to push yourself.

The thing is once you push yourself the first time, the second time, like the first welcome reception, you push yourself. Then guess what? By dinner time, you'll be relaxed and you'll be in the comfort zone. It will not take you much of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone for you to quickly feel welcome and surrounded by your people. Because the reality is everyone else in the room feels exactly how you do.

Jaosn: That was a big light bulb moment for me when I realize everyone else was just as nervous as I was at wanting to say something just as badly but was too scared to say anything.

Kami: Exactly like you are with your people. Like you are finally in a room where you can freely talk about food, wanting food influencers, and they get you, these are sincerely your people. So coming in with a game plan, if you know your tendency is to do something, like I mentioned, sit in the back of the room and you have a game plan and you say "Nope. At Everything Food I'm going to pick right in the center of the room or right up in front". Do something opposite that you normally would not do. And I promise you doors will open because I've heard story and story over and over time when you just push yourself a little out of your comfort zone, I promise you those nerves and things will quickly start going away.

You will find people who can relate to you, you will find your people at Everything Food, I'm 100% confident. But you do need to come in with a game plan. Attendees do have a responsibility of also just pushing themselves a little bit out of their comfort zone.

Jason: One way I approach it a lot is, I always like being a speaker because I feel like it's an honor to speak at a conference. And you know as the organizer, you are trusting me to make the conference look good. Not everyone realizes the speakers are separate and not involved. It always helps me that if I see someone who's not engaged or talking to someone, I think as a speaker, I should say hi or I should try to network. And it's an easy way for me. It's not me thinking Jason should do something but I don't know if they want to talk to me. It's more like, I'm trying to make the conference look good. And if you reframe it for whatever your situation is, "I'm here representing my blog".

So me personally, I might not feel comfortable talking to people, but as a representative of my blog, I should go talk to this person. And just reframing it a little bit it in your own mind, makes it a lot easier, and changes your outlook on how it can work.

Kami: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. It's really fun because every year it's just a brand new opportunity for you to truly make it what you want and need it to be for you. Even as an event organizer, I go to events over and over. I'm frequently at events and every single time I come away with a massive amount of value. Usually I have a game plan going in what my purpose is. Every event I've gone to, I've gotten something out because you need to go in with the proper mindset that you are there for you and your business and you can make things happen. And awesome things happen.

I think what you talked about, you know, being ready, coming up with your game plan ahead of time when you're not in a stressful moment and when you're not in the middle of it. Come up with your plan.

Right now, right now start making the plans for a few months for now.

Jason: Write that down. Another suggestion I have seen before and I think at Everything Food. If you think this is a bad suggestion, we can edit this out of the podcast, but force yourself into meeting people. Go on Everything Food has a Facebook group. Go on there and make a post that says, "Hey, the conference is in a week. Are there any other dog lovers going to the conference who don't know anyone that might want to sit at a table?" You can talk to these other people ahead of time, so now I know Elizabeth and Frank are counting on me and if I don't show up, they're going to think I'm a jerk. So now I have to find them at the conference and sit with them. And you have this built in group of people, and if you start off with like, I like dogs or my favorite color is chartreuse, you have something you could at least chat about.

Kami: Absolutely. There are several posts. And I always thought those people who have enough courage to say, this is my first EFC. I'm going by myself and I'm scared to death. And then all of a sudden comment, comment, comment, comment, comment, like everybody is commenting. "Oh, my goodness, me too, let's find each other." You are sincerely not alone. You're not alone.

If in your brain it's telling you I'm scared, I'm alone, everybody's going to be like staring at me and I'm going to be up on stage all by myself. It's just not true. You are with your people. Go in our Facebook group. If you comment and say, listen, I'm nervous. I'm scared. Is there anybody else. And you will have plenty of friends who immediately comment.

Jason: The other thing I will say for the people who have gone a lot, if you're a veteran and you know people there, I'm starting to know a lot of different bloggers when I show up. I personally believe you should still challenge yourself since you're now representing the conference and those people. If you're with your friends and someone standing on the side and they're not talking to someone, talk to them, invite them into the conversation, invite them to lunch. Like these people are there and they're nervous like you used to be.

We were all nervous at one point, so try to include these people. You might not be the type of person who would normally go up to a stranger and say, Hey, you want to hang out, but you're a veteran now. Push yourself to do those types of things to keep growing. And again, you're not going to know who you're talking to and who you're networking with.

Kami: Yes. I do just love my people. In the very first year, you were one of my first-year attendees. There was something special that happened in the first year, I think I surprised myself and it turned out way better than even my highest expectation. It like there was just something magical.

And so all of those people who have helped me build this community, I'm just am so grateful. There are numerous awesome people, just like you, Jason, who reach out to those people and help people feel welcomed. And I love that about it, it's honestly my motivation. I'm keep going because this is bigger than me and an event and checking off a list of things that need to be done. It's so much bigger. I'm in the business of helping other people sincerely change their lives for the better and building those relationships and building their business. It's just so surreal that 5 years ago when this was simply a thought and a feeling in my gut, and here we are growing over 100 attendees year over year consistently. And by no means has it just been me, but it's been this overall amazing community that's been built.

Jason: I love the community. I love going to the conference and attending, and there's always great information.

We're getting into the, the amount of time I told you this would go, but we didn't even talk about the amazing lineup of speakers you have. I think there's over a hundred speakers this year.

Kami: Yes. We added over 40 more than we have last year. Like more and more speakers, more and more valuable content, bigger brands. It's just growing. We have a lot of influencers who will purchase tickets for their spouses or for their teams because there really is something for everybody. Everybody comes to learn and grow. And yes, there is something for everybody.

Jason: So I really appreciate you coming on. Anyone out there, if you're considering going to a conference and want to try one. End of April come to Everything Food. It is amazing whether you're looking for getting to know some brands or you want to know some other bloggers to come up with some collaborative projects, or whether you're just getting started or trying to get advanced tips even for so many different topics.

The conferences this year is covering pretty much everything under the sun that you might need to know. You'll be able to find something to educate you and people to help move you forward and you can help move them forward. It's a great time. Go to EverythingFoodConference.com and grab some tickets.

And when you go there, you know Kami's organizing the entire thing. But if you say hi to her, she will stop and say hi to you and chat with you. And it's such a welcoming, great environment. Say hi to me. Say hi to the other speakers and everyone will be happy to make you feel welcome.

Kami: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for having me and yes, we look forward to an amazing big wonderful Everything Food.

Jason: It's going to be a great party.

This has been making bacon all about helping you serve your fans, grow your income, and get the most out of your blog. Until next time, I'm Jason Logsdon.


Jason logsdon headshot Hi, I'm Jason Logsdon! I'm an adventurous home cook and the head writer and photographer for Amazing Food Made Easy. I grew my income to 6-figures by focusing on serving my Fans by providing massive value, and I want to help you do the same.

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All tags for this article: Blogging Mindset, Brands, Conferences, Consulting, Interviews For Podcasts and Videos, The Makin' Bacon Podcast, Makin' Bacon YouTube Video, Networking

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