Be inspired by ♥ Food Bloggers Indaba 2011: Cook Sister!

This year’s Food Bloggers Indaba was an amazing event! I would like to start by congratulating Colleen for the amazing effort she put into making sure we had a fantastic day. Thanks must also go to all the sponsors – we hefted our goody bags at the end of the day and this photograph does not do justice to the bounty we unpacked at home.

"goody bags"

goody bags

The morning was a bit rushed, as we were late to do the registration and Jenny Morris took ill, but as soon as everyone had their stickers and Jeanne had been roped into being the MC, we got started.

Jeanne from Cook Sister! was our first speaker and she spoke out the Best Practice of Blogging: These are the notes I wrote down, as this is what I considered to be important to me as a blogger. My comments are in purple

know the fundamentals:

  • choose your platform (i.e.Wordpress) with where you want to be in the future and what your needs are. I have chosen wordpress as it works best for me in terms of saving drafts and having my own URL. It may not work best for you but if you have not yet started blogging, research the various platforms with a long term goal in mind.
  • make sure that if you don’t know how to use coding you do not use a platform that needs it. HTML coding is not a basic necessity but, if you ever need to find something about coding, you can refer to google for help. I like to use coding, and wordpress gives me the option of using html.
  • decide whether you want to have advertisers on your blog or not. Some platforms do not allow this. I don’t want to have advertisers as I want to keep my blog as objective as possible.
  • think about your name – something short, and easy to remember works better than something long and complicated. I had already chosen Lavender & Lime before last year’s Food Bloggers Conference when Jeanne told us this for the first time. I would never change my blog name, but I have used my own name as my URL and twitter handle.
  • decide what your niche market is going to be. Decide what type of blog you are going to have, find a formula and stick to it. It took me a long time to have a formula but the one I have now really works for me.

know yourself, know your audience

  • are you a cook who writes; or a writer who cooks? I am still a cook who writes so my blog posts are recipe heavy.
  • where is your audience based – if in America then you need to write your recipes in terms they understand. I have a world wide audience, but as I have chosen to emphasize regional and seasonal produce, I am sticking to South African measurements.
  • always choose quality over content. Good photographs and good, well written blog posts. Do not blog for the sake of movement on your blog. You need to entice people to keep on coming back to your blog.
  • use your personal voice. I write as I speak!

grab inspiration when it comes your way:

  • write every day even if it is one line, writing needs to become a habit. I have kept a journal for years and writing is a discipline.
  • keep a draft folder. I use the wordpress draft folder but you can use your word editing program, use headings that will prompt the memory.
  • use your downtime to think about your post. I have a lot of downtime, in the car and at gym and I am always thinking about my posts. Often the words don’t translate very well from memory to computer but they are always there.
  • try different approaches. if you get stuck, try a new way of looking at the post.

reach out:

participate in the following if possible:

submit good photo’s to:

make use of:

  • twitter, but do not be a loudspeaker
  • facebook

practice the following:

  • blog in the spirit of generosity
  • be generous with your praise
  • share links!

love the people who leave you comments

  • respect the time people have taken to read your blog and comment on it
  • thank the people who leave you comments
  • interact with your commentators
  • respond to queries
  • leave comments on other blogs
  • be thoughtful about what you say
  • do not be envious! life is too short
  • reciprocate
  • DELETE offensive or spam comments
  • offer constructive criticism if you have to be critical personally, I believe that if you have nothing nice to say, rather don’t say it
  • grow a thick skin

remember your manners

  • play nice
  • do not say something horrible
  • show professional courtesy
  • do not argue or fight
  • do not spam
  • ignore reciprocal link requests
  • etiquette is important
  • do not promote your own blog in comments – this implies that the recipe you are reading is not good and that yours is better

maintain your integrity

  • do not steal content
  • remember how copyright works
  • attribute a recipe if you found it elsewhere
  • if you get something for nothing i.e. freebies, disclose the fact, and do so visibly I personally feel this should go at the beginning of the post, rather than at the end, so that your readers know from the outset, what you got or experienced did not cost you a cent.
  • make sure there is no conflict of interest in your blogging

perfect your pictures

  • you have 5 seconds to grab someone’s attention
  • read the manual that came with your camera
  • be acquainted with your camera
  • turn the flash off
  • get a good photo editing program Photo Shop Elements was recommended to me and I am battling my way through it slowly

revitalize your writing

  • content is king
  • do not use tech speak i.e gr8, c u etc.
  • use capitals for I, place names etc.
  • fix typo’s, grammar and spelling errors
  • you catch your reader with the opening line
  • link back with your closing, to the beginning
  • read your post to yourself out aloud I always re-read my posts and I am amazed how often I pick up a small error so I know this is a worthwhile practice
  • edit!

do not neglect the technical aspects of your blog

  • use search engine optimization
  • make sure your title is short and descriptive
  • tag your pictures and use meta data
  • link back to other recipes in your blog
  • make things easy
  • categorize your recipes
  • be aware of your background
  • your blog must load quickly

most importantly, blog for the love of it!

Tandy

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About Tandy

Tandy is passionate about using regional, seasonable and sustainable produce when she cooks. She lives in Gordons Bay in a cottage with her husband, two dogs, a tortoise and a fish. Tandy and Dave are busy building a house which is an adventure all in itself. Each year they visit a new place to experience the food of the area and you can follow along on their adventures.


Comments

Food Bloggers Indaba 2011: Cook Sister! — 35 Comments

  1. Hi Tandy, I have just come across your lovely blog, thanks for all the info. Do you know when the next bloggers conference will be. Thx

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    • Hi Taryne, I have sent Colleen an email and will let you know as soon as she has given me a date. I am sure it will be at the beginning of next year 🙂

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  5. love this Tandy .. Keep well hon

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    • thanks! have a super day 🙂

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  6. Wow! Brilliant and now I need to bookmark this page so I have all of these points in front of me! Thanks for this! Was fabulous meeting you! I fell in love with the SA bloggers! What a great group of people and I felt so welcome! Can’t wait till next year!

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    • Thanks Jamie. I am going to do a separate post on each speaker. I am so glad to have met you and if you find yourself living here, you know you have good friends already. Have a super weekend 🙂

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    • thanks for the ping back!

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      • 🙂 xx

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    • thanks for the link back 🙂

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  9. Thanks for sharing this with us Tandy – i look forward to the day that Letterdash has a draft storing facility OR until Food24 moves platform!!!!!

    What is meta data????
    xx

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    • meta data is the ‘hidden’ date behind the photographs. xxx

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  10. Thanks Tandy for this lesson (well, I don’t like to call it lesson, it’s better to say friendly hints… :P). I agree with averything though not always I stick to it. But I want to improve and I’m glad you share this with us. Thank you again, Tandy!! 😀

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    • my pleasure! I have learnt so much and I think it is good to share 🙂

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  11. Glad you took down notes 🙂 I missed out on this class, so it’s nice to hear what the others did in such detail.

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    • it is all about sharing 🙂

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  12. Tandy, thanks for sharing this with us poor souls who were unable to attend, really appreciate it.
    🙂 Mandy

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    • my pleasure 🙂 maybe next year you will be there!

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      • *Crossing fingers and toes*

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        • *holding thumbs*

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  13. Thanks for the wonderful notes. I have learnt so much at both of the conferences. Networking in an environment like this we all learn so much.

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    • I have also learnt so much it is amazing 🙂

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  15. Wow, you did listen very attentively, or did you get your hands on the notes. Thanks Thands for all your help and input!

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    • I wrote copious notes so that I would not miss a thing!

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    • Im very grateful for people who listen attentively when others are speaking and who take their own notes. Thanks Tandy!

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      • the listening bit was the key to my enjoyment 🙂 and of course helping you and meeting awesome bloggers!

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  16. You’ve covered her talk very nicely, Tandy. In hindsight I didn’t take enough notes, so thanks for this! Look forward to reading more about your experiences at the Indaba. I can’t believe how the past week has flown.

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    • the time has flown passed and so much has happened 🙂 I always write notes for everything – uni habit 🙂

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  17. Fabulous post. You listen well hehe. I hope to finally get my first indaba post out today. Its been a hectic week following Indaba.

    Thank you for sharing! And thank you once again for all your loving support. I appreciate you. Hugs xx

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    • hugs back! I have this habit of taking notes from when I was at Uni 🙂 xxx

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