Food Bloggers Indaba 2011
Food Bloggers Indaba 2011 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.
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 worldwide 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.
participate in the following if possible:
submit good photos to:
- taste spotting
make use of:
- twitter, but do not be a loudspeaker
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
- 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
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!